Where should Julio Jones be drafted in your fantasy leagues?
Although Jones had a monstrous playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, Jones’ fantasy draft stock should not be increased much. Jones’ value will be hurt because the Atlanta Falcons have two other great receivers, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White. In addition to great receivers, the Falcons added Steven Jackson from free agency to be their starting running back. Currently, Jackson is a better running back than Michael Turner, so expect the Falcons to run the ball more this season.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan has so many weapons to throw to that every Falcons’ receiver will have their draft value hurt. Jones had 129 targets (20th most in the NFL) last season. White had 14 more targets than Jones. And Gonzalez only had five less targets than Jones.
The first tier of wide receivers to draft is Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green. In contrast to Green, you should expect about the same numbers from Jones from this year to last year. Jones will have more value in a non-PPR than a PPR league because Jones is a bigger threat to get to the end zone than White, and Jones can gather many yards from one reception. White will likely be drafted later than Jones because fantasy players expect Jones, an excellent receiver on the rise, to have an unbelievable season. White should be the better value pick.
If White or Gonzalez gets injured, Jones’ draft value should increase a lot because his targets will increase, and he tends to catch most of the passes thrown to him.
Let someone else reach for Jones in the first or second round. You can rather draft for Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Randall Cobb, or Victor Cruz in the later rounds. The best round to draft Jones is the third or fourth round in a 10-team league.
Fantasy Projection: 133 targets, 85 receptions, 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Alan Lim is a Dallas Cowboys writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @alanlim_.