Fantasy Court: The Case Against Aaron Jones in 2020

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In the Fantasy Court Series, two of the writers for The Fantasy Footballers choose sides on a player and present their argument to help you decide whether or not you should be drafting these players at their average draft position (ADP).  It’s important to acknowledge that draft cost is the most important factor when it comes to loving or hating a fantasy player come draft day. Today’s case is all about Aaron Jones, who finished 2019 as the RB3 overall on a points per game basis (RB2 on total points).  I think Aaron Jones is a prime candidate for regression, so I won’t be drafting him this season at his current ADP of 2.06.  Conversely, you can read Aaron Larson’s The Case For Aaron Jones for the counterargument.

Opening Statement

Oh how the turn tables” – Michael Scott

Last year at this time, I was screaming from a rooftop to draft Aaron Jones.  The breakout was due.  I even wrote an article titled Aaron Jones: 2019 Fantasy Football League WinnerDid he pan out?  Yes.  Did he win you your league?  Probably.  Can he repeat in 2020?  Yes…but it’s going to be difficult.

Aaron Jones scored an incredible number of touchdowns (19).  In fact, he led the league in touchdowns, with 16 coming on the ground.  From Weeks 1-16, he scored a touchdown on 7% of his opportunities (carries + targets).  For reference, Christian McCaffrey scored on 4.4% of his opportunities.  Leonard Fournette was at 0.8%.

I think Jones will score less and see fewer opportunities in 2020, simple as that.  I think he’ll still be efficient with his carries and receptions, but he’s being drafted at his ceiling and I won’t have it!

2019 Performance

Aaron Jones finished the 2019 season with 236 carries for 1,084 yards and 16 TDs while also catching 49 passes for 474 yards and one TD.  He simply balled out.  He surprisingly had the 10th most opportunities among running backs last season despite his 60/40 snap split with teammate Jamaal Williams.  If you made it to the fantasy playoffs, he was an elite asset.  He was one of three running backs to average 15+ fantasy points in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16), the others being CMC and Todd Gurley.  Let me just say it – he’s a super talented football player.

But there’s more to his story.  Aaron Jones had the most polarizing season among all running backs.  He had eight games over 15 points. This was tied for second-most. He also had five games with less than seven points, which is the most among the top-24 running backs.  Aaron Jones was a boom/bust player last season.

Jones was especially productive in Weeks 5-8 when Davante Adams was sidelined due to injury.  During that span, Jones finished as the number one running back twice.  In fact, his 16-game pace during this time would have put him at 1,084 rushing yards, 1,120 receiving yards, and 28 total touchdowns.  While this is a small sample size, it’s no coincidence.  Davante Adams is not an injury-prone player, so we shouldn’t project this type of boost in 2020.  It’s also worth mentioning that Jones benefited from being on a winning football team.  The Packers finished with a 13-3 record last season.  Jones averaged 20.6 fpts/g during wins and 7.3 fpts/g during losses.  While this crazy split won’t continue, I expect the Packers to have a worse record in 2020.

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Overall, Jones had a stellar (but sneaky volatile) 2019 fantasy season.

Expectations for 2020

Aaron Jones is lined up to have another productive season in 2020.

Before I project how his season plays out, let’s review what’s happened over the offseason.  Head Coach Matt LaFleur mentioned early in the offseason that he wanted to add another running back and use a committee approach.  Then the Packers drafted A.J. Dillon in the second round of the NFL draft.  Dillon is an athletic bruiser that will compete for carries, and he could easily steal most of the goal-line work.  If you’re inside the 10-yard line, would you rather hand the ball to 6’ 0” tall 247 lb A.J. Dillon or 5’ 9” tall 208 lb Aaron Jones?  Keep in mind that 16 of Aaron Jones’ touchdowns in 2019 came on the ground.  While Jones’ talent and experience will still earn him red-zone touches, I expect Dillon to eat into his workload.

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I project Aaron Jones will have 200 carries for 900 rushing yards and 45 receptions for 470 receiving yards in 2020.  I also think he’ll score under ten touchdowns this season, just like Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Josh Jacobs did in 2019. Touchdown regression is ultimately the reason why I’m fading Aaron Jones in 2020.

Conclusion

The Packers won’t go 13-3 again in 2020.  They have a shot to be a 10-win team, but they’re going to be in more games with negative game scripts than they were last year.  Combine this with the fact that they just drafted an impressive runner with a high draft pick…We should expect significant touchdown regression for Aaron Jones this season.

Aaron Jones is a risky pick in the middle of the second round.  He won’t be on any of my fantasy teams this year.  Don’t draft Aaron Jones!

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