Update September 4: ESPN’s Vaughn McClure says Gage has made “tremendous strides” since last season and thinks he’s on his way to becoming a valuable contributor in the slot. Blake is an afterthought and could probably won’t be an impact player unless there are injuries because of Atlanta’s impressive depth.
In this series we will look at the most important fantasy football position battles for each NFL team. Opportunity is king in fantasy, as you can’t produce fantasy statistics without getting on the field. So, the first step when looking for value plays is to project, correctly, which players will win training camp battles.
The Atlanta Falcons had an underwhelming 2019, but have made retooling for 2020 a priority. They added former Los Angeles Chargers running back Todd Gurley to their backfield. Matt Ryan already has capable receivers like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley at his disposal, so the offense has plenty of fantasy potential. However, the departure of tight end Austin Hooper could leave a hole for another pass catcher to step in.
Hooper fell just outside the top five among tight ends in standard and PPR leagues. His production has to be replaced by someone, and a few receivers could pick up the slack if Hayden Hurst isn’t up to the task.
Russell Gage and Christian Blake are both wideouts who could take big steps forward in 2020. Gage finished 2019 with 49 catches for 449 yards and a score and could continue to improve now that Mohamed Sanu has been traded to the New England Patriots. The third year wideout was much more involved in the Falcons’ offense than Blake last year. Blake was an afterthought last season and only tallied 11 receptions for 91 yards.
It would be surprising if Blake gets a major role increase this upcoming season. Expect Gage to take a step forward and become a more valuable fantasy asset in 2020. Blake probably isn’t worth rostering anywhere.