Aaron Jones is one of the darlings of the fantasy twitter community. His sustained efficiency is simply breathtaking. Averaging a remarkable 5.5 YPC across his first two seasons, it’s easy to see why the Twittersphere is so fond of Jones. Just how high is his ceiling this season? Elite if you ask me.
Yet to truly breakout, Aaron Jones is one of the juiciest breakout candidates this season after showing more than just flashes in his first two seasons. In fact, the former University of Texas running back was the most efficient running back in the NFL last season. His 5.5 YPC was the highest among all running backs in 2018. Despite being criminally underutilized last season by now departed head coach Mike McCarthy, Jones showed he was one of the best backs in the NFL when healthy.
The Departure of Mike McCarthy, above, will be music to the ears of many fans, as well as Rodgers and Aaron Jones dynasty owners.
Green Bay & The New Head Coach
With one of the best offences in the NFL, the hope is that new coach Matt Lafleur and his outside zone scheme unleashes Jones as the undisputed bell cow. Jones had no more than 17 carries in any one game last season. LaFleur’s track record with running backs is a positive for Jones owners this season. Devonta Freeman in 2016, Todd Gurley in 2017, all exploded while under the tutelage of LaFleur. As a Jones owner, this would be music to my ears, Jones is going to be heavily utilized.
The Green Bay Packers is Aaron Rodgers’ team, that fact remains. Their philosophy, whether for better or worse, has always been Rodgers and his throwing ability, bombarding teams with an aerial assault. The running game has been an afterthought with mixed success over the past seasons. Eddie Lacy in 2015 was the last time the Packers had a top running back for fantasy.
Another thing working in Jones’ favor is Rodgers is a fan of his. Rodgers has been quoted last season as saying “He’s a great player. We just need to continue to give him more opportunities.” Rodgers will still be the focal point of this offence, however, I believe LeFleur’s influence will shift the Packer’s offensive philosophy significantly. The run game and Jones will be the beneficiary. Jones believes this has well having been quoted “LeFleur is going to marry the run and the pass game up. The run’s going to be heavy, not heavy, but were going to rely on the run.”
Having learnt from the brilliant minds of Sean McVay of the Rams and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, I expect the Green Bay running backs to be used both on the ground and aerially.
The introduction of Matt LaFleur (above) should do wonders for Jones and the Packers run game
We have Aaron Jones, y’all don’t pic.twitter.com/SSBBGbBNkM
— 𝓝𝓮𝔁𝓽 𝓛𝓮𝓿𝓮𝓵 𝓟𝓪𝓬𝓴 💸 (@NextLvLPack) June 12, 2019
Jones has been impressive when put to work
The Case Against
In his first two seasons, especially his rookie season, Jones was severely underutilized. Despite his insane efficiency. Jones is yet to top 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Hell, he is yet to top 750 rushing yards a season. This has been due to injuries and a suspension. In two seasons Jones has only managed 24 games.
This is a concern, is Jones injury prone or has he just been unlucky? A season ending knee injury in week 15 last season placed him on the injured reserve. In his rookie season, Jones sustained separate MCL injuries to his left and right knees, each injury caused him to miss games. 3 knee injuries, although not major knee injuries, are still concerning.
— Marques Eversoll (@MarquesEversoll) August 2, 2019
Not bad odds if he can stay healthy and you ask this fantasy writer
2019 Pre Season & Competition
This is a big season for Jones and he knows it. Having dropped junk food from his diet in anticipation of a greater role this season, Jones has changed his physique. His body weight remains the same at 205 pounds, impressively though, he has dropped his body fat from 11% to 5.3%. If he stays injury free, he can cement his name in the top echelon of running backs in the NFL
Rookie Dexter Williams was drafted in the 6th round, Jamaal Williams and his mediocre 3.8 YPC last season will hardly be a threat. Williams has been terribly inefficient rushing while being capable as a receiver out of the back field. Williams will look to take 3rd down work away from Jones, however, Jones has been working hard to limit this.
This preseason Jones has made a concerted effort to improve his receiving ability despite his 26 receptions last season. Expecting an expanded role in first year Coach LaFleur’s offense, Jones is working tirelessly on improving his pass catching skills. Every opportunity he gets. If he is not on the field, he’s been reported to be on the side catching passes off a JUGS machine or from the coaches.
Jones relentless work on his passing skills go beyond training camps. In the off-season, in his home town of El Paso, Texas, he was catching balls off high school quarterbacks. In a bid to increase the degree of difficulty and improve his skills he even had them intentionally throw bad passes. A naturally talented running back with this work ethic is someone I want to own in fantasy.
As long as he is fit though, this is undoubtedly Jones’ backfield.
El Paso's own and Packers RB Aaron Jones (@Showtyme_33) shared how he spent his offseason in El Paso with a few local QBs to throw to him while he ran the route tree. He even had them intentionally throw bad passes so he’d have to make difficult catches.#KFOX14Sports pic.twitter.com/Ket1RXV6p5
— Patrick Chalvire (@PatrickKFOX14) July 27, 2019
Jones discussing his pre-season workouts
— Zach Stratton (@Zach_Stratton29) August 20, 2017
Jones has even shown he can catch touchdowns from Brett Hundley
Aaron Jones has a current ADP of 35 on fantasy pros, behind other running backs such as Derrick Henry at 29 and Leonard Fournette at 32. If Fournette, Henry and Jones all play a full season, I fully expect Jones to lead the trio in fantasy points come season’s end. He is by far the most efficient of the 3 and plays in the superior offence.
With 8 rushing and 1 receiving touchdown last season in just 12 games, Jones is one of the best goal line backs in the NFL. The opportunities for touchdowns will continue to be there on this dynamic Packers offence. Quite frankly Aaron Jones at pick 35 is robbery, someone call 911!
Aaron Jones. Crank Dat Special.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 26, 2018
We should see a lot more of this in 2019 if Jones remains healthy
If Jones remains healthy, I fully believe he will once and for all prove to be a truly elite running back. The introduction of Matt LaFleur and his outside zone scheme should do wonders for the Packers’ run game. If he plays a full season I would not be surprised to see Jones finish in the top 7 running backs for fantasy. In fact I am just going to say it, if Jones plays a full season he will be a top 7 RB.
My other articles can be found here.