Arthur Smith is entering his second season as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and with Matt Ryan gone, it’s officially the first year of a rebuilding process. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for a full year as well and the roster has somewhat been rebuilt through the offseason and with the recent draft.
While this season is not going to be the easiest to watch for Falcons fans, fantasy football managers should still be able to find some interest in watching their games. There are a lot of great players that can help your fantasy football team out and we’re going to break it all down as fantasy drafts start approaching.
Fantasy Football Rookie Difference Makers
Drake London, WR
As the first-round pick for the Falcons in the 2022 NFL Draft, Drake London is primed to be the primary pass catcher in the Atlanta offense. Drafted out of USC, London averaged about seven receptions, 98 receiving yards, and 1.5 receiving touchdowns in 22 career college games. Clearly, he was a dominating factor in the Trojan’s passing offense and it’s very likely that he can translate those skills into the Falcon’s offense at the next level.
Looking at the rookie receiver landscape last season, there were seven players that had over 90 targets. Looking at the Atlanta offense, there’s a lack of playmakers in the passing offense so it’s a lock that London should see at least 90 targets.
While Kyle Pitts is going to command a good portion of targets, there are going to be a lot of targets left over that London can leverage to turn in a good fantasy football campaign.
Let’s also note that the year the Tennessee Titans drafted AJ Brown (2019), Arthur Smith was the offensive coordinator that season. The Titans were second-to-last in passing attempts that year, but Brown had 84 targets, 52 receptions, 1,051 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns. Brown also finished as the ninth-best fantasy football receiver that season because of those stats.
Shifting back to London, he should be able to easily attain those numbers that Brown put up in 2019 and probably more because he’s a more physical receiver that can do more after the catch than Brown can. Brown is more of a deep threat in an offense, but London can run a West Coast style of offense by taking short passes and generating lots of yards-after-the-catch (YAC).
London is going to get drafted in most fantasy football leagues around round nine and should be a solid addition to anyone’s bench. He’s going to become a prominent receiver in fantasy football circles, so getting a player of London’s caliber in the ninth round is a great value. You can also draft London to become your FLEX starter because he’s going to have an appeal from Week 1.
Getting London so late in your fantasy football draft is a great way to build a solid roster with your first handful of picks and still get a great receiver option in the middle to late rounds. It’s a safe bet that London is going to be an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and he could very well be in line for that same award when it comes to fantasy football as well.
Tyler Allgeier, RB
Although a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Tyler Allgeier is in a good spot to take over the lead rushing role in Atlanta. Looking at his college stats, he was top 10 in the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in both 2020 and 2021. This guy is very capable of taking the lead role in a backfield and considering that the Falcons were towards the bottom of all major rushing statistics (yards, attempts, touchdowns), Allgeier should help improve these stats for the team in 2022.
As mentioned, the Falcon’s backfield has been rebuilt this off-season. Allgeier is now going to join a backfield containing Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, Qadree Ollison, and Caleb Huntley. Besides Patterson, none of those names scream out that they’re going to be dominant forces in the backfield. While Patterson had a breakout season, he was used more as a playmaker instead of being a traditional running back.
Now Smith has gone on record saying that he wants to use Patterson more as a receiver instead of a running back. While the situation in Atlanta is probably going to start out as a running back by committee approach, Allgeier has the skill set to take over the lead role and become a consistent producer for the Falcons. Now the only knock on Allgeier is that he never flashed impressive receiving skills, but that’s why they have Patterson on the roster still and Williams as well.
Depending on the fantasy football league you’re playing in, Allgeier is a type of player that could go undrafted or could be snatched up as a final bench spot. Either way, plan to target him for that final spot on your bench and you don’t have to worry about letting this guy be stolen off the waiver wire by one of your competitors in the league.
Allgeier is going to slowly be given more and more touches in the Falcons offense and it’s better to be ahead of the curve on him so you can reap those points for your team down the road.
Old Face, New Place
Marcus Mariota, QB
The Matt Ryan Era is over in Atlanta and the Falcons are now looking for their future franchise quarterback. In the offseason, the Falcons signed Marcus Mariota to be the potential short-term starter and then they drafted Desmond Ridder in the 2022 NFL Draft to be a potential long-term starter.
Mariota was with the Raiders the last couple of seasons as Derek Carr’s backup and he barely saw any action. He played a total of 15 snaps in 2021 and came in the middle of one game in 2020 when Carr took a big hit in the first quarter against the Chargers in Week 15.
Now in that one game though, Mariota looked like he could be a capable starter in the NFL again. He almost led the Raiders to a victory (They lost in overtime), but he put up solid numbers going 17 for 28 with 226 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also had nine rushing attempts for 88 rushing yards.&nbsp;
There’s a reason that he’s the former second overall pick in the NFL Draft. He can be a dangerous threat to take off and run but also sit in the pocket and pick apart a defense through the air too. Also, he’s only 28 years old, so Mariota still has a good amount of years left that he can lead a team as the starting quarterback.
As mentioned, the Falcons drafted Ridder to be the long-term starter but they can also take their time if Mariota can prove to be a capable starting quarterback for this rebuilding Falcons team.
Now with all that said, this is a situation where Mariota will be a better real-life asset than a fantasy football asset. As mentioned earlier, Atlanta is going through a rebuild and they’re not going to be all that great on offense or defense.
They have a couple of bright spots, but it won’t be enough to make Mariota a week-in and week-out type of starter. He’s surely going to go undrafted in most fantasy football leagues and could be an option to add off the waiver wire during the BYE weeks.
Also, if you need a streaming option at quarterback, you could do worse than Mariota but it also depends on the matchup Atlanta faces. Either way, expect Mariota to have a good year to resurrect his career but it’s not going to be more than a small blip on the monitor when it comes to fantasy football.
Potential Fantasy Football Breakout Player
Bryan Edwards, WR
There’s already been talk that the Falcons lack playmakers in the passing offense. This situation led to the Falcons acquiring Edwards from the Raiders to bolster their receiving depth. Bryan Edwards is a former third-round pick from the 2020 NFL Draft and showed flashes of potential last season with Las Vegas. While he never went over the 100-yard receiving mark or had more than four receptions in a game, Edwards is still a guy that has the skill set to be a solid contributor in the league.
Coming to the Falcon’s offense, Edwards has a good shot to grab the number two receiver spot in the passing offense. Also, keep in mind that new starting quarterback Mariota has played with Edwards in the past two seasons with the Raiders. This can be a big factor in having Edwards earn a lot of targets because of their familiarity from playing with each other and practicing on the second team for Las Vegas.
Rookie receiver London will be a primary option in the passing offense, followed by second-year tight end Kyle Pitts. As London and Pitts will face more attention from the defense, Edwards will definitely earn his fair share of targets as a result.
Atlanta is probably going to be playing from behind in most of the games they’re playing. This means that there might be more than enough passing targets to go around and garbage time is prime time in fantasy football. Edwards is not likely to be drafted in your fantasy football leagues but he’s a very good candidate to add to your waiver watchlist.
Edwards is the type of guy you can pick up if you need to make a trade to improve other parts of your roster. If you need to part with a receiver, grabbing Edwards off the waiver wire can be a good candidate. It’s still worth seeing how he performs in the first couple of weeks before using this strategy, but don’t discount the former Raiders teammates in Edwards and Mariota connecting early and often as they adjust to this new system in Atlanta.
Bold Fantasy Football Prediction
Tyler Allgeier will finish as a top-15 fantasy running back
This was already brought up, but this running back depth chart in Atlanta is not anything to write home about. While they may start the season out by being a running back by committee, Allgeier is the clear cut above the rest when it comes to being a pure runner.
One of the things that Allgeier needs to work on is that he’s not a serious pass-catcher, but he can easily work on that during practice. Even if he doesn’t become a dual-threat running back, he still has good value as a runner similar to Nick Chubb, Damien Harris, and Derrick Henry.
He’s got a good shot to break the Falcons rookie record for rushing yards in a single season which is currently at 1,023 by William Andrews back in 1979. Also, consider the fact that eight out of the 11 rushing touchdowns that were scored by the Falcons last season came inside the red zone. Allgeier will surely get those carries and that can increase his fantasy football point total as well.
Allgeier is a sleeper for sure and ensures you’re aware of it to help secure one of the more underrated running backs in fantasy football.