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Dynasty Price Check - A.J. Dillon

We continue with our evaluation of the dynasty league value of high-profile players in our Dynasty Price Check series. Should you trade them or trade for them? Are they being overvalued or undervalued by dynasty players?

We've already covered players like Ezekiel Elliott, which you can read here, and James Robinson, which you can find here.

Today, we'll be looking at Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon.

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A.J. Dillon Background

The Packers used a second-round pick on Dillon last year, something that didn't really make a ton of sense. The whole narrative in Green Bay was "Aaron Rodgers needs receiving weapons," and the Packers took a quarterback in the first round and a running back in the second round despite having Aaron Jones on the roster.

It was weird, and Dillon's rookie season largely supported that narrative, rushing just 46 times for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

I say "largely" because there was one big week for Dillon. Against the Titans in Week 16, Dillon saw 21 carries, gaining 124 yards and scoring both of those touchdowns. He also had a five-yard reception in that game. It was a big rushing game for the Pack:

That was a good game, but how much do we credit Dillon for a good game in which Jones also had a good game? Jones averaged more yards per carry, plus had twice as many yards after contact per attempt.

Maybe the better thing in terms of outlining a picture of who Dillon is is to go back to college.

The former Boston College Eagle was third in rushing attempts in 2019 and sixth in rushing yards. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and found the end zone 14 times on the ground. In three years of college football, he had 38 rushing touchdowns plus two receiving ones.

His 845 college carries are a little concerning just in terms of how much wear is already on the tires, but the bigger issue from his college production was a total lack of involvement in the receiving game. He had 21 receptions in three seasons! And then was targeted just twice for the Packers this year! Dillon has the makings of being that one-dimensional back that needs to be incredibly good on the ground to have a ton of value.

To put that in perspective on his own team, Aaron Jones isn't thought of as a great receiving back, but he still had 46 receptions this year, ranking 12th among running backs.

 

Dynasty Outlook

Look, the lack of receiving usage in college is a concern, but one-role backs can be effective still if they can run the ball at an elite level. Nick Chubb was just 58th in receptions among running backs and Nick Chubb rules.

We can forgive the lack of receptions, especially if the situation a player is in is good. That's where things with Dillon get tricky.

Aaron Jones is a stud. He's also a free agent, with all kinds of rumors swirling about his destination, most of which are rumors that see him leaving the Packers. There's no guarantee that happens, but the Packers don't seem like a team that needs to spend big money to keep a running back when they really should be looking to add a secondary receiver like Will Fuller V in free agency instead.

Meanwhile, Jamaal Williams is also a free agent, as is Tyler Ervin. Williams could be brought back on the cheap, but it seems like a likely scenario is the team hands the reins over to Dillon and then either signs or drafts a cheap receiving-game option, or bring back Ervin for that role.

In that case, Dillon would have some decent value going forward. He's got three more years under contract and as long as Aaron Rodgers is at quarterback -- which is no guarantee, but I don't want to get too deep into that whole thing -- then the running back in Green Bay should see a fairly light box and will find running lanes.

Dillon isn't a fantasy RB1 candidate because he doesn't have the receiving-game chops, but what's to stop him from being an RB2? And a second-year back with RB2 upside is always going to be of value in dynasty leagues, even if there's not elite upside.

 

What's He Worth?

As long as Jones technically isn't playing elsewhere, people will be too low on Dillon. And the moment that he officially becomes the lead back, they'll pivot the other way and be too high, probably.

So, what should you do? It depends. If you have Dillon on your roster right now, hold him. We can chat in the future about his value after free agency, but there's no real reason to get rid of him now.

But if you don't have Dillon, I think there's a good buying opportunity right now.

Dillon isn't without value, but he's going to be more affordable than all the rookie running backs from this past season who actually performed. Could you get him for a late first? Maybe! An early second, even? Also maybe! If you're in need of some upside guys and are looking to unload veterans, could you move someone like Brandin Cooks for him? Also maybe, though you might need to sweeten the deal.

Don't give up players with elite upside for him, though. Young receivers who might be getting better QB play next year like D.J. Chark Jr. or Deebo Samuel? I'd hesitate. Again, I don't think Dillon will ever be elite, but he could be a solid multi-year contributor, and you can also potentially sell higher on him this summer than the cost to acquire him now. That's always a nice bonus, albeit a risky one.



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