- Scott Kacsmar, Football Outsiders
How do you slow down the NFL's best wide receiver? Apparently injury is the only way, as it appears Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones might be out for the season after suffering a foot injury Monday night. Jones is leading the league with 41 receptions and is second with 580 yards.
The reeling Falcons (1-4) already have been dealing with an injury to running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Roddy White has not been himself all year thanks to a high ankle sprain and now a hamstring injury. The bye week comes at a good time for Atlanta, but this situation does present a lot of fantasy questions for what was expected to be an elite offense. And it gives fantasy owners a preview period on how they could possibly compensate.
Without Jones and with an ailing White, will the team look to hand off the ball more to Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling? Atlanta's 97 carries rank just 29th in the league, so that does not seem too likely. Getting Jackson back could be a boost to the running game.
Matt Ryan leads all quarterbacks in pass attempts (218) and completions (151). Ryan is on pace for more than 30 touchdowns and 5,200 yards, but losing one of the best receiving talents in the league has to significantly bring those down.
However, it's not as though Ryan will be struggling to throw for 150 yards every week. The production has to be picked up somewhere, which obviously can mean more passes to Tony Gonzalez, but what about Harry Douglas as a sleeper? He's owned in just 2.1 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues (as of Tuesday), yet he's on pace for 701 receiving yards.
Without Jones, that number should only go up. So if you are hunting the waiver wire for a third wide receiver or flex play, jump on Douglas now while keeping in mind Atlanta is on the bye week.
1mMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne
7hMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
15hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins