August 9, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrates after a touchdown in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Pre-season Watch: Julio Jones’ Fantasy Stock Soaring After Dazzling Opener


I have been pretty skeptical of Julio Jones going into his second season after his rookie year didn’t yield a whole heck of a lot of touchdowns in terms of his fantasy value, but consider me a buyer–regardless if it’s fools gold–after the Falcons’ pre-season opener.

Jones finished his game with six receptions for 109 yards and a beautiful touchdown grab in the Falcons’ losing effort against the Ravens in their pre-season opener. Last year, the Falcons traded an arm and a leg to move up in the first round to pick Jones, but it appears as though it may have been worth it and then some.

It looks like Jones and Matt Ryan are not only on the same page, but he could potentially surpass Roddy White as the “go-to” guy in this offense because he has a much more broad array of gifts physically, which is really saying something since White is no slouch. The Falcons should have two thousand yard receivers for sure, but I think Jones could be one of your big breakout fantasy receivers this year.

I am looking forward to watching the whole game on NFL replay when I get a chance, and then I can bring some more analysis of the young players. One other intriguing player on the Falcons was running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who had 33 yards rushing and a touchdown. He is supposed to have an increased role this season and the Falcons are getting a good look at him.

The Ravens won the game, and backup quarterback Curtis Painter–who is reunited with QBs coach Jim Caldwel–completed just seven of his 14 passes, but three went for touchdowns. Painter was able to consistently find paydirt, but I still like Tyrod Taylor better if Joe Flacco goes down for the Ravens. He has a more dynamic skill set and seems like he’d inspire more confidence in the guys around him than Painter would. We saw Indy last year, it was not pretty.

Ravens new running back Bobby Raniey had a touchdown reception as well as leading the team in rushing and made a sick cutback to get to the end zone. It’s a play you might see on Sports Center’s top plays, but definitely keep an eye out for the highlights.

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