03 Jul The Opportunity Analysis – Atlanta Falcons
The Opportunity Analysis | Atlanta Falcons 2020
- Available Targets: 258
- Potential Drop-Backs: -69
- Total New Opportunities: 189
- Opportunities Analysis Rank: 5
The Falcons have the most vacated targets heading into 2020, but come in at #5 on the Opportunity Analysis. The Falcons are the first example of a team being impacted negatively because of a higher than normal pass volume in 2019. The Falcons are still projected to have the most drop-backs in 2020 with 686, but a decrease from their 755 is almost inevitable.
Since 2013 only 29% of teams that hit the 700 mark in drop-backs hit it again the following season. Because of this the projected available targets drops from 258 to 189. Even at 189 there is plenty of opportunities to go around. The key here is multiyear starters with Matt Ryan like Austin Hooper, Mohamed Sanu, and Devonta Freeman who were 2nd, 4th and 5th respectively in targets per game, are now gone, opening up primary read targets for all of the Falcons skill position players.
Another aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is where the targets are coming from as Freeman (70) and Hooper (97) provide diversity in the pass game as WR, RB and TE targets are up for grabs next season.
Primary Beneficiary – Calvin Ridley
Heading into 2020 Calvin Ridley is a prime third-year leap candidate. Last year we saw many players including Chris Godwin make that leap in production in their third NFL season. Ridley is already being compared to Godwin because of the opportunities he has available. The biggest impact for Ridley is the departures of veterans Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, and Devonta Freeman, and replacing them with fellow third year man Russell Gage and off-season acquisitions Hayden Hurst and Todd Gurley.
Because of this change in personnel Ridley immediately becomes the player with the most chemistry with Ryan on the team trailing only Julio Jones. That being said, it is not so much the targets themselves, but how much Ridley will be on the field that will impact his 2020 fantasy value.
Before Sanu was traded, he led the team in routes run Weeks 1-7 while Ridley was only 3rd. After the trade Ridley led the team in routes run, and with the Falcons having the highest projected drop-backs next season, he has a great chance to lead the league in routes in 2020. Ridley finished last year tied for 16th in fantasy points per game with D.J. Moore, who is currently going one round ahead of Ridley at WR13. Currently going as the WR 17 in the 4th round, Ridley makes for an intriguing upside pick next season.
Secondary Beneficiary – Hayden Hurst
Hayden Hurst is now in prime position to take over the Austin Hooper role in Dirk Koetter’s offense. Koetter’s teams have been in the top half of tight end targets each of the last four seasons with at least 110 targets each year. Hooper was on his way to a Top-3 tight end finish before injuries slowed him down over the back half of 2019.
Hurst himself has been productive on limited targets as he was Top-15 in YPRR and yards per target last season among TEs with at least 35 targets. Now he is stepping into a situation in which the Falcons are vacating 111 tight end targets from 2019. The Falcons’ Week 1 opponent is the Seattle Seahawks, who allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends last season. This gives Hurst a chance to get off to a hot start. Currently going as the TE12 in the 9th round, Hurst is the ideal late round flyer who is stepping into a prime opportunity in 2020.
Sources: Expand the Boxscore, Pro football Reference and Pro Football Focus