It has been obvious to fans for a while that Aaron Jones is the Green Bay Packers running back that can propel the offense into the modern NFL game, so I won’t spend too much time reiterating what Packer fans and writers have known for a long time— even if some national outlets tapped Green Bay to be a destination for free agent running backs. Seriously, did they watch zero Packer games over the past two years?
But in fantasy football drafts this year, Jones is going in the middle of the third round, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com. The running back from El Paso, Texas was square in the middle of the running back field when it comes to average fantasy points per game (16th) in 2018, so a third-round value seems fair. If he’s the third pick on your fantasy team, I believe his ceiling could be a top-eight back by the end of the season, which is great for someone not going in the first two rounds. If you wanted to get a jump on Jones, drafting him in the second round, ahead of guys like Kerryon Johnson and Melvin Gordon, is not a stretch. An outside zone-heavy scheme, along with additional touches, should help Jones create.
The rest of the Packers’ running back roster is dicey when it comes to redraft leagues and dynasty leagues alike. One of the remaining guys could see some Daily Fantasy value, but Aaron Jones would either have to get injured or you bet big on getting the vulture touchdown.
If one does decide to bet big on a Green Bay backup, there’s the matter of figuring out who that may be. Right now, it might not be as clear cut as originally assumed. As APC’s Shawn Wagner points out, Jamaal Williams may not have as firm of a grip on the No. 2 back spot like he did last season. There is plenty of competition in training camp beginning with Corey Grant, who’s a veteran with experience in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s offense, and Dexter Williams, a 2019 sixth-round pick.
The two things that Grant and Dexter Williams have more of that Jamaal Williams does not are speed and agility. Grant is a 4.3 40-yard dash guy (4.26, depending on who you ask) and Dexter Williams has a relative athletic score of 8.17, can cut well, and has occupied some first-team reps while Jamaal has dealt with a hamstring injury.
I’m not saying Jamaal Williams should be an afterthought at this point, but the picture is less clear at this point in training camp. New head coach Matt LaFleur might be looking for new personnel as the team has brought in Grant, Darrin Hall, Keith Ford, and Tra Carson to camp. Washington State standout James Williams was also reportedly on the Packers’ shortlist of waiver wire possibilities.
None of these running backs — not even Aaron Jones— are going to have the best year they can if two key spots on the offensive line don’t get at least average to above average play. The right side of the line has to due their job and new acquisition Billy Turner has been praised as he takes over at right guard. He has experience in an outside-zone run scheme and can take snaps at right tackle, if he needs to fill in for Bryan Bulaga. The right tackle position is a concern on the line, not because Bulaga can’t play — he’s one of the best— but because going into his age-30 season he has only started 16 games once. The injury risk there and the revolving door of right guards last year was a big issue, but hopefully the line will meet or exceed its Pro Football Focus preseason ranking of eighth in the league.