It feels like almost on a daily basis now, I’m writing that “this was Zay Jones' best practice to date,” and then the next day, he raises the bar just a bit more. That’s the type of improvement you hope to see from young players in their first training camp and rookie year, and it’s what we saw yet again on Wednesday. What really stood out was his route running ability, and where some receivers loaf through breakdowns ahead of their cuts, Jones has seemingly thrived. It’s within the intricacies of route running that players that aren’t the most physically gifted to win with speed, can win all game long. That was Stevie Johnson’s game when he was working as the Bills’ top target, and it’s what kept him as a productive player until injuries derailed his career. Jones has that type of ability, and he’s clearly getting open against cornerbacks during training camp. Plus, they’re training him as both an outside receiver and in the slot. Now, the big questions are this: Can he do it during games, and eventually, in the regular season? That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when the opportunities present themselves, but Jones has done just about as well as you could have wanted him to through the first six days of training camp. To me, he is winning the battle for the second wide receiver spot as it stands today.
Jones was the first receiver taken in the second round and the fourth wideout off the board overall. The Bills have been -- and should continue to be -- a run-oriented team, but there is plenty of opportunity for targets in Buffalo. The Rams signed Robert Woods away, and he averaged 86 targets in his four seasons with the Bills. Jones is 6-foot-2, ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, and generally tested well across the board at the Combine. He was a standout at the Senior Bowl, and showed the ability to run a full route tree in practice. Throw in the second-best drop percentage of his class and you can see why he’s a good bet to contribute immediately in Buffalo. If Sammy Watkins is active and healthy, fantasy owners will likely be using Jones only on a matchup basis, but if Watkins misses time, the rookie could quickly see WR1-type targets.
SD WR Stevie Johnson - 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
The Chargers’ receiving corps looked fresh and revamped heading into training camp. But that changed when Stevie Johnson was injured.
Johnson had to be helped off the field after suffering a non-contact injury to his right leg in an early training camp practice.
2016 Bottom Line
With Johnson out for the season, Dontrelle Inman could see more opportunities alongside Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin when the team goes with three wideouts. The team signed veteran free-agent James Jones to add depth. Jones, who had 50-catch season with the Packers last season, may have lost a step at 32, but the Chargers are apparently comfortable using him in a limited role in 2016.