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Fantasy Football: Will Aaron Jones finish as a top-five running back?

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of a NFC Divisional Round playoff game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.

The Green Bay Packers have had quite the offseason, as the Aaron Rodgers rumors included potential trades, retirement and even a full-time gig hosting “Jeopardy” — 2021, what a time to be alive.

Editor's Note: PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Guide and 2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets are LIVE!

Luckily for Packers’ faithful, A-aron is confirmed back for at least next season, meaning the league’s top-ranked scoring offense from a year ago should again be in position to put up plenty of points. This is obviously great news for incumbent stud RB Aaron Jones, who will be wearing green and gold for the foreseeable future after signing a four-year, $48 million contract extension last March.

What follows is a breakdown on just how special Jones has been during his time with the Packers, as well as what we should make of him as a fantasy asset in 2021.

Jones is what the kids might call an elite running back

The Packers drafted Jones in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Since then, the only complaint regarding his production has been the offense's unwillingness to use the UTEP product more. A look at pretty much any efficiency stat reflects the reality that Jones operated at an exceptionally high level over the past four years.

  • PFF rushing grade: 90.8 (tied for third among 115 qualified backs)
  • Missed tackles forced per carry: 0.19 (tied for 21st)
  • Yards per carry: 5.2 (tied for third)
  • Yards after contact per carry: 3.2 (tied for 12th)
  • Percentage of carries to go for first downs or touchdowns: 25.9% (11th)

The wild part? Jones has been even more dynamic in the passing game than the running game. PFF’s 15th-ranked running back in receiving grade since 2017, it’s a damn shame the Packers haven’t figured out a way to feed Jones even 50 receptions in a single season.

Some running backs pick up their receiving yards on designed passes that don’t require all that much skill in the route-running department; this isn't Jones. Overall, only Austin Ekeler and Nyheim Hines have averaged more yards per route run when lined up in the slot or out wide than Jones since 2017.

Jones racked up 1,558 total yards and 19 scores in 2019 before totaling 1,459 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2020. The man averaged 266.5 touches per season over the past two years; he’s hardly been ignored in this offense.

Still, the departure of typical backup Jamaal Williams might just be the added boost in opportunity Jones’ fantasy investors have been hoping for.

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