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Julio Jones

As somebody who owns Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in a dynasty league, I often find myself following the latest news on Julio Jones and his injury that took him out for the season last year against the Jets on Monday night.

Julio is healing well. He’s such a fast healer and that’s his whole makeup,” Dimitroff said. “He’s a strong, powerful guy. He’s going to do all in his power to get back and do the right thing as far as monitoring his own recovery and his rehab.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that losing a big, physical, and fast 6′ 3″ wide receiver would bring down the value of the quarterback that throws to him. Jones has 20 career touchdowns in only 34 career games so far. In his sophomore campaign, which is also his only full season, he hauled in 79 receptions for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns. We know he’s got the talent to put up solid numbers, but does he have the health?

Last year Ryan was throwing to a fairly depleted receiving corp, which certainly didn’t help his value. The Falcon’s signal caller was off to a healthy start in the first five games of the season with Julio, throwing for over 300 yards in four of those games and throwing at least two touchdowns in all five. When Julio went down, so did Matt Ryan. I tear up a little inside every time I see Andy Dalton finished as the #5 quarterback (#6 overall.. Sigh) and Matt Ryan was nine spots lower at #14 among quarterbacks and #17 overall.

So, just how efficient is Matty Ice when targeting Julio? Using the AYA APP I was able to see how efficient Matt Ryan was when targeting Julio Jones since he entered the league in 2011. AYA stands for adjusted yards per attempt, a variation of yards per attempt that factors in touchdowns and interceptions. Justin Winn wrote a few great articles earlier in the year about AYA All-Stars and AYA Red Flag players, I would recommend checking out those articles if you have a chance. Scott Smith also does an excellent job summarizing what you could expect from Julio Jones in the upcoming season.

Passer Receiver POS ATTS RECS YDS TDS INTS AYA
Matt Ryan Julio Jones WR 278 171 2686 20 6 10.13

As you can see, since entering the league in 2011, Ryan has a career AYA of 10.13 when targeting Julio Jones, completing 61% of his passes for 2,686 yards, 20 touchdowns and a mere 6 interceptions. To give you an idea of where that 10.13 AYA stands, I’ll list off the AYA of a few other quarterback and receiver/tight end combinations.

AYA since 2011:

Tom Brady to Gronk- 11.41

Andy Dalton to AJ Green- 7.33

Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez- 7.54

Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson- 9.69

Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson- 13.70

Drew Brees to Jimmy Graham- 8.46

Tony Romo to Dez Bryant- 9.79

Game Splits:

When it comes to Ryan’s game splits with Julio Jones in the last three years, to be blunt, he was just simply better in every statistical category, while his passing attempts and completions stayed relatively the same.

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Now, when we switch the game splits to only 2013, Matt Ryan was on pace to tie his career high 32 touchdown passes and surpass his 2012 career best passing numbers by 558 yards. He averaged just over 7 more fantasy points per game in that period with Julio  and was also on pace to have 408 fantasy points for the season. The total points seems significantly optimistic because Peyton Manning had 406 fantasy points last year. This is probably due to the small five game sample size, so take the projections with a grain of salt. It’s also worth remembering that Ryan was doing all of that with a severely hobbled Roddy White.

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So what can we take away from this? What stands out to me, is the one unit of measurement everybody cares about most when evaluating players to draft for their team and that’s the difference in fantasy points. If you take Matt Ryan’s 33 game split average when Julio plays, then you’ve got a quarterback who not only finishes top 5 at his position, but you have a guy who finishes in the top 5 overall. I’m not saying that’s going to happen by any means, because numerous things would need to come together for that to come into the realm of possibility. Not just the health of Jones, but also the supporting cast around him would need to be effective, but anything is possible (ask Kevin Garnett.)

It’s obvious Matt Ryan’s value will depend a lot on the health of Julio Jones, as well as the other players around him as a whole. If Julio can pull together a 16 game season, Ryan will easily finish top 12 among quarterbacks, but if Julio can’t stay healthy, Ryan’s value will likely plummet and you may be disappointed depending on where you drafted him. Just like we need coffee to be more productive in the mornings, Matt Ryan needs Julio Jones to be more productive on Sundays.

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