I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Julio Jones is going to crush a lot of fantasy football hopes and dreams this weekend. And no, I don’t think you’ll be on the happy side of that if you’re a Julio owner. If you’ve made it this far, I’m assuming you potentially have a first round bye in the playoffs or are fighting in the first round of the playoffs. For those of you who play through Week 14 in your regular seasons, best of luck to you this weekend – it’s crunch time. If you missed the playoffs in your season-long leagues, don’t worry I will get into the DFS stuff towards the bottom of this piece.
If you haven’t heard by now, Julio Jones is suffering from “turf toe”. In my younger fantasy days, I never understood how some of the toughest men on Earth could be held out of an NFL game for a lame toe injury. I’ve come to realize that this is one of the most painful and nagging injuries an athlete can suffer. When I hear the deadly words “turf toe”, you won’t catch me anywhere near that player, especially in DFS formats. I am fortunate enough to have an older brother who is a Podiatric Surgeon and I asked him for some specifics about the injury and how it can translate to diminished performance on the field. In short, “turf toe is an impaction injury of the great toe joint. This can result in inflammation and pain. It may require immobilization and can result in difficulty walking, running and other impact activities”, Dr. Jason Levy, DPM. Are you sold yet? Is that what you want to hang your fantasy championship hat on? I didn’t think so. Now I realize if we’re talking about season long or dynasty formats, you might not have a choice in the matter but to ride the horse that got you there. All I am saying is, please monitor the situation closely and do not ASSUME that he is even going to play! The good news for you is that the Falcons are in somewhat of a downward spiral per usual for this time of the year and they need as much help out there as they can. They’ll do everything they can to make sure he’s out there, but don’t be shocked if he turns in one of those classic decoy performances, also known as the fantasy soul crusher.
Projection (assuming he plays): 6 catches for 78 yards, 0 TD
The Falcons are facing off against a Rams team that has pretty much been putrid overall as of late and are now owners of 3 straight losses. They did hold Brady to less than 300 yards passing last week, but he didn’t need to do much more than that. The week before, they were absolutely embarrassed by Drew Brees and company. Coming in as the 19th rated fantasy defense (22nd passing), I’d expect Matty Ice to fall somewhere in between those two performances, regardless of the status of Jones. Let’s be honest, the Rams defense isn’t really THAT bad – the bigger issue lies on the offensive side of the ball and their inability to sustain a drive long enough to give the defense a break.
The Other Options:
Whether Jones plays or not, I see an uptick in the value of Taylor Gabriel more so than Mohammed Sanu this coming weekend. You can even throw Austin Hooper into that mix if you’re feeling like you want to attempt a blind-folded dart throw in Week 14 – LOL. If you’ve listened to the fantasyfocused.com podcast lately, you know we’re all onboard with the kid Taylor Gabriel. He’s what we like to call lightning in a bottle and the Falcons continue to find a way to get him more involved on a week to week basis. The targets (5-6+) will be there for Gabriel with or without Jones on the field, but I like his chances to score A LOT more this week. I was big on Sanu heading into 2016, but I’ve been severely disappointed to say the least. The consistency isn’t there and the targets are an area of concern. He’s yet to surpass the century mark in a game this season on a high-powered Falcons team! To add insult to ‘injury’, he came up with a groin injury in week 13 and is listed as questionable.
The best part about DFS is the fact that there’s a lot of idiots out there with money to blow. Please don’t take offense to my use of the word idiots – it’s a good thing you and every other semi-serious fantasy player out there. We play to win….right?! Julio Jones will likely still be started in 15%+ DFS lineups out there, strictly due to the fact that people don’t do their homework and are too lazy to click on that red little “Q” next to his name in their lineups. If they do read it, they think, “toe injury? No big deal, Julio is Superman!”. Rant over. If you need me to tell you that it’s likely a GOOD idea to fade (keep out of your lineup) Julio this weekend, then I most not have done a very good job of selling you with the facts above. Ultimately it comes down to one person clicking that submit button, I’m just here for a fact-based opinion. What will you do? If you’re building a DFS lineup around a WR stud – your money is better spent on someone like ODB, Mike Evans or Antonio Brown this week.
In summary, I absolutely LOVE Taylor Gabriel in any and all formats this weekend! Deploy him with confidence. Set and forget my friends. I realize I’m taking a huge gamble and potentially committing Reddit suicide by making such an aggressive move in one of the most crucial fantasy weeks of the year, but I’d rather put my eggs in a safer basket if you know what I mean. Best of luck to you all this week and remember not to overthink those lineups!