There have been some weeks where Aaron Jones didn’t even lead his own backfield in touches, so it qualifies as a surprise that he’s leading the league with 11 touchdowns. It has been a season of contrasts for the Packers’ 24-year-old back. Two weeks ago, he dropped a score against the Lions. In the two games since, he’s caught three, putting an infirmed receiver corps on his back.
Even as Jones has dominated through the air, he’s been left with “what might have been?” questions, as Jamaal Williams has caught three scores of his own over the past three weeks. Jones cannot separate from his backfield mate but perhaps this is finally proving to be a good thing. Staying fresh, Jones is free to do things like have a literally historic receiving night. As Justis Mosqueda pointed out Sunday, Jones is just the third running back since the merger to go 159/2 as a pass catcher.
It would still be nice if Jones had the Pack’s backfield all to himself but then he might not have it at all. Jones has tweaked his shoulder more than once this season, including in the second quarter on Sunday. Coach Matt LaFleur has made keeping Jones fresh one of his top priorities. It’s become easier to see why.
Jones is a special player. This year’s receiving dominance — only Austin Ekeler has more yards through the air amongst running backs — comes after he led the league in yards per carry in 2018. Explosive on the ground, Jones is practically uncontainable for enemy linebackers in the passing game. He is the right weapon at the right time for an offense that has been missing its No. 1 receiver and can’t get its other ones sorted. Is Jones’ touchdown rate going to hold up? He probably isn’t going to finish the year with 22 total scores. But if you drafted Jones as an RB2 with RB1 upside, you already got what you came for.
Five Week 8 Storylines
Tevin Coleman has four-score day vs. Panthers. Jones might not be leading the NFL in touchdowns for long. Coleman, who is now keying the 49ers’ dominant running attack, is up to six in four games since returning from his high-ankle sprain. Labored his final few Kyle Shanahan-less years in Atlanta, Coleman has been reborn under Shanny in San Fran. That has not included much production in the passing game, where Coleman is just 6/28 over the past month. He’s also failed to vanquish Matt Breida, averaging 18 weekly touches in October compared to Breida’s 13. Breida picked up an ankle injury in the second half on Sunday but said afterward that it was not serious. It appears he will be good to go for Thursday’s game against the Cardinals. Operating with an Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams timeshare of their own, Coleman has established himself as a weekly top-20 option. Breida, top 36.
Lions’ backfield devolves into four-man committee. Matt Patricia might as well have lit up a cigar with your $55 Ty Johnson FAAB bid. Claimed off waivers 10 days ago, Tra Carson got the start against the Giants and led the team with 12 carries. Johnson received only seven totes, though he was more efficient and added a 13-yard reception. J.D. McKissic mixed in for four spectacularly ineffective touches, while Paul Perkins rushed three times on six snaps. If you’re looking for signs that your Johnson investment might still pay off, he did win the snap war 24-19-16 on Carson and McKissic, respectively. He also had two nice first half runs called back by penalty, denting his statline. Perhaps most importantly, Kenyan Drake has been traded to Arizona instead of Detroit. We now know Johnson won’t be an RB2, but he maintains risk/reward FLEX appeal for this week’s soft matchup with the Raiders.
Editor's Note: Drafting is only half the battle. Dominate all season long with our Season Pass! Use our NEW Start/Sit Tool, Trade Analyzer, Consensus Rankings, Projections and more on your way to a championship! Click here for more!
Darrell Henderson out-touches Todd Gurley. With the Rams handling the Bengals in London — handling, but not blowing out like they would have last year — Gurley took a late backseat to his rookie backfield mate. Concerningly, Gurley was spotted getting treatment on his balky knee, but there is no indication it was a new issue. Gurley now has the Rams’ bye week to heal up. The last time Gurley healed up was Week 6, which is what allowed Henderson to get onto the field in the first place. Since, he’s established a legitimate change-of-pace role, though Malcolm Brown’s (ankle) absence has helped. If all three backs are active for Week 10, it will be hard to trust either Henderson or Brown behind Gurley. Do with that information what you will as bye week crunches get more intense.
Gardner Minshew makes the Jags’ quarterback decision more complicated. Coming off the worst two-game stretch of his young career, Minshew bounced back in a big way against the struggling Jets, posting his first three-score effort. Minshew earned his touchdowns, keeping plays alive with his feet a la Tony Romo as he found Chris Conley for a 70-yard score and D.J. Chark for an eight-yarder. Minshew possesses legitimate play-making ability, a rare find in any quarterback, let alone a rookie sixth-rounder. He also has a fumbling problem, losing one on Sunday and four on the year. He has helped compensate by tossing only two picks. Minshew is doing all he can to create a quarterback controversy, but the odds remain high the Jags will turn back to Nick Foles if he meets his current return target of Week 11.
Kyle Allen greases the skids for Cam Newton’s return. The Allen meme was already dying, but he made sure to kill it dead vs. the 49ers, turning in a pathetic performance against an elite defense and getting the Newton countdown clock started in earnest. A limited passer, Allen has just three scores over his past four games despite having D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey at his disposal. He is not making plays even if he had largely avoided mistakes before Sunday’s disaster. It’s very much up for debate how much Newton’s health will allow him to be Newton, but the Panthers don’t have a 2019 ceiling without him. They need him under center against the Titans this week.