Should Julio Jones be a sell?
By Zach Attack @FFChalupaBatman
The Atlanta Falcons currently have the 4th pick in the 2021 NFL draft and QB that will be 36 years old at the start of the season. Most analysts expect a QB to be selected for the first three picks of the NFL draft, but there are a lot of options for the Falcon’s pick at 4 or they could trade back and collect more draft picks. Regardless of who the Falcons select with the 4th pick, there is a high chance that Matt Ryan will be the starting QB for 2021 because there would be a dead cap hit of $70,937,500 if they trade/cut him. In 2022, the dead cap hit would be $40,525,000 and $15,612,500 for 2023. It would be more likely for the team to trade/cut Ryan next season or the following season. It is plausible for them to select a QB with the 4th pick this season then have him sit behind Ryan in 2021 and maybe 2022, or trade/cut Ryan in 2022. No matter what there is uncertainty around the Falcon’s QB situation, and uncertainty creates concern and potential value in dynasty leagues.
Julio Jones has been a perennial top WR, but he is getting older (32 years old) and is coming off an injury-ridden season (missed 7 games in 2020). However, in the previous three seasons, 2017-2019, Jones only missed 1 game. He is known for playing through injuries that cause him to come off the field quite a bit, but his production before 2020 has still been elite. Since 2014, Jones has averaged at least 90.3 yards per game in six of the last 7 seasons (85.7 y/g in 2020). During that same time span, he has averaged 6.67 receptions. The other knock-on Julio Jones, besides injuries, is his TD production. Since 2014, he hasn’t scored more than 8 TDs and has averaged 5.7 TDs per season.
Calvin Ridley just had a breakout season in 2020 and finished at the WR5 (PPR) and WR in points per game. Ridley has played for three seasons now, and has only missed 4 games. Many people think Ridley had his breakout season because Jones missed so many games. Julio Jones played at least 78% of snaps in Weeks 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 13, and of those games (excluding Weeks 8 and 9 since Ridley got hurt in Week 8 and was out in Week 9) Ridley averaged 17.28 points per game. Calvin Ridley averaged 18.8 points per game for the entire season (which includes Week 8 when he only played 23 snaps). The real reason for Ridley’s 2020 breakout is his increased playing time because we a starting WR alongside Julio Jones.
Clearly, Ridley had a spike in production because he was on the field more in 2020. There also shouldn’t be a concern of TD regression because he scored 9 TDs in 2020 and he has averaged 8.67 TDs per season and he only started 30 of those 44 games played.
Now that we have all of that information what do we do with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in dynasty leagues.
If Julio Jones is on my dynasty team: Hold, unless you are blown away by an offer. Due to his age and coming off an injured season, your league will not value him high enough that he should have better production this season than any player you would receive in a trade. He will most likely retire on your roster, but enjoy at least another year of elite production (if he stays healthy).
If Julio Jones is not on my dynasty team: Unless the team with Jones is desperate to sell then I wouldn’t be trying to get Jones on my roster. I think he could have a WR1 type season in 2021, but age and health is a risk. Also, we do not know if Matt Ryan will be the QB after this season, so you should only want to get Jones on your roster if you think you are a championship contending team and you do not have to give up much in the trade.
If Calvin Ridley is on my dynasty team: Hold, unless you get a really good offer that makes your roster younger. Ridley is going into his fourth season, but he is already 27 years old. This may be his peak value after finishing WR5 last year and QB uncertainty for the near future, but I think he has at least a few great seasons left. Even if there is a QB change next year, Jones will not be around much longer and Ridley should see a lot of targets from whoever the QB is in the future. In fantasy football, volume is king. If Calvin Ridley is not on my dynasty team: Buy, if I have a contending team. I would not give up stud young assets, but I would be okay giving up future first-round picks if I expect my team to finish near the top of the league. Ridley just had a great season, and I do not think that was his peak season. Matt Ryan might not be there after this season, which would make me cautious to break the bank for Ridley. However, you can try to use that narrative with your league-mate to try to lower the asking price and get a good deal.