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Cordarrelle Patterson: Gadget Player or Waiver Wire Target? (2021 Fantasy Football)

Sep 21, 2021

Is there a more interesting player in the NFL, purely from the standpoint of usage and expectations throughout his career, than Cordarrelle Patterson? 

The fantasy world has seemingly yet to decide whether the term “gadget player” is a good, bad or neutral designation and whether or not it applies to Patterson. 

He’s currently available in more than 90% of ESPN leagues and should be worth your consideration.

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Player Profile

Patterson was a first-round pick in 2013, and while some may say he didn’t live up to expectations, the statistics could tell a different story. He had a sensational rookie season, not only accruing 627 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns but returning two kickoffs for touchdowns and leading the NFL in yards per kick return with 32.4.

Patterson rode that momentum in the return game, returning six kickoffs for touchdowns over the next seven seasons and maintaining a career average return of 29.8 yards. He’s tied for first all-time in kicks returned for a touchdown. 

However, his promise as an offensive weapon didn’t immediately come to fruition. Over his next seven seasons, Patterson went from Minnesota to Oakland to New England to Chicago, not once totaling more than 501 yards from scrimmage or four touchdowns (excluding returns). 

Now, the 30-year old Patterson may have the best opportunity of his life to prove what Vikings fans in 2013 wished he did eight years ago … that he can be an asset on offense. 

Through two games with the Atlanta Falcons, Patterson has 21 touches for 136 yards and two touchdowns. 

State of The Offense

Saying the Falcons’ offense has underwhelmed might be the understatement of the millennium. Arthur Smith left his post as the Tennessee Titans’ Offensive Coordinator to try and right the ship in Atlanta before Matt Ryan was faced with the thought of retirement. His first two games have not been what Falcons fans sought. Only the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and (ahead of MNF) the Green Bay Packers have scored fewer touchdowns than the Falcons (3) in 2021. 

Game film shows some glaring weaknesses along the offensive line. However, the Falcons have faced two formidable defensive fronts in the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Oddly enough, those offensive line issues do not hurt Patterson’s stock. They might actually increase it. As evidenced by his historic career as a kick returner, Patterson is best in open space. What do you do when your quarterback doesn’t have time to sit in the pocket? You get the ball out quickly. Patterson can be lethal when catching screens or short passes. 

Patterson, who is listed as a running back for the Falcons (he officially switched positions from Wide Receiver sometime in the 2018-19 range), is fighting for carries with Mike Davis. Patterson has 21 touches to Davis’ 34 so far this season.

Player Outlook

That split between Davis and Patterson, barring injury, seems as though it is a fair indication of how the rest of the season will go. Unless either one’s wheels completely fall off, I don’t see either one completely overtaking the RB1 role. 

It was encouraging (for Patterson owners) to see Patterson in some near-goalline packages Sunday against the Bucs. 

Given Davis’s presence, his ceiling is tampered, but Patterson is worth an add if you’re desperate for a running back. Buyer beware. There will be games where Patterson completely disappears. There will be games when the Falcons’ potentially formidable passing attack is firing on all cylinders, and Patterson will not likely be a beneficiary, as Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, and Russell Gage should be ahead of him in the pecking order of receivers.

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TJ Horgan is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from TJ, check out his archive and follow him @tjhorgantv.

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