NFL Franchise Exit Report: Atlanta Falcons

By: Little Italy (Publisher)

Follow on Twitter: @LILITALY853

Division: NFC South

2020 Finish: 29th

Record: (4-12)

2021 First RD Draft Pick: 4th

What went Right in 2020?

For the Atlanta Falcons the biggest thing that went right in 2020 was the emergence of wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Entering the 2020 season, I, like many, in the fantasy industry was high on the young Atlanta receiver. Ridley was being compared to Chris Godwin from the season prior, in the sense that a similar breakout season was coming. That is exactly what happened as the 2020 season saw a bit of a passing of the torch to Ridley from Julio Jones, who has been the teams alpha pass catcher for the past six seasons. Ridley would become the teams Alpha this season and finish as fantasy footballs WR5. Unlike Julio this past season, Ridley was one of the most consistent receivers week to week, which as fantasy owners we appreciate. Do I think that success carries over to the 2021 season with new Head Coach Arthur Smith now in charge? Yes, I think it does. Ridley should be drafted this summer as a top eight wide receiver at the very least. His talent and upside makes him one of the most reliable at the position. As far as Julio Jones goes, I think his days as an elite wide receiver are over. I do think he could have one to two good fantasy seasons left in the tank, but he is no longer worth that round one to early second round price tag.

What Needs to Improve in 2021?

The most obvious area needing improved upon for 2021 is the running back position. At the start of the 2020 season, the Falcons brought in former Rams RB Todd Gurley to be the team’s new lead back, and boy did that not pan out. When this transaction went down, I went on record as to say what a waste of money this would be, and sure enough, it was. By seasons end Gurley wasn’t even able to outperform Ito Smith and Brian Hill who are nothing more than depth/ back up caliber players. With Smith now the new Head Coach, you best believe he will be looking for a running back that will be able to withstand his offensive style. Smith is coming over from a Titans team that featured the league’s leading rusher in 2020, workhorse Derrick Henry. I fully expect the Falcons to go after a top rookie in this springs NFL draft. Selfishly I would love to see Javonte Williams end up here as the featured back, as he is a physical runner who can also get it done as a pass catcher. Another area that could use improvement is the offensive line. This unit was not very good at opening holes for the run game or protecting veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. Next time I will dive into the Franchise Exit Report for the Cincinnati Bengals.