A lot of the talk this offseason about the Green Bay backfield has been focused around AJ Dillon. The third-year bruiser came into his own stardom in his second season, putting together impressive film and stats both through the air and on the ground. But the Packers have another “A.J” who is not getting enough love, and that would be Aaron Jones.
In 2017 it took 95% of Packer fans and fantasy football managers approximately three snaps to see Jones was something special. For better or for worse, former Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was one of the very few who didn’t.
Aaron Jones is electric with the ball in his hand and has proven it time and time again. In the STACKED 2017 running back class, Jones ranks third in yards per touch with 5.6 yards. That places him 0.3 yards above NFC North rival Dalvin Cook and almost a full yard ahead of Joe Mixon. The two guys ahead of him? Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey.
But how does he rank against all the backs in the league? I would say being the only other RB besides the almighty King Henry to have 40+ TDs and 4,000+ yards over the past three years is a solid benchmark.
Without the ball in his hands, Jones is still a vital piece to this offense which puts a huge pass-rush responsibility on its backfield. In 2019 he was the TOP ranked pass blocking HB/FB with a PFF grade of 91. Since then he has continued to rank near the top of the league. This extra skillset allows Aaron Jones to be on the field at any point of the game, no matter the situation. While other RB1s may come off for a long third-down or a two-minute drill, Jones is out there.
Aaron Jones is a bonafide star. He has the skillset, the speed, and the intelligence to break off a long touchdown run at any moment. But perhaps the most valuable part of him is the lack of wear and tear on his body.
A lot of the other “star” running backs have been injury riddle as of late. They have been beaten and battered so much their bodies are having a hard time making it a whole season or even close to it. Well, thanks to the ineptitude of Mike McCarthy, Jamaal Williams/AJ Dillon, and the running back by committee scheme by Matt Lafleur, Jones has been able to avoid that downfall (knock on wood).
Aaron Jones has 200 (17%) less touches than both Kamara and Dalvin Cook. Derrick Henry came in a year earlier but has almost 500 more touches than Jones. Running back is a tough position. Even if these guys are in games, the constant hits, jukes, and tackles add up and start to slow you down.
Is Aaron Jones the best runner? Eh. Best past catching RB? Probably not. But he is an all-around all-star that has the abilities, experience, and lack of injury history that makes him the most valuable running back in the league.
Balance him with AJ Dillon. Keep them both fresh for the entire season. And let the bone roll.
Then we win.
PJ is an Ohio native who was fortunate enough to be born into the green and gold family through his father who grew up in Green Bay. He now resides in NYC where he is an avid fan and fantasy football player. You can follow him on twitter at @roden_pj.