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Fantasy camp battles: WR Russell Gage vs. the field

The Atlanta Falcons have several options that could step up as the team’s WR2 in 2021. Which wide receiver will win the camp battle — Russell Gage or should we take the field?

Atlanta Falcons v Minnesota Vikings
Russell Gage of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after making a catch in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 18, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons are looking to re-tool their offense as QB Matt Ryan enters the final stages of his impressive career. New head coach Arthur Smith will be without WR Julio Jones, but has a star in the making in WR Calvin Ridley ready to step into the No. 1 receiver role. The question is whether Ridley will have an adequate partner on the other side.

Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe and Christian Blake are all in the mix for the No. 2 receiver spot, with Gage having the advantage based on last season’s numbers.

Latest camp news

Week 2 preseason recap: Gage did not see the field in the Falcons’ loss to the Miami Dolphins, and there wasn’t much excitement among the wide receiver group with just 89 passing yards as an offense. Tajae Sharpe and Frank Darby led the team with identical stats with two catches for 27 yards.

Week 1 preseason recap: The Falcons rested a lot of their top players, and the only wide receiver among this group to record any statistic was Blake, who received one target that went his way. The Falcons completed seven passes in this game, so nobody separated themselves in this wide receiver competition.

According to McClain Baxley from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gage is the No. 2 receiver in Atlanta’s three-receiver set. Baxley notes Gage filled in “seamlessly” as the team’s No. 1 receiver when Ridley took a day off from practice. It seems the LSU product is clearly entrenched in the No. 2 receiver spot assuming everyone is healthy.

8/9/2021: Gage seems to be the clear preference for the team’s No. 2 receiver role, but the Falcons are going to consistently operate with either three receivers or two tight ends. That makes it tough to assess Gage’s fantasy value despite his consistent presence on the field.

Next preseason game: vs. Browns

It’s unclear how many starters will see the field for the Falcons in their final preseason game as they have rested many of their top players to this point including quarterback Matt Ryan. Still, it would be nice to see a competent passing game and for other wide receivers to step up outside of Gage and Calvin Ridley.

Fantasy football verdict

Heading into Week 3 preseason: We remain confident Gage and Ridley are the top two wide receivers on this depth chart, and the rest will compete for the No. 3 spot. At this point, only Gage is worthy of being drafted in the later rounds as we monitor what happens with the wideouts behind him.

Heading into Week 2 preseason: Russell Gage is likely going to be the top wideout behind Calvin Ridley given his statistics over the past few seasons with the organization especially in 2020. If your fantasy football draft is coming up, Gage is likely worthy of a late-round flyer.