It has been a magical year for Atlanta Falcons RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson and his fantasy managers, but an ankle injury could keep him out of their Thursday Night Football game against the New England Patriots. Let’s take a look at the latest on Patterson’s injury, whether he’s playing today, and what that means for both the Falcons and fantasy football managers.
Update 11/18/21: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Patterson will be inactive tonight for Atlanta’s matchup against the Patriots.
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Is Cordarrelle Patterson playing today with his ankle injury?
Officially, Patterson is listed as questionable on the Falcons’ injury report for today’s game against the Patriots. Therefore, Patterson will be a game-time decision with his ankle injury. Patterson has been present at practice in a limited capacity this week, and Arthur Smith confirmed the team will “take this one all the way up.” On Thursday, Ian Rapoport was quoted as saying, “It sounds like he was very, very limited in practice. … It seems like an uphill battle“.
The Falcons have not revealed the diagnosis of Patterson’s injury. That makes it tough to know the time frame he faces with the injury. David Chao (@ProFootballDoc) believes the injury to be a mild high ankle sprain. That would make it unlikely that Patterson can play against the Patriots today. Nevertheless, we will have to wait until closer to game time to determine whether one of this season’s fantasy superstars will be active.
Patterson has had a superb season prior to the injury
When you look across the fantasy RB landscape for 2021, Patterson’s remarkable season comes into focus. Patterson is the 11th-ranked RB in points per game with 15.5 ppg in half-PPR formats and 10th overall with 139.1 fantasy points on the season.
His receiving prowess has been a big part of his success. When we look at his 10th-placed ranking in total fantasy points, only one other RB in the top 20 has had fewer than 100 carries (Darrel Williams, 95). Patterson had had just 77 carries this season, but he’s been targeted 49 times. That is the fourth-most targets for an RB-eligible fantasy option this season.
Patterson has turned those into 39 receptions for 473 yards and 5 touchdowns. He leads the position in receiving yards, which is hardly surprising given he is a former receiver and has lined up as a WR semi-regularly in 2021. The issue is that if he is active, we do not know if he can perform to the levels he has produced so far in 2021.
Prior to his injury, Patterson was extremely efficient for fantasy managers. He’s scored at least 13.1 fantasy points in each game between Weeks 2 and 9. When you look at the average fantasy points per game, Patterson has been an RB2 or WR2 at worst nearly every week in that time span. His absence would be a big loss for fantasy managers.
Who could the Falcons turn to if he is absent?
This is a two-part question because Patterson has played snaps at both RB and WR. Mike Davis could pick up extra snaps in the backfield, or it could be Wayne Gallman who steps in. Neither of those has the receiving prowess of Patterson, but Davis is the fourth-most targeted player for the Falcons this season. In Week 10, Gallman saw 2 targets.
However, neither is likely to line up as a wide receiver as often as Patterson has this year. That limits the Falcons’ flexibility as they won’t be able to disguise their formation as well without Patterson. Unless Gallman or Davis can take those extra snaps lined up as a receiver, the Falcons will need to put another WR on the field to replace those snaps Patterson has been seeing.
Hayden Hurst’s absence limits passing-game options
There are a number of options the Falcons could utilize. They could go into more three-WR sets with Tajae Sharpe, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Russell Gage. Alternatively, they could operate more two-tight end sets with Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst. Nonetheless, Hurst is also set to miss the game.
The absence of Hurst limits the Falcons’ options. Atlanta could use Lee Smith or Keith Smith in those aforementioned two-tight end sets. Yet, neither is a dominant enough weapon that the Patriots would have to significantly alter their game plan. The potential absence of both Patterson and Hurst would be a major blow to the flexibility that the Falcons’ offense could employ in this game.