Well, A.J. Brown got what he very publicly wanted: a trade for Julio Jones by his Tennessee Titans. After 10 exceedingly productive seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Jones is moving from the NFC South to the AFC South.

Unfortunately for Brown’s fantasy managers, the fortunes in that realm for the talented young wide receiver also just took a southward turn. Of course, he’s far from the only player affected by the trade, in which Jones and a sixth-round pick were dealt for second- and fourth-rounders. Here are the fantasy winners and losers from Sunday’s NFL-shaking transaction. (Note: Rankings are based on .5-PPR scoring.)


Calvin Ridley: Now the undisputed top target in Atlanta, Ridley figures to get fed at a prolific rate by an experienced quarterback in mostly domed games. In the eight games Jones missed over the past two seasons, Ridley averaged 7.25 receptions for 107 yards and 0.4 touchdowns. He has moved up my rankings to WR4, behind only Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins.

Kyle Pitts: It seems the Falcons traded Jones more for salary cap reasons than to clear an immediate path for Pitts, but the effect is the same. Atlanta ought to have very big plans for the No. 4 pick, a higher draft selection than had ever previously been used on a tight end, and he profiles as a huge mismatch against secondaries. The fact that we haven’t seen it yet from Pitts, who plays a position that generally transitions somewhat slowly to the NFL, puts him very much in the risk-reward category, but his expected target volume makes him my TE4.

Derrick Henry: What do you get the running back who has everything? How about a teammate who leads the NFL’s all-time list in receiving yards per game but who, for whatever reason, has never been a major touchdown scorer? Jones should make the Titans’ offense better, which would in turn help increase Henry’s scoring chances. I felt that I had to move Henry up on this news, so he climbs over Dalvin Cook (and his lingering injury concerns) to RB2.

Russell Gage: Pitts isn’t going to get all of the targets Jones leaves behind, and outside of Ridley, Gage looks like the best bet to become the greatest beneficiary among Atlanta wide receivers. However, that’s not set in stone, and someone like Olamide Zaccheaus (or Tajae Sharpe or rookie Frank Darby) could get promoted instead to outside receiver opposite Ridley. This will be a training camp battle to watch, particularly in deeper leagues, but for now I have Gage at the back end of the top 50 at his position.

Hayden Hurst: Atlanta figures to increase its two-tight-end sets under new coach Arthur Smith, and Pitts could see many of his snaps off the line altogether, as a flanker or an oversized slot receiver. It adds up to a good shot at fantasy relevance for Hurst, a 2018 first-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens who was traded to the Falcons last year for a second-round pick. I have him at TE16 on the assumption that Smith won’t stop Atlanta from continuing to be among the most throw-happy teams in the league.


A.J. Brown: Before the Titans landed Jones, their most likely candidate for starting wide receiver duties opposite Brown was free agent acquisition Josh Reynolds. Suffice it to say that they made a roster upgrade, but we can also state with confidence that Brown won’t be seeing quite as many targets, either. That’s enough for me to push him down from WR4 to WR7; I can’t go any lower than that because Brown still looks like a superstar on the rise and, as noted, Jones should make the Tennessee offense better overall and draw coverage away from Brown.

Julio Jones: The Titans have targets to spare after losing Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith in free agency. Jones, though, is going to a team that throws far less than the Falcons do, and he is losing a long-standing connection with quarterback Matt Ryan. I lowered Jones just a bit, from WR13 to WR16.

Matt Ryan: Speaking of whom, this trade is a major blow to Ryan’s fantasy outlook. According to PFF, Ryan scored 21.1 fantasy points per game with Jones on the field, compared with just 14.5 without his favorite target. And it’s not like Matty Ice is going to give you anything with his legs. He plunges to QB18, and I’ll be inclined to go further if we start getting a regular supply of positive reports on the likes of Daniel Jones, Ben Roethlisberger and perhaps even Justin Fields.

Josh Reynolds: Sorry, dude, but then again you only signed for one year and $1.75 million, so how big of a role were you really expecting? For what it’s worth, you can always secretly hope that Jones, who missed seven games last year and is 32, gets injured again. Oh, and please pass along my condolences to fourth-round pick Dez Fitzpatrick as well.

Anthony Firkser: With the departure of Smith and no major additions to Tennessee’s receiving corps through free agency and the draft, Firkser was looking like an intriguing late-round stab at TE. Now those hopes have been knifed in the back. Remember, the Titans have ranked no better than 30th in passing attempts over the past three seasons under Coach Mike Vrabel. There just isn’t enough volume to support three pass-catchers in fantasy, so drafting Firkser probably won’t work.

Jalen Ramsey: Okay, maybe he’s not a loser in fantasy (unless he has Ryan in his dynasty league), but the Los Angeles Rams cornerback certainly seemed pretty upset Sunday. Noting the price Tennessee paid for Jones, Ramsey tweeted, “This is all it took for a generational guy & we were ‘out’ of the Julio sweepstakes!?” Rarely shy with his opinions, the cornerback added that his Rams could have been “unstoppable” with the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. Sorry, Jalen, your squad will just have to make do with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, DeSean Jackson, Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee. Hmmm … now that I’m looking at it, do I really want to rank Ryan Tannehill above Matthew Stafford? I’ll go with “yes,” if only because the quality of Jones and Brown trumps the quantity most other teams can trot out. Tannehill was a big winner Sunday, and while Brown did not fare quite so well in my rankings, he had all sorts of real-life reasons to be happy.