With Julio Jones now wearing a Titans uniform, Russell Gage enters his fourth season (and contract year) with the opportunity to prove he’s a legitimate #2 wide receiver in the NFL. He had a very strong 2020, pulling in 72 receptions for 786 yards and taking on a large role when Julio Jones was on the shelf.
What could he do with an increase in targets, or just a similar number of targets in what we hope is a better offense? Let’s take a look at what the over/under might look like for Gage.
In 16 games in 2020, Gage continued his impressive emergence by pulling in 72 receptions for 786 yards and 4 touchdowns. Matt Ryan had clearly grown more comfortable with him, often targeting him in 3rd down situations. He averaged just over 49 yards per game and just under 11 yards per reception. As he enters 2021, Gage figures to be the de facto WR2 for the team, which should only increase his targets. If we look at what Calvin Ridley did in that role in 2019 and 2020, he averaged about 5.4 receptions per game. Against a 17 game season, that would be roughly 93 receptions. Given that Gage averages about 10 yards per reception for his career, we will set his baseline at 930 receiving yards.
The case for the over
If you had simply added a 17th game to the 2020 season, Gage would have had 835 yards as WR3 with no other adjustments. Now that he is the likely WR2 on the team, it’s not hard to think he’ll pick up an additional 100 yards over 17 games. When you factor in that the team has a good-to-great play-caller now, his potential may blow way past the 930 yard baseline set above. Matt Ryan showed that he’s very comfortable targeting Gage and it’s hard to imagine his opportunities decreasing going into a contract year, even if Arthur Smith is going to want to target Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst a lot.
The case for the under
One name hovers over all of this: Kyle Pitts. The first rounder figures to be an immediate contributor on the offense. While Gage will be WR2, he may not see a dramatic uptick in targets.
The investment of the #4 pick in the draft all but assures that Pitts will be heavily targeted, even as a rookie. That’s not to say that Gage won’t have a role, but we can’t just assume all of those additional targets are going to flow his way. In fact, it’s entirely possible that Gage sees his targets and receptions stay level as Pitts emerges during the season. There’s also the possibility that Gage could lose some snaps to other receivers, though given the state of the depth chart, that seems less likely.
Falcons O/U: Russell Gage receiving yards
This poll is closed
Give me the over
I’ll take the under