Russell Gage is a Major 2021 Fantasy Sleeper Following the Julio Jones Trade - Roto Street Journal
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Russell Gage is a Major 2021 Fantasy Sleeper Following the Julio Jones Trade

The Titans broke the internet last week when they traded for Julio Jones. While much of #FantasyTwitter cried over AJ Brown WR1 SZN being over and gushed about Ryan Tannehill’s potential in a loaded offense, the trade impacted the Falcons offense on the same level. Julio’s exit will vault Calvin Ridley into fantasy WR1 status, Kyle Pitts into an uncharted rookie tight end territory, and Russell Gage into a legitimate WR2 role coming off of a career season.

Although the Falcons lost one of the league’s elite wideouts, it opened up a land of opportunity to those weapons. As a result, Gage knows he needs to make an immediate impression with his new head coach, Arthur Smith, to get on the field and take advantage of Jones’ vacated targets.

“Being on the same page as Matt [Ryan] and understanding what Arthur wants is big,” Gage said to the media. “Those things come hand in hand. When you get to playing faster, it’s all because you are more comfortable, and you know, this is what they want out of me.”

While no one with a brain would expect Gage to replicate Jones’ impact on the Falcons offense, Smith noted Gage will not only man the slot again but he could also feature in two wide receiver sets across from Ridley.

“Russ has done a nice job in the slot, but we’ll move Russ all over the place and then we got to make a decision as we get closer to the season, all right, we’re giving him a shot here,” Smith said. “He’s done well. He’s grown his game. Done this with a lot of players and everybody’s on a different timeline.

“So we envision Russ playing multiple spots.”

Gage said he accepted this challenge and relished the opportunity.

“I understand my role may have increased but I’m ready for it,” Gage said. “We’re going to keep moving forward.”

Since being drafted in the 2018 sixth round, Gage has improved every season. His role increased from special teams player to the receiver rotation after the team dealt Mohamed Sanu in 2019 and caught 49 passes. He followed up with a career season last year when he secured 72 of his 108 targets for 786 yards and four scores.

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“Something that really boosts my confidence is understanding what I could become. Understanding the sky is the limit for me,” Gage added. “I know I have so much more to do, so much more I can do, and so much more to prove. I think that for me really motivates me, gives me confidence, and pushes me to keep raising the bar.”

Although Gage only averaged 11 fantasy points and 6.5 targets last season when Jones missed time, he should benefit this season from playing multiple positions and an increased target share, while opposing defenses focus on Ridley and Pitts.

With Calvin Ridley jumping up to WR5 on The Wolf’s 2021 Fantasy Rankings & Big Board, Gage also sprang up to WR42, an absurd +24 vs the “experts.”

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