Moving right along from Matt Ryan, we will examine the two players that should receive most of Ryan’s targets — Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.
Beginning with Julio, I will use the same deductive reasoning that I did in Ryan’s predictions. What helps Matt Ryan will subsequently help Julio Jones and the rest of the receivers. Where Ryan benefits from a revamped, healthy offensive line, Julio and Calvin will have more time to run routes.
Julio has been a top-three wide receiver since entering the league. Though aging, he does not seem to have lost a step. With the pressure of another receiving threat in Calvin Ridley, Jones should see an increase in single coverage as teams begin to respect Ridley. However, with the expected increase in production for Ridley, Jones’ stats will suffer.
Ridley is a breakout star in the making and could eventually take over as the number one receiver in Atlanta’s offense. His route running is some of the best in the league, and he seems to have the intestinal fortitude to work on his craft at all times, as reports have been consistent with his work ethic at Alabama and now in Atlanta. Ridley has benefited from lining up opposite one of the best to ever strap it up, taking advantage of all the attention Julio receives week in and week out.
When considering the opposition’s position group, which would be the entire secondary, the Falcons’ receivers have more favorable matchups than not. Although the pass rush plays a role in coverage, we will only focus on defensive backs versus wide receivers for the purposes of this article.
The Chargers, Saints, and Packers will be the best defensive backfields on the Falcons’ schedule. These will be challenging games, requiring Atlanta’s offense to attack in multiple ways that may not benefit Julio directly. On the other hand, pretty much every other team on the schedule features mediocre or bad defensive backfields.
After hauling in 99 balls last year for 1,394 yards and scoring six touchdowns, we can expect Julio to be somewhere around the same ballpark. Personally, I think Calvin Ridley is going to explode. Therefore, Julio will see a slight drop in production. His over/under in Vegas is 1,349.5 yards and six and a half touchdowns on the year. I expect him to finish just on the low-side of both of those.
Ridley’s expected expansion in the offense will correlate to more targets ergo more receptions, yards, touchdowns than his 2019 season. He recorded 63 receptions for 866 yards with seven touchdowns last year. This season, Ridley’s over/under in Vegas is 1,025.5 yards on the year. I believe he tops that and ends up with double-digit touchdowns for the second time in his first three seasons.
2020 stat predictions: (Julio) 95 catches, 1,320 yards, 6 touchdowns; (Calvin) 88 catches, 1,175 yards, 10 touchdowns
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