An enormous portion of setting Fantasy expectations for an NFL team is figuring out the touch and target distribution. That can become quite maddening when you have a team like the Atlanta Falcons, who had one of the best (and most heavily targeted) receivers in the NFL, Julio Jones, and just drafted one of the most highly regarded receivers in the draft, Calvin Ridley.

It would be easy to think the Falcons are just going to fling the ball all over the field, but they have an improving defense and one of the most productive running back duos in the NFL. This seems like a clear case where Ridley's landing spot is going to greatly limit his Fantasy value unless Julio Jones suffers an injury. But that doesn't mean Ridley is irrelevant in Fantasy. 

If nothing else, his selection likely hurts Mohamed Sanu's value the most. Sanu is coming off arguably his best year in the NFL and was second in targets on last year's Falcons team by a fair margin. He could easily fall to third in targets this season and if the Falcons continue to improve on defense there may not be enough targets available to make Sanu rosterable. 

*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.

PLAYER

EXPECTED FP

POS. RANK

EXPECTED PPR FP

POS. RANK

Julio Jones

189.9

#5

284.9

#7

Devonta Freeman

194.7

#13

236.2

#12

Tevin Coleman

131.4

#32

158.6

#33

Calvin Ridley

99.4

#55

157

#54

Mohamed Sanu

88.9

#61

148.9

#57

Matt Ryan

293.5

#22

293.5

#22

Austin Hooper

80.6

#16

131.6

#15

Breaking down the touches

It wasn't a great first season for Steve Sarkisian running the Falcons offense. But a lot of the backwards movement in the Falcons offense was regression that was going to happen no matter who the offensive coordinator was. Sarkisian tried to make the offense as comfortable for Matt Ryan as possible and took a lot from Kyle Shanahan's offense in doing it. I've used a three-year Falcons history above, but there's one thing that stood out last year specifically: Sarkisian stopped using the running backs so much in the passing game.

That's a trend I would expect to continue after the acquisition of Ridley. That lowers the ceiling for both Freeman and Coleman, who already has plenty of volume concerns. 

Falcons touches
Player RuSHARE RuATT ReSHARE TGT REC TD
Devonta Freeman 52% 224 10% 54 41 10
Tevin Coleman 36% 155 7% 38 27 7
Julio Jones 0% 0 28% 151 94 7
Calvin Ridley 0% 0 16% 97 65 5
Mohamed Sanu 0% 0 16% 86 60 4
Austin Hooper 0% 0 13% 70 51 4

Of note: 

  • The touch breakdown between Freeman and Coleman is as tricky as any in the league. Over the past two years there has been very little consistency in terms of who receives what type of work. Coleman would benefit greatly from landing more of a pass-catching or goalline role. 
  • Julio Jones has No. 1 wide receiver upside each week and each season. His touchdown totals are almost always disappointing, but that's never something I count on being the case. Jones scoring 10-plus touchdowns is well within the realm of possibility.

The Leftovers

The Falcons didn't skimp on offense in the draft, even at positions where it's hard to see a need. The most glaring example was the selection of running back Ito Smith with the 126th pick overall. Smith is a smaller back who is extremely elusive. In theory he could be a nice change-of-pace or third down back. But it's hard to see the Falcons committing to giving a third back consistent touches when they're so set at the position.