Preseason Player Analysis
What You Need to Know:
- Missing only 1 game to a foot sprain (and playing through a hamstring injury in another) Ridley finished as the WR4 in PPR points per game.
- He smashed prior career highs with 143 targets, 90 catches, 1,374 yards and 9 TDs.
- In 7 games without Julio Jones, Ridley averaged 11.2 targets, 7.1 catches, 109.2 yards and .42 .TDs. Elite numbers.
- Julio, of course, was dealt to the Titans in June.
- Ridley also benefited from a pass happy Atlanta offense. Led by Matt Ryan, the Falcons ranked #1 in raw pass attempts and #1 in pass rate. Expect both numbers to regress a bit in 2021.
- Ridley’s 19 end zone targets tied for 2nd-most league-wide.
- A career-high 15.2-yard average depth of target helped him lead the league in air yards.
- The Falcons didn’t make any impact WR adds in free agency or the draft. But they selected WR-lookalike Kyle Pitts with the 4th overall pick. He projects as an offensive focal point right away.
- A tradeoff of Julio for Pitts should be considered a win for Ridley. The veteran likely would have seen a larger target share than the rookie had he remained a Falcon.
- Matt Ryan enters September as a 36-year-old in his 14th pro season. He didn’t show any obvious signs of decline in 2020; Pro Football Focus slotted him 9th league-wide in passing grade.
- While not carbon copies, AJ Brown broke out in 2020 under new HC Arthur Smith’s tutelage. He went 70-1,065-11 with a 22.6% target share — all across 14 games.
- While Atlanta’s pass rate figures to dip a bit, we still see this unit clearly leaning pass. Two main reasons why: a suspect backfield and defense.
- -Ridley, a 2018 1st-rounder, had his 5th year option picked up in May. The Falcons will look to sign him long-term over the next year.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
A clear rapport with Matt Ryan and a keen ability to separate have elevated Ridley to WR1 status. He held up well on a massive, 143-target workload in 2020. And he’s in a great spot to see similar usage this fall — especially with Julio Jones off the roster.
Only 26, Ridley looks like a high-floor, high-ceiling target with an ADP in mid- Round 2.