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Julio Jones is a Top 7 Fantasy player, right? Of course, he is. He’s easily one of the best Fantasy wide receivers in the game. But what if he isn’t?

What if I said that all the “expert” advice you’ve been receiving about Julio Jones being a Top 7 overall Fantasy player is false? Would you think I’m crazy? What if I said that I could prove it with numbers, statistics and facts; would that matter?
There is this perception, this myth that Julio Jones deserves to be drafted in the Top 7 of your Fantasy Football drafts. There’s this belief that when it comes to wide receivers that there’s no one better than Julio Jones.

I’m here to tell you that simply is not true. Julio Jones is not a Top 7 overall Fantasy Football player. More often than not Julio Jones isn’t even a Top 5 player at his own position. I’m here to enlighten you that it’s actually Jordy Nelson who you should be picking in the first round.

It’s time to shatter the Fantasy myth that surrounds Julio Jones. And we’re going to do it with facts. And we’re going to do it with him going head-to-head against a receiver that is almost always selected a full round behind him, a receiver that isn’t even found to be in Jones’ same league and that is Jordy Nelson.

The Fantasy Myth Of Julio Jones

Jordy Nelson vs. Julio Jones

Jordy Nelson is 31 years old, 6 foot 3 inches and 215 pounds. Julio Jones is 28 years old, 6 foot 4 inches and 220 pounds.

Last year Jordy Nelson finished with 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns for 207 Fantasy points. This was good enough for second overall among all wide receivers. Julio Jones finished the year with 1,409 yards and six touchdowns for 176 points and sixth overall among receivers.

There is an advantage for Jordy because he played in all 16 games where Julio missed two. But let’s see if we can even the playing field, shall we?

Certainly, if you owned Julio Jones you didn’t leave their starting spot empty during those games that he missed; that’d be foolish. No, you probably filled it with someone off your bench or maybe a mid-week waiver wire addition. For the sake of this exercise, let’s say that that replacement player averaged eight Fantasy points during the two weeks Jones was out. Eight points are more than fair for a bench player. That would bring Julio Jones’s yearly total to 192 if we include the two-week production of his replacement player, so in the end still less than that of Jordy Nelson.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s say that that replacement player averaged eight Fantasy points during the two weeks Jones was out. Eight points are more than fair for a bench player. That would bring Julio Jones’s yearly total to 192 if we include the two-week production of his replacement player, so in the end still less than that of Jordy Nelson.

But what if we just simply assume that Julio Jones didn’t miss any time at all? What would the numbers look like then? Jones played in 14 games and compiled 176 Fantasy points, which comes out to an average of 12.5 points per game. Two missed games equal 25 missed Fantasy points, which would bring his total to 201. Jordy Nelson had 207.

Jordy Nelson – 1

Julio Jones – 0

 

Of course, that is only one season and is far too small a sample size for you to form your full pre-draft opinion on these two players. Especially since Jordy is 31 years old and Julio is 28. So what if we look at each player’s last three Fantasy seasons? What would those number show?

The last three seasons of Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones were added together using Pro Football Reference’s seasonal Fantasy point totals. Jordy Nelson’s last three Fantasy Football totals are 207 (second among receivers), 230 (second among receivers) and 179 (12th among receivers). Julio Jones’s last three Fantasy Football totals are 176 (sixth among receivers), 235 (second among receivers) and 193 (eighth among receivers).

Full disclosure, Jordy Nelson missed the entire 2015 season so his 2013 season was used instead. Nelson’s three season total was 616 Fantasy points. Julio Jones’ three season total was 604.

Jordy Nelson – 2

Julio Jones – 0

 

12 points over three seasons is hardly a lot, but what if I told you that Julio Jones is perennially drafted in the Top 7 overall in Fantasy drafts and Jordy Nelson is around the mid-teens to early 20s. Jordy Nelson has scored 12 more Fantasy points over three years and is always drafted at least a round later than Julio Jones.

The big plays are what Julio Jones is known for. He’s a player that can have a monster game at any time. Maybe that’s why he’s drafted higher? But is this assumption even correct? What do you think of when you think of big plays? Touchdowns perhaps? That’s certainly how I would quantify a big play.

In the last three seasons, Jordy Nelson has a total of 35 touchdowns. Julio Jones has 20. To really make this point stick, Julio Jones has only one season out of his six in the NFL where he has scored double-digit touchdowns. Jordy Nelson has three such seasons. Receivers such as Eric Decker, Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson and Dwayne Bowe all have scored more touchdowns in a season than Julio Jones, whose highest is 10.

Jordy Nelson – 3

Julio Jones – 0

 

You may be thinking that it was slightly unfair to replace Jordy Nelson’s 2015 season for 2013. I wouldn’t really be able to argue that, yet. But for now, the next place to stop for an assessment of these two wide receivers is their general Sunday availability.

So here are the facts. In nine seasons Jordy Nelson has played a full season six times. In six seasons Julio Jones has only played all 16 games twice. One plays a full season 67% of the time, the other plays a full season 33% of the time. In fact, despite Jordy Nelson having played three more seasons than Julio Jones and missing the full 2015 season, Jordy Nelson has actually only missed six more games than Julio Jones. Only six, despite having an extra 48 games.

Jordy Nelson – 4

Julio Jones – 0

 

You could thus make the argument that while I substituted Jordy Nelson’s full 2015 season, I did not do the same with the games that Julio Jones missed throughout the course of that three season study and there I have to admit, you are right. But I could also just as easily argue that when a player misses time on such a regular basis as Julio Jones, you’re drafting them with the understanding they’re going to miss 1-3 games. Whereas with Jordy Nelson, outside of a freak injury in 2015, he laces them up on Sunday more often than not. But fair enough, let’s look at per game averages. Maybe that’s truly the best way to figure out which one is better anyway.

But I could also just as easily argue that when a player misses time on such a regular basis as Julio Jones, you’re drafting them with the understanding they’re going to miss 1-3 games. Whereas with Jordy Nelson, outside of a freak injury in 2015, he laces them up on Sunday more often than not. But fair enough, let’s look at per game averages. Maybe that’s truly the best way to figure out which one is better anyway.

We’ve already accomplished this for last year, remember? Jordy Nelson had 207 Fantasy points. After playing in all 16 games he had an average of 12.9 Fantasy points. Julio Jones had 176 points over 14 games for an average of 12.5 points per game. What’s that song Brandy wrote back in 1998? Ahh, that’s right, “Almost Doesn’t Count.”

Of course, that’s just one season. So let’s go back six seasons to the beginning of Julio Jones’s career. This actually works out perfectly because Jordy Nelson did not start on his respective team for the first three seasons of his career. Six years ago was the first-time he became a full-time starter.

Jordy Nelson’s last six seasons, which now does include the 2015 season he missed in full, includes 6,098 yards and 57 touchdowns, which comes to a total of 952 Fantasy points. Julio Jones’s career statistics include 7,610 yards receiving and 40 touchdowns. One point for each 10 yards and six points per touchdown equals 1,001 total Fantasy points.

But remember, we’re doing a per game average so Jones doesn’t get a point here. During that six-year stretch, Jordy Nelson missed 21 games, which includes all 16 games from the 2015 season. This comes to a total of 75 games. Julio Jones has 17 games throughout his career and played in a total of 79 games.

Jordy Nelson’s six-year average was 12.69 Fantasy points per game. Julio Jones’s six-year average was 12.67. So, so, so close, but in the end…

Jordy Nelson – 5

Julio Jones – 0

 

Now that we’ve looked at both of these receivers based off of last year’s Fantasy stats, their last three-year average and a six-year average dating back to Julio Jones’s rookie season, we’ll take a look at how they compare year to year. We already know that Jordy Nelson was better overall and on a per game basis in 2016. We also know that Jordy Nelson missed all of 2015, so let’s move to 2014.

Jordy Nelson had 230 Fantasy points in 2014 and played in all 16 games (14.3 Fantasy points per game). Julio Jones had 193 Fantasy points in 15 games (12.8 Fantasy points per game).

Jordy Nelson – 6

Julio Jones – 0

 

The 2013 season saw Julio Jones play in only five games, so we’ll skip that season and instead we’ll move right along to 2012 having a gentlemen’s agreement that each player has to suit up for at least half the season.

In 2012, Jordy Nelson missed six games, playing in only 10 and had 119 Fantasy points, which comes to 11.9 points per game average. Julio Jones had 183 Fantasy points in 15 games for 12.2 points per game average. Finally, we only had to go back to the 2012 season and for Nelson to miss six games, but Julio Jones is finally on the board.

Jordy Nelson – 6

Julio Jones – 1

 

The 2011 season saw Jordy Nelson score 216 Fantasy points over 16 games for an average of 13.5 points per game. Julio Jones had 150 points that year and played in 13 games for an average of 11.5 points per game.

Jordy Nelson – 7

Julio Jones – 1

 

The case for Jordy Nelson over Julio Jones has now been made. Maybe you’re surprised to see that Julio Jones isn’t the slam dunk Fantasy player that you’ve been led to believe. But I have one more fact for you. ESPN looks at the Fantasy rosters of all of their Champions every year and despite Matt Ryan being the third most player on Fantasy Football Champion rosters, Julio Jones did not make the cut. If you’re wondering where Jordy Nelson came in, he was in the Top 12.

Jordy Nelson – 8

Julio Jones – 1

 

So the question becomes how did we get here? How did Julio become a Top 7 drafted player overall when he has only once in six seasons finished in the Top 5 at his actual position? How is it that Jordy is drafted a full round later than Julio despite consistently finishing above him?

Mr. Michael Fabiano of NFL.com, their Senior Fantasy Football Analyst writes, “One of the elite wideouts in Fantasy football, Jones is a virtual lock to finish in the top five in points at his position.” This statement of Fabiano’s was made in his explanation of drafting Julio Jones seventh overall in their Fantasy mock draft for the 2017 season on NFL.com. So this is how we got there.

Let’s focus on two specific words here, “virtual lock.” This simply isn’t true. Since 2011, Julio’s rookie season, he has finished as a Top 5 wide receiver once and that was in 2015. Once! In Jordy’s last two full seasons he’s been the second overall Fantasy wide receiver twice.

So now that you know the facts, the question lies with you, who is the better Fantasy wide receiver? If you’re picking in the middle of the first round and it’s between Julio and Jordy, which player are you going to select? Sure, if you pick Jordy, the majority of your Fantasy opponents might laugh at you, but if you decide to go by the facts, the answer is simple because numbers never lie.

 

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