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One of the NFL's biggest fears is having a player do something that brings the integrity of the game into question. Calvin Ridley did exactly that when he wagered on the Falcons last November. Although Ridley bet on the Falcons as well as other teams, allegedly didn't bet a lot of money and did so without any inside information, his decision to bet resulted in a suspension that will cost him at least the entire 2022 season. 

It's terrible for Ridley, but it's the NFL sending a message to the rest of its players telling them that betting on the game is problematic for the league and irreversibly bad for their careers. It had to be done. 

If Ridley's suspension ends following the 2022 season, he'll be 28 years old when the 2023 year begins. There's no guarantee he'll still be on the Falcons roster at that point, but a player as talented as he is will garner plenty of interest assuming he's in shape. There's plenty of optimism that Ridley will play in the NFL again someday. 

While Fantasy managers in redraft formats know not to draft Ridley, there are options to consider in long-term keeper and Dynasty leagues. If you're thinking with the long-view, the time to try and snag Ridley in a trade is right now. His value won't get much lower. Naturally, the folks who currently roster Ridley also know this and won't give him up for something lame like a third-round rookie pick. You could try, of course, but expect the going rate for Ridley to realistically be in the neighborhood of a second-round rookie pick and another contributing player. At a minimum, making your interest in Ridley known now could help lay the foundation for a trade later, but only impatient managers will give him up for peanuts.

For more on the Ridley suspension fallout and what it means for every Falcons teammate in Fantasy moving forward, check out the Fantasy Football Today recap:

It's time for a Pitts party

There's no question that Ridley's suspension opens up the target share for Pitts moving forward. What the second-year tight end does with them is what matters most for Fantasy. We saw a sneak peek in a dozen games last year without Ridley and while the targets went up, the overall numbers were a little disappointing. 

  • In five games with Ridley: 6.8 targets per game, 4.4 catches per game, 70.4 yards per game, no touchdowns; a 17.3% target share, a 65% catch rate, 10.8-yard adot (average depth of target) and six red-zone targets. Nine of 22 catches went for 16-plus yards.
  • In 12 games without Ridley: 6.3 targets per game, 3.8 catches per game, 56.1 yards per game and one touchdown (Week 5); a 21.1% target share, a 60.5% catch rate, 10.8-yard adot (average depth of target) and eight red-zone targets. Eighteen of 46 grabs went for 16-plus yards.

Pitts maintained a good explosive catch rate while getting north of six targets per game without Ridley, but he didn't take the step forward we all hoped he would. He has another shot at it this season and should at least be as successful as he was in 2021 with a handful of more touchdowns ... with the potential to be dominant if everything clicks right for him.

That's why Pitts will be long gone by the time Round 3 ends in every draft. People will buy into that upside meshed with a floor of 1,000 yards and a few touchdowns. That's more than fine for a tight end in Fantasy Football. 

I'd advise not to be too overzealous on Pitts, at least not yet. We could get to August and some folks will target him with a pick in late Round 2. That seems too early given the other players at every position available -- at that price you're banking on Pitts to play like a top-10 receiver, not a top-24 receiver at a thin position, which is what he is. I'm not ready to take Pitts over Mark Andrews, but I can make the argument to take him over George Kittle or Darren Waller

Who's left in the Falcons' nest?

Ridley's suspension comes at a horrible time for the Falcons -- literally every other experienced wide receiver they had on the 2021 roster is a free agent. 

They could spend wildly in free agency and re-stock their offense with guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and D.J. Chark, or they could be a little more cost-minded and go after players such as A.J. Green or Jamison Crowder. Whomever they add -- or bring back in the case of Russell Gage -- will have some appeal as a No. 3 or bench receiver in full PPR leagues simply because the opportunity for targets will be there and Pitts will likely draw defensive attention away. 

Barring a miracle, however, Matt Ryan won't be a wanted man on Draft Day. He barely would be one even if he did have Ridley with Pitts -- he had 22-plus Fantasy points in just half of the six games he had with them in 2021. Now that Ridley's gone and will be impossible to replace, Ryan won't get drafted in one-QB leagues and won't be among the top-15 or even 18 quarterbacks in Superflex or two-QB formats.