Welcome to Week 5 of the 2023 Footballguys Roundtable. Our intrepid panel of fantasy pundits discusses and debates four topics every week. We split the conversation into separate features.
This week's roundtable features these four topics:
- Torture by RB Rooms
- September Was Just the Beginning
- What's Wrong With . . . ?
- State of the Atlanta Falcons Offense (see below)
State of the Atlanta Falcons Offense
Matt Waldman: For the past three years, Atlanta can run the ball, but its passing game has been a disappointment. Examine the following statements:
- Desmond Ridder will develop and earn a second contract as an NFL starter.
- Arthur Smith will outlast Ridder in Atlanta.
- Drake London will deliver fantasy production to public expectations before his first contract in Atlanta expires.
- Kyle Pitts is schematically earning opportunities to succeed
Answer the following questions based on these statements from above:
- A. Which statement is most likely to come true and why?
- B. Which statement is most likely to ring false and why?
- C. Of the three players involved in these statements, which one are you most likely to keep in re-draft formats?
Go . . .
Corey Spala: London will deliver fantasy production over the next three years, assuming they take on his fifth-year option. The long-term answer is that I do not see how Atlanta can survive without a major upgrade at the quarterback position. The short-term answer, London has 21 targets over the last 3 games. There is immediate volume, but the uncertainty of the quality surrounding the volume overshadows. We know 2023 will not necessarily be a top fantasy outcome for London, but I am optimistic that 2024 will bring the success we have been waiting for.
Ridder will not earn a second contract as a starting quarterback. His 2023 season is heading toward a historical one, the most turnover-over-worthy plays in a single season over the last 10 seasons. Among quarterbacks, he is at the very bottom of expected points added and PFF offensive grade so far in 2023. Ridder is not an efficient quarterback, despite a low-volume passing offense.
In terms of whom to keep in re-draft formats, the answer is easily London. Jonnu Smith has outplayed Pitts, and I cannot think of the second receiver in this offense. Well, I guess London is since their running back is their leading receiver. Head coach Arthur Smith’s career record is 16-22; currently in his third season following two 7-10 seasons. I can see how he may have another year (or two) with Atlanta, retaining the run-focused offense. Moving back to the question: the uncertainty in fantasy scoring within the offense, outside of Bijan Robinson, makes me want to keep the player who is tied for the team high in targets. I am not excited to start any of the aforementioned players, but the answer to the question is, easily London.
Andy Hicks: It’s hard to be critical of an inexperienced quarterback as improvement can take time, but Ridder hasn’t given an indication he is learning to be better. The Atlanta team will do enough to keep Smith but not enough to stick with Ridder. I expect at some stage to see Taylor Heinicke and then try and improve the position in 2024. Maybe Ridder gets better, though, which is also a benefit to Smith.
I guess schematically, it is true enough that Pitts is earning opportunities to succeed, but practically, it is not happening. Jonnu Smith is outperforming Pitts to a considerable degree and while two tight ends help the running game, Pitts isn't being used as an offensive weapon. Maybe a breakout will happen as defenses start ignoring the threat of Pitts. I am not counting on it.
London is testing the patience of his fantasy managers, but surely Atlanta has a valid plan for using Pitts and London? They are top-10 draft picks for a reason and just aren’t used to that effect. Even Bijan Robinson only has one touchdown. People rightfully scratch their heads at how top-10 picks on running back, tight end, and wide receiver are not delivering an offensive juggernaut. It’s frustrating. Common sense tells me London will break out. His performances to finish 2022 highlighted what he is capable of.
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