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Calvin Ridley Suspension: Fantasy Football Impact & Takeaways (2022)

Calvin Ridley Suspension: Fantasy Football Impact & Takeaways (2022)

Fantasy football managers were rocked by the news of Calvin Ridley‘s year-long suspension as a result of gambling on the NFL during his time away from the Atlanta Falcons. Our analysts discuss the fantasy football impact of the news as it relates to the 2022 Falcons, Ridley’s dynasty value, and fantasy football managers overall 2022 draft strategy.

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The Details of Calvin Ridley‘s Suspension

Calvin Ridley suspended for one year

In a shocking update from Tom Pelissero, he reports that Falcons WR Calvin Ridley has been suspended for one year by the NFL. Ridley was found to have been gambling on NFL games last season after leaving the Falcons for personal reasons. (Tom Pelissero on Twitter)

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The Impact on Calvin Ridley‘s Dynasty Value

Calvin Ridley has fallen in my dynasty rankings for fear that he may never step on an NFL football field again. However, if I am a team on a rebuild I am immediately looking to buy Ridley on the cheap. The talent is still apparent and that always reigns supreme when NFL teams elect to make roster decisions. Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon seemed to have endless second chances. Obviously, his value can hit rock bottom, but there’s a chance his value just appreciates up until 2023.
– Andrew Erickson

There aren’t many appealing options if you’re a Ridley stakeholder. Either carry him on your roster in 2022 and hope he’s something close to the 2020 version of Calvin Ridley upon his return in 2023, or sell him for pennies on the dollar. If I were going to flip him, I’d probably take a mid-second-round pick this year or a second-rounder in 2023’s beefier rookie drafts. If you’re doing a gut renovation of your roster, Ridley is a worthy target. Try offering the downtrodden Ridley investor in your league an aging but useful veteran and sell it as a significant upgrade for 2022.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Ridley is already 27, and he’s now slated to miss at least the 2022 season after missing most of the 2021 campaign. Ridley investors can’t seem to catch a break.

Translation: I’m looking to buy him on the cheap in dynasty.

How much is too much to pay to acquire him?

A first-rounder is too much. A mid-second is probably about right — but I’m also a risk-seeker so take that into account.

– Matt Freedman

The Impact on the 2022 Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons should re-sign WR Russell Gage with Calvin Ridley completely removed from the picture.

Since Week 11, the Falcons slot receiver commanded a 29% target share and ranked 9th in yards per route run (2.56).
– Erickson

The Falcons are now compelled to make the WR position a draft priority, and Atlanta becomes an attractive landing spot for a rookie receiver. Not only are there ample targets available, but QB Matt Ryan is still a capable distributor who ranked 11th in pass attempts in 2021 and first in 2020, and the Falcons figure to be facing a lot of negative game scripts in 2022. Atlanta would be a dream spot for, say, Garrett Wilson or Drake London in the first round, or for George Pickens or Christian Watson in the second.

Matt Ryan was on my “avoid” list even before the Ridley news, and now there’s not a chance I’ll draft him anywhere. He doesn’t run, and his efficiency has declined with age. Unless he has above-average pass-catching weaponry, there’s no appeal.

Is anyone else feeling nervous about what this means for Kyle Pitts’ fantasy value? If the Falcons don’t add significant WR firepower via free agency and/or the draft, opponents may be emboldened to put their top cornerbacks on Pitts. It’s enough to make Pitts investors wish the Falcons would use him in-line more often just so he could finally get some matchups against safeties and linebackers.

I’m not sure that Russell Gage is especially talented, but it’s hard to believe the impending free agent could find greater target opporunity anywhere else than he could by re-signing with the Falcons. If he re-signs, I’ll be interested in him in the latter rounds of 2022 drafts.
– Fitzmaurice

Matt Ryan: Even with Calvin Ridley expected to play in 2022, Matt Ryan was a low-end fantasy QB2. Now he feels more like a QB3.

Cordarrelle Patterson: If he re-signs with the Falcons, he will likely approach the amplified usage he enjoyed in the second half of 2021 without Calvin Ridley. The Falcons offense could be “smelly dog” bad in 2022, but Patterson will be an upside RB3 with his expected opportunity share.

Russell Gage: I expect the Falcons to address the wide receiver position this offseason via free agency or the draft, but even so Gage will likely have career-high marks in targets and yards receiving in 2022 … if he re-signs with the Falcons.

Kyle Pitts: Even before the Ridley news, Pitts was a locked-in top-four fantasy tight end for 2022. Now, I expect many aggressive drafters to make a play for him as the No. 2 tight end off the board.
– Freedman

The announcement of Calvin Ridley’s suspension for the 2022 season is an added dose of salt in the skill position wound for the Atlanta Falcons’ depth chart. While the previously expected outcome for the upcoming season was Falcons’ brass watching Ridley soak up targets on another squad, they can wave goodbye to any impending trade and draft capital gain in the near future.

With Russell Gage (UFA), Olamide Zaccheaus (RFA), Hayden Hurst (UFA), and Cordarrelle Patterson (UFA) all possible departures, putting it mildly, Atlanta has some positions of need in the pass game department outside of Kyle Pitts. As the team currently ranks 21st in salary cap space ($3.8 million free), they could look to the NFL Draft to restock the cupboard. They hold four picks (eighth, 43rd, 58th, 74th) inside the top 75 selections and could acquire more if they trade back outside the top ten. After an NFL Combine that saw numerous wide receivers set stopwatches on fire, I expect Arthur Smith and company to add pass catchers in Days 2 and 3 of the draft and save their top selection for another position of need.
– Derek Brown

The Impact on 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

Ridley’s ADP was in the middle of the fourth round prior to his suspension around wide receivers Mike Evans, DJ Moore, Terry McLaurin, and Elijah Moore.

His draft price was already steep considering all the ambiguity about his situation in 2022.

I’d suggest pivoting to Michael Thomas or Chris Godwin a round later as better replacement values due to question marks. I’d also be hammering tight end Kyle Pitts at the end of the second/top of the third with him officially the clear-cut No. 1 target in the passing game.

It’s incredibly easy to build a Falcons’ best ball stack between Pitts, Cordarelle Patterson (109 ADP), Gage (146 ADP), and Matt Ryan (166 ADP).
– Erickson

A lot of fantasy managers believe the fallacy that wide receiver is a deep position. It really isn’t, and the Ridley suspension further dilutes the talent pool at a critical position. Zero-RB haters will despise this message, but I’ll deliver it anyway: Loading up on receivers in the early rounds will be a +EV strategy in 2021, just as it was in 2021.
– Fitzmaurice

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