The 2021 fantasy football season is officially in the rearview mirror, but the grind never stops! As soon as one season ends, we immediately start looking ahead to the next. Following the recent reports of Calvin Ridley and the Atlanta Falcons potentially headed for a divorce, let’s take a look at some potential landing spots and analyze the fantasy impact his arrival would have on those teams.
Calvin Ridley landing spots
As we all know, Ridley stepped away from football prior to Week 8 due to mental health issues. Everyone should take mental health very seriously. As it pertains to Ridley, none of us has any idea what he’s going through. Hopefully, he is able to take care of himself and return to the game he loves for the 2022 season.
If Ridley does return, it appears he may be with a new team. NFL Network’s Steve Wyche said he does not think Ridley will return to Atlanta next season. There are several teams with an opening at wide receiver. Where might Ridley land for a fresh start?
Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints
I’m lumping the Packers and Saints together because they’re in similar boats. Both teams could use Ridley, but neither is likely to be able to afford him.
Ridley comes with an $11.1 million cap hit under the final year of his contract. The Packers are projected to begin the 2022 season approximately $37 million over the cap and the Saints about $60 million over.
Green Bay has no truly reliable wide receiver behind Davante Adams, while the Saints may not have anyone at all if they move on from Michael Thomas. Ridley would immediately step into heavy volume in both places, but financially, it just doesn’t seem feasible.
New York Jets
The Jets enter 2022 with a ton of cap space (approximately $52 million) and a need for playmakers. We’ve seen New York make splashy free-agent signings in the past, specifically with Le’Veon Bell in 2019. They can afford Ridley, and he would serve as an excellent complement to Elijah Moore with, ideally, Braxton Berrios as the primary slot receiver.
However, Ridley to the Jets would likely spell the end for Berrios. I can’t imagine they marginalize Corey Davis, so he would still start outside with one of Moore or Ridley in the slot. Even with a presumed second-year improvement, Zach Wilson is unlikely to be able to support more than two fantasy-relevant wide receivers. We know Ridley would be one and Moore the other. Ridley’s signing would probably spell doom for Davis’ fantasy value.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are another team with the budget to afford Ridley and the need for a wide receiver. Hunter Renfrow has been a revelation this season, but he’s not a true WR1. Darren Waller will still be the primary option on this team, but they shouldn’t hesitate to upgrade from Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones on the outside.
Ridley would be stepping into a bit of an uncertain situation. There is no guarantee Derek Carr returns as the Raiders’ quarterback next season. Wherever Ridley goes, he’d be at least a WR2. Still, it’s too soon and there are too many moving parts to project how this offense might look for fantasy as the quarterback position is paramount in that determination.
The Lions are also a team bereft of wide receiver talent. They seem to have found a gem in Amon-Ra St. Brown, but they have no true outside wide receiver. Ridley would be a perfect fit.
Brown spent about 64% of his time in the slot. He and Ridley would not infringe on each other’s work and could both thrive if the Lions get improved quarterback play. As of now, Jared Goff is likely to return for another season as Detroit’s starting quarterback, but things change quickly in the NFL. Ridley certainly has WR1 upside as a member of the Lions, but his presence would likely have a negative impact on the fantasy values of the other pass catchers.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have needed a WR2 alongside Tyreek Hill for Hill’s entire career. Sammy Watkins was clearly not the answer well before they made the ridiculous decision to sign him. This year, Patrick Mahomes had to endure Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman when not throwing to Hill or Travis Kelce.
Ridley’s presence in Kansas City would not hamper the values of Hill or Kelce at all. Mahomes can easily support three fantasy-viable pass catchers. Ridley’s reliable hands would allow Hill to stretch the field more than he was able to in 2021. Playing in an elite offense alongside two guys at the top of their positions would only help Ridley’s fantasy usefulness. Kansas City is where Ridley would have the most fantasy value.
New England Patriots
The Patriots haven’t gone out and signed a big-name receiver since Randy Moss. And truth be told, I don’t expect Ridley to be the next guy they bring in.
Nevertheless, if Ridley went to New England, he would immediately be their alpha WR1 target hog. Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne are all fine rotational WR3/4s. But in their current situations, they have each been forced to operate as the Patriots’ WR1 on various occasions. Ridley’s arrival would help them all, as they could return to their natural ancillary roles.
Meanwhile, Ridley would be in for a heavy target share, albeit in a run-first offense. He would still be a strong WR2, but his weekly fantasy value might be a bit volatile and dependent upon game script.