The Fantasy Football Impact of Aaron Jones to the Minnesota Vikings

Mar 15, 2024
The Fantasy Impact of Aaron Jones to the Vikings

On Tuesday, March 12th, it was announced that Aaron Jones would be joining the once-rival Minnesota Vikings on a one-year, $7 million dollar contract. The 29-year-old running back leaves Green Bay for the first time in his professional career to shore up a running back room that has been looking for a consistent presence since the team waved goodbye to Dalvin Cook after the 2022 season.

Click here for more 2024 Player Profiles!

Aaron Jones Running Back Profile

The 2023 season was riddled with injuries for Jones, including battles with hamstring and MCL issues that kept him out of the lineup in five games and forced him out of Week 11 after only four carries. As such, his raw counting stats were less than ideal, failing to reach 700 rushing yards or 1,000+ total yards for the first time since his sophomore year in 2018.

Because of his truncated workload, Jones was only able to rack up 119.9 half-PPR fantasy points, ranking in as the overall RB37 even though he was his usual efficient self when healthy and on the field.

Aaron Jones Stats, Last Five Seasons
Year G Att. Rush Yards Targets Rec. Rec Yards Scores Half-PPR FP/G FP/G Rank
2019 16 236 1084 68 49 474 19 18.1 RB4
2020 14 201 1104 63 47 355 11 16.8 RB5
2021 15 171 799 65 52 391 10 13.5 RB14
2022 17 213 1121 72 59 395 7 12.8 RB12
2023 11 142 656 43 30 233 3 10.9 RB27

The silver lining in Jones’s performance last season was his continued heightened usage in the passing game. Through his ten full games, he still provided 3.8 targets a week, more or less in line with the 4.2 mark he had in the year prior. What’s more, his yards per route run (1.59 - 12th) and targets per route run (0.29 - 6th) were both still in the upper echelon among his peers, ranking near the top out of 78 qualifying running backs (min. 50 routes).

Where his statistical profile really let us down in fantasy was his continued drop-off from an otherworldly touchdown rate that felt unsustainable for years. From 2019-2021, Jones had the third-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL (Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook) while adding 11 more through the air, offering a ton of upside despite splitting the backfield with Jamaal Williams, and later, A.J. Dillon.

Over these last two seasons, Dillon has out-carried him at the goal line 20-to-10, forcing the veteran to accrue fantasy points in other facets of the game. These things tend to happen when you’re ceding nearly 40 pounds of bulk to your backfield mate, but that will no longer be the case in Aaron Jones’ new home.

How Aaron Jones Fits in Minnesota

If there were any questions as to whether or not Jones could still handle a full workload in the NFL, one needs to look no further than his incredible run to close out last season. From Week 16 through two playoff games, Jones eclipsed 100 yards rushing in all five, handling 25.2 opportunities (carries-plus-targets) in the most important weeks of the year.

While we can’t lock in that sort of usage for a back who will turn 30 in December, with nearly 1,500 career snaps under his belt, we can safely assume that the Vikings notched him on this $7 million deal to make him their clear-cut RB1. Different franchises value positions differently, but it’s worthwhile to compare that average annual value (AAV) to the rest of this free agent class. That mark is only slightly less than D’Andre Swift and Derrick Henry ($8 million), identical to Tony Pollard, and far more than the likes of Devin Singletary ($5.5 million), Austin Ekeler ($4.1 million), and Zack Moss ($4 million).

We could argue about any of those valuations if we wanted to, but the takeaway here is that Aaron Jones’ new team clearly values him as the main piece in their backfield. Jones’ underlying metrics also point toward a back who still encompasses the requisite skills to move the ball down the field. When comparing him to incumbent Ty Chandler, those metrics look even better.

Aaron Jones v. Ty Chandler, 2023
Player Yards Per Attempt Yards Created After Contact Broken+Missed Tackle Rate 10+ Yard Runs
Aaron Jones 4.8 (8th/59) 3.35 (6th/59) 15.5% (24th/59) 21 (24th/59)
Ty Chandler 4.5 (14th/59) 2.86 (32nd/59) 9.8% (50th/59) 9 (44th/59)

In all fairness to Chandler, he was thrust into a role that not many were projecting, even with a negative perception of what Alexander Mattison would offer in a post-Dalvin Cook world. But Chandler should offer a great option for Minnesota as more of a rotational back, and we can expect Jones —if healthy— to take a lion’s share of the touches in said rotation.

Fantasy Outlook for the Vikings’ Backfield

A very exciting role should be here for Aaron Jones as it pertains to fantasy usage, but his upside in 2024 is still questionable. Though the offensive line and surrounding skill position talent (Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, etc.) is very comparable —and probably better— than what Jones was afforded in Green Bay, the quarterback position remains a mystery.

Though the Vikings look like they may be looking to package something together to move into range to take a quarterback in the NFL Draft, there’s still a real possibility that Sam Darnold will take a large share of the snaps this season. Though there are very smart people on the internet who still believe that Darnold should be given a chance, I tend to be more skeptical.

Whether Darnold is an NFL-level quarterback, or a prospective rookie ends up taking the job at some point in the season, it will almost assuredly come at a downgrade compared to what Jordan Love was able to accomplish last season in the Packers offense. This puts Jones in a precarious situation in Fantasyland, where he likely finds himself in a better role, but it’s questionable how that will translate into fantasy points if he’s not putting up great numbers in the touchdown department.

This makes him more of a fringe RB2/RB3 as it stands, with a great floor but an uncertain ceiling. As for Chandler, he’s in a similar range as to where he was being considered prior to the 2023 season: a top-40ish option who has a chance at more if Jones’ leg issues pop back up.

Bottom Line

  • Aaron Jones is still very good at football, and a short trip to Minneapolis does nothing but solidify his role.
  • Jones will need to be an ultra-efficient touchdown scorer if we expect him to return to a top-15 option, but it’s certainly not out of the question. He’s done it before.
  • Ty Chandler had a great opportunity to become a consistent fantasy asset last year, but missed the mark, likely pushing the Vikings to find an upgrade through free agency. Part of that could be blamed on a ho-hum quarterback rotation, but the team finds itself in a similar situation in 2024.
  • According to current Underdog ADP, Jones is coming off of draft boards as the RB16, which is, sadly, an obvious stay-away. That is likely to adjust after signing with the Vikings, so he’s certainly not a complete fade if/when he falls. He should be sprinkled in when possible if he reaches the RB Dead Zone. Chandler should be targeted late in drafts when you have bypassed Jones.
Latest Articles
Most Popular