Tony Jones Jr. Could Receive Big Thanksgiving Workload

Photo: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints suffered their third consecutive defeat on Sunday, losing to Jalen Hurts and the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles by a final score of 40-29. The once-soaring Saints now find themselves at a difficult and unpredictable crossroads. Sean Payton's team has been unfortunately ravaged by injury, with several of their key playmakers being forced to watch from the sidelines as their season viciously unravels before their watchful eyes. It’s led to a less productive squad, and the Saints have fallen to .500 while holding onto the NFC's final wild-card spot by a loose thread. It makes Thursday's Thanksgiving contest against the Buffalo Bills especially vital to their current withstanding in the jumbled playoff picture.

The Saints continue to fight a losing battle with their injury report. According to multiple reports, the highly effective duo of Mark Ingram and do-it-all superstar Alvin Kamara were absent from Tuesday's practice. Kamara and Ingram were joined by All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead on the sidelines. Tight end Adam Trautman has also already been ruled out. The absences of Kamara and/or Ingram would leave New Orleans especially thin on the offensive side of the ball, and would likely lead to a heavy workload for third-string running back Tony Jones Jr., who currently carries the appearance of a must-start in all fantasy formats.

A preseason star, Jones has already showcased his ability to make the most of his opportunities. The Saints played just two exhibition games due to a cancelation of their third match, but Jones still managed to total an impressive 148 yards of offense. Jones' dazzling preseason was highlighted by a standout performance against the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans’ opening contest, one that saw Jones rush for 82 yards on just seven carries, including an exciting 18-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. Jones finished the preseason as New Orleans' leading rusher and managed to carry that momentum over with him into the first week of the regular season. 

New Orleans shockingly dismantled the Green Bay Packers to the tune of 38-3 in early September, and Jones was heavily involved with 12 touches of the football. A midseason ankle injury and the re-acquisition of Ingram have led to Jones being less involved in recent weeks, but his proven ability to be productive in Payton’s offense makes him a highly appealing streaming option in Week 11 should Kamara and Ingram fail to recover in time.

The opposition that potentially awaits Jones adds fuel to the fire. Jones will encounter a shell-shocked Bills run defense on Thursday that just allowed the Indianapolis Colts to rush for a staggering 264 yards, including 185 and a franchise-record FIVE touchdowns for Jonathan Taylor. It represents an intriguing matchup for an under-the-radar player that may be heavily involved in this week’s offensive game plan.

Those intrigued by the prospect of starting Jones should be paying close attention to New Orleans’ Wednesday practice report, which has yet to be released at the time of this filing. Its details will likely include useful information on the current status of Kamara and Ingram, who currently appear to be trending on the wrong side of questionable. Should both ball-carriers miss Thursday’s game with the Bills, it would free up a ton of touches as both a runner and receiver for the fascinating Jones.

Written By:

Justin Melo

Staff Writer

Justin Melo is an NFL draft analyst that cut his teeth at The Draft Breakdown and USA Today's Draft Wire. He specializes in interviewing prospects, but also produces big boards, mock drafts, and scouting reports. He also covers the Tennessee Titans nationally for Broadway Sports Media and SB Nation.