As we continue to look at what specific Atlanta Falcons can do for your fantasy football teams in 2021, we’re now entering sleeper and dark horse territory. We’ve already discussed wide receiver Calvin Ridley, quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Mike Davis and tight end Kyle Pitts, as they all will likely contribute in a big way for fantasy owners this fall.
Today, we will talk about the man who is slated to become the team’s #2 wide receiver—assuming you don’t consider Pitts a wide receiver—and that is Russell Gage. In 2020, his third season with the Falcons, Gage recorded 72 receptions for 786 yards and four touchdowns, managing at least 50 receiving yards in five of his last seven games. With the absence of Julio Jones for half of the year, Gage slid into the WR2 role and was pretty efficient for the Falcons. He even had a passing touchdown in 2020, and would’ve had two if one wasn’t dropped by Jones.
As mentioned, Gage is the current favorite to step into that WR2 role for the Falcons, considering he already has past experience in that spot. Naturally with Jones no longer on the roster, you would think Gage would play a major role in the Falcons’ offense. It technically could happen, and he was my choice for the top Falcons’ fantasy sleeper, but should expectations be tamped down?
It’s a new year and Russell Gage has a new number for this season, No. 14. With the departure of Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans, there’s all of a sudden more balls up for grabs as Gage is expected to slide into the WR2 spot. Although his current ADP is 266, I expect this will rise a little bit towards the heat of draft season. With that being said, it likely won’t rise that much and Gage will have good draft value as fantasy owners and analysts will shift their attention to Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts.
In 2020, Gage was quietly second in team targets and also had a passing touchdown, which should’ve been two passing touchdowns. He has the potential to make an impact in fantasy lineups while also having an insanely quality average draft position.
Although I do think Gage can improve on his 2020 campaign, he shouldn’t be selected in fantasy drafts with the expectation to start out of the gate in your league. We all know how talented Gage is, but until we can get an idea of how this offense will actually work, I see Gage as nothing more than a late-round, free agent addition in most fantasy leagues.
That said, he may be overlooked in your league, and if so he’s an ideal dark horse candidate that you can stash away on your bench in hopes of his role growing into a sizeable one again for the Falcons. If he can approach last year’s production, he’ll be worth having around.