- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
The devastating news that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is expected to miss the rest of this season with a serious foot injury is obviously a huge blow to fantasy owners who made him a top-25 choice in ESPN drafts, but it also affects other players on the Falcons, a team that fell to 1-4 with a surprising loss to the New York Jets on Monday night.
Let's start with veteran Roddy White, the other wide receiver on the Falcons who fantasy owners might presume gains value because of this news. White hasn't been healthy all season, with a high ankle sprain first, and now a hamstring injury. Regardless, the third-rounder in terms of ESPN ADP -- he was the next wide receiver chosen after Jones! -- has really hurt fantasy owners, with 10 total fantasy points in five games. It would have been far better had the Falcons simply sat him for a month.
White is barely among the top 100 wide receivers so far, being outscored by everyone from Cole Beasley to Trindon Holliday. It's actually kind of sad. The Falcons are on a bye in Week 6, but I am not buying low on White. His value isn't poor because Jones is so dominant. His value is poor because of injury, and I'm starting to think this will be a lost season for him. Don't cut White, but this breaking news doesn't make me assume he returns to top-10 status after the bye week. It looks like a trap.
Jones enters Week 6 sixth among all wide receivers in fantasy points, so it goes without saying that adding the likes of Falcons teammate Harry Douglas, the Dallas Cowboys' Terrance Williams or the St. Louis Rams' Austin Pettis isn't quite the same. But don't give up on the season.
Among the most added wide receivers in the past week who come recommended -- and remain available in more than half of ESPN's standard formats -- are the Jacksonville Jaguars' Justin Blackmon, the Baltimore Ravens' Marlon Brown, the Rams' Pettis and even the Jets' Jeremy Kerley.
None has the size/speed combination that Jones does, but perhaps Blackmon, who recently served a four-game suspension but returned in Week 5, can keep scoring touchdowns, and Kerley can pile on the receptions. Others who should show up on the most-added list this week at wide receiver include Dallas' Williams, the San Diego Chargers' Keenan Allen, the Oakland Raiders' Rod Streater and who knows, maybe one of these weeks the Detroit Lions' Ryan Broyles will stop underachieving.
The other big aspect of the Jones injury is how it hurts quarterback Matt Ryan. The case could have easily been made for Ryan as the No. 4 quarterback in fantasy the rest of the season, behind Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. After all, Ryan is sixth in fantasy scoring at quarterback. But now? Tom Brady is struggling without many healthy weapons, Cam Newton comes off a poor fantasy game and several of the other running quarterbacks (Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, for example) have been disappointing, but who is Ryan going to throw to other than the amazing Tony Gonzalez?
Well, I'm off the Matty Ice bandwagon. The Falcons' offensive line is in shambles -- as seen in the loss to the Jets -- and there's no guarantee White returns to any semblance of being useful. Douglas? Puh-leeze. He's a third wide receiver at best, now being pushed into a starting role. He won't be among my top 30 wide receivers for Atlanta's game in Week 7. Running back Steven Jackson is no sure thing, and hasn't played in a month. Gonzalez remains healthy and he's awesome, but he'll see many double-teams now.
I'm downgrading Ryan to the cusp of the top 10 at the position, and would prefer to own quarterbacks with significant weaponry at their disposal, such as Andrew Luck, Tony Romo or Matthew Stafford. Of course, if Calvin Johnson is out long term, all bets are off there as well!