The Packers' best candidate to lead their rush attack is Jamaal Williams. Not only did he lead the Pack in rush yards, but he finished second on the team in total yards and tied for second in total touchdowns despite seeing relevant work in just nine games. In fact, if you take his pace over his final eight weeks and extrapolate it over 16 games, Williams would have been good for nearly 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns! Sound unrealistic? It is ... sort of. It appears likely that the Packers will use multiple backs as part of a committee, meaning Williams won't get a ton of work since he'll split with Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery. But Williams does figure to get the most work of the three including those all-important goal-line carries. With Aaron Rodgers back under center, defenses can't clam up against the run anymore either. We like the idea of drafting Williams as a No. 2 Fantasy running back in Round 4 or 5 and then tagging Jones or Montgomery with a late-round pick as Fantasy insurance.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy expects Williams to be part of a committee backfield, ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky reports. "We've got young players that we really like that all played really well, but it's been in short periods of time," McCarthy said. "Ty Montgomery had a run there where he was outstanding. Jamaal has probably been the most available of the three, and Aaron [Jones] has been so impactful when he's been in there." Williams was the clear leader of the Green Bay backfield in the second half of last season, recording at least 10 carries in each of the final eight games, though he fell shy of four yards per carry in all but one of those contests. While probably the least explosive of the bunch, Williams played all 16 games in his rookie season, avoiding the injury bug that bit both Jones and Montgomery. Each of the three figures to spend time with the first-team offense during training camp, and the battle for playing time may ultimately spill into the regular season. Williams seems to have the edge in durability, but Jones was the most effective rusher (5.5 YPC) last season, and Montgomery has the advantage in experience and pass-catching skill.
Williams recorded 22 carries for 82 yards and three catches (on five targets) for 31 yards during Sunday's 35-11 loss at Detroit. With fellow rookie running back Aaron Jones inactive due to an MCL sprain in his left knee, Williams more than upheld his end of the bargain as a bell cow, handling 22 of the Packers' 27 rushes. Williams' pass-catching prowess was also on display, as he managed his first reception since Week 14. Over the final eight games of the season, he surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage four times, averaging 93.3 such yards per outing while reaching the end zone three times. The performance may have been enough to push Ty Montgomery (wrist) for lead duty in the 2018 campaign. Before then, though, Williams may have to recover from a head injury, as he left Sunday's game late in the fourth quarter to undergo a concussion evaluation.
Williams is expected to handle the bulk of the snaps at running back Week 17 against the Lions with Aaron Jones (knee) considered unlikely to play, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. Jones exited Saturday's 16-0 loss to the Vikings with a sprained MCL in his left knee, an injury similar to the one in his right knee that sidelined him for two weeks earlier this season. His absences in losses to the Steelers and Ravens enabled Williams to take hold of lead-back duties in the contest, with the rookie out of BYU accumulating a combined 42 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns and six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. With fellow rookie Devante Mays and fullback Aaron Ripkowski the only other ball carriers on the roster and neither likely to see significant snaps in the season finale, Williams looks well positioned to reclaim a 20-plus-carry workload.
Williams recorded 15 carries for 58 yards and didn't reel in any of his three targets during Saturday's 16-0 defeat to the Vikings. Prior to Aaron Rodgers' one-game cameo Week 15, Williams established himself as an all-around threat out of the backfield, racking up 545 scrimmage yards and averaging one touchdown per contest from Weeks 10 through 14. Over the last two outings, though, he mustered 88 yards on 25 carries and saw just the three aforementioned targets. At this point, the Packers have little to play for outside of player development, so Week 17 would seem to be a game in which Williams, rather than Brett Hundley (40 pass attempts Saturday), is the focal point of the offense. Williams' cause would be helped further if Aaron Jones, who was ruled out of Saturday's game with a knee injury, takes a seat in the season finale.
Williams rushed 10 times for 30 yards in Sunday's 31-24 loss to the Panthers. Williams saw his role diminish with Aaron Rodgers' return from a collarbone injury, recording his lowest carry total since he became a starter in Week 9. The rookie has seen his rushing touches drop after each of the two games, and he's now averaged 3.4 yards or fewer in five of the last six contests overall. Williams' work in the passing game and his nose for the end zone have both helped make up for mediocre yardage totals in many of his starts, but neither factor came into play Sunday. Meanwhile, fellow first-year back Aaron Jones averaged an impressive 15.7 yards on his three totes, potentially earning himself a bigger workload in Week 16 against the Vikings.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|6||10/16||San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|8||10/28||@Los Angeles Rams||27||19.00|
|9||11/05||@New England Patriots||17||17.47|
|16||12/23||@New York Jets||24||18.50|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||153||556||4||25||262||2||117|