After serving a year-long suspension for violation of the league’s gambling policy, Calvin Ridley is set to return to game action this fall. Additionally, while serving his suspension, Ridley was dealt from the Falcons to the Jaguars for two draft picks before the 2022 NFL trade deadline.
In Ridley’s last full season with the Falcons in 2020, the Alabama product ended the regular season as the overall PPR WR5, totaling 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine scores (18.8 FPPG). However, it’s been almost two years since Ridley last played in an NFL game on Oct. 24, 2021.
Following Trevor Lawrence’s breakout sophomore season, can Ridley replicate his production level from 2020, emerging as the Jaguars’ WR1?
Below, we’ll break down Ridley’s 2023 fantasy outlook and decide whether he’s a smart draft pick in fantasy football leagues.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2023 Fantasy Cheat Sheet
Calvin Ridley’s 2023 fantasy ranking and ADP
Entering the season, SN Fantasy has Ridley ranked as the No. 19 WR in both PPR and standard formats. When Ridley’s on the field, he’s routinely produced, averaging double-digit fantasy point-per-game totals in his first four seasons as a pro.
FantasyPros has Ridley’s ADP at No. 37 in PPR formats and No. 36 in standard ones. His ADP translates to the overall WR16 in PPR and standard formats.
In PPR formats, other WRs coming off the board around the same time as Ridley include Tee Higgins (WR14), DK Metcalf (WR15), Deebo Samuel (WR17), and Amari Cooper (WR18). In standard formats, those WRs include Chris Olave (WR14), Higgins (WR15), Metcalf (WR17), and Cooper (WR18).
Calvin Ridley’s fantasy outlook 2023
Given Ridley’s back to full strength, he’s undoubtedly Jacksonville’s most talented pass-catcher. Despite fellow wideout Christian Kirk having a career year and building a solid rapport with Lawrence, Ridley’s a legit contender to lead all Jaguars in target share.
His quick release and ability to win off the line of scrimmage resulted in Ridley posting the fifth-highest route win rate (51 percent) in 2021. Now that he’s flexed in an offense that ended ’22 ranking sixth in drop-back EPA (0.137), a top-15 finish in both PPR and standard formats is feasible for the former first-round pick.
Fantasy owners might be hesitant to draft Ridley, as it’s been almost two years since he last played in an NFL game and has since been traded, but there’s value in taking him at his current early-round ADP. Although Julio Jones missed seven of 16 games in ’20, resulting in Ridley putting up career-high catch and receiving yard totals, he could be in line for a solid target share in ’23. Kirk led the Jags with a 23.2-percent target share (24th among WRs), with Zay Jones and Evan Engram seeing 22 and 17.1 percent target shares, respectively.
With no pass-catcher owning a target share above 25 percent, there’s reason to believe Ridley could see a 25-plus percent target share while surpassing 1,000 receiving yards on 80-plus catches in his first season as a Jaguar. If Ridley can reach the 1,000-yard, 80-catch mark while dominating in the red zone as he did in ’20 (second-most red-zone targets), his early-round ADP is beyond justified.