Trades in the NFL used to be as unusual as seeing snow in Los Angeles. Now, general managers are wheeling and dealing like they're playing fantasy football. This year has seen two big-name quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff) traded for one another and draft picks, Carson Wentz dealt to the Colts, Sam Darnold traded to the Panthers, and a plethora of deals made during what was a hectic and entertaining NFL draft.
The biggest trade from a fantasy perspective, however, might be on the horizon.
The Atlanta Falcons are reportedly shopping fantasy superstar wideout Julio Jones in an effort to help their salary cap situation. Several teams have already been mentioned as potential suitors for the services of the 32-year-old wideout, but which teams would be the most advantageous in the world of fantasy football? Well, Jones’ presence would throw an obvious wrench into the target share of any team that might acquire him.
Jones has seen no fewer than 148 targets in each of his last three full seasons and had 170 in 2018. Those lost targets would undoubtedly cause the fantasy world to move Calvin Ridley and especially Kyle Pitts even higher in the rankings. On the flip side, if Jones ended up in San Francisco (which has been a rumored suitor due to the Kyle Shanahan ties), it would hurt the draft values of Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.
That’s obviously not something we’d like to see in the fantasy football landscape.
There have also been rumors about Jones heading to Dallas after he was seen wearing a Cowboys hoodie in a social media photo, but that wouldn't make much sense as a potential landing spot with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb already on the roster. Jones also said he wants to win and therefor would not want to be traded to Dallas in a recent interview with Skip & Shannon on Undisputed. Ouch!
So, where would Jones make the most sense in a potential trade for fantasy managers?
Here are some of the best destinations pertaining to stats and the impact on players around him. But keep in mind, Jones will put an obvious damper on the value of any incumbent wide receivers and tight ends which become his new teammates in 2021.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers want to make Aaron Rodgers happy, right? Well, adding Jones could go a long way to making that happen. The move would hurt that stock of Davante Adams, but not as much as you might think. The duo of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard would take target share deathblows (neither would be draftable) and make up a good portion of Jones’ opportunities. Rodgers has supported two stud wideouts more than once in his career, too. Duos like Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, Jennings and Jordy Nelson, Nelson and Randall Cobb, and Nelson and Adams have all thrived in the stat sheets in the same season. The move would make Rodgers more valuable too. Green Bay's salary cap situation makes this one unlikely.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Bolts have one of the top young quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert, and his stock would soar if the team added Jones. He wouldn't cause a major disruption to the stock of Keenan Allen, but Mike Williams wouldn't be draftable, and guys like Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton would be even less attractive. Also, keep in mind that the team lost 92 targets from the departure of Hunter Henry, so Jones would have more than his share of opportunities in what would become a dangerous pass attack.
The Colts don’t have a true alpha wide receiver on their roster, so imagine what a player like Jones would do to help their pass attack! His presence would hurt the value of T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr., and guys like Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal would become fantasy afterthoughts as Jones gobbled up a massive target share. The move would also be great for the value of Wentz, who would now have a major playmaker.
The Titans lost a combined 216 targets in the offseason, as both Corey Davis (Jets) and Jonnu Smith (Patriots) left as free agents. The addition of Josh Reynolds isn’t what you would call a “sexy” move, and rookies Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath are unlikely to make major impacts this season. If Jones were to be traded to Tennessee, both he and A.J. Brown would make one hell of an exciting fantasy duo. Brown, who averaged 7.6 targets a game last season, wouldn’t lose much luster in drafts. This would also be a great move for the value of Ryan Tannehill, who has seen his stock slide in mock drafts. Tennessee doesn't have much cap room to make this work, unfortunately.
This seems like an unlikely scenario, but it might be the best based on the pure volume of open targets. The Lions lost Kenny Golladay (Giants) and Marvin Jones Jr. (Jaguars), and Danny Amendola remains a free agent. Those absences have created a huge void in the passing attack, as new additions like Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown leave a lot to be desired. Jared Goff might be an average option under center, but he supported solid fantasy wideouts like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp while in Los Angeles. Game script would also be very much in Jones' favor.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints cap situation would make this impossible (plus it's a division rival), but we can dare to dream, right? This offense would become an instant juggernaut like with Jones, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara all in the arsenal, and there would be plenty of targets to go around. Keep in mind, the Saints lost 138 targets in the offseason (mostly Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook). Again, this scenario is unlikely, but man, would it be fun in fantasy! It would also shoot the value of Jameis Winston upward.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders leading wide receiver from a season ago, Nelson Agholor, signed with the Patriots in the offseason. The team did add John Brown and still have Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards on their roster, but no one in this trio is close in value or talent to Jones. Coach Jon Gruden has had success with veteran wideouts like Jerry Rice and Tim Brown in the past, and Jones would no doubt push Darren Waller to become the team’s most targeted player in the passing game. This seems like a “Raiders move.”
New England Patriots
There have been reports that Jones wants to play for the Patriots, and it wouldn't be a bad move in fantasy terms. New England might have signed Henry, Smith, Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne in the offseason, but Jones would become the unquestioned top option in the offense if acquired. The question is, how much would Cam Newton hurt him? The veteran quarterback had just eight touchdown passes last season, but he also didn't have much talent in the passing attack. I don't think this would be a Randy Moss sort of scenario (no Tom Brady), but Jones would still remain a No. 2 fantasy wideout.
- Pickman: Julio Jones on Future With Falcons: 'I'm Out of There'
- Breer/MMQB: Matt Ryan Came Out of an Uncertain Offseason
- Huber: Rodgers Skips First Day of Packers OTAs
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!