Julio Jones is on pace for 1,249 receiving yards this year, and he’s been particularly hot during the Falcons’ last three games since their Week 7 bye, with 327 yards during that stretch at a pace of 29.7 yards per catch, and in each of those games he’s logged a catch of at least 40 yards.
There, that’s the good news out of the way first. Now go find a quiet, comfy corner.
We’ve already dabbled in injuries today, as is our custom every Friday, and pretty much every day from September to December and beyond. Such is the life of the fantasy footballer, with the bones and muscles of men constantly under a microscope, and of supreme importance. That continues now with one final roundup of the week’s most notable injuries before we sign off for, oh, 12 hours or so.
And leading this final list is Jones, the Falcons’ wideout who injured his ankle and missed nearly half of his team’s loss to New Orleans last weekend, their first of the season. At the time his owners were worried, scared, and cold, but those concerns were limited when he returned to the game, and was able to at least function and make some plays.
Fast forward to Friday, and Jones hasn’t practiced yet this week. Be afraid, but be optimistic, because it’s notable that the Falcons have tagged him as questionable despite the missed time, and not doubtful or out. That hints strongly at optimism on their part, and an opportunity for Jones to play.
It sounds rosy too because it is, and if Jones is active in reality, he should be active in fantasy in all formats. But play him with lowered expectations, and maybe mentally drop him to WR3 status when usually he’d be a WR1 this weekend against an Arizona secondary that’s allowing 126.1 passing yards per game (26th). He’s quite clearly dealing with an injury of some significance that could and likely will limit a receiver who leans heavily on not only his burst, but also his ability to cut quickly and gain yards after the catch.
Therefore, there’s a significant chance that we won’t see the normal Jones out there even if a game-time decision goes in his favor, and he may also see limited action. You don’t need to worry about the actual time of that decision, because the Falcons-Cardinals game is among the 1:00 p.m. ET kickoffs, so you’ll have time to adjust your starting lineup if Jones is inactive. That’s assuming, of course, that the Yahoo kill switch isn’t flicked again, causing frothing, murderous rage.
If you’re looking for some insurance, Titus Young is available in nearly 40 percent of ESPN leagues, and after that the wide receiver waiver wire predictably takes a plunge, but T.Y. Hilton is always a decent dice roll with his sporadic targets (only 3.9 percent owned).
For those in deep leagues, Harry Douglas is your best option, as he’d replace Jones opposite Roddy White.
Look out, here comes more hurt…
- Michael Vick (concussion): By now you know that earlier today Vick was officially ruled out for this week. But what’s concerning for those stashing Vick and hoping that his dynamic play-making ability returns for the fantasy playoffs is that his concussion could be severe. Yes, attaching a qualifying term to a concussion (severe, mild), is poor form, but it’s difficult to avoid that when the player in question is doing a lot of sleeping, and his doctor described him as being “heavy-eyed.” The chances of Vick being ready for next week — or any time soon — sound pretty terrible right about now.
- Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles): Last week it was widely reported that Mendenhall would return in Week 11, and Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer would then return to their backup duties in the Steelers’ backfield. Now it’s Week 11, and Mendenhall is indeed returning, although playing him in anything higher than a flex spot isn’t advisable after a long layoff, and with Byron Leftwich likely providing little passing support at quarterback as he fills in for Ben Roethlisberger.
- Ryan Mathews (neck): He practiced today, but only on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. Look, this is Ryan Mathews, and he has the durability of a paper plate. You know what to do: pick up his backup (Jackie Battle) and assume he’s not starting. Then when he does start, well, enjoy your mediocre production and fumbles.
- Pierre Garcon (foot): Smell that? It’s the smell of stashed cash, homey. Those who stashed Garcon for far too many weeks in deeper leagues are about to finally see him play, as after being out since Week 5 the Redskins wide receiver says he’s ready even though he’s still listed as questionable. The proverbial wait-and-see approach is the right one here. Take a week to see if Garcon is indeed as healthy as he claims, and then maybe he’ll be able to follow through on those preseason high-end WR3 hopes starting next week.
- Darren Sproles (hand): It’s still sounding like we’ll get a Sproles sighting Sunday, but the risk of starting him is far too high. That’s because he’s listed as questionable while there’s talk of a need to get the swelling in his hand down, and the Saints’ game against Oakland is in the late block of Sunday afternoon kickoffs. If you have a better option — and by now you presumably do because Sproles has been out for two weeks — sit him for one more game.