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The Green Bay Packers' signing of James Jones and the release of Myles White this weekend is a move that, at least in the short term, bolsters the passing offense with a reliable veteran whom Aaron Rodgers trusts. With Randall Cobb's availability for week one still in question, Jones may be worth a look in deep season-long fantasy leagues, and there's a possibility that he might be worth a shot in weekly leagues as well.
First of all, let's look at Jones' numbers over the past few years. While he is on the other side of 30, wide receivers do not age nearly as poorly as running backs do, and Jones is only 31. Plenty of wideouts have had great careers beyond that age, so writing him off as an old guy who has lost his wheels would be doing him a disservice.
In the latter stages of his career with the Packers, Jones was used mainly on the outside as a possession receiver, running a number of curl and slant routes while Randall Cobb manned the slot and Jordy Nelson handled most of the deep work on the opposite side. As such, Jones' yards per catch hovered around 13 in 2012 and 2013.
A year ago in Oakland (with rookie quarterback Derek Carr throwing the ball), Jones' yards per carry dipped to a somewhat shockingly low 9.1. However, a great deal of this was him once again running shorter routes; in fact, Jones caught 73 passes on a whopping 112 targets, his biggest workload of his career by a fair margin. Of course, Jones won't see anywhere near that many passes in Green Bay's offense, even if he does assume a starter's position on the outside opposite Davante Adams and with Randall Cobb in the slot.
Where Jones is likely to make his mark is on third downs and in the red zone, which are the areas he excelled in 2012 and 2013. Remember that he led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2012 with 14, and 11 of those came from inside the 20 (and seven of those were from 10 yards or less away).
With all of that said, Jones is likely to be a boom-or-bust candidate on a week-to-week basis, with his fantasy production highly dependent on touchdowns. He's not likely to see a lot of passes to make him especially relevant in a PPR scoring format, as Cobb and Adams will get the bulk of the passes and with Eddie Lacy and Richard Rodgers becoming increasingly relevant in the passing game as well. Then, there's the deep threat of Jeff Janis and the excellent play of Ty Montgomery to worry about - either one of those two could start to poach snaps and targets from Jones at any time.
Overall, as a third or fourth receiving option, James Jones' production seems likely to max out at that of Adams a year ago: 40 catches for 500 yards and a handful of touchdowns. The key for Jones will be gambling on him finding the end zone, but if Randall Cobb can't go next Sunday against the Bears, Jones could be a nice cheap value in weekly leagues for week one.