Julio Jones Surprises in Preseason Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIAugust 7, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 15:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a 29-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Georgia Dome on December 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons' second-year receiver Julio Jones is poised to make a huge splash in the NFL this season.

Coming off of a five-game stretch (including the playoffs) in which he tallied 457 yards and six touchdowns on 27 catches, Jones looks primed to take a Calvin Johnson-type statistical leap in his second year.

Johnson collected 48 grabs for 756 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie campaign in 10 starts, battling injuries and inexperience along the way. In his sophomore season, his statistics climbed to 1331 yards and 12 scores on 78 catches. 

In his six NFL seasons, he has only matched or exceeded his second-year numbers once: his monster season last year, which has propelled him to the consensus No. 1 fantasy wide receiver in 2012.

Jones has some of the same physical gifts as Megatron. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s fast. Additionally, his rookie statistics compare favorably to Johnson’s: Jones (in 13 starts) caught 54 balls for 959 yards and eight touchdowns in an offense that was running oriented.

This year, Atlanta is less likely to rely on Michael Turner to carry the ball 300 times again.

When you consider that this will be Jones’ first full offseason (due to the NFL lockout prior to his rookie year), the argument for his elite fantasy status becomes more convincing. He will have an opportunity to better prepare himself mentally, with the assistance of a full training camp, and physically, potentially leaving his hamstring issues of 2011 in the past.

The player with the absolute best chance to duplicate Calvin Johnson’s numbers from last year is Calvin Johnson, because he’s already done it. But Julio Jones has elite talent and is in a situation to give Johnson solid competition in receiving statistics this year, which is why he is my second-ranked fantasy wide receiver for 2012.

Give me Megatron, or give me Julio.

Other fantasy player previews:

Steven Jackson

Percy Harvin

Antonio Gates

Ryan Mathews