Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: Ideal Fantasy Landing Spots for Julio Jonesby Mike Fanelli May 12, 2021 0 comments
Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, reports surfaced that the Atlanta Falcons are open to trading All-Pro Julio Jones due to salary cap issues. However, in order for the Falcons to create salary cap space, they have to wait till June 1 to trade him. By trading Julio after June 1, the Falcons would open $15.3 million in space. Currently, the Falcons have less than $1 million in cap space according to Over the Cap.
After playing with Matt Ryan for most of his career, Jones has been one of the best fantasy wide receivers in the league. Since 2012, Julio has finished as a top 11 PPR wide receiver in seven of nine seasons. The two exceptions were the seasons Jones played nine or fewer games. Furthermore, from 2014-2019, Julio finished as a top-seven PPR wide receiver every year. During that span, Jones finished as the WR5 on average. If the Falcons trade Julio, fantasy owners hope he lands in fantasy friendly spot. Let’s take a look at the best realistic fantasy landing spots for Jones.
The Colts offense will look very similar again this season outside of quarterback. After Jacoby Brissett was the starter in 2019 and Philip Rivers last season, the Colts acquired Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the Colts didn’t add any playmakers in free agency and waited till day three to select an offensive player. Currently, the Colts have the veteran T.Y. Hilton surrounded by youngsters Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell, and Zach Pascal at wide receiver.
However, if the Colts traded for Julio, he would give Wentz the best receiver he’s ever played with and a true No. 1 wide receiver. While the Colts have a more balanced offense than the Falcons, Jones would have a massive target share. In Atlanta, Julio has to split targets with Calvin Ridley and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. However, in Indianapolis, Jones could see 170 or more targets for the third time in his career. If Julio lands in Indianapolis, he should be a top 10 drafted wide receiver in 2021.
Los Angeles Chargers
During the offseason, the Chargers’ focus was giving Justin Herbert as much help as possible. They add three new offensive linemen in free agency. Then, the Chargers also spent their first-round pick on offensive tackle Rashawn Slater. On top of that, they used their first third-round selection on wide receiver Josh Palmer. However, outside of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers lack proven wide receivers. Furthermore, while they replaced Hunter Henry with Jared Cook, the Chargers downgraded at tight end and in the red zone.
Currently, the AFC West belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs, and everyone else is fighting for second place. However, adding Julio would give the Chargers an offense on par with the Chiefs. Much like in Atlanta, Jones wouldn’t see a consistent double team with Allen in the slot and Williams on the other side. While having Allen and Williams on the roster will limit Julio’s target share, the targets he does see won’t be against double teams. With Herbert under center, Jones would get an upgrade throwing to him while seeing better quality targets. Despite having Allen and Williams on the roster, Julio would maintain a WR1 status next season.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers made the move of the offseason by trading away three first-round picks and a third-round pick to move up nine spots to select Trey Lance third overall. While the 49ers are low on draft capital, they should take a page out of the Los Angeles Rams’ playbook and trade some more away. Nothing is better than giving your new franchise a shiny new toy to throw to. Defenses would also have no way of slowing down Jones and George Kittle. Furthermore, Julio had his best fantasy season with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator.
In 2015, Shanahan was in his first year as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. That year, Jones had a career-high 203 targets and averaged 23.8 PPR fantasy points per game. He also led the league with 136 catches and 1,871 receiving yards that year. If Jones lands in San Francisco, he won’t put up those kinds of numbers, again given his age and Kittle’s presence on the roster. However, Jones should match his 2019 stats of 99 catches on 157 targets for 1,394 yards and 18.3 PPR fantasy points per game. If Julio ends up with the 49ers, he should be selected as a high-end WR2 next season. However, if Kittle misses time, Julio becomes a weekly top-three wide receiver.