Since emerging as the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver early in 2015, Julio Jones has maintained his unearthly numbers through the Falcons’ first 12 games. This past weekend, he reached 100 catches for the season, which puts him in prime position to challenge the record for most catches in a season (Marvin Harrison had 143 in 2002).
While Atlanta got off to a very hot start, they’ve cooled down considerably in the last five games and now sit at 6-6. Their playoff aspirations have faltered significantly as Jones continues to avoid catching passes in the end zone.
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Going into Week 13, Quintorris Lopez was still ranked as the top wide-out in both standard and PPR leagues. His connection with quarterback Matt Ryan appears stronger than ever, but he has been unable to convert receptions into touchdowns. While most players would be thrilled with six scores, Julio sees so much volume that you can’t help but expect more.
The Falcons still have to play the unbeaten Panthers twice this season, which includes this weekend at Cam’s building. Carolina’s defense has elevated its play to new heights this year, and cornerback Josh Norman is a huge reason for this. He relishes his shutdown role, and will be tasked with slowing down Julio to the best of his ability.
With 102 catches on the season, Jones needs 42 more receptions over the last four games to set a new NFL record. While it seems unlikely since two of the games are coming against Norman, the only way Atlanta sneaks into the playoffs is if Jones continues to carry the offense.
Despite his recent touchdown-less streak, Jones has put up ridiculous stats in 2015. Over 12 games, he’s accumulated 102 catches for 1,338 yards and six touchdowns. If the Falcons are going to hand Carolina their first loss of the season this week, Matt Ryan is going to have to find his stud wide receiver early and often.
Source: Atlanta Falcons