Fantasy Reaction: Aaron Jones Re-signs with the Packers
On Sunday, news broke that the most coveted RB on the free-agent market was now locked-up to a 4-year extension:
“Aaron would have signed for more in free agency but wanted to stay in Green Bay,” Drew Rosenhaus said about Jones re-signing with the Packers. https://t.co/Dwcz8qs3qO
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2021
What does this mean for fantasy? Let’s recap Jones’ recent fantasy finishes, speculate where the offense could be in 2021, how his resigning affects other Packers, and unpack some of his dynasty value moving forward.
Aaron Jones is an Efficiency King
We recently brought this stat up on the free agency prediction show but thus far in his career, Jones is ridiculous on a per touch basis. Through their first four years in the league, here are the top-3 RBs in terms of yards per carry:
Yards per carry is by no means a stable statistic given the fact a 70-yard run skews things as well as a 1-yard goal-line TD does the same. But with 651 regular-season carries under his belt, it’s clear Jones is just a different cat.
|Year||Age||Games||Rush||Rush Yards||TD||YPC||Targets||Rec||Rec Yards||TDs||Yards from Scrimmage||Fantasy Finish|
From a production standpoint, Jones’ 2020 was a bit more consistent than his banner 2019 campaign where he was a league-winner as a fourth-round pick. In 2019, he had six top-5 weekly finishes but “busted”, according to our consistency metrics, 31 percent of the time. In 2020, he saw the ninth most targets among RBs and the fourth-highest yards per touch in 2020. His reliance on TDs might be concerning as Jones has averaged a rushing TD every 17.6 carries thus far in his career, an outlier compared to the rest of the field.
Jones seems locked-in for 250+ touches in 2021 and honestly, that type of floor mixed with his efficiency in this offense certifies him as a late first-rounder yet again in fantasy drafts. You might be scared that A.J. Dillon vultures some of his goal-line scores and that is a valid point. But for his career, 51.4 percent of his rushing TDs have come from 6+ yards out… only Saquon Barkley and Raheem Mostert have higher career rates. In other words, he’s shown he can score outside goal-line carries.
Packers Due to Regress?
One of the main offseason critiques of the Packers in 2019 and 2020 was their inherent “luck” in reaching 13 wins each season. In 2019, they were 9-1 in one-score games. In 2020, they overachieved their win expectation (10.9) and passing TD expectation (+16) which is in large part due to an other-worldly season from Aaron Rodgers. The Packers averaged a TD pass every 99 passing yards as detailed by a recent NBC Sports Edge podcast.
So what do we do with the Packers? Slight regression in terms of win totals seems like an easy bet for 2021. While they find themselves as the class of their division, Green Bay’s schedule does tighten up in 2021. For their out of conference schedule, the gritty AFC North replaces the AFC South and there are some tough away games in New Orleans, San Francisco, and Baltimore.
The passing TD volume cannot be sustained but Jones’ RB5 finish was somewhat surprising given the lack of overall boom games in his resumè. The foundation of this offense is not only built on one of the greatest QBs of all time and arguably the best receiver in the league, but their offensive line was also elite in 2020 ranking 4th in PFF’s end-of-season rankings. I recently detailed why offensive line play and coaching changes are so vital to predicting future fantasy success and the Packers are set up again despite David Bakhtiari’s injury late in the season.
Dynasty Value: 2021 & Beyond
For 2021 redraft, Jones is a late 1st round pick once again. Supporters might look at the Packers’ offense humming with Aaron Rodgers and hitch their wagon to the fact double-digit TDs are a given for Jones. Those that were touting A.J. Dillon as an early BestBall value are likely now left holding the bag of a wasted pick. Nevertheless, Dillon becomes an early favorite for ZeroRB drafters as the clear backup to Jones especially if Jamaal Williams isn’t resigned.
But in terms of dynasty, Jones’ outlook moving forward needs some more context. He’ll turn 27 years old this year and if we’ve seen any sort of historical indicator as of late, it’s that free agent RBs don’t end up finishing out their contract extensions. See the ghosts of former fantasy glory: Todd Gurley II, David Johnson, and Le’Veon Bell whose values fell off a cliff. Heck, if we were having a dynasty startup conversation from 2017 or 2018, those names would easily be top-5 RBs selected. The point is seeing that if your team is in a win-now mode, keep Jones for at least one more year. I think you can bank on at least two more years of top-end production barring an injury. But if your league mates value Jones as a top-5 RB right now given the explosion of fantasy points we’ve seen from him over the last two years, I would be willing to trade for a haul. For a clearer picture of how much Jones is valued in dynasty, access the Footballers dynasty startup rankings as part of the UDK+ Dynasty Pass.