5 Reasons to Draft Julio Jones in Your Fantasy League
As a rookie in 2011 Julio Jones was expected to be the missing piece that helped the Atlanta Falcons get over the hump and make them a serious Super Bowl contender. That didn't happen, but the wide receiver still showed flashes of immense potential.
But this year Jones is poised for a breakout. Here are five reasons why you should draft the 23-year-old wideout in your fantasy league.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
As a rookie in 2011, Jones caught 54 passes for 959 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers are incredible when you consider that he only played in 13 games.
He also entered last season coming off of foot surgery that forced him to take it easy in the offseason. Jones was even limited in players-only workouts last offseason because of his foot.
Receivers often see a big improvement from their first year to their second, and now Jones has had a full offseason to train with the team.
If he can stay healthy in 2012 you can expect big things from him.
He's Dominating Training Camp
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Early reports out of Atlanta's training camp suggest Jones is absolutely dominating. ESPN NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas claims Jones has been "lighting up" early practices, and he claims the Alabama product is the most impressive player he has seen in his training camp tour so far.
This comes a few weeks after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution dubbed Jones the MVP of the Falcons' minicamp.
Those reports bode well for Jones' improvement this year, as quarterback Matt Ryan is sure to look for him early and often if he's making those kinds of plays this early in camp. Clearly he showed up in shape and ready to make some noise this season.
His Practice Opponents Make Him Better
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Jones is reportedly making spectacular plays routinely while facing the likes of Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel. The fact that he gets to face that kind of opposition in practice will only make him better.
Going against that trio of cornerbacks in practice should help Jones develop great habits, and technique to go along with his incredible athleticism. In fact, after facing the likes of Grimes, Robinson and Samuel in practice, games should be a breeze.
He's a Physical Freak
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
At 6'3" and 220 pounds, Jones is a load. But he also possesses 4.34 speed in the 40-yard dash. Couple that with a 38.5-inch vertical leap and you've got one of the most physically gifted athletes on the planet.
With that size and speed, Jones is a serious matchup problem for almost every cornerback in the NFL. He not only has the ability to run past guys, but he can also out-muscle and out-jump them. On top of that, he's incredibly hard to bring down once he gets the ball.
Now that he has a year of NFL experience under his belt, Jones should put it all together and start matching his statistics to that off-the-charts athleticism.
Atlanta's New Offense Suits Jones' Strengths
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
This offseason the Falcons hired Dirk Koetter as their new offensive coordinator. Koetter has long been known for employing a vertical passing game that spreads the field using multiple-receiver sets and gets lots of one-on-one matchups as a result. Those sets could absolutely make Jones a star.
He will likely be running a lot of deep routes in Koetter's offense, which will take advantage of his speed. But with Roddy White lining up on the other side of the field, Jones also won't face too many double teams. That should result in a ton of opportunities to make plays.
Koetter's offense fits the personnel the Falcons have perfectly, and Jones will benefit as a result.