Aaron Jones and the Green Bay Packers are going to run it back in 2021 and beyond. The Packers re-signed Jones to a four-year, $48 million deal with a $13 million signing bonus, per Adam Schefter and Jones’ agent Drew Rosenhaus on Twitter.
The move ensures that Jones will don the Green Bay uniform for the foreseeable future and firmly locks him into my top-10 fantasy running backs. But it also creates doubt around the fantasy outlooks of fellow Packers running backs A.J. Dillon and Jamaal Williams.
Let’s dive into the massive repercussions of the first big splash in free agency.
WHERE SHOULD AARON JONES BE RANKED IN 2021?
I had Jones tentatively ranked as my RB12 in best ball leagues before knowing where he would end up. He's up three spots with the return to Green Bay, ahead of Joe Mixon, D’Andre Swift and Ezekiel Elliott.
It's hard not to view Jones as a top-10 fantasy RB considering how efficient he has been. After finishing the 2019 season as the RB2 overall, Jones came in as the RB5 in 2020 while working in a timeshare. He finished this past season 12th in touches per game (17.7).
At age 26 and with 846 touches on his resume, Jones has at least a couple more super-productive fantasy seasons within him. And playing in one of the league’s most high-powered offenses led by Aaron Rodgers raises the floor.
Career Touches | 2017 RB Draft Class
Since entering the NFL in 2017, Jones ranks third in PFF rushing grade (91.1) and fourth in yards per carry (5.1).
HALT ON A.J. DILLON’S SECOND-YEAR BREAKOUT?
Why else would the team have spent high-end draft capital on Dillon less than 12 months ago?
The second-year back now faces a massive uphill battle to become a significant contributor to the Packers’ backfield in 2020. He will have opportunities based on the team's history of using a two-back system, but it’s hard to see him inheriting Jamaal Williams‘ role — assuming he leaves in free agency — because of his lack of receiving chops.
At 6-foot and 250 pounds, Dillion would be a solid goal-line back, but that would make his production extremely volatile on a weekly basis.
It remains to be seen whether the financial investment in Jones will change the veteran's role. It would make sense for him to retain his usual 60-70% snap share to keep from overworking him. That doesn't leave much for Dillon to take advantage of.
Dillon showed promise on limited opportunities (55 carries) last season. He earned an 80.7 PFF rushing grade (80.7, 15th), averaged 5.2 yards per attempt (sixth), 3.4 yards after contact per attempt (seventh) and led the league in missed tackles forced per attempt (31%) in 2020.
With the Jones news fresh, I think now might be the perfect time to try and buy low on Dillon with the hope he sees a larger role in the offense than most anticipate. But the possibility of Dillon breaking out and melting faces in fantasy football next season are long gone.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS OUT?
With Jones and Dillon both under contract, Williams' status is very much in question. He figured to be the back Green Bay would re-sign in free agency to play the passing downs behind Dillon.
Williams will now test the RB free agent market, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have some prime suitors. He remains a dynasty buy-low for me, as he could easily find a more featured role outside of Green Bay.
Williams is a capable pass-catcher and could earn that role even with another running back operating as a team’s early-down back. He has also shown that he can be called upon on all three downs when needed.
During Weeks 7 and 8 last season with Jones sidelined, Williams averaged 18.8 fantasy points per game and 21.4 expected fantasy points per game.