Rookie Matt Jones has a nice hype train behind him but is the new running back for the Washington Redskins worth drafting in 2015 Fantasy Football leagues?
RB snaps went in this order: Alfred Morris, Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, Matt Jones. Nothing will be handed to the rookie.
— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) May 26, 2015
He normally doesn’t land on my team, but I am a fan of Alfred Morris. Despite only catching 28 passes in three seasons, Morris still provides value as an old-school running back. You have to respect a guy who has averaged 1,319 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns over his first three seasons in league and has offered literally no value as a pass-catching back. In fact, Alf is so far removed from Washington’s passing attack that Roy Helu wrapped up the 2014 season with the fourth-most receiving yards among running backs.
With Helu gone, the Redskins made an a somewhat head-scratching move in drafting Jones. Head Coach Jay Gruden seemed determined to have some type of weapon who could catch passes out of the backfield, and he helped Giovani Bernard find a meaningful rookie season in his last year as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013.
During his college years with the Florida Gators, Jones only hauled in 19 passes. This doesn’t offer a promising indication that the 6-foot-2 back can turn into a dual-threat option for the Redskins’ offense, but maybe Gruden has grand plans to develop Jones.
Could the massive rookie overtake Morris? Could he seemingly come out of nowhere like Morris did in his rookie year, or is this a player a few years away from making a meaningful Fantasy Football impact?
Matt Jones’ College Numbers and 2015 NFL Combine
As you can see from ESPN’s stats, Jones didn’t light up the scoreboards at Florida.
Jones did lose a decent chunk of opportunities to fellow back Kelvin Taylor, who finished the 2014 season with 116 rushes for 565 yards and six touchdowns.
He didn’t dazzle at the 2015 NFL Combine either, as he finished with a 40-yard dash time of 4.61. Still, Jones is a bruiser who can plow through defenders and move the ball and is springily athletic for his size. When looking back at the draft profile of Morris, I found an interesting comparison. The original draft profile of Morris stated that he could be used like BenJarvus Green-Ellis when he was in New England and Jones’ draft profile compares him directly to Green-Ellis. Why is this interesting? Gruden was the offense coordinator for Green Ellis in during his two-year stint in Cincinnati. Under Gruden, Green-Ellis finished 2012 with 1,049 yards and six touchdowns and finished 2013 with 756 yards and seven touchdowns (this was also Bernard’s rookie season which cut into his production).
As a pure rusher, you can’t count out Jones under Gruden. Morris was still able to post more than 1,000 rushing yards even with Helu cutting into his time and Green-Ellis finished with more than 1,000 rushing yards when he was the main back for the Bengals. What this does mean, however, is that Jones will have to really outwork Morris and add upside in protection and improve his pass-catching abilities. If he can prove he is more physical than Morris and catch the ball than he will receive more work.
Matt Jones in 2015 Fantasy Football Leagues
Despite Gruden stating that Morris is still the guy, Fantasy Football players are still hoping the rookie can be a sleeper who other Fantasy players are overlooking.
According to ProFootballFocus, Jones ranked 58th out of 59 backs in pass blocking efficiency, as well as received a below average grade in rushing, receiving and blocking in his grades from College Football Focus. I constantly talk about the importance of rookie’s being able to block and my prime example is always Montee Ball. If Jones receives rave reviews for his blocking and is noted as improving on his pass-catching abilities then I would be more inclined to give him a roster spot.
Conclusion on Running Back Matt Jones
I see a lot of reasons not to like Jones. He will have a difficult road to find Fantasy relevancy but an even more difficult road in trying to replace Morris in year one. I don’t see him as a replacement for Helu and his lack of catching passes in college concerns me.
Having said that, I think he is currently just under the radar enough to be interesting. Morris didn’t appear to be an exciting option before he entered the league but he seemingly came out of nowhere. He was being knocked as undersized, but Alf was absolutely dominate in his rookie campaign.
Most new coaches in Washington seemed absolutely determined to win with new players and leave other players that previous regimes valued in the dust. Could Jones find a large role in the offense just so that Washington will not have to offer Morris a large contract at the end of the season?
I would only take a very late-round pick on Jones at this point, but I will be very interested on updates surrounding the rookie in training camp.
Jack Delaney is the owner of Your Fantasy Football Coach. Follow important NFL updates from him on Twitter, ask a question on Facebook or check out his new ebook The Zero RB Theory.
Categories: 2015 Fantasy Football
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