The running back situations for the Cleveland Browns and the Green Bay Packers haven’t been quite like either team had hoped for before the season.
The Browns lost superstar Nick Chubb early in the year, while Aaron Jones has missed extended time for the Packers. Chubb is out for the remainder of the year, but there is a possibility that Jones could be back this week for Green Bay.
Jerome Ford has filled in nicely for the Browns, but should fantasy football managers trust him or Jones if he’s active heading into Week 7?
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Aaron Jones Fantasy Outlook This Week
The Jones situation is something that fantasy managers are going to have to follow up on almost until Sunday. Jones was back practicing for the Packers on Thursday, but it was in a limited role. Generally, it’s the Friday practice that gives us a big indication as to what the team is planning to do that weekend with players.
With Jones out, the Packers have relied on AJ Dillon to do a majority of the running. Dillon is a solid player, but he doesn’t have the home-run ability that Jones does. In a season-opening win against the Chicago Bears, Jones had two catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. That’s something that Dillon is just unable to do.
Whoever is playing running back for the Packers in Week 7 figures to have a good opportunity for a big day, as the Denver Broncos have the worst rush defense in the NFL (172.3 yards).
Jerome Ford Fantasy Outlook This Week
Last weekend, Ford had a solid day against the San Francisco 49ers, rushing the ball 17 times for 84 yards. Eighty-four yards against that defense is extremely impressive.
Before Ford’s performance, the most yards the 49ers had given up to a player was 52 (James Conner and Kyren Williams).
Ford only had two catches for seven yards in the game, but he’s been solid in the passing game overall for the Browns. Running back Kareem Hunt had 12 carries for 47 yards and one touchdown for Cleveland as well, providing a nice one-two punch.
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Hunt, though, is questionable this weekend while he deals with a thigh injury. He returned to practice Thursday, but his status against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday is unknown at the moment.
The Colts are currently 19th against the run (113.5 yards) but just lost defensive tackle Grover Stewart for six games due to PEDs.
Which of the Running Backs Should You Start?
In the Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer, PFN’s Consensus Rankings say that Jones is the play with 13.2 points. There is a big difference in expected rushing yards, though, as Jones is only 50 while Ford is expected to rush for 109 yards.
Jones is expected to have a bigger day in the passing game, with four catches for 23 yards as his projection.
However, I’m going against the optimizer on this one, with Ford being the play here. The Colts losing Stewart is a major loss for a rush defense that has already struggled to stop the run.
With Hunt potentially not being 100%, look for Ford to build off of last week and flirt with the projected 109 rushing yards. If he’s able to score a touchdown, Ford could be a top-10 RB this week.
With Jones, even if he plays, we can’t expect him to be ready for a heavy workload. Look for him to get a few plays here and there, but he is still a week or so away from being a major offensive contributor.
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