Let’s start with a projection of total opportunities. Ryan has topped 600 pass attempts in each of the last two seasons, and he finished third in the league last year despite missing one game. Add Matt Schaub’s 52 attempts in that game, or anything close and “Matty Ice” would have led the league going away. Jared Goff led the league with 626 attempts, while Ryan had 606.
Ryan had not missed a game for the Falcons since 2009 before last year. So let’s book him for a full 16 games, and something close to the 39.5 pass attempts per game he has averaged over the last two seasons. At 38 per game, that’s 608 attempts over 16 games. At 39 per game, it’s 624 and at 40 per game it’s 640 attempts for a full season.
So let’s say Ryan has 630 pass attempts in 2020, and we’ll sprinkle in 10 more from Schaub.
640 targets, divided this way.
RB Ito Smith-15
TE Jaeden Graham-15
RB Brian Hill-10
RB Quadree Ollison-5
That’s a pretty top-heavy target dispersal, with Jones (23.4), Ridley (19.2), Hurst (14.8), Gage (14.4) and Gurley (9.4) combining for an 81.2 percent share. The players who make up the smaller chunks of the pie could be different, and there could be a couple more who get a stray target or two. But for this exercise, those down-spout players are inconsequential.
Narrowing back down to the Falcons wide receivers. Jones is in line for another 90-100 catches for 1,300-1,400 yards and 5-10 touchdowns. That will put him in the top-5 range among wide receivers again, with the potential to finish as the overall WR1.
Ridley is a trickier projection. But a bump to something like 80 catches for over 1,000 yards and eight or nine touchdowns is an easy expectation for this year. In a broader sense, his upside beyond that kind of projection shouldn’t be ignored as receivers in the high-end WR2 range go off the board in your drafts.
Gage will need an injury to open up a serious fantasy ceiling this year. But he showed what he can do in a bigger role late last year, and there are far worse ways to use a late draft pick in deeper PPR leagues.
Treadwell, Blake, Hardy and the like can be completely ignored in fantasy football circles until further notice. Even if Jones, Ridley and/or Gage were to suffer a serious injury, it’s hard to see a lot of upside for anyone on the back end of the depth chart.