It seemed like just a matter of time before Julio Jones was traded and now it has happened. The Atlanta Falcons have traded the seven time Pro Bowl, two time first-team All Pro, and all-time leader in receiving yards per game to the Titans.
Jones played 10 seasons in the NFL and currently sets 20th in all-time receiving yards with 12,896. He’s 29th all-time in receptions with 848 and second, 13th and 25th in most receiving yards in a season. And as I mentioned at the start, he is the leader in receiving yards per game with 95.5. Calvin Johnson is second all-time with 86.1 and he played fewer seasons than Jones. That is a big chunk of production gone without a whole lot to replace it in the Falcons offense.
The biggest boon goes to Calvin Ridley, who now becomes a target hog in Atlanta while Matt Ryan loses his No. 1 target all together. Ryans fantasy status takes a hit for sure, but Ridley and those receivers stepping in behind him will see a boost.
Behind Ridley the biggest name is new rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts was taken fourth overall and should now have a better chance to see fantasy level targets. He’s still a rookie with a veteran, Hayden Hurst to compete with at one of the tougher positions to make the leap in a rookie season, but there will be opportunity.
After Pitts, Russell Gage is the player with the resume to step up to be the WR2, as he did it much of last season with Jones missing seven games. Gage ended up second on the team with 72 receptions on 110 targets. He went for 786 yards and four touchdowns on those 110 targets. That’s just 10.9 yards per reception. The Falcons did bring in Tajae Sharpe and Laquon Treadwell and also have Olamide Zaccheaus, who could win time as well. It is likely Gage’s job, but it’s hard to count on him for more than he produced last season.
In the end, this is going to be the Ridley show with Pitts as a possibility to make waves at a shallow fantasy position. Matt Ryan can still be a fringe starter if Pitts can step up, but I’m not going to target him in late rounds of drafts this season.