Tuesday was the big unveiling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new uniforms officially wiping the slate clean before the Tom Brady era, or whatever. I’ll give Tampa credit, these look like actual NFL uniforms as opposed to the knockoff XFL jerseys that they had been rocking for the past few years. I suppose that you could say that these new uniforms have a similar feel to golden era of Tampa Bay football in the late 90’s and early 00’s. The new uniforms are not that original though. They look like a hybrid of the Houston Texans’ and the Atlanta Falcons’ jerseys.
I don’t think that the uniforms are the only similarity that there will be with the Bucs and Falcons this year. In fact, I think the Falcons could have a breakout receiver similar to what the Bucs had with Chris Godwin. And that receiver is none other than Calvin Ridley.
Calvin Ridley entered the 2019 season after a rookie year that saw him catch 10 touchdowns but the rest of the stats didn’t add up to a huge year. Outside of the touchdowns, Ridley tallied up 64 catches for 821 yards. In 2019, Ridley almost had an identical stat line, but this time he did it in 13 games. If Ridley had played all 16 games, conservatively he catches 75+ passes for over 1,000 yards and 8-9 touchdowns. With the Falcons having nothing to play for, they shut Ridley down for the final 3 games of the year after suffering an abdominal injury.
Early on in 2019, it looked like Ridley was going to be a real factor in fantasy football. Ridley caught touchdown passes in the first two games including in week 2 against Philadelphia when he caught 8 balls for over 100 yards. After that, the season was a little bit of a roller coaster of anywhere from really quiet games to having a decent game with a touchdown peppered in. It wasn’t really until week 11 when Calvin Ridley found his groove. In the next 4 games, Ridley had a combined 3 receiving touchdowns and at least 76 yards in all 4 games. He also had two games in that span with double digit targets. Although he was banged up, Julio Jones only sat out of the Falcons’ week 13 game against the Saints.
We all know how good Julio Jones is, even if it goes understated sometimes because he doesn’t pile up the touchdowns. But Julio is starting to get up there in years a little bit and we are starting to see the injuries wear on him more than we used to. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons need to depend on Ridley more in the 2020 season. I’m not saying that Julio is going to fall off of a cliff. In fact, I bet he is the same Julio, but Julio not being as dominant as he has been in the past is in the realm of possibilities.
Whether Julio is the same or not actually doesn’t really have an effect on Ridley’s ceiling. The Falcons were really be bad last year and it lead to them averaging 45.9 passing plays per game last year, which led the pack in the NFL. You can also throw in the fact that Austin Hooper signed with the Browns and I don’t see the addition of Laquon Treadwell being much of a threat to Ridley’s production. Speaking of production, Ridley ranked 5th in the NFL in target quality rating, which combines catchable targets with average target depth in 2019.
The best part about Calvin Ridley going into 2020 is the price. Ridley is going in the middle of the 4th round so far according to Fantasy Football Calculator. I’m not sure you can find another receiver with the same opportunity and pedigree who has yet to truly break out. Ridley will come at a WR2 price, but he is primed to give you WR1 production.