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Calvin Ridley is the Next…? Historical Comps for the Falcons WR

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley is next up as we take a look at the most comparable players for the 11 best rookie WRs from the 2018 class.

Ridley was the first WR taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, and powered by his 10 touchdowns, he finished with 20.3 percent more fantasy points than the next closest man. Were those results enough to give him elite comps for Year 2?
Ridley was more than just a TD machine. Among rookies, he finished:

  • First in rookie targets and receptions
  • First in yards
  • Fourth in air yards
  • First in expected points
  • First in efficiency
PLAYER reRECS reTRGS reYDS reTDS reEP reFPOE PPR
Calvin Ridley 64 92 821 10 150.5 55.6 208.8
D.J. Moore 55 82 788 2 135.1 10.7 160.2
Courtland Sutton 42 84 704 4 136.1 0.3 136.3
Antonio Callaway 43 81 586 5 136.2 -4.6 132.3
Christian Kirk 43 68 590 3 102.7 17.3 123.5
Anthony Miller 33 54 423 7 93.2 24.1 120.3
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 38 72 581 2 113.2 -5.1 111
Dante Pettis 27 45 467 5 75.2 28.5 103.5
Tre’Quan Smith 28 44 427 5 74.2 26.5 100.7
Robert Foster 26 44 522 3 71.5 24.7 96.2

His efficiency mark of 55.7 fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE) was the seventh-best mark among all WRs in 2018.

Among every WR since 2000, the only rookies to top that figure were Odell Beckham (73.8), JuJu Smith-Schuster (61.8), and Michael Thomas (56). Ridley was more efficient than guys like Keenan Allen (49.3) and Julio Jones (48.2) in their respective rookie years.

Positive rookie year efficiency for WRs has historically been a very encouraging sign for PPR scoring in Years 2 and 3, fueled by more opportunity and plus efficiency in those seasons. Let’s see if that’s enough to sway the Screener.

THE COMPARABLES

Using inputs of target volume, production, efficiency, age, weight, and draft position, I used the RotoViz Screener to come up with the most similar rookie seasons to Ridley’s since 2000.
download (50)
Despite the impressive production, Ridley remains inescapably small and old. He was the ninth-smallest and 11th-oldest WR in his class.

His breakout age of 21 was middling at best, while his Freak Score and Phenom Index also left much to be desired.

You may think his WR22 finish as a rookie should be enough to overcome all that, but his bottom-line usage really wasn’t that amazing. His 150.5 expected points was just 38th among all rookies since 2000.

The Screener lists Lee Evans and Cooper Kupp as Ridley’s two closest comps. Evans was younger, bigger, and he put up more yards on 23 percent fewer targets than Ridley. Kupp was another older rookie with fantastic college numbers, and while he’s turned into a fine pro, Ridley’s backers probably wouldn’t be stoked if their man turned out to be the next Kupp.

TY Hilton is the ceiling here.1 I’m not sure I love the Tyler Lockett comp, but he and Hilton do represent the boom-bust future that could be in store for Ridley.

What Did They Do in Year Two?

Save for Hilton’s 220-point breakout, this cohort’s sophomore seasons were similar to their rookie campaigns.
download (51)

  • Following his sophomore year, Evans would average 117 targets and 1,053 yards over his following three seasons.
  • Hilton became an elite performer with an elite QB, averaging 131 targets and 1,206 yards over his next six seasons.
  • Lockett had three straight years of sub-600-yard seasons before his 965-yard, 10-TD breakout last year.
  • Collie would never top his rookie yardage total.
  • Kupp was on pace for more than 1,100 yards in his sophomore season before being injured.

Conclusion

It’s certainly not bad company for Ridley to be keeping, but these comps are also a bit of a letdown considering his WR22 finish as a rookie.

Some 1,000-yard seasons are likely in store, but he probably doesn’t have the truly elite upside of D.J. Moore.

The overall lack of opportunity is also a concern. He’s blocked by Julio Jones for the near future, and while we should expect to see bump on Ridley’s 92 rookie targets, it’s unlikely to be a big one.

Ridley is not a priority target for me in either dynasty or best ball leagues.

Check out the top comparables for the rest of the 2018 rookie WR class:

11. Michael Gallup
10. Robert Foster
9. Tre’Quan Smith
8. Dante Pettis
7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
6. Anthony Miller
5. Christian Kirk
4. Antonio Callaway
3. Courtland Sutton
2. D.J. Moore

  1. Unless Peyton Manning comes out of retirement for the Falcons, Austin Collie probably isn’t a great comp.  (back)
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