Who was the Biggest Loser in the Julio Jones Trade?
The Biggest Loser
Impact on the Titans
As much as the Titans are thrilled to have Julio Jones join their team, I can tell you that there’s one group that won’t be as pleased with Tennessee’s latest acquisition. If you’re a fantasy/dynasty player with A.J. Brown on your roster, you likely had dreams of him being the only real threat at the wide receiver position. This was not a difficult conclusion to reach, especially after looking at the Titans’ roster and depth chart coming into this season. It appeared possible that Brown could even see close to 200 targets in 2021 after leading the Titans with 106 targets in the previous year. Corey Davis was next with 92 targets, while Adam Humphries had the third most wide receiver targets with 35.
Tennessee ranked 31st (38%) in the league in lining up with an 11-personnel grouping which includes one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers. Their other preferred formation was a 12-personnel grouping with one running back, two tight ends, and two wide receivers. The Titans were in this formation 35% of the time which actually tied them first in the league in terms of usage.
Considering that Tennessee was one of only three teams lined up in 12-personnel at least 30% of the time, it should be no surprise that their tight ends played a key role in their offensive schemes. As a result, Tennessee’s tight ends Jonnu Smith (65) and Anthony Firkser (53) were third and fourth in targets on the team. In the offseason, the Titans lost both Davis and Smith as free agents. That meant Brown would have been the only player with at least 55 targets from the previous year.
What Does this Mean for Julio?
With Jones now joining the team, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill may feel less inclined to force the ball into Brown, who racked up over 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons in the NFL.
Injuries limited Jones to only nine games last season, but he still averaged 15.1 yards per reception and 85.7 yards per game. If you prorated his performance over 16 games, he would have finished somewhere around 1,370 yards for the season. It’s almost hard to fathom, but teams are much more likely to force Jones to beat them than Brown. And if the 10-year veteran can stay healthy, perhaps it’s even likelier that Tannehill takes what the defense gives—meaning fewer passes and targets into Brown.
Get a jump start on the 2021 NFL season by heading to FanDuel Sportsbook, where you can already find MVP and Rookie of the Year odds, team futures, along with divisional and conference outright winners.