It’s been a while since the Green Bay Packers had a fully healthy roster. Aaron Rodgers continues to deal with a fractured toe. Allen Lazard missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury. And at the running back position, fantasy football managers are left to wonder whether Aaron Jones will play, and if they should start or sit him and AJ Dillon this week?
Update 11/28/21: Aaron Jones will be active for the Packers’ matchup against the Rams.
What is the latest on Aaron Jones’ status?
The Packers’ starting running back sprained his MCL in Week 10. MCL sprains are typically 4-6 week injuries, but fortunately, Jones’ was extremely mild. The initial prognosis was a 1-2 week absence.
Jones missed Week 11 but has returned to practice in Week 12, getting in limited sessions all three days. Typically, any activity at practice bodes well for a player’s chances of playing. Jones practicing all week would suggest he’s on the right side of questionable. I’m not so sure, though.
While Jones got in limited practices and looked to be moving well, he still favored his other knee a bit. It’s nothing overly concerning, but it does cloud his Week 12 status a bit.
I would expect Jones to be out there if this were a playoff game or a late-season, must-win contest. But with the Packers on a bye next week and Dillon playing well, it seems unwise for Green Bay to push Jones back when they can afford him two additional full weeks to rest. If I were to hazard a guess, I don’t expect Jones to play this week.
How does Jones’ status impact AJ Dillon?
Just as they have all season, both Jones and Dillon are fantasy starters. Whether Jones returns this week or in Week 14, he will belong in fantasy lineups.
The same goes for Dillon. Given his performance both before Jones went down and in his absence, Dillon has undoubtedly earned an increased role. So what should fantasy managers expect going forward?
What if Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are both in the lineup this week?
The outlook on Jones if he returns this week is definitely different than if the team waits until Week 14. A return this week would feel a bit forced. I would expect Jones to be limited and on the wrong side of the snap share with Dillon.
If Jones is active, you start him, no questions asked. You just have to temper expectations a bit. He’s not going to return to the clear RB1 role he held early in the season. Not this week. Not ever. Regardless, if Jones is active, it means he’s healthy enough to play. He will receive work and at least be a viable flex option. Dillon would fall into low-RB2 territory.
What if the Packers hold Jones out one more week?
This is the more likely outcome, and it’s far easier to project. Dillon played 75% of the snaps last week. It marked the highest snap share for a Packers running back all season. Jones’ highest snap share was 73% this year.
Dillon carried the ball just 7 times, which seems strange for a game where the Packers shut out their opponent. Most encouragingly, Dillon was targeted 6 times. Nevertheless, he was inefficient and largely unproductive but produced 12.6 PPR fantasy points.
Dillon has an extremely high floor. What he did against the Seahawks last week is, in fact, his floor.
The Rams are by no means an easy opponent, but they’re far from an imposing force. They are middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to RBs. Patrick Taylor will undoubtedly mix in to keep Dillon fresh, but Dillon has a strong RB2 floor with top-five upside. The second-year pro is a must-start RB1 whenever Jones is not in the lineup.
Should fantasy managers start Jones and Dillon this week?
Unless your team is completely stacked with superstars, Dillon and Jones belong in fantasy lineups whenever active. Fantasy managers should obviously feel much better about Dillon if Jones misses one more week, but he was already poised to flip the touch split with Jones before the veteran got hurt.
For the rest of the season, I give Dillon a slight edge in terms of who will be the more valuable fantasy running back. Even so, Jones will be valuable and worth starting as a flex play, at worst. These are two talented running backs on an offense good enough to support them both. When healthy, they will eat into each other’s value a bit, but both are viable fantasy starters and should be in lineups.