Calvin Ridley & Kyle Pitts Fantasy Outlooks Explode Amid Julio Jones Trade Rumors
By Max Staley
The Julio Jones trade rumors have felt mostly like fun speculation this offseason. But things got real in a hurry on Monday morning. During Monday's installment of "Undisputed," Shannon Sharpe called Julio live on air, and he made some pretty jarring comments.
Sharpe asked Jones if he wants to stay in Atlanta, and the seven-time Pro Bowler responded "Oh no, I'm out of there man."
Julio Jones Trade Rumors
Reports about Atlanta's interest in a Jones deal have been circulating throughout the offseason, but this seems to be the final nail in the coffin. It sounds like he is indeed out of there.
And this has huge implications in the fantasy football world as well, most notably for wide receiver Calvin Ridley and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. Here's how this news impacts those two this season.
Calvin Ridley Fantasy
The biggest winner of this news is Ridley. In seven games without Jones last season, Ridley averaged 109.3 receiving yards per game while seeing a whopping 79 targets and scoring 3 touchdowns. He was still extremely productive when Jones was on the field, but it wasn't quite the same.
In those eight appearances alongside Jones, Ridley averaged 76.1 receiving yards per game on 64 total targets. That's 15 less targets than he saw in seven games without Jones, which is a very important difference. He did score 6 touchdowns, but that's more of a fluke than a telling pattern.
Ridley was a borderline WR1 before this news broke, but he's a no-doubt, elite WR1 assuming Jones is actually moved.
Kyle Pitts Fantasy
But this news is huge for Kyle Pitts as well. While we don't have any 2020 stats to work off of with Pitts as he's entering his rookie season, he's going from the likely No. 3 option to the presumptive No. 2 role. That's obviously big for his value.
Ridley was the No. 2 option in this passing game last year, and we just detailed how productive he was above. It's unrealistic to expect Pitts to match that in year one – he is a rookie tight end, after all.
But his 2021 ceiling has gone through the roof. On average, Pitts is being taken as the TE13, per FantasyPros. If Jones is ultimately moved, expect that number to skyrocket. He has legit top-five upside this year and is probably going to be a top-12 TE from the jump – especially given how thin the position was in 2020.
Pitts is probably going to be slightly over drafted by the time fantasy drafts come around. But someone as talented as Pitts being the No. 2 option in one of the league's most prolific passing offenses is a pretty smart gamble to take.
Matt Ryan Fantasy
From a fantasy perspective, the only real loser from this Jones news is Matt Ryan. He was likely a low-end QB1 prior to this, but he's probably more of a high-end QB2 now.
He's going to have some monster weeks, as he always does, but both his ceiling and floor have been lowered significantly. In nine games with Jones last year, Ryan averaged 309.7 passing yards per contest with 15 TDs to 5 INTs.
Those numbers fell to 256.3 passing yards per contest with 11 TDs to 6 INTs in his seven games without Jones. The loss of Jones would be a serious hit to Ryan's fantasy value.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.