The hype began locally after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution awarded Jones with the MVP award following a couple practices at the Falcons’ training camps, walking away highly impressed with Jones’ showcase talent during practice sessions.
Soon after, Hall-of-Fame wide receiver, and ESPN commentator, Jerry Rice appeared on SportsCenter to nominate Jones at the NFL’s biggest breakout wide receiver for 2012, confessing his “love” for the “kid” while raving about his rare combination of size and speed.
Even fellow Falcons WR Roddy White hopped on the bandwagon calling Jones “really, really special” and saying that he expects him to be “real good this year.”
With new OC Dirk Koetter expected to implement a new offensive approach that called for a pass-first, up-tempo offense, combined with Jones’ dangerous vertical and run-after-the-catch skills, Jones saw his Average Draft Position skyrocket into the second round of fantasy football drafts. He went from sneaking onto fantasy rosters in the later rounds in his rookie year, to becoming one of the most popular wide receivers in the entire draft in 2012.
After owners gathered up their leagues and conducted their annual fantasy drafts, it was evident, the damage had been done. The media had successfully sold the hype of Julio Jones, crowning him as the NFL’s best bet to give “Megatron” a run for the 2012 fantasy scoring title at the wide receiver position.
As we fast forward to the month of December and with 12 games already in the bag, we can set the record straight, Julio Jones is no Calvin Johnson.
Jones has flashed elite playmaking ability and at times has proven that he can be that dominant player people expected him to be. However, he has also reminded us that his health remains a concern and that maybe home field advantage isn’t always a good thing. In six road games, Jones is averaging 16.4 fantasy points per contest. In comparison, through six home games, Jones is averaging a pedestrian 5.4 points per game. Not the kind of consistency we’d expect out of the next big thing.
With regard to his health, Jones has been in and out of games all year. He missed time due to a hand injury that he suffered in Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, and again midway through the season after suffering a lower leg/ankle injury against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10.
As we near the end of the fantasy football regular season, it’s only fair to draw comparisons between Jones and Johnson. Johnson is currently ranked second at his position with 1,428 yards receiving and five touchdowns, while Jones is ranked ninth with 931 yards receiving and six touchdowns.
I think it’s safe to say that Jones isn’t quite there yet.