- Everything you need to craft a winning fantasy football lineup in Week 7.
Every Sunday, the combined SI.com and 4for4 Football team will answer a question about the day that is to unfold before our eyes. The question will change every week. Some weeks, it will be quite specific, and others it will be broader in nature. No matter what the question is, though, we’ll strive to give you a last few pieces of wisdom before you officially set your lineups for the week, kick up your feet, and enjoy the football. Let’s get to it.
Julio Jones is having a season that would make even 2012 Calvin Johnson stop and take notice. Jones has 44 catches for 707 yards and, of course, zero touchdowns. That puts him on a 117.3-catch, 1,885.3-yard, zero-TD pace, a season the likes of which we've never seen before. Johnson's record-setting 2012, in which he caught 122 balls for 1,964 yards and somehow scored just five touchdowns, is the closest facsimile.
We know that this can't go on forever. Julio is eventually going to score a touchdown. This is a fantasy column, and in the fantasy world we love pools. So let's have ourselves a little pool here. Answer the following questions, and give us a little story, too. Paint us a picture of what the game will look like when Julio finally hits paydirt.
When will Julio finally score his first TD?
How long will it be?
What quarter will it be in?
What will the score be after Julio's TD?
Who will be the primary defender in coverage?
Michael Beller (@MBeller): It’s happening this week. Frankly, it’s ridiculous that Julio doesn’t already have a touchdown, and I would’ve thought it statistically impossible to have the numbers he has without hitting paydirt. In half-point PPR leagues—essentially the industry standard—Julio is the No. 8 receiver, despite not scoring a touchdown. You have to go all the way to Danny Amendola at WR72 to find the next receiver in the rankings without a score. That’s ridiculous. Julio’s touchdown drought is coming to an end this week.
I’ll say it happens nice and early, on the Falcons’ first possession against the Giants on Monday night. Given the team’s recent success in the red zone, without much contribution (in the box score) from Julio, I’ll say that trend holds. This will be a play from just inside midfield, call it New York’s 47-yard line. Janoris Jenkins will be the primary defender in coverage, and he’ll have help over the top from Landon Collins, but it won’t matter. Julio’s touchdown will give the Falcons a 7-0 lead in a game they will go on to win while generally keeping the Giants at arm’s length, though their toothless defense will let the Giants hang around for much of the night.
Stephen Andress (@SportsByStephen): Julio Jones has a mind-boggling three red-zone targets, only two of which came inside the 10-yard line. Jones has yet to catch a pass inside the red zone this year. His last two touchdowns were 25 and 51 yards, coming in the same game against the Buccaneers in Week 12 of last year. His first touchdown of 2018, however, is finally happening this week. Both Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu are banged up and didn't return to the game last week. They should play on Monday, but are likely to be less than 100% against the Giants, a defense that just surrendered two touchdowns to Alshon Jeffery, a 25-yard score to Curtis Samuel in Week 5, and even a 64-yard score to Tavon Austin. I think Atlanta will watch tape from the Eagles-Giants game last week and use a play like this to get Julio in the end zone. Even a line as strong as Philadelphia's struggled on goal-to-go runs against the Gaints, and the Falcons will have to get creative with Devonta Freeman on IR. They will use this play on 3rd and goal, a play first used by New England in Week 5, in the second quarter of Week 7 to tie the game at 14. Janoris Jenkins will be lined up across from Julio pre-snap, but he'll get caught in the wash of the two other blocking receivers.
T.J. Hernandez (@TJHernandez): We’re going to have to see nearly two-thirds of the season pass before Julio scores. Until their matchup with the Saints in Week 12, the Falcons are going to be in some lower-scoring games than we’ve seen so far this year and the two games after their Week 8 bye are outdoors on the road. We know Julio is allergic to red zone success so it’s going to be a long one when he finally gets in the end zone. The Falcons will be at midfield when they snap the ball, but Julio’s going to do most of the work himself. Only three teams have allowed more completions on passes 15-plus yards downfield than the Saints, which is perfect for Julio.
This score isn’t going to come until late in the third quarter. The Falcons can’t make things easy, and they’ll make owners sweat when Julio is the DFS chalk in an expected shootout despite his lack of scoring up to that point. By this juncture in the season, the Falcons will be in perfect position to blow any chance they have at a playoff berth, and they’ll be trailing the Saints by a big number. New Orleans will be in soft coverage on a second or third and long when Julio takes a deep crossing pattern to the house. This score will be just enough to give fantasy owners and Falcons fans false hope. After the extra point, Atlanta trails 33–17.
If you’ve watched 20 minutes of Saints football this year, then you know it will be Ken Crawley in coverage. Only two corners have allowed more fantasy points per target, and Crawley couldn’t cover Julio with Spiderman’s web.
Chris Allen (@ChrisAllenFFWX): Gather ’round, folks. I want to tell you a story. It’s set in the near future. This Monday to be exact. The day begins as it normally does. Fantasy GMs trudging into work. Some eager to brag about their scores. Others hoping to avoid their opponent that started Courtland Sutton in their 10-team league. I mean, really? The Twitter-verse analyzes and previews the Monday night game all day. How many red-zone carries will Ito Smith get? Is this where we see Odell Beckham get back in sync with Eli Manning? All the while Julio Jones’ owners are tilting. Most of them are down 25 points in their weekly matchup. There’s always hope Julio can save them, but that hope is waning with each touchdown-less game. All that remains is despair and shame. Another loss. Another week that first-round pick becomes a bigger mistake. The game starts. Julio gets his normal targets. The fantasy-point gap closes from 25 to 12, but no touchdowns for Julio. Obviously. The fourth quarter arrives. The Giants lead 24-21 with one minute left in the game. Atlanta is at its own 30-yard line. Janoris Jenkins in coverage on Julio Jones. Matt Ryan takes the snap and scans the field. There’s a blur streaking down the right sideline with Jenkins trailing behind it. Ryan launches the ball and Julio pulls it down. It’s just him and the final frontier. The end zone. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium erupts. TweetDeck turns into a virtual slot machine. Fantasy GMs who waited on Julio are rewarded with a most dramatic ending to the fantasy week. We look forward to this day. It’s coming soon. #ForeverJulio