Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished last season with 72 receptions, 786 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns. The third-year receiver played 68% of the offensive snaps. Gage took on a larger role in 2020 as Julio Jones dealt with a hamstring injury. He even threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley in a loss to the Chargers in Week 14. At his current ADP, can Gage have a prosperous 2021 fantasy football outlook with Jones now in Tennessee?
Russell Gage’s fantasy outlook for 2021
Gage only finished as a WR2+ in 31% of his games in PPR formats. He finished the 2020 regular season with 109 targets but only averaged 1.65 fantasy points per target. Gage ranked 68th among wide receivers in this metric. Additionally, the Falcons underwent numerous changes this offseason.
A new coaching regime
The first one was the addition of new head coach Arthur Smith, former offensive coordinator of the Titans. Last year, Tennessee’s offense averaged 385.4 total yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL. The Titans averaged 32 rushing attempts per game (second in NFL) and 30 pass attempts per game (30th).
Smith’s offense in Tennessee leaned heavily on play-action passes and pre-snap motion last year, which should continue in Atlanta.
Kyle Pitts is a threat to Russell Gage’s target volume this season
The second change took place during the NFL Draft. Atlanta drafted Florida tight end Kyle Pitts fourth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He played in eight games for Florida last season, generating 43 receptions for 770 receiving yards, and set the school single-season touchdown record by a tight end with 12.
The final domino resulted in the unthinkable happening. The Falcons traded Jones to the Tennessee Titans. Atlanta has 195 available targets and 1,000 air yards entering the 2021 season. The Jones trade provides Pitts even more of an opportunity. He will likely be provided a high percentage of them and become a favorite target for quarterback Matt Ryan.
Pitts excels as a receiver and a blocker, further boosting his odds of becoming the No. 2 receiving option behind Ridley in Atlanta’s passing game. This versatility will also allow the Falcons to run various plays out of the same formation to keep defenses guessing.
You may be wondering if Pitts could be used more as a blocker, taking into account the state of the Falcons’ offensive line. The most significant loss was center Alex Mack (who signed with the 49ers in free agency). The Falcons also lost left guard James Carpenter. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Atlanta’s offensive line could become a strength next season. The Falcons have several promising young offensive linemen that will have an opportunity to step up.
Gage’s fantasy football outlook in 2021 could be eerily similar to his statistical production in 2020.
Ryan averaged 39 pass attempts per game last season. The Falcons’ defensive personnel is subpar, and the team will continue to rely heavily on its offense. My concern for those considering drafting Gage is his target volume.
He projects for around 90 targets, 58 receptions, 700 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. Gage can be viewed as more of a WR5 with limited upside.
Russell Gage’s ADP
Gage is has seen his ADP rise since Julio Jones was traded. His current ADP on Fleaflicker, see Gage being selected 165th on average. He is going slightly higher in pay-to-play fantasy formats such as the National Fantasy Championship, where Gage has an ADP of 129.1. Meanwhile, his ADP in half PPR formats on Sleeper splits the difference at 143.2.
Should you draft Gage in 2021?
It is difficult to recommend Gage outside of the deepest fantasy leagues. My recommendation is to target another receiver with more upside late in your drafts, such as Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, or Henry Ruggs.