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NFL Draft

Can Julio Jones Lead NFL In Receiving In 2020?

  • The Draft Network
  • July 12, 2020
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It’s no secret that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is one of the most productive players at his position in the NFL. Since coming into the league as the sixth overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Jones has never had fewer than 1,198 yards in any season in which he’s played more than 13 games. He’s led the league in receiving in two of the past five seasons, and led in receiving yards per game in three of the last five. 

Jones’ high level of production continued in 2019, a season in which he topped the NFL in scrimmage yards per touch and finished with 99 catches for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns. What does he have in store for the 2020 season? has the following prop bets available for Jones:

Receiving Yards: 1,349.5 (over -115; under -125)

Receiving TDs: 6.5 (over -165; under +125)

To determine what Jones’ stats may look like in 2020, we have to start with projecting the number of targets he’ll receive. Let’s look at a three-year sample size to determine his target share.

Excluding the Week 8 game quarterback Matt Ryan missed and the Week 13 game Jones missed in 2019, we have a 46-game sample to work with. Over those contests, Ryan has thrown 1,703 passes and targeted Jones on 463 of them—that’s a target share of 27.19%. Once again using a three-year sample size (excluding the one game Ryan got injured in), Ryan is averaging about 37.52 pass attempts per game or 600.35 over 16 games. A 27.19% target share works out to about 163 targets.

Now that we have that benchmark, let’s project his receptions and yardage output. Jones has caught 62.6% of his passes from Ryan over the past three seasons. That catch rate over 163 targets works out to a little more than 102 receptions. That prop bet isn’t currently being offered, but if it pops up at 97.5 or 98.5, take the over. 

As for receiving yards, Jones is averaging 9.42 yards per target from Ryan since 2017. Over 163 targets, that equals about 1,536 yards, well over the posted total. In fact, Jones only needs 144 targets at his recent yards-per-target average to go over the posted total—meaning he only needs to play 15 games at his recent pace or average nine targets per game over the course of a 16-game season. That’s why the best bet is over 1,349.5 receiving yards (-115).

Shifting the focus to the end zone, touchdowns haven’t always come easy to Jones in his career. He had an infamous run when he didn’t catch a touchdown for nearly a calendar year. He scored a pair of touchdowns in Week 12 of the 2017 season and didn’t score again until Week 9 of the 2018 season. He caught a whopping 90 passes in between scores. 

Jones has scored fewer than 6.5 touchdowns in four of his last six seasons. He’s averaging a touchdown every 26.2 targets in that stretch. That works out to about 6.2 touchdowns over the course of 163 targets. That’s way too close to place a wager on either side.

For those worried about injuries, Jones has been very durable over the last half-dozen seasons. He’s missed just four games since the start of the 2014 season, and just one game over the last three years. As previously mentioned, he’s led the NFL in receiving yards per game and scrimmage yards per game three times over the past six seasons—2017 was the only year he didn’t lead the NFL in at least one of those two categories. He has a very good chance to finish as the No. 1 yard-producing wide receiver again this season, so confidently bet the over on receiving yards at -115 and sprinkle a few bucks on Jones to lead the league in that category at 9/1.

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