It might seem odd that Pro Football Focus predicted that a player who has never made the Pro Bowl would lead the league in receiving yards in 2021. It doesn’t sound as strange when you learn they’re projecting Calvin Ridley, who was a second-team All-Pro team member in 2020, to pull off the accomplishment. After all, Pro Bowl voting is flawed — one-third of the votes come from coaches, players, and fans.
Either way, PFF’s fantasy projections have Ridley leading the league in receiving yards, and they predict a final stat line of 100.5 receptions, 1,569.1 yards, and 9.4 touchdowns. That would make him the sixth-highest fantasy scorer. Ridley finished the 2020 season recording 90 receptions, 1,374 yards, and nine touchdowns in a less efficient offensive system.
By all accounts, Ridley should improve in every area, including targets. Drafting Kyle Pitts could dampen some of those fantasy projections, but I believe there will be plenty to go around for everyone in this new-look Falcons offense. Arthur Smith loves his tight ends, evident from the tight end target share in Tennessee; Smith’s offense ranked first in the NFL. Still, A.J. Brown had no issues putting up eye-popping numbers, and I think Ridley will have no problem doing the same.
Everyone and their mother knows Calvin Ridley is about to light the league on fire now that Julio Jones is gone, but for the folks in the back, expect fireworks from Ridley this year. Not only will he be Matt Ryan’s no. 1 target, but the presence of Pitts will also force defenses to make tough decisions on double teams. I fully trust Smith and Ryan can exploit these specific matchups; after all, the Titans did that better than anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ridley finishes in the top five for catches and receiving yards in the entire NFL.