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The 2018 season has been madly infuriating for Aaron Jones fantasy owners. Ever since he returned from his suspension, Jones has been part of the dreaded running back by committee. Jones was clearly the most talented back on the Green Bay Packers, yet fantasy football owner couldn’t feel comfortable starting him since he had such a low snap volume. However, those frustrating days are officially over. Thanks a variety of factors, fantasy football owners can now comfortably set Aaron Jones in their starting lineups without fear.
Fantasy Football: Time to Start Aaron Jones
The Ty Montgomery Trade
The most obvious reason for this newfound confidence in Jones is due to the Ty Montgomery trade. Montgomery was one of the three running backs in the Packers committee, yet he played his way right out of Green Bay.
In the final moments of the Packers 29-27 loss, Montgomery returned a kick out of the endzone and fumbled the ball. He did this despite the coaches telling him to take a knee and let Aaron Rodgers work his magic in the two-minute drill. This freelancing cost Montgomery his job, as he was shipped to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2020 seventh-round pick.
This obviously benefits Jones, as he’ll now have even more opportunities on the field. Montgomery saw 30.86% of the Packers offensive snaps, and somebody will have to fill that role. The only other running back of note on the roster is Jamaal Williams, and he’s not a natural fit for Montgomery’s role.
Montgomery, a former wide receiver, did most of his damage in the passing game. On the season, Montgomery recorded 170 receiving yards on 15 receptions in his limited snaps. As of now, neither Williams nor Jones appears significantly better than the other at catching the football. So far on the season, Williams and Jones both average an identical one reception for eight yards per game.
With neither serving as a good pass-catcher, the one who ultimately benefits from this is the better all-around player, which is clearly Jones. On the season, Jones has 274 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 44 attempts, good for 6.23 yards per carry. Williams, meanwhile, has 233 yards and one touchdown on 63 attempts, good for 3.7 yards per carry.
There’s really no denying who the better running back is. The only argument for Williams is his pass blocking, but Jones has been the better pass blocker this year. Head coach Mike McCarthy loves his running back committees, so Williams will still see the field. However, Jones should see the majority of the work, and with only two mouths to feed, he should be a solid fantasy play moving forward.
Snap Count Already Increasing
Even if Montgomery were still on the Packers, one could still easily start Jones. After never playing more than 38.2% of snaps through his first four games, Jones had a breakout week against the Los Angeles Rams.
During that matchup, Jones played in 61.5% of the Packers offensive snaps. He showed that he belonged in the starting role, finishing the game with 86 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Keep in mind that the Packers never saw the ball after Montgomery’s fumble – this snap percentage isn’t artificially inflated by a benching. Mike McCarthy just finally realized that Jones is the best back on the roster.
Additionally, while Jones’ snap count rose last week, Williams has been on a steady decline. Williams played in 40.7% of snaps three games ago against the Detroit Lions, but his snap percentage decreased to 38% against the San Francisco 49ers and 25% against the Rams.
Even if Montgomery was still part of the equation, Jones would be looking like the workforce back. With Montgomery out of the picture, the Green Bay Packers backfield belongs to Jones.
A Favorable Upcoming Schedule
Jones has the talent, and he appears to have control of the starting running back job. That alone makes him a startable fantasy asset, but he’s also going up against a favorable slate of opponents. In the next two weeks, Jones faces off against the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots defense has been mediocre against running backs despite not facing just one elite runner. On the season, the Patriots defense allows an average of 17.3 points per game to the running back position in standard scoring formats. While this number is around league average for a defense, the Patriots have really only faced one top-tier running back. In Week Six, the Patriots gave up 80 rushing yards, 105 receiving yards, and two touchdowns to Kareem Hunt, the only top-notch running back the Patriots faced all season.
Jones isn’t as good as Hunt, but there’s an argument to be made that he’s the second-best running back the Patriots have faced all year. Football Outsiders currently ranks the Patriots defense 25th against running backs, so Jones should have a big week against New England.
Miami is an even better matchup. The Dolphins defense has been terrible all season long against running backs, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. On the season, Miami is allowing an average of 25.2 fantasy points per game to the running back position, fifth-worst in the league.
Even if Jones was part of a committee, he’d probably be worth a start. With him taking the lions share of the snaps, he should have one of the biggest games of the week.
Last Word on Aaron Jones
Any fantasy football owner who stashed Aaron Jones is about to be rewarded for their patience. Jones is the Packers best running back, and his snap count is starting to reflect that. Jones received a starter’s workload in against the Rams and responded with his best game of the season. Jamaal Williams may slightly eat into his production, but Jones should see the majority of the snaps.
Additionally, the departure of Ty Montgomery makes Aaron Jones even more valuable. Montgomery was the best pass-catcher on the Packers roster, and there’s no natural replacement for his skillset. Because of this, the Packers will probably choose to put their best running back out there in passing situations, and that’s Aaron Jones. More snaps obviously means more opportunities, this move should only help Jones.
Lastly, Jones is facing favorable matchups in each of the next two weeks. The New England Patriots defense isn’t as good against running backs as the numbers would suggest, while the Miami Dolphins are exactly as bad as the stats show.
Moving forward, Aaron Jones should be a must-start on your fantasy team. He’s the Packers best running back and he’s finally getting the opportunities he deserves. He’ll put up big number for you, so don’t leave him sitting on your bench any longer.
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