Aaron Jones

Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

German philosopher Friedrich Hagel is credited with the somewhat cynical quote “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history”. It’s a sentiment that rears its head in the fantasy football world at this time of year as owners everywhere try to find some form of advantage heading into the new season.

The fantasy world is increasingly fragmenting, and approaches and opinions differ widely. Some owners build their strategy on data and projections, some use tape and the “eye-test” and others overlay a significant heap of gut-feeling and, believe it or not, wishful thinking.

None of these approaches is wrong. Advocates of each approach will give you a hundred examples of why only the way they do things will work – what they don’t tell you is that there are another hundred that contradict them.

Take Aaron Jones. This week I’ve found myself embroiled in a back and forth debate over how to project the Packers running back for the season ahead. Jones is the epitome of a player who you can make whatever you want to from.

On the surface you can make the argument that he plays in a productive offence, is a talented runner and showed in flashes last year that he can perform at an RB1 level. He’s a definite RB1. Pretty straightforward. But.

Someone very smart once told me to ignore everything that comes before the “but”. In this case the but is important. Jones did flash, but he’s also never played a full season, through injury or suspension he’s missed 8 games and only started 12. There’s no way you can bank on him as an RB or even an RB 2 then. But.

It’s an entirely new coaching staff. Matt LeFleur is much more likely to introduce more balance to the offence. The stats fans will tell that Green Bay led the league in pass percentage – they threw the ball 68% of the time. Tennessee where LeFleur was OC in 2018 were 31st passing only 51% of the time. So, Jones is going to get a huge increase in work based on the new Head Coaches tendency. But.

For those who live in caves, the Packers Quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best to ever play the position. He, not LeFleur, is the key component in the Green Bay offence. The team passed it 68% of the time because their best player likes it that way. In Rodgers time in Green Bay in only four seasons have they produced a 1000-yard rusher and in one of those season he missed half the season. Exclude his first two years where Ryan Grant edged over 1200 yards and only once in the last nine seasons has Rodgers played every game and the Packers have had a 1000-yard rusher.

So, who to believe? This is the tricky bit. Every perspective is reasonable. Nobody pushing any of these angles is right and nobody is wrong. My view is that you should listen to Hagel – trust in history while Rodgers is the Quarterback the balance of probability seems to rest with Jones rushing for less than 1000 yards. At the current price I’d leave Jones to someone else.

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