Fantasy 5: Could Julio Jones become even more valuable?

The Falcons have discussed getting Jones more work in scoring situations. Jeff Ratcliffe checks in on the fantasy news of the day.

| 2 weeks ago
Julio Jones v. Richard Sherman

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fantasy 5: Could Julio Jones become even more valuable?


(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)

The 2017 NFL season kicks off in 90 days. That may seem like a lot of time, but it isn’t. The summer is going to fly by, and September will be here before we know it. So there’s no time like to present to start prepping. Here’s the more recent news items fantasy players need to know.

1. More red-zone work for Julio Jones?

New Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said he wants to “maximize” Jones’ opportunities in the red zone. A player of Jones’ size and ability certainly should be used heavily in that area of the field, but Sarkisian’s quote deserves a deeper dive.

Jones was targeted 16 times in the red zone last year, which is dramatically down from the 32 targets he saw in 2015. Remember that a red-zone target refers to where the player is on the field, and not where the line of scrimmage is located. So if Jones is on his opponent’s 19-yard line when he’s targeted, that’s a red-zone target.

There’s a fundamental problem with looking at red-zone targets: it’s much easier to score the closer you are to the end zone. In other words, a target at the 19 isn’t anywhere near as valuable as a target in the end zone. When we look at end-zone targets, Jones saw six, which was actually one more than he saw in 2015. That’s by no means a massive number, though. An increase in his work closer to the goal line would certainly help boost Jones’ touchdown production. In six professional seasons, Jones has only topped double-digit scores once.

2. Kareem Hunt hype gaining steam

The third-rounder drew praise from Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy for his work in OTAs. Bieniemy said Hunt “can do a lot of good things out of the backfield.” He also pointed out that the Chiefs are putting a lot on the rookie’s plate, though was careful to note that Hunt is still developing.

We won’t have any clarity on how Kansas City plans to deploy their running backs until training camp, but the tea leaves continue to point to a big role for Hunt. Those drafting in best-ball formats may want to avoid Spencer Ware at his current ADP in the middle of the third round.

3. Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker update

The saga of released (or soon to be released) veteran wide receivers continues. Maclin has visited the Bills and Ravens, but failed to sign a deal with either team. The Bills reportedly differed with Maclin on the financials, and he told Baltimore he wanted time to make a decision. Meanwhile, the Jets are reportedly in trade talks with the Ravens for Decker. If a deal doesn’t go down, Decker will be released. More to come as the events unfold.

4. More touches for Randall Cobb?

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy says he wants to create opportunities for his players and has been thinking about how to get Cobb the ball “a couple more times a game.” Cobb is coming off an inconsistent season where he saw just 80 regular season targets in 12 games, and 36 of them came over a three-game span. Cobb finished a lowly 58th among wide receivers in fantasy scoring.

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More touches would certainly be a good thing for Cobb’s fantasy stock, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in Green Bay. Jordy Nelson will continue to dominate the overall target share, and Davante Adams appears to be on the upslope of his career after catching 75 balls and scoring 12 times last year. The Packers also added Martellus Bennett. Given all of the options in the passing game, it’s tough to envision a scenario where Cobb sees a significant uptick in usage. He remains a somewhat volatile fantasy investment, though he’s fairly priced with an ADP in the eighth round.

5. Giants touting Paul Perkins as a three-down back

It’s the day of running backs coach quotes, as Giants coach Craig Johnson lauded Perkins as a guy who is capable in all three phases of the game: running, catching, and blocking. At this point, Perkins is all but inked into the starting job, though his role in the passing game may be somewhat limited due to the presence of Shane Vereen. Regardless, Perkins is a very intriguing upside pick. The draft public seems to be catching on, as his ADP has risen a half-round over the last month. That being said, he’s still a good value at the top of the seventh round.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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