Can you trust any of the Packers running backs?

Since Aaron Rodgers took over in 2008, the Green Bay packers have placed inside the top 10 in offensive points scored in all but one of Rodgers’ healthy seasons, and Rodgers has led a top 5 scoring offense six times. It pays to have players from the Packers on your fantasy team as they will have plenty of opportunity to score. The starting RB on a Rodgers-led team should be a second round draft pick at the latest, the only problem is we have no idea who that is, and that backfield could very well end up a three headed monster.

Last year Green Bay went through three “starting” running backs. They began the season with Ty Montgomery, a converted wide receiver who stepped up in the backfield in 2016 when the Packers had nowhere else to turn. When he got injured in Week 4, it became Aaron Jones’ backfield, their rookie 5th round pick. Then when he went down, and rookie 4th rounder Jamaal Williams took over the bulk of the work for the remainder of the season.

Each of them have a case to make, but will any of them emerge as the clear number one option?

Ty Montgomery is probably the least likely to earn the starting job, but it’s clear that he will have some sort of role in the offense. Rob Demovsky, Packers ESPN beat writer called Montgomery the “surprise offseason standout player” and head coach Mike McCarthy was quoted saying, “We have to take advantage of Ty’s skills… The offense is suited for that. Ty had some incredible periods of play for us.” The Packers will work him in on passing downs and other specific situations, but the early down work is likely to fall to either Williams or Jones.

The battle between Williams and Jones is one of efficiency vs. durability. Aaron Jones had a total of 81 carries for 448 yards, averaging 5.53 YPC (yards per carry) on the season. That YPC rate was second to only Alvin Kamara among running backs with 80+ carries. Williams only managed 3.63 YPC but also handled 20+ carries in a game four different times, and was effective in the passing game. He was usable in pass protection and he reeled in 25 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns. Jones had zero games of 20+ carries, was not trusted in pass protection, and only had nine catches on the season for 22 total yards.

The key to the starting role will be who can improve in the area where they lacked last season, and my nod goes to Jamaal Williams. Aaron Jones had two incredible outbursts (125 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 and 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 6), but Williams’ durability and versatility should ultimately win out. When you can pass protect, you stay on the field. When you can handle heavy workloads, you also stay on the field. Many are lauding Jones’ efficiency, but I’d argue that it’s a small sample size, and what Williams offers is more valuable.