Prior to the 2022 NFL season, Falcons’ WR1 Calvin Ridley made a few bets and lost big time. Ridley lost more than the several “multi-legged” parlays he wagered on when he got caught by the league and was subsequently suspended for the entire season.
With Ridley looking for a way out of Atlanta, the Jaguars pounced on the opportunity to buy low on the former 1,000-yard wideout. Jacksonville sent two future draft picks to the Falcons at the trade deadline to boost its ascending passing game, headlined by Trevor Lawrence, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and others.
Although Ridley remains suspended, he can appeal for reinstatement on February 15 and if successful, he can get his nose in Doug Pederson’s playbook on April 17.
CALVIN RIDLEY FANTASY OUTLOOK
The last time we really saw Calvin Ridley on a football field was when he finished as the 2020 fantasy WR4 in his first season as the Falcons’ WR1. That season, Ridley hauled in 90 of 143 targets for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns.
However, Ridley faced mental health struggles in 2021, cutting his season short after playing only five games. Then, he was suspended for the 2022 season.
On one hand, the soon-to-be 29-year-old should be fresh after sitting out of football for nearly two full seasons. On the other hand, he’ll have to shake off some rust during camp and he will be playing with a new team and quarterback under a brand new scheme in 2022.
Ridley will mostly play X alongside Christian Kirk and Zay Jones — two players who had career seasons in 2022. Kirk saw 133 targets, Jones received 121 targets, while impending free agents Marvin Jones and Evan Engram combined for 179 targets last season. Out of the team’s 575 pass attempts, Jags’ receivers had a 64% target share (369).
Even if Engram returns, Ridley enters a pass-happy offense that had the ninth-highest pass attempts in 2022. Additionally, last season proved Lawrence and Pederson can engineer a fantasy-friendly offense with Travis Etienne (RB17), Kirk (WR11), Jones (WR26), and Engram (TE6) finishing as locked-in weekly starters.
Assuming Ridley is good to go, he will ultimately take a decent chunk of targets away from the rest of the offense — particularly Jones. However, it appeared Kirk and Jones developed a strong rapport with their second-year quarterback and both look to continue that success next season.
Training camp should be intriguing to see how Ridley looks and expect Lawrence to take another leap after his team went out and acquired a true stud to improve one of the league’s top offenses.
If Ridley is able to move past the demons that plagued his 2021 season, he could be a steal in redraft and dynasty leagues. We saw how Lawrence and the Jaguars’ offense improved under Pederson in year one and I’d expect an even greater jump in year two.
Keep an eye on The Wolf’s 2023 Fantasy Football Rankings to see where Ridley and his teammates land on his Big Board as it updates throughout the offseason.