Last week I took a look at what the loss of Julio Jones might mean for Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game, but when a star like Jones changes teams the impact is felt in a variety of ways. For one thing, in Atlanta Calvin Ridley would legitimately have No. 1 upside, Russell Gage would have serious sleeper appeal, and Kyle Pitts might even see enough targets to justify his skyrocketing ADP. You can see my projections for Ridley and Gage without Jones below, but there's still another factor to the equation; what happens to the receivers on the team Jones signs with?
The Titans have plenty of room for Jones after losing Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith, but the acquisition would cap the ceiling for A.J. Brown. Brown has been a remarkably efficient wide receiver his first two years in the league, but without Davis and Smith in the mix, he projected for the type of volume leap that would make him a top-five Fantasy receiver, maybe better. While Jones has had trouble staying healthy, he's been a 10-target per-game receiver when he's active. On a team that runs as often as the Titans, another 25% target share player might drop Brown into the borderline No. 1 conversation. Also, if they sign Jones we can probably remove Anthony Firkser from our sleeper lists.
Two guys currently in that borderline No. 1discussion are DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. It would be impossible to keep them there if the team added Jones. In fact, it would be impossible to rank all three anywhere. I'm not sure we've ever seen a better collection of talent, but the target distribution would be maddening every week. The wise thing would probably be to rank them all as low-end No. 2 options who would be even more inconsistent than the Seahawks wideouts were last year. The other wise thing would be to draft Russell Wilson if Jones lands there.
The other thing we shouldn't lose in this is the value of Jones. He's not currently in the projections, but I'm drafting him as a high-end No. 2 receiver for the time being. If he went somewhere like Tennessee or Indianapolis I could see treating him like a borderline No. 1, but a landing spot like Seattle, Baltimore, or New England would be less desirable.
A few other quick notes before we get to the actual projections:
- I'm still projecting Aaron Rodgers as the starter for the Packers. If that changes, Adams would fall into the Metcalf/Lockett range.
- If Rodgers lands in Denver, both Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy would jump a minimum of 10 spots.
- I'm projecting Taysom Hill as the starter for the Saints. If Jameis Winston wins the job, Michael Thomas will move into the top five in PPR and Tre'Quan Smith would become a much more desirable sleeper.
- It's okay to draft Steelers, Cowboys, and Buccaneers higher than they project. There are just too many mouths to feed in those offenses. The truth is, whoever stays healthy will be the one who outperforms.
- I'm still projecting the Texans without Deshaun Watson. If Watson is their Week 1 quarterback then Brandin Cooks is about 10 spots too low.