Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 9 – Aaron Jones and Bryan Edwards

by Mark Kieffer · Studs and Duds

We all have them. The players we attach ourselves to over the course of the pre-draft process. The ones we try our damnedest to draft or acquire in fantasy football. For better or worse, these are the players we end up attaching our reputations to as fantasy players and/or analysts. This series will focus on both sides of that particular coin.

In this new Underworld venture called Studs and Duds, we will talk about one player we planted our proverbial flag on that was a hit and one that was a bust. Along the way, we’ll be using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats, metrics, and analytics to analyze the process, figure out how and why these players hit/busted, and decide whether we want to target/fade said players next season.

Volume 9 – Mark Kieffer

STUD: Aaron Jones

Last season, Aaron Jones had 1,104 (No. 4 among qualified running backs) rushing yards and scored 11 (No. 7) total touchdowns, finishing the year with an 18.4 (No. 4) Fantasy Points Per Game average.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

I had Jones in eight or nine Underdog Best Ball leagues. If I played redraft, I would have grabbed him in as many leagues as possible. I unfortunately don’t have him in any dynasty leagues. I have only gotten more serious about dynasty in 2020, and due to his age, I did not draft him in any startups.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

I knew he was one of my guys when I saw his ADP in my best ball drafts. He was going in the late second and early third round as the RB14 or RB15 in many. While it was clear he was unlikely to match his 19 (No. 1) total touchdowns from 2019, the discount on him was too great. I believed he was an RB1, not an RB2.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

There was a narrative around the touchdown scoring variance and concerns around A.J. Dillon being drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, not enough analysis of his numbers:

Aaron Jones 2019 Opportunity & Productivity Metrics

I liked in 2019 that in 2019, despite a 62.6-percent (No. 15) Snap Share and a 62.2-percent (No. 18) Opportunity Share, Jones logged 249.9 (No. 7) Weighted Opportunities, 44 (No. 11) red zone touches, and 474 (No. 8) receiving yards in addition to his league-leading 19 total touchdowns. In addition, he logged 12 (No. 3) goal line carries and averaged 1.76 (No. 12) Yards Created Per Touch. If his TD totals were cut in half, he would still be an RB1. However, he was being drafted as an RB2 in most drafts; fantasy gamers were discounting his production because he happened to score 19 touchdowns in 2019. He turned 26 in December of the 2020 season – right in the middle of his age apex.

What Did You Learn?

Avoid narratives that do not align with the data. In 2020, Aaron Jones‘s opportunity was similar to what he saw in 2019, other than the total touchdowns.

Aaron Jones 2020 Opportunity & Productivity Metrics

The goal of fantasy football is to score fantasy points. Players need opportunity to score fantasy points. Raw skills alone will not get the job done. When a running back is in their prime, coming off of an incredibly productive season with 217.9 (No. 9) Weighted Opportunities, I am interested in having them on my roster. When they come at a discount through the draft, even better. I had Underdog Best Ball teams with both Jones and Derrick Henry, and that simply isn’t fair, but someone had to do it!

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him in 2021?

Aaron JonesUnderdog ADP is around pick No. 13.0, making him the RB10 on average. I like that spot for him. It’s not often you have a fantasy player be No. 3 and No. 4 in Fantasy Points Per Game in each of the last two years and have their ADP outside of the top 5 in their position group.  I plan to draft over 50 Underdog Best Ball teams in 2021, and I will definitely have some Jones. He won’t be a priority like he was in 2020 since there are running backs such as Joe Mixon, Antonio Gibson, D’Andre Swift, and Najee Harris going in the late first/early second round that I like as well. I will likely mix and match exposures on these players when I am in a late first-round draft position, with the goal of acquiring two of the aforementioned running backs in that range.

Jones will turn 27 in December of 2021 and this may be the last season he will be an RB1. After 2021, he will be a fade for me based on his age.

DUD: Bryan Edwards

Bryan Edwards averaged 4.0 Fantasy Points Per Game in 2020 – No. 118 among qualified wide receivers.

How Many Leagues Did You Have Him In?

I had him in between 60 and 70-percent of my Underdog Best Ball teams. He was one of my favorite late-round fliers at WR. I have him in three dynasty leagues as well, taking him in the early third round of rookie drafts.

When Did You Know He Was One of Your Guys?

I knew he was one of my guys when I went to PlayerProfiler before the 2020 NFL Draft.

Bryan Edwards Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

I fell in love with Edwards’ college production: 48.4-percent (94th-percentile) College Dominator Rating, 29.1-percent (88th-percentile) College Target Share, and a 17.8 (100th-percentile) Breakout Age.

Why Did You Like Him So Much?

I like big receivers and I cannot lie: At 6-3 and 212 pounds, I figured Edwards would be that outside alpha receiver that would be productive in recording first downs, having screens thrown to him, and being a red zone threat with his size. Given his young Breakout Age, and doing in the SEC in college, I thought he would be able to step in as a rookie and have a nice season.

What Did You Learn?

I was a year too early on Edwards. Nelson Agholor, who was an afterthought to me, led the Raiders wide receivers with a 69.3-percent (No. 75) Snap Share. Henry Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow played as much as I thought they would, but with Agholor’s emergence, Edwards didn’t see the opportunity I thought he would. Given he was a late-round flier for me in Underdog Best Ball drafts, his lack of production in 2020 did not hurt me much.

Where Would You Be Comfortable Drafting Him in 2021?

Given the Raiders let Nelson Agholor walk and did not draft a wide receiver, I am optimistic about Bryan Edwards in 2021. His Underdog ADP is pick No. 184.6. I am happy to take him around his ADP as a late-round flier again. He went at a similar ADP in a dynasty startup mock I did recently as well.

The potential upside at that pick is something I am willing to take a stab at.  If Edwards does not perform in 2021, then I will have to revisit my previous love for him.