Cordarelle Patterson: It seems Atlanta committed to Patterson as their RB1 after releasing Mike Davis (something most fantasy managers did halfway through last season). They also failed to make any notable RB additions during the offseason aside from Damien Williams or fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier. Competition in the RB room may be less important than it actually seems considering Patterson’s role. He experienced a bit of a breakout season last year working in a RB/WR hybrid playmaker type-role. Whether or not 2021 was his Cinderella season is yet to be seen. With that being said, he is an explosive playmaker and provides plenty of upside. Assuming he sees the same usage as he did last season, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Patterson to find himself back in high-end RB2/low-end RB1 territory.
Kyle Pitts: Last season was a rollercoaster. Many fantasy fans would consider it a failure on account of severe inconsistency. But from another perspective, it could be argued he had one of the greatest seasons by a rookie TE in history. Sure, he only scored one TD, and failed to stack many fantasy relevant weeks together… But 1,000+ yards and 68 catches as a rookie TE is nothing to scoff at. Now firmly acclimated to NFL defenses, the athletic specimen that is Pitts could be on the cusp of a true breakout season as the head of the Falcons pecking order. If Pitts manages to improve on his numbers from last season, and find the endzone only a few more times, he should finish as a top-five TE by default.
Drake London: Atlanta finished 2021 with the 29th ranked defense, and failed to truly improve at any position during the offseason. I’ve got a feeling (call it a strong hunch) this Falcons team is going to be passing a lot. This could mean great things for Drake London, who will immediately step in as the team's top WR. London excels at jump ball grabs and could quickly become the go-to guy in the red-zone. His QB situation isn’t ideal, but we’ve seen plenty of guys do a lot more with a lot less. I wouldn’t expect Jamaar Chase-like production out of the rook from day one, but he is certainly an interesting prospect with a clear path to fantasy-friendly volume.
Damien Williams: The scrappy vet has found himself in a decent fantasy situation after signing with the Falcons. With Mike Davis out of town, Williams is likely to inherit his 2021 role. Davis netted an average of 10.3 touches per game working alongside Patterson last season. Since 2019, Williams averages 15.2 PPR points per game when he receives 10 or more touches. Williams offers legit RB2 upside (likely dependent on the 31-year-old Patterson’s ability to stay healthy) and is currently being drafted as an RB5 (ADP: RB68, 204th overall via FantasyPros). Actual production is far from guaranteed, but you’re unlikely to find a RB with upside like Williams that late in the draft.
Olamide Zaccheus: Zaccheus could prove to be a usable WR3 at times, especially if an unforeseen injury strikes. But, as the third/fourth option in the pass game, it will be difficult to project consistent season-long production working with a low-volume passer like Marcus Mariota. The former Titan/Raider has never finished a season with more than 3,450 yards. I’m not optimistic about Zaccheus (recorded 100+ yards in a game just once in his three-year NFL career, zero games with 60+ yards in 2021) being anything more than a sneaky/risky flex on any given week. Those expecting him to fill Russell Gage’s shoes may be disappointed.
Marcus Mariota: If there are no lofty expectations for you, can you truly be a bust? Mariota is currently going as QB29. He possesses little value outside of two-QB leagues, but the appeal is understandable. As a dual-threat QB, Mariota has shown flashes of his fantasy potential before (18 career games with 21.5+ fantasy points, four games with 30+). He could prove to be a usable streamer at times this season. However, there is a reason he fizzled out as a starter before. He lacks sufficient pocket awareness, and has proven to be a low-volume passer. He averaged three sacks taken per game and threw for a mere 2,528 pass yards and 11 TDs in his last full season as a starter. Not to mention, he is often injured (has missed at least one game in every season). The Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder in this year's draft, and while it's unlikely he plays right away, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take the reins from Mariota at some point this season.
Desmond Ridder: Speaking of… Ridder is actually a talented prospect with good accuracy, rushing upside and admirable decision-making skills (145.8 career passer rating at Cincinatti, 87:28 TD/INT ratio). In all likelihood he is Atlanta’s QB of the future, or at least more likely than Mariota. Ridder's value will be exclusive to dynasty leagues in the short-term. As it stands, he is avoidable in redraft. All we can do now is speculate and hope the preseason provides us with a more enlightening perspective.
Tim is a fantasy football enthusiast who run's the Instagram page @timsfantasytips and is a writer for Fantasy Pros.