The Falcons traded Julio Jones in the off-season, but they still have two elite fantasy football receivers for 2021: third-year Calvin Ridley and rookie Kyle Pitts. Atlanta’s two newer reality first-round picks go to their positions early in fantasy drafts.
Ridley is named the top four wide receiver by most managers in the second round, scoring his goal in the PPR leagues with half a point by 2020. Pitts after having a monster final season in Florida (43 catches for 770 yards , 12 TDs) is picked on the fifth round on average, anywhere from four to six under the tight ends.
Can you be confident that both Ridley and Pitts will make great returns on their respective design series? Absolutely. Both have the full capabilities to get big catch, yardage and touchdown totals, from expanding the field to finishing in the red zone.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has helped many of his goals in how to produce stallions over the years, including Roddy White, Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, and longtime contact Jones. Now it is Ridley and Pitts’ turn to dominate as a dynamic duo. Talent is the number one thing that defines fantasy football students, and Ridley and Pitts have tons of it when they are teenagers.
IYER: Where Ridley is one of the other best wide receivers in the NFL
“At different points in your career – and I’ve played for a long time – there are different waves of it. I had Roddy and Tony G. early in my sophomore year. Both were extremely productive. These guys are different. “In terms of their skills,” said Ryan.
“Roddy was a big, strong recipient with bruises, really physical. Calvin has great speed and change of direction and really good breakup ability. I’m excited to see what Kyle can bring to the table. He works hard and is eager to He’s also great to be around. “
Ridley, when Jones was injured with an Achilles tendon injury for most of last season, was already emerging as the # 1 spot, catching 90 of his 143 goals for 1,374 yards and 9 TDs. He also averaged an impressive 15.3 yards per catch. That’s scary ground for Ridley as he moves on to a new offensive under rookie head coach Arthur Smith that will take further advantage of Ridley’s big-play flair as he’s open more often outside of play-action shots in the field.
“He’s been explosive for us since he was here in Atlanta, one of the best in the league making explosive plays,” said Ryan. “He’s got a great ability to go these deeper paths, a great sense of when to create that breakup in order to win in the timing of the game, which is huge. He’s also got great hands and goes well with what Art (Coach Smith) is trying to do here. From his skills to his mental state, Calvin has everything you could want to be one of the best receivers in the league. “
Ryan paid attention to Saturdays as Pitts picked it all up in college last season, and was personally more impressed with Pitts’ hands, athleticism, and red zone skills through the pre-season training camp and game action.
2021 FANTASY RANKING: Wide Receiver | Tight ends
“If you saw him on TV, you could tell this guy could be doing some games. Since he was throwing Kyle early, he has a long range and is extremely long,” said Ryan. “A tight ending can be difficult at first because you have so many different job requirements. You have to be physical and understand the scheme and you are very involved in the passing game. It can be overwhelming, but he did a great job.” Work in the camp with attention to detail.
“Our goal is to make him improve over the course of the year. The player you see in Week 1 will be very different from the man you see towards the end of the season. If we can do that, he will be a great one first season. “
What will help Ryan get the ball well to his cleats in the redesigned passing game is a scheme of some familiar concepts from what his 2016 MVP season spawned under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur. Smith trained the Titans’ tight ends before replacing LaFleur as that team’s offensive coordinator in 2019.
“From a learning and terminology standpoint, it helps a lot to have read this beforehand,” said Ryan. “The learning curve is shortened and you absorb it much faster. At one point in my career we did this or something like that. Art has its own nuances of how it wants to do things, so you try to pick up those things and get things done as quickly as possible. But since I have a good foundation for what we do, I feel comfortable with it. “
The statistical advantage of Ridley and Pitts is also compounded by the fact that they have complementary reception games every week to put the defense into difficult cover dilemmas. Since Smith mixed the personnel groupings between “11” (three wide receivers) and his signature “12” from Tennessee (two tight ends), No. 2 Wideout Russell Gage and No. 2 tight end Hayden Hurst will be among those who have Ridley and Pitts the right amount of support to keep that defense honest.
“Both guys are versatile. You can use them in many places.” Ryan said of Ridley and Pitts. “Both of them have a really good grasp of the whole route tree. Some guys are just inside or just outside and are only comfortable with a small portion of the routes. Both can go inside or outside. They will play any fountain and will do some solid others as well Have guns with speed that you can pay for too. I’m excited and it’s going to be a lot of fun on this offensive. “
Ryan, aka “Matty Ice,” spoke to SN to promote the Tide Cold Washing Machine, including a commercial with other cool celebrities nicknamed “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Ice-T. The #TurnToCold campaign promotes greener laundry and is giving away some of the exclusive money-saving machines to happy NFL fans.
“I was also excited to do a commercial with two of my childhood heroes,” said Ryan. “I grew up with ‘Stone Cold’, I also listened to Ice-T and then saw it for so long on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ for a day with them – they were so cool guys, down to earth, it’s fun, being with them – it’s a day I’ll always remember. “
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