The Atlanta Falcons were a complete dumpster fire for fantasy football value in 2022, mostly because we put all of our eggs in the Kyle Pitts basket. Arthur Smith famously told everyone that it wasn’t about fantasy football and that it was about winning football games. Unfortunately, what he did in 2022 wasn’t good for either. What should we remember about the 2022 Atlanta Falcons for 2023 fantasy football?
2022 Was Just the Pitts
Much of the fantasy football cognoscenti wanted to give Kyle Pitts the benefit of the doubt for his rookie year, and still put him as their #3 tight end. Unfortunately, given the state of the Falcons’ offense, it always felt like this was his ceiling. While Pitts played just ten games, he was on a historically terrible pace: he was angling to be the first tight end ever to have at least 100 targets and fewer than 8 PPR points per game. According to playerprofiler.com, it wasn’t for a lack of trying: he ranked first in tight end target rate, second in tight end target share, and first in tight end air yards. The problem? He ranked 37th in catchable target rate, with 35 catchable targets on 59 targets. While that was a major problem, he also didn’t bring in balls he should have caught, as his true catch rate ranked 32nd among tight ends. A quarterback upgrade needs to come to the Dirty South before I have faith in Kyle Pitts in 2023.
Drake London finished 2022 with 117 targets, as well as the second-highest target rate among all wide receivers. Unfortunately, like Pitts, he finished outside the top-30 in catchable target rate. Still, despite this, London finished as PPR WR29 on the season, ahead of players like Adam Thielen, Diontae Johnson, and Curtis Samuel. This was all while the Falcons passed the ball 24.4 times per game, the second-lowest in the NFL. Despite this, London finished inside the top-30 in receptions and receiving yards, while finishing eleventh in yards per route run. He also finished the season hot, averaging 6 catches for 83 yards per game with Desmond Ridder under center. Should Ridder take a step forward or the Falcons fix their passing game (Derek Carr, anyone?) then London has everything he needs to become a fantasy stud in 2023.
There Was Nothing as Bitter as Ridder
Desmond Ridder started the last four weeks of the season thanks to the Falcons throwing in the towel wanting to see what they had in the future. While the Falcons got London going with Ridder under center, that’s pretty much all they were able to do with him at quarterback. The Falcons went 2-2 and averaged 15.75 points per game with Desmond Ridder at QB, with Ridder averaging 177 passing yards, 16 rushing yards, and half a touchdown per game.
Allgeier’s Next Gears
Two rookies rushed for at least 1,000 yards this season: Kenneth Walker III and Tyler Allgeier. Over the last decade, this was a harbinger of good things to come. 18 running backs hit this mark over the last ten seasons, and if you control for injuries (James Robinson) then every back but Jeremy Hill, Eddie Lacy and Philip Lindsay had a productive fantasy football half-decade. With Damien Williams and Cordarrelle Patterson set to wrap up their careers soon, Allgeier is poised to get a nice run of RB2 value under his belt.
Cordarrelle Patterson Peculiar Patterns, Son
Going into last season, I was worried about how the Falcons handled Cordarrelle Patterson after his injuries… and the maniacs did it again. In 2021, Patterson averaged 15 touches for 92 yards per game prior to missing a game with an injury. After that point? They held him to 14 touches by cutting down his targets from 6 to 3 per game. He also dropped down to just 56 yards per contest. In 2022, they did virtually the same thing. Prior to missing four weeks, Patterson averaged 109 yards per game on 17.6 touches per game. After his injury, the Falcons limited him to only 11.5 touches per game, which he turned into a hair under 50 yards per contest. There’s no reason to imagine this will get better in 2023, and I want no piece of Patterson because of it.