With the kickoff to Monday Night Football hours away, fantasy football players need every avaliable person active tonight as they likely don’t have another option. One of the most considerable question marks coming into the game is the status and availability of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.
Jones, having been a limited participant all week, was deemed questionable by the team, forcing managers to make a gut call on if he would suit up or to leave him on their benches, going for the sure play. Is Jones going to be playing tonight, and if so, can he be trusted in fantasy lineups knowing he is not at full strength?
Both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will be active
That sound you just heard was the collective sigh of relief from all the fantasy players who have either Jones or Ridley. According to NFL Network’ Tom Pelissero, Jones (hamstring) and Ridley (ankle), who are both listed as questionable, will suit up for their game tonight against the Green Bay Packers. If this game was not on a Monday, giving the team an extra day to prepare and heal, I don’t know if this would have been the same outcome.
Jones missed Week 3’s game due to a hamstring injury but got limited work in practice this week. Ridley missed the Thursday practice session but was limited Friday. Jones’ return gives Matt Ryan his top two targets after the offense struggled to move the ball late in their Week 3 collapse against the Chicago Bears.
Who is the WR1 for the Falcons, and should we even care?
Julio Jones is unquestionably one of the best wide receivers of all-time and certainly one of the three best of this generation of NFL talent. Amassing 12,306 yards and 57 touchdowns over this 10-year career, Jones solidified his place in the NFL record books. In the fantasy realm, he has been one of if not the most consistent and safe pick someone can make on draft day. However, he might not even be the WR1 on his own team.
Starting in 2019, Calvin Ridley has been lighting up the NFL. Ridley has been a TD machine through three weeks, showing that he’s not just a No. 2 receiver, rather a 1B. The third-year wideout has scored four touchdowns in three weeks, with 349 yards on 21 receptions. Ridley leads the NFL with a whopping 116.3 yards per game through three games. Not only has he been the WR1 for the Falcons, but entering Week 4, he was the WR1 overall in fantasy.
The Falcons, sitting at 0-3, are not a good football team. The way they have figured out to lose games is the stuff movies are made of, and you can’t help but watch. If there is any benefit, it’s that they can not take their foot off the gas as clearly, no lead is safe. Matt Ryan is on pace for over 680 passing attempts with Jones and Ridley, when healthy, will see over 50% of the looks in the offense.
Now active for Week 4, should you trust Julio and start him?
Anytime Julio Jones will step on a football field, he needs to be in the starting fantasy lineups. I will take 80% of Jones over the majority of players in the NFL. Also, you likely don’t have another option at this point. The danger of having a player in a Monday night game is that it is hard to have a legitimate pivot play.
For example, tonight, unless you have a Kansas City Chiefs or New England Patriots player, you likely wouldn’t have anyone else to plug in. Dealing with a Monday injury status is never ideal, but I trust Jones to play well. Yes, there is always the risk of re-aggravating his injury, but that can be said for any player returning.
Not one player in the NFL is 100% since Week 1. They go through close to 100 mini car crashes each week and spend the next five days trying to recover enough to be efficient. It’s nothing but injury mitigation, even at this point in the season.
A few years ago, Richard Sherman wrote an article about the lunacy of Thursday Night Football games for The Player’s Tribune. If you get the chance, it deserves the read. What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Play them in fantasy tonight just as you will every night. Fantasy football is hard enough; don’t make it harder on yourself.
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