Is Cordarrelle Patterson a Fantasy Football League winner or lightning bolt in the pan?

It’s a shame Cordarrelle Patterson hasn’t been used properly on offense throughout his nine-year career. On the contrary, it now looks like a shame, as the former wide receiver showed up to Atlanta this season and became a fantastic superstar during his 30-year season.

The Falcons’ new top player – yes, I said that – has long been an elite playmaker and kicking return specialist. Patterson’s career average of 29.6 yards per punt return is tied for second in league history, and his eight touchdowns on punt return are tied for first. He’s got the elusiveness of a ping-pong ball bouncing off a middle-aged dad, and he’s always been able to put out an electrifying, newsworthy game or two each season.

But until now, it has never been a reliable fantastic option. Before Matt Nagy and the Bears had Patterson change positions in 2020, he was a rarely used receiver who had never had more than 80 targets or 500 receiving yards in a season. In fantasy, his career high 9.4 PPR points per game came in his rookie year with Minnesota in 2013, and over the past three seasons he’s averaged 4.3 points per game.

To say that no one expected the former first-round player to break out so late in his career is an understatement, but suddenly Patterson looks like a potential fantasy football league winner. In four weeks in 2021, Patterson recorded 354 yards and five touchdowns, including 18 receptions. He ranks like the PPR RB3 thanks to an incredibly efficient fantastic point of 0.86 per snap, leading all flex-eligible players by a huge margin. He also ranks second among running backs in PFF’s receiving rating. Undrafted from an overwhelming majority of PPR leagues, the journeyman return specialist is on course for one of the best fantastic seasons by a running back 30 or older in league history. Only one question remains: can he continue like this?

Skeptics will point out that Patterson doesn’t even lead the Atlanta backfield in snaps, as Mike Davis holds an 188-97 advantage, including the majority of the team’s red zone rushes. Patterson is also PFF’s biggest outperformer (by far) in terms of expected Fantastic Points, and he’s never maintained that level of production or usage for a full season despite occasional flashes in the past.

A historical precedent can also play against Patterson. Only four other running backs over 30 started a season with at least 83.4 Patterson points over four weeks: Curtis Martin, Priest Holmes, Fred Jackson and Lamar Smith. This group did it behind a combined average of 26 touches per game, but Patterson is averaging just over 11 per game, which sits outside the top 30 in his position this season.

That said, there is a path to significant fantastic value for the remainder of the season for the Falcons running back. His 11.3 touches per game equals about 181 on a typical 16-game schedule, which puts him in James White’s territory in 2018, when the Patriots finished the year as the PPR RB7. Danny Woodhead, Tarik Cohen and Duke Johnson have turned similar use into fantastic top-12 campaigns over the past six seasons, and before them Darren Sproles has had fantastic back-to-back top 12 results in 2011 and 2012 despite averaging of just 148 touches during those two seasons. .

OK, so Patterson has a lot more in common with this second group of names, less illustrious than the first, but the fact remains: he could have a legitimate PPR breakout.

The key count stats for any low usage rusher in PPR formats are touchdowns and landings. Patterson is expected to score a regression after a three touchdown performance in Week 4, but his 4.5 catches and 6.8 carries per game are very much in line with White and Co., who, as a group, have averaged about five catches and 5.5 carries per game despite none. of them being a full time starter. If and when Patterson sees his touchdown efficiency decline to average (1.25 per game is hardly sustainable), he may not adjust as drastically as some expect. Under new head coach Arthur Smith, the Falcons clearly have a plan to involve Patterson in the red zone. The team has the league’s third red zone success rate and has consistently targeted Patterson, who ranks fourth among running backs in red zone targets, and first with a 100% capture rate. For the season, he touches the ball on 46.4% of his offensive snaps.

Even as the Falcons move towards a three-pronged committee approach with Wayne Gallman II potentially entering the rotation, Patterson will likely retain his hybrid role of running back and wide receiver for an offense that Atlanta needs pointers to. play in the worst possible way after the team. traded franchise cornerstone Julio Jones to Tennessee this offseason. Russell Gage Jr. – believed to be the Falcons’ WR2 heading into the season – hasn’t played since Week 2 due to an ankle injury and didn’t impress when he saw the field. Kyle Pitts, considered by many to be the best tight-knit prospect of all time, struggled despite having covered more roads than Travis Kelce and George Kittle this season. Davis, last year’s PPR RB12 as he replaced Christian McCaffrey, lacks a burst and doesn’t break tackles near his 2020 rate. Apart from Calvin Ridley (who looks more like a WR2 than the star he was alongside Jones), Patterson is the go-to guy for Atlanta, and his defined role seems to be going nowhere. Watch how Patterson’s use has been compared to other notable members of the Atlanta Offense:

Now let’s take a look at the highlights of Sunday’s Patterson (i.e. pretty much any clip in which he has the ball in his hands).

The first of Patterson’s three touchdowns against Washington was Atlanta’s longest game of the season:

He eluded four potential tacklers on his second touchdown of the game:

And for his third magic trick, he just started with Moss cornerback Kendall Fuller:

Patterson is the guy Smith goes for a spark (Patterson’s nickname literally is “Flash”) – he’s the straw that stirs the Gatorade and the lightning in that same Gatorade bottle. The fans know it and the team know it.

“The impact he’s had over the four weeks has been impressive,” Matt Ryan said Monday. “It’s a step backwards. He’s a guy who does everything. He plays against special teams, covers the kicks, runs the football for us, catches the ball out of the backfield, lines up off the racing roads. … He played a big role in our ability to move the ball and score points.

The Falcons will face a dying Jets squad in Week 5 and come out of their Week 6 break with a potentially high-game lineup against the Panthers, Saints and Cowboys, meaning Patterson could continue to see good results. many reception opportunities.

Concerns about snap rate and dropping scores are still legitimate, but Patterson has proven able to make the most of his opportunities and gain more playing time in the future.

“Every time they call you, you just have to go out there and play,” Patterson said after the Atlanta loss on Sunday. “They did a good job calling my number.”

Patterson is on track to continue having one of the best PPR seasons by a part-time return over the past decade, and should at least deliver solid flex value in most PPR leagues. But, of course, he probably won’t end the season as a PPR RB3. This means that for managers who need help elsewhere on their rosters, there might not be a better time to sell high on the slash back. For anyone who has found the kind of fantastic gold that we rarely see, just enjoy the ride.

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