Could the Packers RB return in Week 12?
Less than two weeks after Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury, is the Green Bay Packers RB set to return in Week 12? What is the latest regarding Jones’ status, how has he performed this season, and what does a potential return mean for fantasy managers?
Aaron Jones injury update
When Jones suffered his MCL sprain in Week 10 against the Seattle Seahawks, the expectation was that we would not see him until after the Packers Week 13 bye. The timeframe given was 1-2 weeks by some, but the feeling was the Packers would give him three weeks to ensure he is ready for the run into the playoffs.
However, Jones returned to practice on Wednesday, receiving a limited designation on the Packers’ injury report. The Packers tweeted a video of Jones at practice on Thursday making cuts during a practice drill. He was once again listed as limited on Thursday. He appears to be on track to return in Week 12 when the Packers face the Los Angeles Rams.
Jones has had a mixed season so far in 2021
Coming into 2021 with a new contract and off the back of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, it has been a struggle for Jones. He has 541 yards on 123 rush attempts and has seen his yards per game drop from over 60 in each of the last three years, and 78.9 in 2020, to 54.8 in 2021.
However, he is continuing to have success in the passing game. Jones has pulled in 37 of his 47 targets for 298 yards at an average of 8.1 yards per game. He has also found the end zone 4 times on passing plays, a career-high.
The positive for Jones is that AJ Dillon has not been performing much better in his absence. Dillon has managed just 119 rushing yards in the previous two weeks. He has impressed in the receiving game with 106 yards on 8 receptions, but his performance in that aspect has been very similar to that of Jones.
If Jones is active in Week 12, he should assume the starter’s role. However, these two have been sharing touches this season, so if Jones is limited we may see that split favor Dillon given the Packers have a bye in Week 13 to get Jones fully healthy.
What should fantasy managers do with Jones in Week 12?
If Jones is active in Week 12, fantasy managers are faced with a tough decision. Knee injuries can be tricky for an RB to test in practice because even cutting in practice does not put the knee under the same strain as in a game. We have no idea how many snaps Jones may see if he is active.
Benching a player like Jones is close to impossible to do if he is active. However, the risk feels higher than the reward in this one. This game could be a shootout, which might limit RB carries in the first place. Even if the Packers run the ball 30 times, that could be an even split.
Jones has not had more than 15 rushing attempts since Week 4. His ceiling feels limited unless he can break a big play or find the end zone multiple times. The knee injury also lowers the floor that is usually fairly safe, especially in PPR, because of his role in the passing game.
If Jones logs a full week of practice, even if he is limited, fantasy managers are likely going to have to trust him this week. The RB position is simply not deep enough at this point in the season to where you can sit Jones if he suits up.