After missing Week 3 and leaving early in Week 4, Julio Jones’ fantasy football managers need him back in their lineups as soon as possible because of his weekly winning ability. Will Jones be back in Week 5 playing like his old self, or should we be concerned about Julio Jones’ injury? And if there is a concern, should you pivot away and find another option before Sunday kicks off?

Update: Julio Jones has been ruled out of the Falcons Week 5 game with the Carolina Panthers

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Julio Jones’ chance to play in Week 5 against the Panthers seems very doubtful

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who did not practice all week, was declared questionable (hamstring) on Friday for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, according to the team’s official injury report. However, Falcons coach Dan Quinn was holding out hope that Jones could still play when the Falcons (0-4) host the Carolina Panthers (2-2) at 1 PM at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Jones had nine catches for 157 yards in the season opener against Seattle. Since then, he has been nowhere close to his dominant self. In Week 2, Jones caught two of his four targets, but the highlight came when Jones dropped a game-winning touchdown pass from Russell Gage.

Related | Fantasy Trade Analyzer: Trade targets for Week 5 and beyond

Since that point, Jones has been on the injury report nearly every day. He missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Heading into their Week 4 game, Jones was a limited participant and managed to start their game. However, he was removed from the game before the half after re-tweaking his nagging hamstring injury. 

While Quinn might be optimistic about Julio Jones’ injury status with the media, both he and fantasy managers need to be realistic and plan on Jones missing Week 5. There is no reason to send out the 31-year-old Jones and risk losing him for longer than needed. 

Update: Julio Jones has been ruled out of the Falcons Week 5 game with the Carolina Panthers

Should fantasy managers start to panic that Julio Jones is no longer the player we knew?

We have been spoiled by being able to watch one of the best players ever to suit up and dominate the position week in and week out for years. The downside is that nothing is forever, and ‘Father Time’ is undefeated. Has this finally caught up to Jones, and should you panic if you spent an early draft pick on him?

I am slightly concerned about Julio Jones’ injury. We can go over the validity and the science of not having a preseason and the impact it has had on players and injuries until we are blue in the face, but this is the reality we are faced with.

Related | Who do I start in fantasy football in Week 5? Who do I avoid?

We have all noticed the vast amount of soft tissue injuries, and there very well might be a correlation to be found. I think Jones is one of those guys dealing with the effect of no preseason rather than this being an issue of age, but they go hand in hand.

In his previous nine years in the NFL, Jones has been as consistent as it comes, and that starts with being available each and every week. Jones has played in a minimum of 13 games each season in eight of his previous years in the NFL. Yes, he might get banged up, but every player does to a certain extent.

Outside 2013, Jones has been able to avoid severe injuries and miss extended periods. His lack of injury history leads me to think the is more due to the lack of offseason and his body not being where it is typically. This is why I am not panicking on Jones in fantasy moving forward, even if he does likely miss Week 5.

Update: Julio Jones has been ruled out of the Falcons Week 5 game with the Carolina Panthers

So, what should we do with Julio Jones in Week 5 and beyond?

The one caveat I do need to say is that due to his age, regardless of how much of a physical freak he is, injuries take longer to heal the older you get. That’s just how life works. I am concerned that Jones came back too early, and we could be looking at multiple weeks for him to be back to full strength or as close to full strength as someone can be in the NFL. 

If you have Jones, you have to hold on to him and wait for his return. He is too good to move on from knowing he can single-handily win weeks. I will say that if you do not have him on your roster, throw out a feeler to who has Jones in your league. If they are struggling and are 2-2, you might be able to get him off their roster if they are frustrated. 

It won’t be cheap, but if you have the depth to trade-off and wait for him to return, you have a shot at getting one of the best players in fantasy. Any time you have this chance, you owe it to yourself to try to pull it off. 

Update: Julio Jones has been ruled out of the Falcons Week 5 game with the Carolina Panthers

Who could fantasy managers pick up off waivers if Julio Jones is inactive in Week 5?

Waivers have already run, so the top players of the week are likely already on rosters, but that is okay — we can get creative and out-think the other people in the league. We will look at wide receivers under 50% rostered that might be floating around on waivers that could have value this week and even moving forward for the remainder of the 2020 fantasy season.

WR Tee Higgins — 39.8% rostered (at Baltimore Ravens)

Does the player have talent? Check. Does his team like to pass the ball? Oh, yeah. Is the player trending in the right direction and has chemistry with the quarterback? Check and check.

Tee Higgins hits every box we are looking at for a waiver wire pick up. Higgins caught four of seven targets for 77 yards in a 33-25 win over the Jaguars in Week 4. He also added a 13-yard run in the win. He caught two touchdowns in Week 3 and finished second in receiving in Week 4.

He has put up double-digit fantasy points in back to back weeks and could have had another touchdown in Week 4. Higgins is a player you grab to play now and in the future because he is only getting better.

Tim Patrick — 19.3% (at New England Patriots)

He’s caught 16-of-21 targets for 209 yards and two touchdowns, which is impressive given his current quarterback situation. And now, the Patriots are going to be without No. 1 cornerback Stephon Gilmore, which leaves J.C. Jackson as their top perimeter cornerback. In Week 4, Patrick led the Broncos in receptions, receiving yards, and targets on the night, flashing excellent rapport with first-time starter Brett Rypien.

Anyone who knows me knows I have been talking up Patrick all year. He was the WR3 in the preseason while everyone was on the K.J. Hamler train. Both Noah Fant and Hamler have yet to practice this week, setting Patrick up to be the focal point in this offense. 

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.