The Packers running back stable, consistently able to do damage this season, is suddenly in a tricky spot with Aaron Jones still nursing a calf injury and Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon likely to miss the upcoming Thursday tilt against the San Francisco 49ers.
For fantasy implications, this isn’t the best scenario. To be down to gadget player Tyler Ervin and practice squad regular Dexter Williams is far from ideal. But if you’re in a deep league and looking for anything to help you get some points, the play is to grab Tyler Ervin off the wire and see what happens.
Ervin, over the past three games he was active, played 38 percent, 37 percent, and 27 percent of the snaps. You can usually catch Ervin running across the formation on jet motions to confuse the defense and draw their eyes east and west to wonder what he’s doing. But Matt LaFleur really likes Ervin and what he can do when the football is in his hands.
Back in August, head coach Matt LaFleur spoke highly of Ervin and his desire to carve out more opportunities for the running back in the offense.
“He’s an explosive player. He’s pretty elusive,” LaFleur said in August. “We have Adam Stenavich, who was his O-line coach for a year at San Jose State. He’s been in our ear about what kind of playmaker [Ervin] can be. We’re just going to continue to give him opportunities to see what he can do.”
The opportunities are there now, because, well the Packers may not have another choice. Ervin has flashed big play ability with his speed. His best game of the season came in Week 1 against the Vikings, when he broke off three carries for 38 yards. It should be noted that he hasn’t gotten many touches since then, particularly in the running game with only four carries on the season and only six catches on nine targets. He’s missed two games due to injury, but the snap numbers need to improve to at least 50 percent for good value.
A Thursday game and reaching for a running back who is maybe third or fourth in the pecking in normal circumstances would not be the most advisable play, but available running backs are few and far between at this point in the season. Other available players like Jordan Wilkins for the Colts, Rex Burkhead for the Patriots, and Tony Pollard for the Cowboys are equally shaky fantasy plays.
According to Football Outsiders, the Packers rank 7th in stuffed yards, which measures the number of run plays that get stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage. The Packers run blocking has been solid all year so if they can open some holes to Ervin to explode through, we could see a good day out of the little-known back.