It appears a running back controversy could be coming in Washington. After being largely held to the background of Week 1’s loss to Miami, rookie Matt Jones burst onto the scene with a 100-plus yard performance that included two touchdowns.
The Florida product got in the end zone on a 39-yard first-quarter run, which was set up by a 35-yarder by starter Alfred Morris. The two split carries for the remainder of the game, with Jones looking like the more productive back.
At the very least, it appears Jones has turned the Washington running back situation into a timeshare. Here’s a look at how that will shake out for both from a fantasy perspective.
Morris is the starter until Jay Gruden says otherwise. Which, in fantasy terms at least, makes him valuable. The presence of Jones probably takes Morris from a solid RB2 to a flex play, but he’s going to be in lineups most weeks simply due to positional scarcity.
Plus, it’s not like Morris is a slouch. He’s a week removed from rushing for 121 yards and has posted 1,000-yard campaigns in each of his first three seasons. Washington’s selection of Jones in the third round likely indicated it would prefer a more explosive player as its every-down back in the future, but Morris is a consistently effective talent who is going to get playing time.
In other words: Don’t fret too much over one week. Morris isn’t going to win your week, and you knew that going in. Guys like Morris are drafted for their ability to consistently produce. He’s still the same guy.
In long-term keeper leagues, Jones is a must-add. Morris is in the last year of his contract and is going to want pay commensurate with his performance. Washington might have taken Jones with that in mind, knowing it was more likely than not that Morris leaves after 2015.
On the other hand, maybe Jones is just really good. St. Louis has one of the NFL‘s best front sevens, and Jones had no trouble making his way to the second level. There is a chance that Jones did enough Sunday to cut a deep gash into Morris’ carries—perhaps enough to even earn a 50-50 time split.
We’ll have to see if this is a one-week fluke before endorsing adding Jones to starting lineups. That said, he should be near the top of waiver-wire pickup lists heading into Week 3 and is a potential gem in keeper/dynasty leagues. This could be a fluke…or it could be the start of Jones overtaking Morris in the running back pecking order.
Proceed with cautious optimism.
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