While Matt Ryan certainly loved having his full set of weapons available to him on offense for the Atlanta Falcons, the trade of wide receiver Julio Jones was more of a when and not an if, especially after the botched on-air interview with Shannon Sharpe that aired out his true feelings. But being able to go from Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to Ridley and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts certainly is nothing to scoff at.
Shipping Jones off to the Tennessee Titans adds a very dangerous weapon to an already potent offense that includes Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, but the Falcons are able to finally unlock Ridley as this team’s top option, with Pitts helping pick up the slack.
Even though a slip in offensive production and efficiency can certainly be expected as the offense transitions, Ridley certainly should be able to fill the void left by Jones – and then some.
See what three outcomes for Ridley should happen this season and how he can help both the Falcons and your fantasy team score.
NFL record for passing targets
Back in 2005, Marvin Harrison set the current NFL record for the most targets in a season with 205, a record that really has not even come close to being sniffed since. In a passing-oriented league that the NFL currently is in, can Ridley produce a record in this category?
211 targets are the total that Ridley and Jones produced last season combined – Ridley earned 143 of those across 15 games, while Jones only was able to suit up for 9 injury-riddled contests, being the recipient of the remaining 68. The kind of impact that Jones was able to have for Ridley in the offense helped keep some pressure off the younger option helped get him open more, an element Ridley will now have to contend with himself this year catching balls from Ryan.
New personal TD record
Ridley’s best scoring season came back in his rookie campaign, as he put up 10 TDs in 2018. Having produced seven and nine the past two years, it looks to finally be time for the former Alabama star to get back into the double digits.
Holding just under a 12 percent career mark in touchdowns compared to overall receptions, Ridley has a nose for the end zone. While he will continuously face a double team on even more snaps this year, the kind of target share that he will earn will certainly help boost his red-zone work, hopefully continuing that rapport he has with Ryan.
Ridley jumps Jones in most receiving yards in a season
Detroit’s Calvin Johnson set the NFL record with 1,942 receiving yards in the 2012 season, a number that Jones has come the closest to catching. His 2015 campaign came in just under 100 yards of Johnson’s number at 1,871 yards, the closest any player had been since 1995 with Jerry Rice.
Ridley’s role on a team that has practically no rushing attack and figures to be playing from behind often due to their terrible defense paints itself a very pass-happy picture. Being able to produce will not be a problem for Ridley – but being able to remain healthy after being thrust into the WR1 role with no real WR room protection may test him a bit, something he is built to handle.
Ridley’s ascension into the role of the Falcons feeling comfortable trading Jones only supports his long-term value in Atlanta. Having proven himself in essentially every fashion across his three-year career, Ridley is in a perfect position to take that next step into the upper echelon of both the current NFL and the record books in 2021.