Julio Jones Fantasy Outlook
Tom Brady made a special request to sign a former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver. That receiver’s name is Russell Gage. Wait…That’s not why you clicked on this. Oh, here we go! Tom Brady is playing with a potential Hall Of Famer receiver. His name is Mike Evans. Mike Evans? You already knew that. Nope, that’s not it either. Ah, an oversight. What it meant to say was that Tom Brady convinced the Buccaneers to sign a HOF wide receiver. No, I’m not talking about Antonio Brown (honestly who is these days)? I’m talking about one of my all-time favorite Falcons players, which is a Falcons fan the bar wasn’t that high but regardless. Tom Brady is now playing with…..
Quintorris Lopez Jones Jr! You likely know him more by his professional name though, Julio. That’s right, Brady’s done it again. He’s once again paired himself with another HOF-level wide receiver. Did you know that the last 2 times Thomas was paired with a perennial Pro Bowl wideout that he went to the Super Bowl? 2007 was with Randy Moss where that team went 16-0 in the regular season and lost to the only QB Brady couldn’t beat in the postseason, Mr. Eli Manning.
That year Moss and Brady put on a show for the ages, even breaking records on the way to a historic season. Moss had 98 catches for 1,493 yards receiving and an absurd 23 TD receptions. Did I mention this was still 16 games? Not like this new 17 games nonsense but that’s another story. The significance is that Moss was over the age of 29 that season (30 years old). Ironically so was Brady.
The next time it happened was in 2020, otherwise known as the COVID year, with actually 2 receivers in Mike Evans and Antonio Brown. I know what you’re thinking, Brown was with Brady the year before in New England. Yeah, you’re right, for ONE GAME so we’re going to ignore that season (and try to forget 2020 altogether other than football). Brown was 32 years old at the time and in just 8 games produced a stat line of 45 receptions, 483 receiving yards, and four touchdowns on 62 targets with a 72.6 catch %. That team actually did win the Super Bowl.
Now he’s teamed up with the greatest pass catcher in Atlanta Falcon’s history (as a Falcons fan it hurts to type about Julio being on the same team with the man who cost him his only chance at a ring). All is forgiven I guess if he can actually help him get one this season though. Should we be expecting the same fireworks with Julio as we saw with Moss and Brown or even Evans? Well, let’s consider some factors.
The last time Julio was with the Falcons, just two seasons ago, he recorded 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games before ultimately being sat down for the rest of the season due to a “hamstring injury.” His 16-game pace would have put him at 1,371 yards which would have been 23 yards less than his 2019 season where he went to the Pro Bowl. It also would have put him on track for 90 catches which would have been nine less than his 2019 Pro Bowl season. His touchdowns, when extrapolated, would have put him at around five, one less than 2019. What does all of this tell us? That Julio was starting to see a decline.
The following season he played, I mean, was on the field for 10 games. At this point, you could argue that he was possibly in a worse situation with Tennessee being on a new team, with a new coach, an often injured A.J. Brown, a heavy run scheme based around Derrick Henry, a year older and still plagued by injuries himself. You could even debate if Ryan Tannehill was even a better QB than Matt Ryan (one’s played in a Superbowl and won an MVP is all I’m saying). All of these could have led to what was a very forgettable 2021 season for Jones.
Last season Julio had a single game in which he recorded more than 59 receiving yards. It was Week 2 against an atrocious Seattle Seahawks secondary. Julio showed flashes of his greatness from yesteryear by simply dominating Seattle defensive backs to the tune of 6 receptions and 128 yards on 8 targets, not to mention a TD catch that was overturned on replay (incorrectly) and the next play was Derrick Henry right up the gut for an easy 6 point run. We all thought it. He’s back! However, he would go on to miss 6 of the Titans’ next 9 games and would not have a game of more than 6 targets again until Week 17 where he had 9 targets that equated to 5 catches for 58 yards and a TD in a 3 point victory against the Houston Texans.
Now, in a much better situation in Tampa Bay, where he doesn’t have to be the number one (or even number two) option, could we see a revival of Julio when paired with the GOAT Tom Brady? I say not likely. Julio will probably be filling the Antonio Brown role when healthy but Julio is not the same player Brown was during his tenure with the Bucs. Julio has multiple nagging injuries that include his toe, hip, ankle, and hamstrings. He’s 33 years old and is only going to get older. Plus he’s there, like Brown, to be a part-time player. Any Falcons fans will tell you that he’s kind of been that for a few years now. Can’t tell you how many times I watched Julio catch an eight-yard slant on 2nd a 13 and then come out on third down to be looked at by the trainers.
This isn’t prime Julio. His body is breaking down and his skills are declining slowly. He could excel at the role he’s given but that’s all it’ll be… just a role. This is the NFL’s version of Karl Malone joining the Lakers. Sure he’s a legend and the skill still seems to be there for the most part but the injuries are piling up and taking their toll. Tom Brady isn’t getting Julio, he’s getting a just past his prime legend named Quintorris Lopez Jones Jr. This will not be the same as it was the last few times with Tom. As for fantasy purposes, you’re drafting the name if you’re rostering Julio Jones. As cool as the name may look on your team as your WR4, you don’t get fantasy points for the name of the player. Tom Brady isn’t getting prime ATL Julio and neither are you.