Aaron Jones Provides A Solid Floor & Upside (2019 Fantasy Football)
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.
Packers running back Aaron Jones has been one of the hottest breakout candidates this offseason after an impressive 2018 campaign. Jones was able to make a real impact even while being inexplicably under-utilized all season by now-fired head coach Mike McCarthy. New HC Matt Lafleur has a long track record of successful running backs. From Devonta Freeman to Todd Gurley to Derrick Henry, Lafleur gets the best out of his backs. Today I want to take a closer look at just how good Jones can be in 2019.
Throughout the Aaron Rodgers era, the Packers have been known for their high-flying aerial attack while mixing in the running game. I see a changing of philosophy for this offense in 2019. While I still fully expect Rodgers to be the engine that drives this offense, Jones should be right there next to him making things move. Rodgers has personally advocated for Jones on multiple occasions saying, “he’s a great player. We just need to continue to give him more opportunities.”
Jones finished the 2018 season with 728 rushing yards and eight touchdowns while adding 26 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown. All of these numbers were accumulated in just 12 games, while never receiving more than 17 carries in a game. As you can see, Jones hasn’t even gotten close to his potential ceiling. Lafleur should be a lot more receptive to using Jones in a featured role than McCarthy ever was.
Lafleur has always featured his running backs both on the ground and through the air. Looking at his previous positions and the success he had with his backs is pretty telling. In 2016, Devonta Freeman was dominant for the Falcons, finishing with over 1,600 total yards and 13 total touchdowns. The following year, Todd Gurley went off with over 2,000 total yards and 19 touchdowns. Finally, last season, the Titans combo of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry combined for over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns. Looking at all of this makes something very clear, Jones is going to get his touches early and often.
As we all know, a running back is only as good as the guys blocking in front of him. Luckily for Jones, the Packers have one of the league’s top offensive lines and this offseason it only got better with the additions of Billy Turner and rookie Elgton Jenkins. With the pre-existing core of David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, and Bryan Bulaga, Jones should see plenty of running lanes in 2019.
What I’m most excited about for Jones this year is his potential for growth in the passing game. He finished the 2018 season with only 26 receptions, but I expect that number to grow exponentially in 2019. Over the last three seasons, Lafleur’s running backs have averaged over 74 receptions per season. Jones never got that chance under McCarthy, but that should change with Lafleur calling plays. Jones has even been working with wide receivers in training camp to prepare for a bigger workload through the air.
Now, let’s talk about his current average draft position (ADP). According to our consensus ADP, Jones is currently being drafted 32nd overall as the 15th running back off the board. He comes in right behind Damien Williams, Leonard Fournette, and Nick Chubb. In PPR, I would take Jones over both Fournette and Chubb due to their lack of passing game upside.
Jones has legitimate top-10 upside in this new Packers’ offense, and that could be selling him short if he gets the receiving work as well. I think he’s the perfect guy to target if you started your draft with a top wide receiver. He brings a high floor with a tremendous amount of upside.