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Packers RB AJ Dillon named on NFLPA’s Rising Stars list

The players’ union ranked him eighth on a list of ten veteran candidates.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last week, the NFL Players Association released a list of ten rookies and ten veterans that they expect to gain traction in fan support in the upcoming football season. Among them was “veteran” Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon, who led the team in rushing yards last season.

The full veteran list:

  1. Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
  2. A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
  4. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
  5. Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
  6. Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  7. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
  8. AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
  9. Michael Pittman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
  10. Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the list, based on projecting changes in popularity, features nine offensive skill players. 2021’s docket, which featured another Green Bay Packers running back in Aaron Jones, actually had offensive skill players named to every spot on the list.

The praise from the NFLPA isn’t too shocking as Dillon is poised to be season-long fantasy relevant in a way that few “backup” running backs typically are. According to FantasyPros, Dillon’s average draft position is higher than any other running back in the league who is not “starting.” Last year, Dillon technically edged out Jones by four rushing yards atop the Packers’ rushing totals, though Jones did miss two entire games due to a knee injury.

Dillon’s 1,116 yards from scrimmage in 2021 was a massive jump from his rookie total in 2020, when he gained just 263 yards while splitting the backfield with both Jones and then-Packer Jamaal Williams. With wide receiver Davante Adams traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dillon on the field more, either because Green Bay is running the ball more or simply due to the Packers playing Dillon and Jones together more. This is all the more justification for the NFLPA’s prediction.

If you’re wondering what the Packers’ 2022 offense might look like with Dillon and Jones on the field at the same time, Acme Packing Company dug into the film and researched how Green Bay used their “Pony” personnel in 2021 after new offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said that playing the two backs together was a priority for the team in 2022.