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There is a glimmer of a chance that all of these bold predictions will come to fruition, but chances are, they won't. That would be like hitting on a long-shot GPP or getting a 12-team parlay to hit. This isn't just an attempt to throw thoughts and opinions together without merit. There is a concrete basis for my accumulation of proposed thoughts and ideas, which I'll try to convey in my explanation.
1. Calvin Ridley will finish as the #1 overall fantasy wide receiver
The last five overall WR1 finishers
- 2016 Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
- 2017 DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
- 2018 Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
- 2019 Michael Thomas, New Orleans
- 2020 Davante Adams, Green Bay
What did they have in common, aside from mountains of talent? They played with excellent quarterbacks. DeAndre Hopkins is the only outlier because Deshaun Watson was a rookie and only played seven games before tearing his ACL. The Texans finished the season with a combination of T.J. Yates and Tom Savage under center, yet Hopkins still thrived. Looking back, it's remarkable what he achieved under the circumstances. Every team listed above made the playoffs that year except Houston, who finished 4-12.
Often, the overall WR1 is far and away the best fantasy wide receiver on the team. Except for Davante Adams finishing WR7 in 2016, the other WR1 finishers above had a sizable gap between them and the next closest receiver.
- 2016 - Jordy Nelson WR1, Davante Adams WR7
- 2017 - DeAndre Hopkins WR1, Will Fuller V V WR47
- 2018 - Tyreek Hill WR1, Sammy Watkins WR62
- 2019 - Michael Thomas WR1, Ted Ginn Jr Jr WR79
- 2020 - Davante Adams WR1, Marquez Valdes-Scantling WR41
Including the narrow margin of Nelson and Adams in 2016, the average margin of ranking between the overall WR1 and his closest wide receiver teammate in standard fantasy points is 56.6. Now that Julio Jones is playing elsewhere in 2021, Ridley should be the clear top receiving target among Atlanta's wide receiving corps by a wide margin.
Ridley's closest competition for target shares among wide receivers is Russell Gage. Gage exceeded 100 targets in 2020 and should see a bump in productivity in 2021, but he's not on the same level or target-share expectancy as Ridley. In short, Ridley is a match for the DNA of the previous WR1s that were mentioned above. He should be a clear-cut target hog among the Falcons receiving corps. To add more fuel to the WR1 fire, Ridley has scored 26 touchdowns in 44 games (nearly 60% touchdowns per game percentage). He's a scorer, and touchdown scorers elevate a player's fantasy ranking.
2. Kyle Pitts will finish outside of the Top 10 tight end rankings
Hear me out. I know Pitts is a popular pick to be an impactful fantasy phenom in the league. I don't necessarily doubt this stance. The question that I have that we all should be asking is, when? Could it happen this year? There is a reason why it takes tight ends at least one year to get acclimated to the NFL level. To fulfill your role, you must know and learn the running game, passing game, blocking assignments, pass protections, etc. Learning all of those critical pieces to the puzzle takes time. There was speculation that he might be thrown into a specific role where he learns that formation, assignment, route concept, but he's being placed all over the place and used in multiple formations. He has his work cut out for him to pick up everything that is asked of him. It may not be until mid-season or later when he truly feels comfortable in the offense. By then, it may be too late to cash in on a top 10 fantasy ranking.
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