The Falcons have the most vacated targets of any team going from 2019 into 2020. Hayden Hurst should assume the Dirk Koetter-approved and praised TE1 role after the Ravens looked to fill Austin Hooper’s shoes by trading a 2nd round pick for Hurst.
I wouldn’t expect a 2019 Austin Hooper-type season from Hurst, but expect him to be peppered with enough targets to sustain him as a fantasy TE1. His ADP of the 9th round makes him a safe TE1 target with room for upside. Hooper averaged 7.8 targets per game before he injured his knee in Week 8.
While Calvin Ridley is someone I expect to take a leap in his 3rd year, be cautious. He had 4 big games to end the year… 3 of them being high volume games – Weeks 11, 12, and 13 with 8, 14, and 10 targets, respectively. Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman (who averaged 5 targets per game) both missed Weeks 11 and 12, and Hooper stayed out for Week 13 with Julio Jones also missing. By the way, in Week 12, 10 of Ridley 14 targets came after Julio left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury.
So, because of that big finish, it might have seemed like Ridley was performing because he finally had Sanu out of the way, but it doesn’t seem like that was the case…. especially when you consider Russell Gage stepping up and averaging even more targets the rest of the way (7.3 targets/game) than Sanu did (6 targets/game) as soon as Sanu was traded. Gage will be a WR picked up on waivers in deeper PPR leagues, by the way.
Still, since there are enough overall vacated targets, and Hurst isn’t quite Hooper, Ridley can become more consistent and gain a higher overall target share in the league’s most pass heavy offense, but keep an eye on his ADP. Drafting him before guys like Allen Robinson, Juju, and DJ Moore might prove costly.
Do you think Matt Ryan spreads the ball around enough to cap Ridley’s ceiling in 2020, or will Ridley finally break through as a borderline WR1 that he’s capable of being in such a pass heavy offense?