1The AJ Dillon effect
AJ Dillon stands in the way of Aaron Jones returning to greatness — a slight overstatement but not entirely. Jones averaged 17.8 touches per game in 2019 and 17.7 in 2020, but he dipped to 14.9 last season. More pointedly, Dillon had zero touchdowns inside the 5-yard line in 2020 but five TDs from that range last year, with four of the five coming in the second half. We can understand the downward pressure on Jones’ fantasy value and why the former elite/near-elite option is no longer in the top-12 conversation as long as Dillon remains healthy.
2More second-half phase-outs?
In 2019 and 2020, Jones was utilized much more in the first half than in the second half of games, and in 2020, this trend translated into massively more efficient production (e.g., 6.2 yards per carry) in second halves. But last year, despite playing better in second halves than first halves, Jones earned only 90 second-half touches compared to 130 in first halves. If Dillon remains the second-half “specialist” more often than not, Jones’ fantasy production will fluctuate more from game to game.
3Can the Packers’ passing attack continue to open up the running game?
What kind of offense will Green Bay have? Without Davante Adams, it remains unclear whether the entire passing game will take one or even two steps back. Adams has accounted for 157 first downs the last two years, equaling a whopping 37% of Aaron Rodgers’ aerial first downs. If Rodgers leans on Jones more in the passing game, Jones’s fantasy ceiling would obviously improve. If Adams’ absence results in more stalled drives, we could see a fairly sizable drop-off in Jones’ fantasy numbers.