Fantasy Football Instant Reaction: Aaron Jones' two-game suspension changes landscape of Packers backfield
Jamey Eisenberg looks at the Green Bay backfield with Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones after Jones was hit with a two-game suspension to open the season.
The Packers running back situation appeared murky heading into training camp, but things have cleared up a little -- at least for the start of the season. That's because Aaron Jones was suspended two games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Thewhen he was pulled over and admitted that he had smoked marijuana. Jones later pleaded no contest to a marijuana-related charge in March, and he will now miss games against Chicago and Minnesota to open the season.
When he returns in Week 3 at Washington, he should find himself No. 3 on the depth chart behind Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery if everyone is healthy. But that might not have been the case before the suspension when Jones was going to compete with Williams and Montgomery for the starting job in training camp.
And based on early Average Draft Position data on multiple sites, Jones was the favorite option of most Fantasy owners, with Williams second and Montgomery third. That will change now, and Williams should be the preferred Packers running back on Draft Day.
That should have been the case all along since Williams was the better Fantasy option when both were rookies last year. And Williams was better than Montgomery as well.
All three had positive moments in 2017 and benefited because of injuries, but Williams had the longest stretch of success. Most of it came without a healthy Aaron Rodgers as well because he missed nine games with a broken collarbone, but now Williams can showcase his skills with Jones out.
Williams had seven games in 2017 with at least 15 carries, and he averaged 13.4 Fantasy points in a non-PPR league over that span. He also proved capable as a receiver with four games with at least three catches in his final seven outings.
Following Jones' suspension, you can start looking for Williams in the Round 6 range in all leagues, and hopefully he can hold off Montgomery for the starting job in training camp. But Montgomery could take work away from Williams, especially in the passing game. And coach Mike McCarthy has said Montgomery will get plenty of touches.
"We have to take advantage of Ty's skills, and there's no question about that," McCarthy said in June. "The offense is suited for that."
Last year, Montgomery was the starter to open the season, and he got off to a hot start with 203 total yards and three touchdowns in his first two games, including 10 catches over that span and 18 catches through Week 3. But injuries to his wrist and ribs became a problem, and he only appeared in eight games.
Concerns over his durability have been an issue for two years since he's a converted receiver, and playing in a lesser role could help his long-term outlook. Montgomery should now be the second Packers running back drafted in most leagues, especially PPR, but he remains just a late-round pick.
Jones also now becomes a late-round selection since he's missing two games and isn't guaranteed a big role upon his return. It's too bad because he had plenty of sleeper appeal given what he showed in limited capacity as a rookie.
Last year, Jones had four outings with double digits in carries, and he averaged 12.8 Fantasy points in a non-PPR league and 14.0 points in PPR over that span. While he only had nine catches for 22 yards on 18 targets in 12 games, he proved to be the more efficient runner than Williams and Montgomery -- Jones averaged 5.5 yards per carry compared to 3.6 for Williams and 3.8 for Montgomery.
It's still worth stashing Jones in case he gets an extended look during the season, but his stock is down with the suspension. And now Williams and Montgomery should benefit, which makes things easier on Fantasy owners heading into Draft Day this year.
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