Game-By-Game Projections: Julio Jones (2020 Fantasy Football)
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A future Hall of Fame member, Julio Jones has blessed the NFL and fantasy rosters with his exceptional talents for nine seasons and shows no signs of slowing down. He is on pace to be the number-two overall receiver in receiving yards, and if he plays long enough, he may even catch Jerry Rice. After landing at 99 receptions in 2019, Julio will be looking to cross the 100 reception threshold for the first time since 2018. He should see a more consistent stream of targets but may see a reduction in targets per game due to the presence of a strong running game. The presence of Todd Gurley also stands to make Jones more efficient in terms of catch rate. The WR3 in 2019, Jones has an excellent opportunity to improve on his numbers in 2020. The projections below are based on half-PPR settings.
Week 1: vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 1 in Atlanta may be more sloppy than what we usually see to open the season. Julio Jones will still get his looks, but he may not produce the week for which fantasy managers were hoping. The matchup itself lends itself to his fantasy success, but the general rust stemming from the COVID-19 impacted offseason and preseason will likely rear its head in this game. His projected six receptions for 90 yards should still make him a top-24 wide receiver for the week.
Predicted stat line: Nine targets, six receptions, 90 receiving yards (12.0 fantasy points)
Week 2: @ Dallas Cowboys
Julio Jones should have a field day against the Dallas Cowboys secondary. This contest should turn into a shootout as it involves two teams with the biggest question marks at the cornerback position. It would be a surprise if Julio did not post at least 100 yards and a score in Week 2. Dallas will be a team for fantasy players to target all season.
Predicted stat line: 10 targets, eight receptions, 111 receiving yards, one touchdown (21.1 fantasy points)
Week 3: vs. Chicago Bears
Julio Jones is one of the only players in the league that fantasy managers would be disappointed in with a five reception, 85 receiving yard line. Unfortunately for those with Julio on their fantasy rosters, the Atlanta Falcons will not need to throw the ball much in this contest. Chicago is not expected to keep this contest very competitive, which will lead to two things: Atlanta running the ball 25+ times and Matt Ryan losing sight of Julio for series’ at a time.
Predicted stat line: Seven targets, five receptions, 85 receiving yards (11 fantasy points)
Week 4: @ Green Bay Packers
Julio should have a big week in store for fantasy managers in Week 4. The Falcons at the Packers should feature one of the highest over/under totals of the week, suggesting gameflow that should be conducive to fantasy goodness. With the Packers offense expected to be humming against a weak Falcons secondary, Matt Ryan will be forced to hone in on his top wideout in this contest. Julio should see 11+ targets and be involved heavily throughout.
Predicted stat line: 12 targets, seven receptions, 97 receiving yards, one touchdown (19.2 fantasy points)
Week 5: vs. Carolina Panthers
The Atlanta Falcons will be looking to use Week 5 to jumpstart a run game that produced less than expected over their past three contests. Carolina is young up front and is a defense in transition that the Falcons will likely look to dominate on the ground. Furthermore, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst are projected to have more fantasy-friendly stat lines than Julio in this contest.
Predicted stat line: Eight targets, four receptions, 65 receiving yards (8.5 fantasy points)
Week 6: @ Minnesota Vikings
Julio Jones should be in for a big day against the Minnesota Vikings’ young cornerback group. Minnesota should control time of possession, but Atlanta should be able to move the ball well, at least between the 20’s. Julio should be involved early and often in what could become a back-and-forth battle, setting him up well to put in his best fantasy performance to this point of the season.
Predicted stat line: 11 targets, eight receptions, 125 receiving yards, one touchdown (22.5 fantasy points)
Week 7: vs.Detroit Lions
Julio Jones is projected to post a solid 68 receiving yards but should be able to draw one to two pass interference calls that help move the chains. Atlanta should be a touchdown favorite in this home contest, and may turn to the run in the second half. This would serve to limit Julio’s involvement. Julio has the potential to explode in this contest if Detroit can keep the game competitive, but the gamescript will likely be Matthew Stafford in fourth quarter comeback mode as opposed to that of a contest that qualifies for game of the week.
Predicted stat line: Eight targets, five receptions, 68 receiving yards (9.3 fantasy points)
Week 8: @ Carolina Panthers
Jones is projected to have a bounce back of sorts against the Carolina Panthers in Week 8. Carolina should be more competitive at home, with their offense primed for a big day against a defense they already faced on the season. This should lead to the gamescript being conducive to keeping Jones involved throughout the game. The yardage total could be much larger, but this projects to be a contest where Matt Ryan spreads the target ‘love’.
Predicted stat line: nine targets, seven receptions, 99 receiving yards, one touchdown (19.4 fantasy points)
Week 9: vs. Denver Broncos
The Atlanta Falcons may turn to a quick strike offense in Week 9 in order to try to negate the power of the Denver Broncos pass rush. This type of game plan would likely serve to limit Julio’s involvement to short work with one or two deep shots mixed in. Julio will act as a decoy for much of this contest with Todd Gurley, Hayden Hurst, and Calvin Ridley all projecting to exceed their season averages in targets.
Predicted stat line: one rush attempt, 16 rushing yards, seven targets, five receptions, 79 receiving yards (12.0 fantasy points)
Week 11: @ New Orleans Saints
Jones will have a tough matchup being lined up against Marshon Lattimore for most of the day. However, he is familiar enough with the top corner to be productive if given the requisite amount of targets. With the Saints expected to be sizable favorites who jump out to an early lead, the gamescript should be there for Julio to see 10+ targets.
Predicted stat line: two rush attempts, 19 rushing yards, 12 targets, seven receptions, 106 receiving yards (16.0 fantasy points)
Week 12: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Jones should have an easy time with the Las Vegas Raiders secondary. Their cornerback group is inexperienced, and there is no one currently on the roster who will be able to contain him. Unfortunately for his fantasy production, the Falcons will not need to lean on him to beat the Raiders. He should still have a solid fantasy day, but the lack of a score will keep him in WR2 range for Week 12.
Predicted stat line: Eight targets, five receptions, 91 receiving yards (11.6 fantasy points)
Week 13: vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 13’s contest between the Falcons and the Saints should be more competitive than their Week 11 clash. New Orleans should still be able to score at will, but Matt Ryan should be more effective at home, especially when pushing the ball downfield. Atlanta should keep Julio in motion pre-snap in order to have him see less snaps against Marshon Lattimore than he did in their previous meeting. This should lead to a much more fantasy-friendly stat line than what he put up against the Saints in Week 11.
Predicted stat line: one rush attempt, 11 rushing yards, 17 targets, 11 receptions, 133 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown (25.9 fantasy points)
Week 14: @ Los Angeles Chargers
Atlanta will likely look to turn back to a quick-strike offense in Week 14. The Chargers’ pass rush has more weapons than any time in recent memory, and should force Matt Ryan into hasty decisions under center. Julio should still be involved in the offense, but Matt Ryan will likely look to pepper Hurst and Ridley with targets in easier matchups in order to facilitate getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
Predicted stat line: Seven targets, four receptions, 69 receiving yards (8.9 fantasy points)
Week 15: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Julio should be in for a monster stretch to close out the season. He will have Tampa Bay twice in the next three weeks, sandwiching one of the most explosive offenses in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 15 against a wholly unproven cornerback trio, Julio should have a field day. While he could have a much bigger day than what we have projected below, this is taking into account a run and short-pass heavy gamescript for both teams. This will serve to increase time of possession per series, and thus limit the opportunities for both teams.
Predicted stat line: 10 targets, six receptions, 102 receiving yards, one touchdown (19.2 fantasy points)
Week 16: @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to be in championship form in Week 16. They are projected to score 24 or more points by halftime. This projected gamescript will call for Matt Ryan to lock on to his star wideout for the entire contest, especially after a run-heavy first quarter. Ryan should threaten his season high in passing yardage against Kansas City, with Julio accounting for 145 or more receiving yards.
Predicted stat line: 15 targets, 11 receptions, 145 receiving yards, one touchdown (26 fantasy points)
Week 17: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 17 should turn into an instant shootout. Tampa Bay and Atlanta figure to both be alive as far as the wild card race is concerned, with this contest proving to be pivotal. The winner is in, the loser will go home. With both teams having explosive offenses, suspect secondaries, and something to play for, this will in all likelihood be the contest with the highest over/under total of the week. The scoring should come early and often in this contest. Julio’s projected stat line has him making just one end zone trip, but if there is any week that he will be primed for multiple trips to paydirt, Week 17 is it.
Predicted stat line: 13 targets, nine receptions, 122 receiving yards, one touchdown (22.7 fantasy points)
2020 Season Totals
Full Season Projection: four rushing attempts, 46 rushing yards, 163 targets, 108 receptions, 1,587 receiving yards, eight touchdowns (265.3 fantasy points)
Jones should be in for a WR1 season with Matt Ryan’s favorite safety valve now a Cleveland Brown. Austin Hooper was a drain on Julio’s 2019 upside and even led the team in receptions through Week 10. Hayden Hurst, a former first round pick, is theoretically still a talented tight end, but expecting him to come close to Hooper’s first eight-game pace of 104 receptions, 1,182 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns would be wishful thinking at best. His 2.66 yards per route run (sixth among tight ends) and 1.92 fantasy points per target suggest he has TE1 upside, but there is no denying that Hooper’s departure leaves room for extra targets for Jones, Todd Gurley, and Calvin Ridley.
Julio should see a spike in the yards-per-reception department thanks to the Atlanta Falcons finally having a legitimate every-down threat in the backfield, something they have not had since the days of Devonta Freeman, circa 2017. While he should see an overall increase in target share and receptions, the net change from a raw target perspective is not projected to be that noteworthy. Julio received 159 targets in 2019, and our 2020 projection has him at 163. This is in large part due to Calvin Ridley projected to see 15-25 additional targets and the increase in team rushing attempts.
Julio Jones recorded 99 receptions, 1,394 receiving yards, and six touchdowns in 2019, which led to him being the overall WR3. His projected 108 , 1,545 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns, along with the 46 rushing yards would put him at 265.3 fantasy points in 2020. This would have been good enough for a WR2 overall finish last season and could even put him in contention for the WR1 title this season.
Perhaps the single most talented wide receiver in the entire NFL, Jones is well worth a late first or early second-round pick. Currently the fifth wide receiver off the board in redraft leagues, Julio has an excellent chance to outperform his position-specific and overall average draft position.