The Atlanta Falcons enter the 2023 season with a similar identity on offense after adding new pieces that fit coach Arthur Smith's philosophy. In 2022 under Smith, the Falcons ran the ball the second-most over expected in neutral situations and they earned Pro Football Focus' highest team rushing grade. They will likely double down on that strategy in 2023 after using the eighth overall pick on rookie phenom Bijan Robinson -- the single best running back prospect I've had the opportunity to scout. Kyle Pitts returns from injury, Drake London enters Year 2 and the talent is there for this team to be a surprising Fantasy Football producer if second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder can step up his game.
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Falcons' entire team outlook, including a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for notable Falcons players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
- NFC South: | |
Falcons 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
The Falcons became just the fifth team over the past decade to throw fewer than 420 passes last season, and they didn't have a single player finish among the top 25 in PPR scoring at any position. They should pass more in 2023, but the addition of Bijan Robinson with a top-10 pick suggests this is still going to be a very run-heavy squad.
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Burning question: How much will they throw?
Robinson is going to get a ton of opportunities, but it would still be a surprise if the Falcons ran the ball 144 times more often than they throw. But if they're bottom five in pass attempts, that probably still makes it tough for Drake London and Kyle Pitts to live up to their potential. If you want to bet on anyone from this passing game taking a step forward, I'd much rather do it with Pitts, given positional scarcity, but I'm probably not going to reach on him either.
Falcons player projections
|QB||Desmond Ridder||PA: 512, YD: 3479, TD: 19, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT: 47, YD: 259, TD: 3|
|RB||Bijan Robinson||CAR: 259, YD: 1191, TD: 10; TAR: 67, REC: 53, YD: 426, TD: 2|
|RB||Tyler Allgeier||CAR: 118, YD: 518, TD: 5; TAR: 21, REC: 15, YD: 123, TD: 1|
|WR||Drake London||TAR: 128, REC: 81, YD: 927, TD: 6|
|WR||Mack Hollins||TAR: 61, REC: 38, YD: 455, TD: 3|
|WR||Scott Miller||TAR: 36, REC: 21, YD: 171, TD: 1|
|TE||Kyle Pitts||TAR: 128, REC: 73, YD: 926, TD: 6|
2023 NFL Draft class
Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 4th easiest
- RB PSoS: 4th easiest
- WR PSoS: 4th easiest
- TE PSoS: 7th easiest
|1||Sep 10, 2023||vsCarolina||1:00 pm||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|2||Sep 17, 2023||vsGreen Bay||1:00 pm||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|3||Sep 24, 2023||@Detroit||1:00 pm||FOX||Ford Field|
|4||Oct 1, 2023||@Jacksonville||9:30 am||ESP+||Wembley Stadium|
|5||Oct 8, 2023||vsHouston||1:00 pm||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|6||Oct 15, 2023||vsWashington||1:00 pm||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|7||Oct 22, 2023||@Tampa Bay||1:00 pm||FOX||Raymond James Stadium|
|8||Oct 29, 2023||@Tennessee||1:00 pm||Nissan Stadium|
|9||Nov 5, 2023||vsMinnesota||1:00 pm||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|10||Nov 12, 2023||@Arizona||4:05 pm||State Farm Stadium|
|12||Nov 26, 2023||vsNew Orleans||1:00 pm||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|13||Dec 3, 2023||@N.Y. Jets||1:00 pm||FOX||MetLife Stadium|
|14||Dec 10, 2023||vsTampa Bay||1:00 pm||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|15||Dec 17, 2023||@Carolina||TBA||—||Bank of America Stadium|
|16||Dec 24, 2023||vsIndianapolis||1:00 pm||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Stadium|
|17||Dec 31, 2023||@Chicago||1:00 pm||Soldier Field|
|18||Jan 7, 2024||@New Orleans||TBA||—||Caesars Superdome|
Falcons 2023 player outlooks
By Dan Schneier unless otherwise noted
QB Desmond Ridder
The Falcons appear committed to giving Ridder a chance to be the starter at QB in 2023, at least on paper after Atlanta brought in Taylor Heinecke, who was 12-11-1 with Washington the last two seasons.
If Ridder holds the job in training camp, expectations remain low and he's not on the radar in anything other than two-QB and Superflex leagues. Ridder's 6.2 yards per attempt is the most concerning stat from his rookie season and he also didn't show a consistent ability to keep a passing game in rhythm. Of course, these were Ridder's first starts. This year he'll have a full offseason to work, a healthy Kyle Pitts and blue-chip running back prospect Bijan Robinson added to the mix. A case can be made that he has one of the better supporting casts in the NFL from a pure talent standpoint.
If you believe in his progression as a passer, Ridder is an interesting dart throw in the final round of your drafts.
By Jamey Eisenberg
Heinicke signed with the Falcons this offseason, and he will be the No. 2 quarterback behind Desmond Ridder.
Heinicke is not worth drafting in most leagues. He could be a waiver addition during the season if he starts for Atlanta at any point, and that's something to keep an eye on in Superflex and two-quarterback leagues. Heinicke played well at times in Washington in 2022 and scored at least 18 Fantasy points in three of nine appearances but never posted consistent production. It would likely be more of the same in Atlanta, but we'll have to wait until something happens to Ridder to find out what Heinicke can do with a new team.
Most likely, Heinicke will not produce enough in 2023 to matter for Fantasy managers.
RB Bijan Robinson
Robinson enters the NFL as the highest-regarded prospect at the running back position since Saquon Barkley, and some would argue he's a more complete back.
The Falcons earned the highest rushing grade in the NFL in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus, with an excellent and diverse run blocking scheme installed by coach Arthur Smith and his assistants. Smith coordinated a dominant rushing attack as offensive coordinator with the Titans led by Derrick Henry, and the blueprint is likely to be the same now with a talent like Robinson. Robinson set a record for the most forced missed tackles in a single season, per PFF's game charting, and he enters the NFL as one of the biggest mismatches in the passing game at the position. The Falcons will get him the ball early and often in the red zone, early downs and in the passing game.
He is screaming up draft boards as we speak and you'll probably have to use a mid-first-round pick to get him. Robinson should be the first pick overall in rookie-only drafts.
RB Tyler Allgeier
After a slow start to his rookie season, Allgeier came on incredibly strong in the second half.
Allgeier averaged just under 100 rushing yards per game (96) after Week 13 and scored inside the top 10 at running back in three of his last four games. Volume was certainly a factor in Allgeier's stretch run where he averaged 17.8 rushing attempts per game, and that number is going to collapse after the Falcons used a top-10 pick on RB Bijan Robinson. Despite the promising rookie season, Allgeier enters 2023 as a handcuff who could see some surprise red-zone and change-of-pace touches.
He makes for a high-upside gamble for those who missed RB in the first few rounds starting in Round 10, and those who use a first-round pick on Robinson could look to handcuff Allgeier as soon as Round 9.
Patterson had a magical run as a converted running back with the Falcons in 2021 and was even a consistent Fantasy football asset for that stretch, but injuries and the emergence of Allgeier made him less Fantasy relevant in 2022. Patterson finished as a top-four running back twice in 2022 but both times came in the first three weeks. With Bijan Robinson in the mix and Tyler Allgeier entering Year 2, Patterson feels more like a gadget addition to the offense that won't find anywhere near the volume needed to be a weekly asset.
WR Drake London
London put together a rookie season that looked much better on game film than in the Fantasy box scores in large part due to inconsistent and inaccurate ball placement from Marcus Mariota.
The final outcome was a finish at WR43 overall, but that hasn't stopped expectations from moving him up draft boards in 2023. The 117 targets last year coupled with the fifth-highest target share in the NFL are reasons to get very excited about London in 2023 because volume is king. Of course, the return of Kyle Pitts and addition of Bijan Robinson will eat into London's volume. London is a gamble on upside rather than production (his best stretch as a rookie still put him closer to the back-end WR2 range).
If you want to make that gamble, you'll likely have to do it as early as Round 5.
WR Mack Hollins
By Heath Cummings
Hollins joined the Falcons in the offseason and he'll battle Scott Miller for the target leftovers behind Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Last year's 94 targets were a career high for Hollins, and last year London was the only Falcon to average even four catches per game. In other words, Hollins likely needs an injury to have any chance at being on a Fantasy roster. You can leave him on the waiver wire in all but the deepest of leagues for as long as Pitts and London stay healthy.
WR Scotty Miller
The Falcons' wide receiver corps is wide open behind Drake London, but with Kyle Pitts and Bijan Robinson also competing for pieces of a pie, that will be much smaller in the pass game than the vast majority of NFL teams. It's hard to get excited about anyone else at the WR position. If Miller can develop some buzz in preseason and training camp, he might be worth targeting in the final rounds, but there will likely be higher-upside targets available through the very final round.
TE Kyle Pitts
Pitts struggled to establish consistency with Marcus Mariota last season before missing the majority of his second year with an injury.
A run-first offense that adds Bijan Robinson to the mix doesn't figure to be a boost to Pitts' potential post-hype sleeper case. The bigger issue could be a pass game that struggles to get Pitts the ball when he's open leading to inconsistent weekly production. At the tight end position, if you're not consistently scoring enough to provide a weekly advantage, it's hard to justify ADP. Pitts had just three top-12 weekly finishes in 10 games last season.
You can buy him at a two-round discount in Rounds 6-7 this year, but don't be certain all discounts are also good values.
Koo finished with the seventh-most Fantasy points per game in 2022 and delivered some major spike weeks with multiple 40+ field goals in them. The addition of Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts' return should help put Koo in scoring position more often. Koo makes for a nice target on draft day.
The Falcons DST averaged the third-fewest Fantasy points per game in 2022 before going out and adding Calais Campbell and David Onyemata to help up front, Bud Dupree to boost the pass rush and former Lions Mike Hughes and Jeff Okudah at cornerback. In all, the additions don't add up to enough pieces to improve a defense that is still at least a year away. Leave this DST on your waiver wires.