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2023 Fantasy Football Analysis and Preview for Every Player on the Atlanta Falcons

Updated: Jun 9, 2023




2022 was another down year for the Atlanta Falcons, as they finished 7-10 for the 2nd straight year on their way to the 8th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, bringing Arthur Smith to a career record of 14-20 as an NFL Head Coach.


Much of it was predictably ugly from a fantasy football standpoint as the offense finished:


❌ 24th in yards

❌ 31st in pass attempts

❌ 31st in passing yards

❌ 24th in passing TDs


That said, it certainly wasn't all bad for the Falcons, as the offense also finished:


✅ 15th in scoring

✅ 1st in rushing attempts (more on that when we get to Bijan Robinson 🤤)

✅ 3rd in rushing yards (more on that when we get to Bijan Robinson 🤤)

✅ 10th in rushing TDs (more on that when we get to Bijan Robinson 🤤)


The run-heavy approach was understandable and expected considering Arthur Smith's background (more on that in a minute) and having a QB room that was led by journeyman Marcus Mariota and a 3rd round rookie.


It was a mess for fantasy football. Exciting rookie Drake London finished as fantasy's WR 31, blue-chip TE Kyle Pitts finished as fantasy's TE 22 in PPR points per game (just 7.6), and Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier cannibalized each other's fantasy value all season long.


(For what it's worth, Allgeier did get hot at the right time, averaging 16.58 PPR points per game on 21.25 touches for 120.75 scrimmage yards per game plus 2 TDs over the final 4 weeks of the season.)


All in all, 2022 was a year to mostly forget for the Falcons and anyone invested in them in fantasy football.


That said, there's plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2023.


2023 Fantasy Football: Looking Ahead

This offseason, Atlanta:

  • Re-signed their top free agent, RT Kaleb McGary, and drafted Syracuse's Guard, Matthew Bergeron, to bolster the offensive line

  • Spent big money on free agents Jessie Bates (Safety) and David Onyemata (DT) in an attempt to improve a defense that's finished 29th and 23rd in scoring during Arthur Smith's time in Atlanta

  • Drafted generational talent Bijan Robinson with the 8th pick in the NFL draft, telegraphing their offensive game plan to anyone with a brain

  • Added noteworthy—if nothing else—fantasy football names in Taylor Heinicke (QB), Mack Hollins (WR), Scotty Miller (WR), Khadarel Hodge (WR) and Jonnu Smith (TE)


As a whole, the Falcons are expected to take a step forward in 2023, projected for over 8.5 wins and a 2nd place finish in the NFC South despite back-to-back 7 win seasons that landed them in 3rd and 4th place.


And that could (should?) pay off at the individual level for fantasy football purposes—especially for Bijan Robinson.


So what does it all mean for fantasy football?

After 4 seasons as an NFL Offensive Coordinator (2019 and 2020 Titans) and Head Coach (2021and 2022 Falcons), Arthur Smith's offensive units have finished:


🟢 10th (2019), 4th (2020), 26th (2021) and 15th (2022) in scoring

🟡 12th (2019), 2nd (2020), 29th (2021) and 24th (2022) in yards

🟢 10th (2019), 2nd (2020), 29th (2021) and 1st (2022) in rushing attempts

🟢 3rd (2019), 2nd (2020), 31st (2021) and 3rd (2022) in rushing yards

🟢 2nd (2019), 2nd (2020), 27th (2021) and 10th (2022) in rushing TDs

🔴 31st (2019), 30th (2020), 19th (2021) and 31st (2022) in passing attempts

🔴 21st (2019), 23rd (2020), 16th (2021) and 31st (2022) in passing yards

🟡 8th (2019), 8th (2020), 25th (2021) and 24th (2022) in passing TDs


Smith's stubborn commitment to the running game persisted even despite his defenses ranking 12th, 24th, 29th and 23rd in scoring over the last 4 seasons, proving he's willing to run the ball even in negative game script.


Of course, there has been some success in the passing game at the individual level for Smith's offenses (Ryan Tannehill was the QB 7 in 2020, AJ Brown was the WR 21 in 2019 and WR 14 in 2020, Kyle Pitts was the TE 6 in 2021, etc.).


But it's clear what Smith wants to do with the football.


And after using the 8th overall draft pick on one of the best RB prospects of the last century, everyone and their mom knows who's getting the rock from the opening kickoff.


As the early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, expect Bijan Robinson to handle a massive workload from the very second his NFL career begins.


With that all being said, let's preview each and every single fantasy-relevant member of the Atlanta Falcons! 👇


Atlanta Falcons Quarterbacks

🔴 QB - Desmond Ridder

There wasn't anything especially memorable about Desmond Ridder's NFL debut, as the 3rd round rookie from Cincinnati completed 73 of 115 passes (63%) for 708 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs across 4 games, adding 16 carries for 64 scoreless rushing yards.


He averaged 9.7 fantasy points per game over those 4 contests with a career high of 15.9 fantasy points against the Buccaneers in week 18 (he completed 19 of 30 passes for 224 yards and 2 TDs). He's scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in 3 of 4 career games.


It's certainly fair to expect a slow start from a 3rd round rookie in a run-heavy offense with limited receiving options (Kyle Pitts was already out for the year and rookie Drake London was the only real serviceable option in the passing game).


Still, the Falcons themselves don't seem especially sold on Ridder as the answer at QB for Atlanta after visiting with both CJ Stroud and Will Levis before the draft.


(Of course, Atlanta passed on Levis with the 8th overall pick and Falcons coach Arthur Smith said he expects Ridder to "take the next step."


For what it's worth, there has been at least some success for QBs in Arthur Smith's system, as Ryan Tannehill was fantasy's QB 10 in fantasy points per game (18.7) in 2019, and then fantasy's QB 11 in PPG (21.5) in 2020.


But there's also been some notable duds in the run-heavy scheme: Matt Ryan was fantasy's QB 19 in 2021 and Marcus Mariota was fantasy's QB 20 in 2022.


Another concern for Ridder is that he may not have a very long leash after the Falcons notably signed Taylor Heinicke, formerly of the Washington Commanders, who's already proven himself to be a capable starter in the NFL.


That said, the Falcons—and Heinicke himself—have already made it clear that they view Ridder as the starter heading into the season. So it's Ridder's job to lose.


All in all, as an unproven, still-inexperienced 2nd year QB—albeit one that could be benched for Heinicke at any minute—in an offense that finished 31st in pass attempts last year before drafting RB Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick, Ridder is really tough to buy into in 2023 fantasy football leagues.


He's best approached as low end QB 2 that might not hang onto his job for all 17 games.


Dynasty Leagues: Desmond Ridder is currently the QB 29 in dynasty startup drafts and the QB 30 in dynasty Superflex startup drafts. He's flashed enough rushing ability to be an intriguing asset, but he's not someone I'm actively trying to target in any format.


Redraft Leagues: Ridder is currently the QB 30, drafted around pick 213 (late 18th round) in early best ball drafts. He's not someone that should be drafted in "normal" sized redraft leagues, but he could perhaps come into streaming value in solid matchups during the season.


Superflex Leagues: Ridder should be rostered in Superflex leagues, but expectations should remain low, and he should be treated as a bottom-barrel QB 2 who might not hang onto his job for all 17 games.


Best Ball Leagues: Ridder is currently the QB 30, drafted around pick 213 (late 18th round) in early best ball drafts. Ideally, he's not someone that should be on best ball rosters as he's no sure thing to start all 17 games (and you can't release guys in best ball).


Max best ball exposure: 5%


🔴 QB - Taylor Heinicke

After holding his own while starting 24 games for the Washington Commanders over the last two seasons, 30-year-old Taylor Heinicke signed a two-year contract with the Falcons to backup 2nd year QB Desmond Ridder (at least for now).


If anything should happen to Ridder—or if he gets benched—Heinicke has proven himself as a capable QB in the NFL. Over 27 games where he's thrown at least 15 passes, the former Old Dominion QB has averaged:

  • 13.4 fantasy points per game

  • 210.7 passing yards per game

  • 1.3 passing TDs per game (34 total)

  • 0.9 interceptions per game (24 total)

  • 17.2 rushing yards per game

  • 0.1 rushing TDs per game (2 total)

  • 0.3 lost fumbles per game (7 total)

Heinicke has just as many games over 15 fantasy points (8) as he does games under 10 fantasy points (8), with 6 games over 20 fantasy points, including a career high of 27.9 points against, ironically enough, the Falcons in 2021.


Obviously, as a backup QB on a run-first team, Heinicke can't be drafted in most fantasy football leagues.


But he's a solid end-of-bench stash in Superflex leagues and could enter the redraft streaming radar if Atlanta pulls the plug on Ridder.


Dynasty Leagues: Heinicke is not currently worth rostering in dynasty leagues.


Redraft Leagues: Heinicke is currently undrafted, which is how it should be.


Superflex Leagues: Heinicke is an intriguing end-of-bench stash in Superflex leagues as someone who could fill in in a pinch if anything were to happen to Desmond Ridder.


Best Ball Leagues: Heinicke is currently undrafted, which is how it should be.


Atlanta Falcons Running Backs

🤤 RB - Bijan Robinson

Bijan Robinson is one of the most elite, complete athletes you will ever see at the running back position, and the Atlanta Falcons made him the 8th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, signaling what should be an absolutely massive workload for the 21 year old phenom.


It's a match made in heaven for fantasy footballers, as the Texas Longhorn will join an Arthur Smith offense that finished 1st in rushing attempts and 3rd in rushing yards last season, something that's no anomaly.


Smith's offenses have almost always been dominant in the run game across 4 seasons as an NFL Offensive Coordinator (2019 and 2020 with the Titans) and Head Coach (2021 and 2022 with the Falcons. From 2019 to 2022, Smith's offenses have finished:


🟢 10th - 2nd - 29th and 1st in rushing attempts

🟢 3rd - 2nd - 31st and 3rd in rushing yards

🟢 2nd - 2nd - 27th and 10th in rushing TDs


Not surprisingly, this success has trickled down to the individual level in a big way...


Derrick Henry was fantasy's RB 5 under Smith in 2019, averaging 19.6 PPR points per game on a whopping 321 touches (5th most in football).


He topped that with Smith in 2020, scoring 20.8 PPR points per game to finish as fantasy's RB 3 on an absurd 397 touches (most in the NFL).


Then, in his first year with the Falcons (2021), Smith revived the career of Cordarrelle Patterson, feeding him a career-high 205 touches to help him score 14.7 PPR points per game and finish as fantasy's RB 9.


And last year, Smith made 5th round rookie Tyler Allgeier a 1,000 yard rusher, leading him to an RB 29 finish despite playing much of the season behind Patterson.


So you have an elite athlete/RB who's stepping into a massive workload in a system of proven success at the RB position.


Fantasy football doesn't need to be hard. Bijan Robinson is an easy top 10 selection with top 1 upside.


Dynasty Leagues: Bijan Robinson is currently THE RB 1 in dynasty startup drafts, going around the 4th pick overall. The only 2 players I'd (maybe) want over Bijan in dynasty leagues are Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase.


Redraft Leagues: Bijan Robinson is currently the RB 4 in early best ball drafts, selected around pick 9 overall after Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, Austin Ekeler, Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor. This is a perfectly reasonable cost, and I'd be fine taking him ahead of Kelce, Ekeler, Hill, Kupp and Taylor. Candidly, I wouldn't scoff at anyone who selects him 1st overall.


Best Ball Leagues: Bijan Robinson is currently the RB 4 in early best ball drafts, selected around pick 9 overall after Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, Austin Ekeler, Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor. This is a perfectly reasonable cost, and I'd be fine taking him ahead of Kelce, Ekeler, Hill, Kupp and Taylor. Candidly, I wouldn't scoff at anyone who selects him 1st overall.


Max best ball exposure: 25%


🟠 RB - Tyler Allgeier

2022 was a successful start to a career for Tyler Allgeier, a 5th round pick from BYU.


The 23 year old handled 226 touches—including 16 catches on 17 targets—for 1,174 scrimmage yards—139 receiving—and 4 TDs from scrimmage to score 10 PPR points per game and finish as fantasy's RB 29 despite spending most of the season behind/in rotation with Cordarrelle Patterson.


Allgeier got particularly hot over the final 4 games of the season, averaging 16.58 PPR points per game on 21.25 touches—including 1.5 catches on 1.75 targets—for 120.75 scrimmage yards per game with 2 TDs.


He scored 13 or more PPR points in each of the final 4 games, including a career high of 20.6 in week 15.


It was a great start to his career, but Allgeier's 2023 (and beyond) prospects took a fatal blow when the Falcons selected Texas' Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick in the 2023 draft, all but telegraphing an organizational desire to lock him into what should be a Derrick Henry-like workload.


Head Coach Arthur Smith has said that Allgeier would remain a "very important part" of the Falcons' offense, but it's hard to see Allgeier finding enough volume to remain fantasy relevant on a weekly basis—unless anything happened to Robinson.


When Derrick Henry handled 321 touches in 2019, the next closest RB on Arthur Smith's offense—Dion Lewis—handled just 79 touches over 16 games (4.9 per game).


And when Henry had 397 touches in 2020, the next closest RB—Jeremy McNichols—handled just 59 touches over 16 games (3.69 per game).


In other words, Allgeier fell off the fantasy football radar in normal sized leagues when the Falcons made Robinson the 8th pick in the draft (you don't pick an RB 8th overall in the NFL if you don't plan to force-feed him).


Allgeier best treated as an un-usable RB 4 that would be an instant RB 2 if anything happened to Robinson.


Dynasty Leagues: Tyler Allgeier will be trapped behind Bijan Robinson for the next 3 seasons, plummeting his dynasty value to near zero.


He's someone to hang onto if you roster him already, but he's not someone to target in trades.


In fact, considering he still gets drafted as the RB 38 in best ball drafts around pick 120 overall (10th round), it might be worth trying to "sell high" if someone thinks he'll still get playing time.


Redraft Leagues: Tyler Allgeier is currently drafted as the RB 38 around pick 120 overall (10th round).


While he is worth rostering as an end-of-bench stash that could become an RB 2 if anything happened to Bijan Robinson, it's impossible for me to justify drafting him that early when you can instead take guys like Courtland Sutton, Brandin Cooks, Gabe Davis, Tua Tagovailoa, Jahan Dotson, AJ Dillon, Kadarius Toney, Pat Freiermuth, Rashod Bateman, David Njoku, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Rodgers and more in that range.


Best Ball Leagues: Tyler Allgeier is currently drafted as the RB 38 around pick 120 overall (10th round) in early best ball drafts.


While he would be worth a late round flier as a possible in-season RB 2 if anything happened to Bijan Robinson, the 10th (or even 11th-12th) round is entirely too early for a running back that likely won't see 10 touches per game.


It's impossible for me to justify drafting him that early when you can instead take guys like Courtland Sutton, Brandin Cooks, Gabe Davis, Tua Tagovailoa, Jahan Dotson, AJ Dillon, Kadarius Toney, Pat Freiermuth, Rashod Bateman, David Njoku, Jamaal Williams, Aaron Rodgers and more in that range.


Max best ball exposure: 1%


🔴 RB - Cordarrelle Patterson

Remember when Cordarrelle Patterson suddenly appeared for 205 touches—including 52 catches on 69 very nice targets—and 1,166 scrimmage yards plus 11 TDs in 2021 after never exceeding 85 touches, 630 scrimmage yards or 7 TDs in any of the previous 8 seasons?


He was fantasy football's best waiver wire pickup of 2021 as fantasy manager's rode his late career revival to an RB 9 finish.


Good times!


But, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.


Patterson was still effective in 2022, his 2nd best season as a pro, turning 165 touches—including 21 catches on 31 targets—into 817 scrimmage yards and 8 TDs on his way to an RB 32 finish in fantasy football, but he took a clear backseat to 5th round rookie Tyler Allgeier as the year pressed on.


And now entering his age 32 season as a potential cut candidate for the Falcons, Patterson will be 3rd in line for touches behind Allgeier and 8th overall pick/incoming bellcow Bijan Robinson.


When Derrick Henry handled 321 touches in 2019, the next closest RB on Arthur Smith's offense—Dion Lewis—handled just 79 touches over 16 games (4.9 per game).


And when Henry had 397 touches in 2020, the next closest RB—Jeremy McNichols—handled just 59 touches over 16 games (3.69 per game).


Patterson's been great when given the chance. In 25 career games where he's handled at least 10 touches, he's averaged:

  • 14.8 PPR points per game

  • 14.4 touches per game

  • 3.7 targets per game

  • 2.7 catches per game

  • 78.5 scrimmage yards per game

  • 0.7 TDs per game (18 total)

But the problem is that it's nearly impossible to see a path where Patterson is getting anywhere near 10 touches per game.


In other words, Patterson fell off the fantasy football radar entirely in normal sized leagues when the Falcons made Robinson the 8th pick in the draft (you don't pick an RB 8th overall in the NFL if you don't plan to force-feed him).


Patterson is best approached as an unusable RB 4/5 that will only come into fantasy football relevance as a possible flex play if something were to happen to Bijan Robinson (or if he gets cut and lands somewhere with an uncertain RB room).


Dynasty Leagues: Entering his age 32 season and buried on the depth chart, Cordarrelle Patterson's dynasty value is on life support.


Redraft Leagues: Cordarrelle Patterson is currently the RB 61, drafted around pick 192 overall (16th/17th round). Candidly, he shouldn't be drafted at all.


Best Ball Leagues: Cordarrelle Patterson is currently the RB 61, drafted around pick 192 overall (16th/17th round). Candidly, he shouldn't be drafted at all.


Max best ball exposure: 0%


Atlanta Falcons Wide Receivers

🟡 WR - Drake London

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