One of the most efficient running backs in the NFL over the last two seasons, Aaron Jones has established himself as one of the premier players in fantasy football. But should you draft Jones at his current ADP and fantasy outlook heading into 2021?
Aaron Jones’ fantasy outlook for 2021
It is almost puzzling how former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy failed to utilize Jones. Jones saw 38% of the snaps in 2017 and 47% in 2018. In those two seasons, he combined for 1,176 yards on 214 carries and 12 touchdowns. Additionally, he recorded 35 receptions for 228 yards and another score.
Under Matt LaFleur, Jones has become one of the NFL’s top RBs. In 2019, Jones played in all 16 games and ran for a career-high 1,084 rushing yards on 236 attempts. He also worked out of the backfield as a receiver, catching 49 of 68 targets for 474 yards. Furthermore, Jones led the NFL with 19 total touchdowns in his breakout season.
In his contract year, Jones carried the ball 201 times for 1,104 yards, a new career-best. He added 47 receptions for 355 yards and totaled 11 touchdowns. Of the 33 running backs who had at least 130 carries in 2020, Jones ranked third in efficiency at 5.49 yards per attempt. Moreover, he was one of just six RBs to rush for over 1,000 yards with 200 yards or more receiving.
His on-field success translated to fantasy as well. Over the last two seasons, Jones has finished as the RB2 and RB5 while averaging 19.2 ppg (30 games). He finished as an RB1 in 43% of his games and as an RB2 or better in 76% of contests played.
With the whole Aaron Rodgers’ situation put to bed for at least one more year, Jones is firmly in Round 1 consideration in 2021 fantasy football drafts.
With two seasons under LaFleur, we have a good idea of Jones’ role in the offense, making projections relatively straightforward. In 2019, Jones played on 61% of the snaps, saw a 13% target share, and had 66% of the RB carries. Last season, he took 60% of the snaps, 15% of the targets, and 60% of the carries while missing two games (calf).
As an offense, the Packers ran 62.8 plays per game last year (63.2 in 2019) and rushed on 43.7% of their reps (40.2% in 2019). One thing worth noting is the personnel changes. Center Corey Linsley left in free agency to the Los Angeles Chargers. Additionally, Green Bay will be without David Bakhtiari for a significant portion of the season as he begins the season on the PUP list.
Nevertheless, the Packers are very excited about Elgton Jenkins. While they aren’t a top-tier unit, even being league average is more than enough for someone with Jones’ talent.
With the season less than a week away, current projections have Jones slated to receive around 220 carries for 1,050 yards and 9 touchdowns. Moreover, Jones could receive close to 65 targets with 50 receptions for 400-420 yards and 3 more TDs.
Aaron Jones’ fantasy ADP
According to Sleeper, Jones is currently the RB9 with an ADP of 12 in 0.5 PPR formats. In superflex formats, where quarterbacks have an increased value, he falls to 17.9. Meanwhile, in NFC (a high-stakes fantasy platform), Jones is the RB8 with a 10.8 ADP. On Fleaflicker, Jones is going No. 6 overall in drafts.
Should you draft Aaron Jones in 2021 for fantasy?
Jones’ value is perplexing to me. Somehow on Sleeper, Jones dropped in ADP over the last month from 10.2 to 12.0 despite having a resolution in the Rodgers’ saga. You would have thought it would have gone up if anything, but I’ll never say no to better values on draft day.
Either way, it is the correct range as Jones is either a back-end first-round pick or early second at the latest. The only potential hangup in his fantasy outlook is the increase in workload for AJ Dillon, especially in high-leverage situations in the red zone. Do not let that dissuade you from drafting Jones. He is a phenomenal pick with a history of success and on an offense looking for their third-straight NFC Championship appearance.