Calvin Ridley was fine over his first two NFL seasons, but not yet a star. As much he looked like a third-year breakout candidate, he was also a tricky projection for 2020. But then he delivered 90 catches for 1,374 yards (fifth in the league) and nine touchdowns in 15 games. He finished as WR4 in standard fantasy scoring and WR5 in full PPR.
With Julio Jones missing seven games last season and playing less than 40 percent of the snaps in two others, Ridley got a test run as the Falcons’ No. 1 wide receiver. In the seven full games Jones missed in 2020, Ridley averaged 7.1 receptions and 109.3 yards per game. That would have been the finish as WR2 projected over 16 games. In one of the two games Jones played less than 40 percent of the game, Ridley had five catches for 90 yards. Add in that eighth game, Ridley’s per game averages over half a season in games Jones hardly played become 6.9 catches and 106.9 yards. In the ninth game where Jones either didn’t or hardly played, Ridley was shut out on five targets by Packers’ cornerback Jaire Alexander.
Jones has now been traded to the Tennessee Titans. So his target share available unabated.
Without Jones, Ridley’s numbers in 2020 were quite staggering (in a good way).
Calvin Ridley 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook
Ridley has naturally received an immediate bump in fantasy ranking in the wake of Jones being traded. Some bumps are fairly conservative, surely leaning into how Matt Ryan is a far worse quarterback when he hasn’t had Jones available. Ridley was already a top 10 wide receiver, so a bump into the top-5 is easy. But he’s got a path to being the WR1.
Pro Football Focus’ fresh projection for Ridley in 2021 is 100 catches for 1,564 yards and nine touchdowns with a finish as the WR2. I see more-110-120 catches (which might be conservative) for 1,600-1,700 yards and double-digit touchdowns. Ridley is worth drafting in the first round now.