Fantasy Football: Falcons targets, sleepers and breakout candidates

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The Falcons are set to begin a new era in the franchise’s history — one without Matt Ryan. Atlanta signed Marcus Mariota and plucked Desmond Ridder from the draft to replace the veteran signal caller, but they made a few other exciting moves that should impact fantasy football, so below, we’ll analyze Falcons fantasy football targets, sleepers, and breakout candidates playing in Atlanta this season.

Quarterbacks

There really isn’t a clear starter at this point in the offseason, but Mariota should be the favorite. Both are similar players in terms of their capabilities. The former No. 2 overall pick has never finished with less than 252 rushing yards as a full-time starter. And with Arthur Smith at the helm, you can certainly expect a different kind of offense in Atlanta — one that caters to the mobility of the quarterbacks.

However, the mobility he brings certainly is offset by his lack of passing ability. So his fantasy numbers will always be mediocre — league average at best. There’s no need to even waste your time with Mariota unless he’s somebody you’re streaming QBs or looking for a QB3 in Superflex leagues.

Ridder, on the other hand, certainly has potential from a dynasty perspective. He’s been impressing the coaching staff during offseason training activities, and I believe he’ll turn into a better pro than his counterpart in Atlanta’s quarterback room. His intangibles and dual-threat capabilities make him a sleeper in some dynasty leagues.

Running Backs

The Falcons boasted one of the strangest breakout stories I’ve seen in the NFL. As a 31-year-old, Patterson totaled 618 yards on the ground and 548 yards through the air, hauling in 52 passes and scoring 11 total touchdowns.

Atlanta brought him back, but I wouldn’t count on him having another year like that. He’s another year older, and the Falcons aren’t going to make him the featured back after he just had the most touches of his career in 2021. If he can somehow maintain about 13-15 touches per game, Patterson will be worth a low RB2/high RB3.

Mike Davis had most of the other touches out of the backfield in 2021, but after moving on from the Georgia native, the Falcons have a slew of candidates to take over the other 200+ opportunities Davis had last season.

Tyler Allgeier is the Falcon you want to target in your fantasy football leagues. He was incredibly productive in college, and the coaching staff in Atlanta is very high on him. As far as dynasty leagues go, Allgeier is almost not even a sleeper. He’s got real breakout potential in 2021, but once Patterson moves on, he’ll be the bell cow back for Arthur Smith’s heavy-run offense. The BYU product could end up being a decent player to stash on your bench, too, in case injuries arise.

Wide Receivers

Honestly, unless you’re in a 16+ team league, London is the only one that really matters. Drake London was a star at USC in his final season, totaling over 1,000 yards on 88 receptions in only eight games. London and Pitts will lead the Falcons’ offense, so those are two players to target here. London will be the Falcons player most targeted in fantasy football leagues if you’re in a dynasty format.

If I had to pick someone else in this receiving corps, it would be Bryan Edwards. He only recorded 11 receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown during his rookie season but had a much improved second year, totaling 34 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns last season with the Raiders. With opportunities in Vegas’ crowded receiver room scarce, Edwards will have the chance to show the league what he has. If he nearly doubled those numbers with Atlanta, I wouldn’t be completely surprised.

Tight Ends

Firkser will have an important role for the Falcons in 2022, and given his experience with Arthur Smith, it’s safe to say he’ll make a positive impact this season. However, all the hype on this offense surrounds Kyle Pitts.

His rookie season wasn’t exactly as great as everyone hyped him up to be, but it was still productive, just not consistent. There were games where he didn’t eclipse 40 receiving yards, then others where he totalled over 100 yards easily.

Still, he managed to accumulate the third-most receiving yards among tight ends in 2021, and the fifth-most targets and seventh-most receptions. He also led the position in yards per reception, but the touchdowns just weren’t there. Based on how many targets and receptions Pitts got, he should’ve scored at least five or six times, which would’ve made him TE3 or TE4 last year.

I don’t care what he does, though. Draft Kyle Pitts as your TE1. He’s a very young player and is all raw. He doesn’t yet understand the nuances of playing at this level, but when he does figure it all out, the former Gator is going to be a nightmare and the best player at his position. If there’s one Falcons player to target in your fantasy football leagues, it’s Pitts.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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