The Green Bay Packers and fantasy football players alike may need a rookie to rescue their rushing attack after Ty Montgomery suffered a rib injury during Thursday's 35-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Montgomery suffered broken ribs, which will likely clear the way for first-year player Jamaal Williams to see more carries. While Montgomery is a converted wide receiver, he tallied 457 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground last year and helped bolster what was otherwise an uninspiring ground game after Eddie Lacy's injury.
The key with Williams, though, is his health. The Packers announced he suffered a knee injury Thursday, but he will have time to heal, with their next game coming Oct. 8.
The Packers drafted Williams in the fourth round out of BYU, and fantasy players who are looking for a boost can take solace knowing he tallied 1,375 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in his final season with the Cougars.
USA Today's The Packers Wire provided an encouraging scouting report for Williams before the season started for any fantasy players hoping he cashes in on a potential opportunity after Montgomery's injury: "One-cut-and-go runner who gashed through tacklers like a chainsaw at BYU."
Williams will need to gash through tacklers because Green Bay's offensive line was a middling 19th in the league in run blocking last season, per Football Outsiders.
That is not exactly what fantasy players are looking for, but Montgomery did manage 5.9 yards per carry last year as a converted receiver, and Williams has plenty of upside to be a game-changing back.
As with most rookies who aren't seen as franchise-shifting pieces right away, fantasy players should proceed with some level of caution with Williams even after Montgomery's setback. After all, the Packers are still going to throw the ball plenty with Aaron Rodgers under center, and Williams probably won't dominate the ball right away.
However, Williams' talent alone makes him worth a waiver-wire pickup if he is still available. If he delivers on his potential and slides into Green Bay's starting running back spot, he can serve as a formidable second or third running back option in plenty of fantasy leagues.
Those looking to handcuff Williams, especially after he also suffered an injury Thursday, should turn no further than to rookie Aaron Jones.
While the fifth-round pick from UTEP doesn't scream season-shifting waiver-wire addition, the opportunity for regular work will be there if Williams is out along with Montgomery. Jones tallied 1,773 rushing yards and 21 total touchdowns (one passing) in his final collegiate season, suggesting he can be a weapon in red-zone situations if defenses key on Rodgers.
Jones is a safety valve but at least worth considering with Green Bay's backfield dealing with so many health concerns.