Julio Jones: Fantasy Owners Must Beware of Starting Falcons WR in Week 12

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 21, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 4: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs with a catch against DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys at the Georgia Dome on November 4, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Falcons defeated the Cowboys 19-13.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Julio Jones is one of the best big-play wide receivers in the NFL, and a true No. 1 fantasy target, but an ankle injury kept him from producing against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.

That same ankle injury could impact Jones again in Week 12, which should force everyone who owns him, in any fantasy format, to proceed with caution.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter D. Orlando Ledbetter, Jones did practice on Wednesday:

#Falcons WR Julio Jones practiced today. Asante Samuel did not practice.

— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) November 21, 2012

Judging by that, Jones will be active on Sunday versus Tampa Bay, but he could be limited. If so, don't expect Atlanta to waste time throwing to him. With a plethora of other options on offense. Matt Ryan can't afford to throw the ball to a gimpy wideout against a red-hot Buccaneers team.

Benching Jones is rarely a good idea. He's a scary vertical threat and a dangerous option in the red zone. Roddy White may handle more of the possession duties, racking up more catches, but Jones is always one big play away from a breakout week.

That's valuable, but this ankle injury is going to negate some of that. Even if he's just one step slower, that could impact his entire game. 

Tampa Bay's pass defense is terrible. Under normal circumstances, Jones would be a must-start, but Atlanta knows that they can get by with White and Tony Gonzalez while giving Harry Douglas more touches.

Playing Jones isn't necessary to exploit this team through the air. 

Expect him to be in uniform on Sunday, but starting him doesn't look like a smart idea in fantasy world. If you have a third receiver who usually toils on the bench, now is the time to give him his due.