Julio Jones Fantasy Football Outlook After Signing With Tom Brady’s Buccaneers
Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Julio Jones.
Julio Jones has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, extending a career that has gone downhill in a big way over the past two years.
Jones is entering his age-33 season after playing just 19 games over his last two campaigns. He had 1,394 receiving yards in 2019, but he’s combined for just 1,205 over the past two. He spent ’20 with the Falcons and ’21 with the Titans.
Jones’ yards-per-catch average has remained over 14.0, but every other number is decreasing. His yards-per-game average was a career low by 30.4 yards last season, and he caught 10.4% fewer of his targets last year than he did in 2020.
The Buccaneers already have three veteran receivers in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage, who was presumed to be the direct replacement for Antonio Brown.
Expert Fantasy Football Reactions
Sean Koerner: I’m not sure this is the best fantasy landing spot for Jones. Yes, he gets to play with Brady in a pass-heavy offense, but it’ll be tough for him to draw many targets with Evans, Godwin and Gage already in the mix. He might provide WR3 upside early in the season if Godwin misses any time.
Overall, this helps Brady, who will be missing Brown and tight end Rob Gronkowski from last year’s team. Jones, if healthy, will also provide depth in the Bucs‘ WR room.
This move likely lowers the appeal of supporting players like Gage and tight ends Cameron Brate and Kyle Rudolph.
Samantha Previte: The Buccaneers adding Julio Jones is a nice signing that should add depth to their leaner pass-catching corps and yet another weapon for 44-year-old Tom Brady.
The team — which advanced to the divisional round of the 2021 NFL Playoffs — will be without a number of noteworthy players this season. Wide receiver Antonio Brown, 34, was released in January after a public meltdown and tight end Rob Gronkowski, 33, announced he is retiring once again. The pair combined for 151 targets, 1,347 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns and their absence should vacate significant volume.
Jones, 33, was a first-round pick in 2011 from Alabama. The big-bodied receiver, who stands at 6-foot-3, 220 pound, is a two-time first-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. He spent his first 10 seasons in the NFL as a member of the division rival Atlanta Falcons in which he recorded seven 1,000-receiving yard seasons. He is coming off of a disappointing one-year stint with the Titans in which he recorded 31 catches for 434 yards and just one touchdown over 10 games.
The announcement comes on the same day it was revealed that star wideout Chris Godwin, 26, will avoid the PUP list for training camp. Godwin suffered a torn ACL and sprained MCL in late December against the Saints. Many expected him to miss at least a few games to start the season, but his omission from the PUP list puts a Week 1 return in the realm of possibilities.
Signing Jones gives the team options, however. Tampa Bay could opt to exercise caution in bringing Godwin — who just inked a three-year, $60 million deal in March — back onto the field.
In addition to Godwin, Jones joins Mike Evans, 28, and newly-acquired Russell Gage, 26, on the wide receiver depth chart. Evans profiles fairly similarly to Jones as a 6-foot-5, 231-pound former first-round pick. Both should be considered major red zone threats, especially with the attrition of Gronkowski and Brown.
In terms of fantasy impact, any Brady-wielded pass-catcher should draw appeal as a late-round dart throw at the very minimum. Jones may have the opportunity to make an early impact should Godwin be sidelined for any amount of games while recovering from injury. His addition does not change Evans’ fantasy value, which is currently WR9 in half PPR scoring according to FantasyPros’ ADP. Brady has an ADP of QB9, which should stay firm with this signing.
Jones could have a slight negative impact on Gage’s value, however. Gage was widely regarded as a sleeper slowly moving up in ADP this offseason (currently WR42). He could carry less upside if we even see a glimmer of vintage Jones from the mid 2010s.