Julio Jones’ fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

Following his trade to Tennessee, what are Julio Jones' ADP and fantasy football outlook heading into 2021 opposite A.J. Brown?

Wide receiver Julio Jones was traded to the Tennessee Titans earlier this summer. The former Atlanta Falcon has averaged 18.6 PPR fantasy points per game since his rookie season back in 2011. But what does Jones’ fantasy football outlook now look like, and what is his ADP in 2021? Can his dominance continue in playing opposite receiver A.J. Brown?

Julio Jones’ fantasy outlook for 2021

It’s important to briefly examine Jones’ 2020 season before discussing his projection for 2021. A hamstring strain in Week 2 caused him to miss seven games. Jones averaged 7.6 targets, 5.7 receptions, 85.7 receiving yards, and 0.3 touchdowns per game in nine active games last season. Jones was on pace for 90+ receptions and 1,300+ receiving yards last year if you extrapolated his per-game averages over a full season.

There is the perception that landing in Tennessee is detrimental to his fantasy outlook, but I respectfully disagree. The Titans have a ton of vacated targets. They lost receivers Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, and tight end Jonnu Smith this offseason. This trio combined for 192 targets in 2020. And they only signed Josh Reynolds during free agency.

The Titans finished last season ranked fifth in total yards (385.4) and fourth in points scored (29.6) per game. The only team who averaged more rushing attempts per game than the Titans (32) were the Ravens (34.6). Can Jones still prosper in this type of offensive scheme?

New offensive coordinator in the Music City

You may be wondering if this trend will continue with former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith now in Atlanta. Multiple reports suggest that with new OC Todd Downing, it will.

This is the second time in three seasons that head coach Mike Vrabel will promote his tight ends coach to offensive coordinator. The 40-year-old Downing does have experience as an NFL offensive coordinator. He held the role back in 2017 under Jack Del Rio. Given the Titans’ offense’s success, it would be surprising to see Downing deviate away from the pass-to-run ratio.

The Titans will likely continue to lean heavily on Derrick Henry, but Ryan Tannehill now has one of the top receiver duos in the NFL with Brown and Jones.

Is Jones past his prime?

Jones has been very efficient throughout his NFL career relative to his target share when examining expected points and fantasy points over expectation. He’s averaged 2.4 PPR fantasy points per game more than expected, having caught 848 of 1,321 targets.

The 32-year-old receiver averaged 10.5 targets, 6.8 receptions, and 99 receiving yards per game opposite Calvin Ridley in Atlanta prior to the 2020 season. Brown will command a great deal of defensive attention, which is good news for Jones in 2021.

You may have some trepidation about Jones because of his age and recent injury history, and this trepidation is justified. Since 2000, only 18 receivers age 32+ have scored 258+ PPR fantasy points. Nevertheless, considering his statistical body of work, Jones has a chance to be an outlier. There’s also the possibility that Tannehill’s pass attempts increases this season.

Will the Titans’ defense be improved in 2021?

Tennessee’s defense — especially the secondary — struggled last season. The Titans conceded the fourth-most total yards (398) and ninth-most points (27) per game. Their defense allowed opponents to convert 52% of their third-down opportunities. The unit also allowed offenses to score touchdowns on 69% of their visits to the red zone.

The Titans addressed the defense this offseason, but Downing may need to open up the passing game more in 2021 to position them in more favorable conditions.

Julio Jones’ fantasy projection

Jones projects for around 120 targets, 80 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns in 2021. He is firmly on the WR2 radar, and at his ADP, that’s not a bad thing.

Julio Jones’ ADP

Jones has a half PPR ADP data of 42.5 according to Fleaflicker. He is going marginally lower in pay-to-play fantasy formats such as the National Fantasy Championship, where Jones’ ADP of 47.74 makes him the WR21 overall. His ADP in half PPR formats on Sleeper is 40.4.

Should you draft Jones in 2021?

Most definitely. Jones could finish anywhere on the WR2 spectrum. Jones provides fantasy managers with a very high floor even though his ceiling is lower due to the presence of Brown.

Eric Moody is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). He is also the co-host of the In The Mood for Fantasy Football podcast. You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.