by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Barring adding a running back late the Washington Redskins appear primed to lean on Matt Jones in 2016. A third round pick in 2015, he shared time with Alfred Morris last season and posted less than impressive marks:
- Rushing – 144 carries, 490 yards (3.4 YPC), 3 TD
- Receiving – 19 receptions, 304 yards, 1 TD
You could argue that those numbers were about what we should’ve expected, after he never had more than 166 carries in a season at Florida (and he never averaged more than 5.3 YPC). Sure he has the size that you look for (6’1”, 231 lbs.), but it’s easy to argue that he is going to be mislabeled as a “lead” back.
Just look at this scouting report from NFL.com prior to the draft:
“Has very good athleticism for a big running back and is a physical pile-mover who is difficult to stop for negative yardage. Unfortunately, Jones lacks the instincts and vision to fully maximize his physical tools. Jones could become the physical member of a running-back-by-committee approach, with upside as a third-down option.”
So Jones was seen as a committee back entering the league and struggled in the role in his rookie season. It then makes sense for the Redskins to potentially hand him a full-time role, right?
They are at least saying the right things, though we’d expect nothing less. Coach Jay Gruden was quoted by Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic (click here for the article) as saying:
“Asked if Jones will indeed assume the No. 1 role, Gruden said: “That’s what we envision, yes. He’s got the size. I mean, he’s got the measurables, that’s for sure. That doesn’t always translate, so we’ll see. We like Matt. We think he’s a smart football player and he runs very, very hard. Now we just have to make sure the ball security is there [because] he can catch the ball out the backfield. He’s a very good solid football player that we have high hopes for.”
Obviously there are a lot of concerns entering the season:
- Injury (he appeared in 13 regular season games in ’15 and required offseason surgery on his hip)
- Fumbles (he lost 4 fumbles in his rookie year)
You put those things together and it’s hard to get excited, though any running back who has the chance to lead the way is going to be a viable fantasy selection. While he’s going to be a low-end RB2, at this point, as the options start to come off the board he becomes worth the gamble.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, CSN Mid-Atlantic