Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones missed three straight days of practice this week with the injured hamstring that forced the rookie out of the Falcons’ Week 10 game against New Orleans. It was the same hamstring injury that had made Jones a questionable play leading up to the Saints game. And now his availability today against the Tennessee Titans is highly in doubt.
Last week it was Harry Douglas that stepped in and up in place of Jones, having success at his normal slot receiver position and on the outside. Expect much of the same for Douglas today against Tennessee
Even if Jones were to be out there, how safe of a play is he? How much will they push the young receiver as the Falcons continue to make a playoff push themselves.
With Jones ailing in Week 10, Douglas was targeted a team-high 14 times against New Orleans. He caught nine of them for 133 yards — both career highs — and registered 17.6 fantasy points. Similar numbers are certainly capable against the Titans today.
Cortland Finnegan has done a fantastic job this season shutting down opposing team’s No. 1 receivers; the same cannot be said for opposing team’s No. 2 receivers. The Titans have allowed an average of 5.4 catches for 49.3 yards per game against opposing team’s No. 2 receivers.
And the Falcons will certainly need to lean on the play of their receivers to have success against the Titans.
After allowing double-digit fantasy days to the five of the first six feature backs they faced this season — Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones Drew 97 rushing yards and a score, Baltimore’s Ray Rice 96 total yards, eight catches and a score, Denver’s Willis McGahee 52 rushing yards, three catches and a score, Cleveland’s duo of Peyton Hillis/Montario Hardesty combining for 140 total yards, 10 catches and Houston’s Arian Foster 234 total yards, five catches and three scores — Tennessee has allowed none in the last three weeks. The Titans surrendered 81 total yards and a score from Indianapolis’s duo of Delone Carter and Donald Brown, 78 yards to Cincinnati’s Cedric Benson and 80 total yards and four catches to Carolina’s duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
Atlanta’s Michael Turner will pound away at the Titans, but it will be through the air where the fantasy success will be had. Turner has been a top-12 back in fantasy points per game this year (15.24 PPG), but has not gone above his average in three games.
The 14 targets last week were certainly well above Douglas’s average of 4.7 per game, but he has been targeted seven or more times in three games this season and walked away with fantasy days of 6, 8.2 and last week’s 17.6. He also has two games where he wasn’t targeted at all, including two weeks ago in Indianapolis when Jones had his breakout game and the Falcons routed the Colts.
There is obviously pause for cause with the two zero-target games, but with Jones’s injury the matchup is too appealing to sit Douglas this week against the Titans. Consider Douglas a decent WR2 and a confident flex play.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter