After rumors swirling for a few weeks, the Atlanta Falcons finally traded star wide receiver Julio Jones Sunday. He was sent to the Tennessee Titans for a second-round pick. Anytime a big time player gets swapped, that changes fantasy fortunes for both sides.
Jones will join the Titans roster as the second wideout behind AJ Brown. Now you have to keep in mind that Tennessee is a run-first offense. While this isn’t a terrible landing spot for Jones, do not be shocked if his numbers take a slight dip. Yes, Julio is 32 and will no longer have the fast track in Atlanta and will have some games in bad weather, but he still has plenty left in the tank.
AJ Brown: This deal is actually great for Brown. Jones is way better than Corey Davis and will actually draw coverage away from Brown. Without the constant double teams, Brown should see the best season of his young career. 100 catches, 1,200 yards, and double-digit scores are not out of the question.
Ryan Tannehill: I mean, he’s still Ryan Tannehill, but this is the best weapons he’s ever had to work with. Having two premiere receivers is good for anyone. This acquisition moves him solidly into the QB2 territory and makes him someone I will be looking to try and draft in redraft leagues.
Derrick Henry: I don’t see this move affecting Henry too terribly much. He’s still going to be the focal point of the offense and if anything, adding Jones will loosen up the box and allow for a few more big runs.
Josh Reynolds/Tight Ends: This is the group that will really be affected by Jones’ arrival. While there was a target vacuum with the departure of Jonnu Smith, that no longer exists. In fact, I would argue there will be even fewer targets to go around this season.
Jones was the face of the franchise for years, along with Matt Ryan. I am honestly surprised that they would move such a popular player, but here we are. Outside of Ryan, the offense is pretty young and it looks like the Falcons are employing the rolling rebuild method.
Matt Ryan: This trade really hurts Ryan. Jones was always the player Ryan looked to when things broke down. Their rapport was key to the entire offense. This leaves a big hole and not one easily replaced by a second-round selection.
Calvin Ridley: You could make an argument that Ridley already passed Jones as the No. 1 option for the Falcons. What he gains in target share, he loses in coverage as teams can now roll double-teams his direction. Fantasy wise, his production probably ends up being a wash.
Kyle Pitts: If the rookie didn’t have pressure on him before, he sure does now. On top of being the fourth-overall selection, he now has inherited all of Jones’ targets and probably a lot of his media and off-field responsibilities as well. For fantasy’s sake, Pitts is still looking like a Top 3 tight end, especially in TE premium formats.
Hayden Hurst: The drafting of Pitts hurt Hurst’s outlook, but the trade of Jones probably puts him right back to where he was before the NFL Draft. I would expect plenty of two-tight end sets from Atlanta this season.
Russel Gage/Cordarrelle Patterson: Someone has to start outside opposite Ridley and these are the two most likely candidates right now. We’ve seen Gage pop off before and Patterson has had a decent career. This will be a camp battle to watch.