2023 Fantasy Football Player Profile: Aaron Jones looks to produce inside a committee

KEP3MH Green Bay, WI, USA. 22nd Oct, 2017. Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones #33 celebrates his 46 yard touchdown run during the NFL Football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI. New Orleans defeated Green Bay 26-17. John Fisher/CSM/Alamy Live News

  • Aaron Jones is an underrated player: He’s achieved a top-five PFF offensive grade (92.3) among running backs over the last five seasons, but he’s never been on an AP All-Pro team and has only one Pro Bowl in that time.
  • A.J. Dillon remains a big barrier to Jones’ fantasy success: Jones had shared the backfield with Dillon each of the last two seasons and will likely see similar challenges in 2023.
  • The Aaron Rodgers loss could have a major impact: Jones has been able to overcome his timeshare for fantasy managers by scoring a lot of touchdowns, but the Green Bay Packers might not reach the red zone as much this season. 
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The fantasy football outlook series takes an in-depth look at a single player’s fantasy outlook for the 2023 season.

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Aaron Jones‘ outlook

Jones remains an excellent, well-rounded running back with no signs of slowing down despite his age.

  • He set new career highs in PFF offensive grade (86.1) and rushing grade (90.7) last season.
  • Jones recorded 5.3 rushing yards per attempt, which ranked first out of 31 running backs with at least 175 rushing attempts last season.
  • His problem has never been efficiency. He has a career 0.752 rushing fantasy points per attempt, ranking second-best among running backs in the past decade.
  • He’s also been a passing-game asset, posting 7.9 receiving PPR fantasy points per game, which ranked sixth-most among backs since 2021.
  • He’s constantly scoring touchdowns on the ground and in the air with a receiving touchdown on 1.5% of his route runs — second-most for running backs since 2020.
  • This has helped him to an average of 11.2 touchdowns per season over the last five years.
  • His high quality of play has led to four-straight seasons as a top-11 fantasy running back.
  • He will be 29 years old by the end of the season, which makes him a candidate for regression.
  • He has fewer career touches than younger running backs such as Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon and Alvin Kamara. This might help elongate his career compared to other running backs who reach his age.

Competition for touches

The Packers have arguably the best backup running back in the league in A.J. Dillon, which has prevented Jones from being a consistent top-five fantasy running back.

  • Dillon and Jones are two of the seven running backs with a 91.0-plus PFF rushing grade since 2020.
  • Dillon gained positive yards on 88.1% percentage of his carries last season, which was the highest rate in the league.
  • Dillon’s rushing touchdowns have increased each season while Jones’ rushing touchdowns have declined.
  • Dillon is only 25 years old so at this point in his career, he may start to see more carries than Jones.
  • While the two have been comparable in terms of rushing quality, Jones is the better receiver. It wouldn’t be surprising if Jones takes a higher percentage of third downs compared to past seasons while Dillon takes more early snaps.
  • Jones would have closer to top-five potential if Dillon gets hurt at any point this season, but Dillon hasn’t missed a game in the last two years.
  • Patrick Taylor and Tyler Goodson have served as the third and fourth running backs on the team. They will receive some competition from seventh-round rookie Lew Nichols, but that shouldn’t impact Jones or Dillon.

Impact of teammates

Jones should benefit from a healthy offensive line, but losing Aaron Rodgers could have a big impact.

  • David Bakhtiari had a stretch where he was arguably the best left tackle in the league. He missed significant time over the last two seasons due to injury but should be ready for this season.
  • He’s primarily known for his pass blocking, but he’s also an asset in the run game.
  • The rest of the line is back from last year, as all seven players who played at least 100 offensive snaps will return to the lineup.
  • The Packers typically draft one or two linemen each year, but they didn’t add one in the draft this season.
  • The continuity and youth of the line from left guard to right tackle should lead to an improved unit this season.
  • The Rodgers loss could hurt both Jones and Dillon's fantasy value and will likely offset any gains that are made from the offensive line.
  • The Packers have scored a touchdown on 27.5% of their drives over the last five seasons, which is second-best for all teams.
  • The touchdown percentage is unsurprisingly highly correlated with the quality of quarterback play.
  • We don’t know how good Jordan Love is going to be, but there is a very high chance he won’t be as good this year as Rodgers has been over the last five years.
  • This means the Packers' touchdown drive percentage will decrease, leaving fewer touchdowns for Jones and Dillon.

Bottom line

Jones deserves more respect for how well he’s played over his career, but his best fantasy seasons are likely behind him for reasons out of his control.

  • He’s been able to overcome not having a workhorse role with excellent efficiency and a lot of touchdowns.
  • His role will be similar to recent years, how efficiency can’t get too much better, and his odds of scoring a lot of touchdowns are lower without Aaron Rodgers.
  • This keeps him outside of the top-10 fantasy running backs despite his past results, but his new situation mixed with his quality of play is still better than several other running backs who are also splitting time, and simply aren’t as good of a player as Jones is.

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