How Will a New Era in Green Bay Affect Aaron Jones' Fantasy Production?

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
How Will a New Era in Green Bay Affect Aaron Jones' Fantasy Production?

A lot can change in a year. The Green Bay Packers, who have had just two different starting quarterbacks to open a season since Brett Favre took over the starting gig in 1992, are reigning in a new era in 2023. They’ll open the season with Jordan Love at quarterback.

The departure of Aaron Rodgers and the beginning of the Jordan Love era will really shake things up for the Packers in terms of fantasy production, so it’s important to get a good grasp on the fallout from those moves before taking any Packers players in drafts this year. That becomes even more important the earlier you draft any of those players.

Chief among the Packers’ top fantasy assets is long-time starting running back Aaron Jones. Jones has been one of the most efficient and productive players in the league when lining up next to Rodgers but will now spend the season moving the sticks next to Love.

Is he a reliable running back you can grab in the middle rounds, or will Jones be a player to avoid at his current cost?

Aaron Jones Fantasy Football Projection

Projections are via numberFire.

2023 Fantasy Points: 242.6 (219.1 in 2022)
2023 Positional Ranking: RB14
2023 Projected Stats:

  • 224.5 carries
  • 1,133.0 rushing yards
  • 9.1 rushing touchdowns
  • 71.2 targets
  • 51.7 receptions
  • 363.8 receiving yards
  • 2.8 receiving touchdowns

Aaron Jones Fantasy Football Outlook

A New Packers Offense

The Packers will essentially be starting a rookie at quarterback in 2023. While they selected Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he has barely seen any NFL action since that time through no fault of his own. With an inexperienced starter under center, the Packers could look to lean heavily on the run in 2023 to take pressure off of Jordan Love.

The Packers have played slowly under head coach Matt LaFleur. Last season no team in the league averaged more time expended per offensive drive than Green Bay (over 3 minutes). The Packers only ran 1,080 plays, too. That was fewer than the Bengals, who only played 16 games to the Packers’ 17.

Their style of play has placed a bit of a ceiling cap on their players’ fantasy outlooks; it’s hard for more than a couple of Packers’ players to end up at the top of the fantasy leaderboards in any season. In the passing game, only Davante Adams’ league-best play and Christian Watson’s explosive playmaking have yielded elite results in LaFleur’s tenure while Aaron Jones has continued to put up solid fantasy numbers off of efficiency.

The team’s upside might be even more limited than before if Love turns out not to be very good, but it does seem like the design of the offense is shifting in Jones’ favor. An increased reliance on a run game that helps maximize efficient play suits Jones’ specialties.

Aaron Jones is Pretty Special

We kind of have to throw the team’s past production out the window given the circumstances. No matter how good Love may or may not be, we can’t expect him to match Aaron Rodgers’ history of elite and efficient play. Still, we do need to consider the kind of player Aaron Jones can be before we can consider signing him to our fantasy football squads.

Even when he has played alongside Jamaal Williams or A.J. Dillon, Jones has still been a viable fantasy option because of his ability to produce efficiently. He has averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry in all but two of his seasons in the pros and has caught around 50 passes a season since his first full season. His rushing touchdowns have taken a hit since the team worked Dillon – a.k.a Quadzilla – into their offense, but he has still generated RB10 and RB9 finishes in the 2021 and 2022 campaigns despite Dillon’s growing role.

Jones will be 29 this season, though he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. NFL's NextGenStats tracks a “Rushing Yards Over Expectation per Attempt” metric, which pretty much measures what it says it does – yards a back produces over what we could expect from an average player. Jones ranked 12th in the league in that metric in 2022 with a 0.69-yard mark. He exceeded yardage expectations on 48.8% of his rushing attempts, as well. That was the second-highest rate in the league among all running backs. He was an exceptionally good rusher last season and is healthy again heading into 2023.

Jones Versus the Landscape

Any time you press the button and draft a player, you are essentially giving up on drafting the other players around him. That is the “opportunity cost” of making a draft pick. This is an important resource-management aspect of drafting to consider.

In Jones’ case, his ADP of 43rd overall places him in the middle of the fourth round of a typical 12-team draft. Other running backs around his ADP include rookie Jahmyr Gibbs (37th), Dameon Pierce (47th), and Baltimore Ravens stud J.K. Dobbins (51st). Taking Jones with the 43rd overall pick essentially precludes you from taking most of those players.

Frankly, that has a good chance of working out for your fantasy teams. Unlike Gibbs, Pierce, and Dobbins, Jones is pretty locked into his workload for the upcoming season. The Packers have shown trust in him for several seasons and have given no indication that they’re planning to move on from him as their primary ball carrier. Gibbs is an exciting rookie but does not have an established role in his offense and could form the softer half of a committee with teammate David Montgomery. Pierce had flashes of exciting play as a rookie, but he plays for a poor Houston Texans team and isn’t really a pass-catcher. Dobbins is one of the most exciting backs in the league when he’s healthy, but he hasn’t been healthy in years.

numberFire’s projections for the season align with these notes; Jones comes in as the RB14, while Dobbins, Gibbs, and Pierce rank as the RBs 22-24, respectively.

If you need a running back by the time you get to the fourth or even fifth rounds of your fantasy drafts this summer, Jones should be a name you consider at the top of your list. Teams that start their drafts by taking some of the league’s top talents at the receiver positions will be looking to lock in solid running back production in this area, making Jones a premiere target for those types of teams.

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.