The Green Bay Packers backfield is going to be a battle this off-season and gauging the fantasy value of each back is almost a fool’s errand.
The Packers running game will be set up more the like New England Patriots over the past few years. You don’t know who’s going to get the lion’s share until someone steps up and takes it. Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, James White and Dion Lewis were all up to be the RB1 and early on it looked like Gillislee, but ultimately, it was Lewis.
Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones both put on solid displays of talent last season, but neither carried the entire load for a full season. Ty Montgomery is still in the mix after converting from wide receiver in 2016, but now it might be smart to move Montgomery all around the offense.
After taking over as the starter but before getting injured, Jones put together three out of four games of double-digit fantasy points scoring 10, 18, and 19. His explosiveness was consistently on display breaking off large chunks of yards. On 81 attempts, Jones averaged 5.5 yards per carry. If you’re like me, you’re excited to see what Jones can do with a full season of work.
Unfortunately, that won’t happen to start the year and it’s not because of a lack of ability. Jones will be out for the first two games of the season because of a suspension. In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t entirely hurtful to the Packers’ season, but it will assuredly affect his fantasy draft position. That’s also enough time for him to cede the starting position to Jamaal Williams if Williams continues to build off of his success last season.
In a three-game stretch of his own from weeks 11 to 13, Williams put together fantasy games of 24, 18 and 22 points. He also proved to be a good weapon in the passing game as well, scoring two touchdowns on receptions. He wasn’t as explosive as Jones in 2017, only averaging 3.6 yards per rush for the season, but he’ll get a lot more opportunities for space with Aaron Rodgers under center. Jones was the beneficiary of playing with an uncrowded box, while Williams mostly had to take the pressure off of Brett Hundley.
Meanwhile, I don’t anticipate Ty Montgomery retaking the lead back role from either Williams or Jones, so it’s between those two.
Overall, Aaron Jones is probably the best value in fantasy this season. If he continues to build on his production last season from when he was healthy, he looks as good as any young running back in the league. Jones also has a nose for finding big running lanes, with his longest run being 46 yards last season, while Williams tends to get bottled up. The suspension will still push Jones back into later rounds than he should go. You could see Jones go in the 3rd or 4th rounds lining up as an overly qualified flex player.
My best advice is to always grab running backs who have a vice grip on the starting job and not those in a “by committee” situation. If I had to choose one, though, I’m betting on Jones.