Cordarrelle Patterson was arguably the free agent bargain of the season in 2021. Patterson signed a one-year $3 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021 in part to bolster the team’s woeful kick returning, but he ended up being much more than that.
Patterson led the team in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and receiving touchdowns. Head coach Arthur Smith found the key to unlocking all of Patterson’s talent. He had 153 carries in his first year under Smith; he had 167 his previous eight seasons in the league.
OK, so he was drafted in the first round as a wide receiver, why would he have had a ton of rushes before last year? He had 52 catches last year, tying his career high in 2016 with the Minnesota Vikings.
Patterson set career marks in rushing AND receiving last season.
But some are wondering if he can capture magic in a bottle again. Skill players don’t typically break out in their year 30 season. Now 31, can Patterson be the weapon for the Falcons he was in 2021, especially before getting hurt against the Dallas Cowboys?
Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus (PFF) is betting on Patterson and chose him as one of the players he’s higher on than most other fantasy analysts. Hartitz ranked Patterson No. 74 on his big board and the No. 23 ranked running back.
“C-Patt was a fantasy darling during the early portions of 2021, ripping off PPR RB36, RB4, RB19, RB1, RB16, RB19, RB11 and RB7 finishes in his eight games before spraining his ankle against the Cowboys. His worse per-game splits after the injury were in large part induced by a reduced pass-game role, but he noticeably still bested his present ADP as the RB30 in both instances.” wrote Hartitz on PFF.
“Age concerns for the position are relevant, although Patterson has far less wear and tear than your typical 31-year-old NFL veteran. Consider that Jonathan Taylor (640) already has 52 more career regular-season offensive touches than Patterson (588).”
“The Falcons felt good enough about Patterson to give him the team’s 12th-highest contract value. While Atlanta is able to move on after 2022 without too much trouble if it desires, Patterson projects as a fantasy-friendly starting running back with one of the position’s better target floors.”
No. Running backs don’t typically get better after 30-years old.
No. Skill players don’t typically break out after 30.
No. The Falcons offensive line hasn’t improved from a personnel standpoint.
But Patterson may turn out to be the exception that proves the rule. He’s not anything close to your typical running back. He was Deebo Samuel before Deebo Samuel was a thing in San Francisco.
But at 31-years old, Patterson is content being a running back, while Samuel sees the contracts wide receivers are getting in 2022 and is bucking at the “slash” role.
Patterson was a breath of fresh air for the Falcons in 2021. Hartitz and the Falcons are betting he can keep it up in 2022.