After catching 133 passes for over 2,100 yards with 18 touchdowns over his first two seasons, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones entered 2013 among the top handful of fantasy options at the position. A fast start justified that status, as he had 41 receptions for 580 yards and two touchdowns over the first five games of the season with at least six catches in each game and more than 100 yards three times. But Jones suffered a fractured right foot during that fifth game against the New York Jets, underwent surgery and missed the rest of the season.
Jones will reportedly be limited during OTAs, but he should be ready in plenty of time for training camp. Can he re-establish himself as a top wide receiver for fantasy football owners in 2014?
Jones was on pace for 131 receptions and 1,856 yards last season, which would have led the league by 18 catches and over 200 receiving yards, but his pace of six touchdowns would have put him in a tie for 22nd among wide receivers. It’s safe to say Jones would have been a top-five fantasy wide receiver if not for his injury, and the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, who was the second-most targeted tight end in 2013 (120; 7.5 per game), should open up more opportunities next season.
Roddy White had 13 more receptions than Jones when both guys were fully healthy in 2012, so if all things are equal an argument can be made that White will be slightly more valuable in PPR leagues this year. Jones does have a bit of risk attached to him, since his right foot has now been broken twice in his pro career, but things are lining up for him to finish 2014 as the top fantasy wide receiver and maintain that status for many years to come.