Cordarrelle Patterson is a highly accomplished kickoff returner. But he’s never quite taken off as a wide receiver, as offensive coordinators have struggled to find a way to use him and he’s never mastered the finer points of the position. For a time in 2018, the New England Patriots used him as a running back. Last season, the Chicago Bears did the same to some degree.
Patterson has signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, and how the team labeled him was interesting.
Patterson has always been labeled as a wide receiver, but the Falcons listed him as a running back. They have turned over the top of their depth chart at the position, with Todd Gurley a free agent and the move to cut Ito Smith. Mike Davis and now Patterson are the new top two, with Quadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James further down the depth chart.
With the Bears last year, Patterson had 64 carries for 232 yards and a touchdown. He also had 21 catches for 132 yards. In 2018 with the Patriots, he averaged 5.4 yards a carry on 42 attempts. Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Patterson said he’s open to whatever role the Falcons have in mind for him. He also acknowledged things didn’t go as planned last year in Chicago.
“Last year didn’t go as planned at running back. Hopefully this year will go better,”
Patterson will find a familiar face on the Falcons’ coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Dave Ragone was the Bears’ passing game coordinator in 2020. He may have some ideas for how to use Patterson effectively.
The Falcons could draft a running back next week, which would diminish Patterson’s possible role in the backfield. But that wouldn’t necessarily take him out of having a role in the offense, as the third or fourth wide receiver and a general weapon.
Cordarrelle Patterson 2021 Fantasy Outlook
Patterson will have value in fantasy leagues that count return yards this year, no matter what. But purely as a wide receiver or a running back, or both if he gets multi-position eligibility, he’s far more promising than bankable right now. He’s a name to stash away in deeper leagues, and zero RB drafters should be particularly aware of how Patterson eventually fits on the Falcons’ depth chart.