As we near the NFL Draft, we’re going to speculate on some best-case landing spots that have the potential to shake up dynasty drafts. Next up is Ronald Jones.
To be fair, a good landing spot doesn’t always equate to the player becoming a home-run pick, but a healthy dose of potential opportunity helps. And what is the offseason for, if not dreaming of overly optimistic scenarios?
With that in mind, I offer you Jones to the Indianapolis Colts.
After pulling up with a strained hamstring while running his first 40-yard dash at the combine — and then getting KO’d in the first round of the RotoViz Sweet 16 Tournament — the USC star’s shine is on the decline.
Indianapolis is perfectly positioned to catch him if he falls into the second round, and it’s a landing spot that could see Jones quickly become a favorite of the fantasy crowd.
The Colts lost the third-most total RB opportunities (combined carries and targets) this offseason, although you could argue they have the second most available, given that David Johnson will be back in Arizona this season.
Frank Gore is taking his 261 rushes and 38 targets to South Beach. Those 299 vacated opportunities make the Colts one of the most likely teams to draft an RB early, especially considering they have four picks in the first two rounds.
The Colts haven’t had a particularly valuable backfield in recent years. We don’t know what to expect from new head coach Frank Reich, nor offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who will be calling plays for the first time in the NFL. The good news is there’s really nowhere to go but up. Last year, Colts RBs had the sixth-fewest expected points in the league and scored the fourth-fewest actual points.
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That was due to a combination of low volume and low efficiency in the run game. Even a modest boost in those areas would mean that whoever is leading the way would have a tremendous opportunity to make a fantasy impact.
Is Jones up to the job?
Why is Ronald Jones Sliding?
Back to Jones’ 4.65 40-yard dash, which he improved to 4.48 at his pro day even though he was still not 100 percent healthy. It’s true that 40 times matter for projecting RBs in the NFL, and despite the hamstring injury, that tardy time seems to be the focus, not his many up arrows.
Jones is the youngest RB in the class and won’t turn 21 until just before the season. Age matters for RBs — about 40 percent of all RB2 or RB1 seasons1 have come from backs who played at age 21, double the rate of 22-year-old RBs.
He was also productive in every one of his three years with the Trojans, capping off his career with 1,486 rushing yards and 18 TDs in 2017. Not only does he appear to have plenty of breakaway speed, but he’s shedding at least one tackle in almost all of his highlights.
About the only hole in his game is a lack of track record in the passing game, as he had just 31 receptions in his career. But even accounting for his role in the passing game, Jones still has the fourth-best backfield dominator rating in the class, ahead of even Rashaad Penny.
In the Sweet 16 tournament, Anthony Amico pointed out that Jones profiles as a second-round success. He may slide in real life, but landing somewhere like Indianapolis, where he stands to be handed a heavy role, he could turn him into a dynasty riser come May.
- since 2000 (back)