The Green Bay Packers have always fostered a reputation of being a full-throttle passing offense, especially in the last 14 seasons with Aaron Rodgers as their franchise quarterback. What’s continuously glossed over: Their ability to maintain a balanced backfield. With a running back duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, they have just that for the 2022 season.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
While Jones started 2021 as Green Bay’s de facto ball carrier, it was Dillon who stepped into the limelight by Week 4, posting 15 carries for 81 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Boston College product continued to take advantage of his opportunities, rushing for 50-plus yards in each of his nine appearances with double-digit attempts. In a down-year for Jones, Dillon rushed 187 times for 803 yards and five touchdowns. His brawny stature at 6’0”, 247 pounds propelled his touchdown upside in the second half of the season when the Packers decided to ramp up his usage. He finished the season with a career-best 8.9 fantasy points, and carved out a significant role splitting the workload with Jones.
Packers offseason moves
The Packers unfortunately have seen more losses than gains this offseason. The departures of WRs Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling leave a major gap on the offensive side, and the organization didn’t do much to rectify it. Green Bay drafted North Dakota St. WR Christian Watson, Nevada WR Romeo Doubs and signed veteran Sammy Watkins, but it’s unlikely any of them become game-changers.
The backfield looks to feature Jones, Dillon, Kylin Hill and Patrick Taylor.
2022 best case scenario
The best case scenario for Dillon depends on the offense’s stick-to-itiveness and overall commitment to the ground game — the panache with which they found weekly success last year. They didn’t put too much on the shoulders of either Jones or Dillon, which helped keep them on the field and the rotation intact. Jones is the better pass catcher of the two, but the 24-year-old Dillon proved to be the more effective ball carrier — especially around the goal line. The Packers could realize that it’s time to feed the younger running back.
2022 worst case scenario
The worst case scenario for Dillon is if head coach Matt LaFleur hands the keys back to Jones outright, and they return to a pass-heavy scheme. That would likely revert Dillon back to a low-end, touchdown-or-bust fantasy player.
Anyone yearning to see more of the “AJ Dillon Show” in 2022 shouldn’t panic, even with the expectation that Jones will have a bounce-back season. It’s likely the Packers kick off the year with Dillon playing co-pilot to Jones once again, but he still has enough upside to take over as the RB1 if Jones struggles in the first few weeks of the season. Let’s be optimistic here, and say Dillon picks up right where he left off at the conclusion of his second campaign.