Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones is dealing with a knee injury entering Week 18. However, he’s been dealing with it for weeks at this point and continues to play through it. The Packers have also clinched the top overall seed in the NFC, giving them a first-round bye along with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With this in mind, will Jones play against the Detroit Lions in Week 18, and what can fantasy football managers expect from Green Bay’s backfield?
Update: Aaron Jones is inactive for the PAckers Week 18 game against the Lions.
Aaron Jones’ 2021 production
Jones is one of the most versatile running backs in the NFL, and it’s allowed him to find tremendous success in 2021.
Through 15 games, he posted 799 yards and 4 touchdowns on 171 carries. He also boasts 52 receptions for 391 yards and 6 touchdowns on 65 targets.
Jones has seen his rushing role diminish a bit as the year has progressed. He saw double-digit carries in seven of his first nine games. Yet, he’s hit that threshold in only three of his last six games. With that said, Jones continues to contribute at an elite level in the passing game.
It’s clear that Green Bay is giving Jones rest leading up to the playoffs, with AJ Dillon taking on a bigger role. This comes as no surprise, though, as the Packers suggested they could take this approach prior to the season starting.
Will Jones play vs. the Lions in Week 18?
Jones has a few things working against him this week. First, he’s dealing with an ongoing knee injury. He injured his knee a few weeks ago and hasn’t practiced in full since.
That’s been the case once again this week, as he was a limited participant in every practice this week. However, Jones has been starting, and there’s very little reason to believe he wouldn’t play if this were a meaningful game.
Second, the Packers aren’t truly playing for anything. They’ve already clinched the No. 1 seed with a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur stated that he’s going to play Green Bay’s usual starters, as he doesn’t want to give them multiple weeks off before the playoffs. This becomes a tricky situation in that Jones is dealing with an actual injury rather than just resting. The most likely scenario is that Jones plays early in this game, but he sees a limited role compared to normal.
How would Jones’ absence affect the Packers’ offense?
If Jones misses this game, Dillon would be utilized as a workhorse running back for Green Bay. He’s played in one game without Jones in 2021, posting 97 yards on 17 touches, including 6 receptions.
Even if Jones plays, Dillon is expected to see an increased role. We’ve seen games where he records 20+ touches with Jones on the field, and this is an elite matchup against Detroit for that. There could be a few more targets open for other receivers, such as Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Allen Lazard, as well.
Are fantasy points available vs. Detroit?
Regardless of whether or not Jones plays in this game, there will be plenty of fantasy points available for Green Bay’s running backs. Detroit is allowing 22.7 fantasy points per game to opposing backs, which ranks as the third-most in the NFL this season.
Jones can’t be safely used as an RB1 this week because of his potentially limited role. But he still comes with tremendous upside. Dillon can also be bumped up to an RB2. His role will be determined by how much Jones can play, though.