Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 10 – Calvin Ridley and Daniel Jones

by Josh Danzig · Studs and Duds

We all have them. The players we attach ourselves to over the course of the pre-draft process. The ones we try our damnedest to draft or acquire in fantasy football. For better or worse, these are the players we end up attaching our reputations to as fantasy players and/or analysts. This series will focus on both sides of that particular coin.

In this new Underworld venture called Studs and Duds, we will talk about one player we planted our proverbial flag on that was a hit and one that was a bust. Along the way, we’ll be using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics to analyze the process, figure out how and why these players hit/busted, and decide whether we want to target/fade said players next season.

Volume 10 – Josh Danzig

Stud: Calvin Ridley

A prized wide receiver from Alabama drew significant interest for his first two seasons in the league, but was never able to get over the hump. Calvin Ridley showed his ability to get into the endzone, but had injury concerns and was always considered Julio Jones’ “little brother,” which hindered his ceiling. I recognized the talent along with the vacated targets on a high volume offense and found myself with the WR4 in Fantasy Points Per Game.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

Being my top target in all drafts, I nabbed him in three out of my four leagues. I slotted him into my WR2 position, taking him commonly in the fifth round of each draft in both half and full PPR leagues.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

I knew that Calvin Ridley would be one of my guys was when he began his quiet, post-Mohamed Sanu-trade breakout during the second half of the 2019 season. What confirmed his sneaky breakout was his +25.9 (No. 6 among qualified wide receivers) Production Premium. The guy makes plays! Unfortunately, that breakout was cut short by injury. But fortunately for me, not many of my leaguemates noticed, nor did they notice the amount of opportunity he was in line for during the 2020 season.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

What scared off many people from Calvin Ridley was Julio Jones’ presence. While Jones was going to get his, Ridley now had a real opportunity ahead of him coming into 2020. Back at Alabama, he broke out in his first season and was effective every year, culminating with a 29.7-percent (89th-percentile) College Target Share in his final season. He’s been most effective when the opportunity for targets has been available for him. In fact, he averaged 17.5 points (half PPR) in the five games where he drew more than seven targets in 2019.

Once the Falcons parted ways with Mohamed Sanu, they committed to Ridley being their WR2 behind Jones. From Weeks 11-14, he capitalized with stat lines 8-143-1, 6-85-1, 8-91-0, and 5-76-1 until missing the remainder of the season with an abdomen injury. Couple that with Austin Hoopers departure the following offseason, which opened up 97 targets, and Ridley was in line to be a target hog on an offense that led the league with an average of 45.9 Team Pass Plays Per Game. 

What Did You Learn?

Opportunity plus high-volume offense equals high level production. You may not need me to tell you that, but Calvin Ridley wasn’t drafted to be the stud he turned out to be. He was drafted in the same tier as guys like Cooper Kupp and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Also, don’t be afraid of taking the second receiving option! Yes, Julio Jones is a stud and will easily get over 120 targets when healthy, but guess what? The Falcons (like all teams) have far more targets to disperse around to other receiving options. Don’t fall for the narrative that only No. 1 options can be fantasy WR1s.

Calvin Ridley 2020 Opportunity & Productivity Metrics

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him in 2021?

What a tricky situation we have here. In the highly anticipated move where the Falcons decide to move on from Julio Jones, I would be comfortable drafting Calvin Ridley according to his Underdog ADP as the sixth WR off of the board at pick No. 23.1 on average. As it currently stands, I will likely not be drafting him to many of my teams.

I have stressed that his breakout coincides with his opportunity. The Falcons currently have Jones coming back healthy and have spent significant draft capital on superstar tight end prospect Kyle Pitts. Last year was the Calvin Ridley show, this year would be a competition for targets. I have a hard time taking him over guys like Keenan Allen or Michael Thomas who are currently going behind him.

Dud: Daniel Jones

In his rookie year, Daniel Jones showed promise despite the glaring turnover problems. His rushing upside in an offense expected to improve while already hitting a high touchdown total had me salivating. Unfortunately, Danny Dimes was struck by injuries, did not improve his flaws, and surroundings did not live up to their expectations, leaving me with a total bust.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

Being in many leagues with Giants fans, there were drafts where Jones was taken obnoxiously high. In my case, I was able to take him in half of my leagues (two out of four). He was never my QB1, but I aimed to have him as a high-upside QB2.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

Similar to most Giants fans, I was on the floor crying when they decided to take Daniel Jones No. 6 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft (editors note: I may or may not be able to relate). Once Jones took over against the Bucs and lead the Giants to an epic come-from-behind victory, how could I not fall in love? As the season moved on, his blow-up games versus the Football Team (352 yards and five touchdowns), Jets (308 yards and four touchdowns), and Lions (322 yards and four touchdowns) gave me hope that he could put it together the following season and be a stud.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

I always told myself that if Daniel Jones could cut down on the fumbles, there’s no reason he couldn’t breakout during the 2020 season. The parallel I drew was Carson Wentz, who was able to cut out his similar rookie year problems and turn in an MVP-caliber sophomore season until he got injured.

Jones threw 24 touchdowns (second most for a rookie quarterback ever at the time) and rushed for an additional two while only starting 12 games in 2019. Add in the fact that superstar running back Saquon Barkley missed three games, dynamic tight end Evan Engram missed eight, and veteran receiver Sterling Shepard missed six. Jones never had a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal and was still able to put up an impressive number of touchdowns with rushing upside. The combination of getting his weapons back, an overhaul on the offensive line during the following draft, and the upside as both a passer and a rusher made me a Danny Dimes believer.


What Did You Learn?

Second-year quarterbacks don’t always improve on their first season despite how much I want them to. Relying on his weapons instead of the quarterback himself proved to not be a good idea. The weapons I wanted back so bad either missed time with injury or were not the players I made them out to be. And the offensive line did not show enough improvement.

While Daniel Jones did show incredible rushing value, I should’ve known better that his decision-making was not all there yet. All of his advanced metrics were in the bottom half of the league. Lowlighted by 38 (No. 5) Danger Plays (No. 2), a 79.0 (No. 2) True Passer Rating, and a 7.2 (No. 24) Accuracy Rating. Sigh…

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him in 2021?

While last season was a disaster with his weapons, Jones was given an offensive overhaul with alpha wide receiver Kenny Golladay and playmaker Kadarius Toney. This year is the put up or shut up year, or heads will roll in the Giants front office. His rushing skill set blossomed in his second year, which should give him a solid floor, and he’s stacked with talent at the skill positions.

With that being said, Daniel Jones will pretty much be free in single-QB leagues and cheap in two-QB leagues. At his current ADP as the QB23 and pick No. 164.5 on average, I see no reason not to take a chance on his upside one more time given the price.