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The Best of Week 5

Matt Waldman scouts our in-season content and shares five must-knows and his takes on each.

You guys have a ton of articles. 

This statement about Footballguys is a blessing but it can feel like a curse. Our staff delivers insights that change seasons for the better yet realistically, no fantasy owner has the time to read everything we publish in a week. 

If this describes you, let me be your scout. Here are five insights from Footballguys articles that I find compelling for the weekend ahead. I'll share what should help you this week, touch on the long-term outlook, and sometimes offer a counterargument.  

This week, we cover A.J. Green, Christian McCaffrey, Chris Carson, Paul Richardson Jr, Carson Palmer, and Jared Goff

1. Do we dare with the Seahawks run game? 

That's the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band of the question when fantasy owners mull over the talents of Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, and now, J.D. McKissic. Will it be a committee or a one-man wrecking crew? Can the Seahawks offensive line improve fast enough to support its talents? If the answer to the offensive line is "production is matchup dependent," which opponents on the schedule are good 

Matt Bitonti and Justin Mosqueda's feature, In The Trenches, is the first place where our staff begins addressing some of these questions for this week. 


LAR +24

Seattle @ Los Angeles (N) - Sunday 4:05 PM ET

JM: The Los Angeles Rams have the best defensive lineman in football in Aaron Donald, even if they may not have him for much longer. Robert Quinn is showing flashes as a pass-rusher, but Michael Brockers is now firmly the second-best line of scrimmage player in Los Angeles. The team has 1.5 stars and a bunch of functional rotational bodies who make it hard for offensive lines to catch their breath. Expect carnage vs Seattle.

BIT: Left tackle Rees Odhiambo played every snap but after last week's game he had to go to the hospital with a bruised sternum. Assuming Odhiambo is out against the Rams, Matt Tobin would likely be the next man up. The Seahawks traded a fifth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, so assume they want some kind of return on that investment. Isaiah Battle, the one time Rams' supplemental draft pick is another option. The Seahawks offensive line has talent but due to injuries, the lineup has been in disarray. 

Clearly, the Mosqueda-Bitonti duo sees promise from the Seahawks line but don't expect substantial production from it this week. It's not a good foundation to base a traditional ground game that can generate game scripts that involve bludgeoning opponents with a ground game 20-25 times a game. 

It makes Lacy the least appealing option because he might be the least pass-friendly of the Seahawks backs. Sigmund Bloom's Sleepers suggests a flyer on Rawls. 

Thomas Rawls, SEA - Rawls is far from trustworthy, but he could be a great play nonetheless. We are counting on coachspeak parsing to even project him as the #1, but he was running ahead of Eddie Lacy when both were healthy this preseason. The Seahawks running game has been mediocre at best, but they are facing a Rams defense that has already allowed seven running back scores this year, including six on the ground. Rawls is the most likely Seattle back to get the call at the goal line this week and add to those numbers.

I hope you caught the slight disconnect of information between the Trenches and Sleepers piece when it comes to the Rams defense. While the Rams have the talent edge, it has also given up a lot of scores from running backs. As someone who has watched the Rams weekly, there are two weaknesses with this defensive front-seven that can make opposing running backs productive: 

  1. The team has a lot of speedy, aggressive athletes who lose discipline with their gap responsibilities. It makes them vulnerable to misdirection and cutback plays. Think of zone-blocking plays and counters. 
  2. The linebackers and cornerbacks are the least disciplined part of the unit in the shallow zones of the field and they have been exposed after the catch on screens, bootlegs, and other play-action. 

Rawls is probably the most likely to gash a defense with his cutback ability. Although Prosise and McKissic both have the tools to do the same, Rawls has the best combination of vision (better than Prosise at this stage), agility (better than Lacy), and physicality (McKissic is Dexter McCluster hybrid) on the depth chart.

Our staff Roundtable is mostly siding with Rawls but there is intrigue with McKissic. 


Waldman: Who replaces Chris Carson in Seattle as the Seahawk runner to own? Or, is Seattle a committee and does it mean there are multiple backs to own? Or, it will be too unpredictable to invest in anyone? 

Harstad: I like Thomas Rawls, to be honest, and thought the fact that he was a healthy scratch last week was a bit weird. I always figured it'd be his job eventually in Seattle. Prosise and McKissic are both more scat-back / change-of-pace types who I wouldn't be interested in really bothering with outside of maybe best ball PPR leagues. Eddie Lacy... I just don't think is that good anymore. Hope he proves me wrong.

Waldman: I too have concerns about how the team may regard Rawls. However, I have two theories about Rawls as a healthy scratch that are positive considerations about him. First, it's possible he was healthy enough not to be on the injury report, but it seemed worthwhile to the team to give him one more week to get fully healthy, especially with Carson playing so well. Second, Prosise wasn't healthy and McKissic fits that hybrid, scatback/wide receiver role better than Rawls. Plus, teammates have been lobbying the Seahawks staff to give McKissic playing time due to his outstanding performances in practice. 

Simpkins: The Seattle rushing situation is just too much of a mess to really feel great about any of the options. The usage of Seattle’s offensive personnel varies so much from week-to-week that you really can’t count on anyone but Russell Wilson to consistently produce for your team. If forced to take one of Rawls, Lacy, or Prosise going forward, I think Lacy is the play. He came in and finished off the game when Carson went down and looked competent doing so. I think he’s also got the best frame to hold up to the punishment he’ll take behind a not very good offensive line. 

Waldman: It is notable that the Seahawks ground game had the best ground production of any team against the Colts defense this season, a strong unit that allowed no more than 77 yards to a backfield during the first three weeks. Seattle earned 132 yards with Carson, McKissic, and Lacy. Chris Collinsworth believes that if Rees Odhiambo improves, this line will take a strong leap forward. I agree from the standpoint of pass protection, but for me, the guards and the center have a much greater impact on the running game and they looked better this weekend. We'll see if they can sustain a level of steady improvement.  

Holloway: A running back by committee scenario is almost a certainty going forward for the Seahawks. Neither Eddie Lacynor Thomas Rawls has been targeted a single time in limited playing time. Prosise has more targets than receptions to date and he is working through an ankle injury. McKissic was surprisingly involved in the offense in week four and scored two touchdowns. For dynasty, you could take a dart throw at McKissic, but nobody stands out as the obvious replacement for Carson, who himself was a surprise as the top running back.

Howe: This is such a crowded – and uninspiring – committee that I won’t be putting anything of value into acquiring it. I see no strong trade targets, as both Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls probably carry enough name recognition and perceived upside requiring a market value to land them. And neither is worth market value. Both are one-dimensional guys with exceptionally low floors, and the past mystique of the Marshawn Lynch-led Seahawks lingering in the minds of fantasy owners, their ceilings aren’t great with both healthy. There may be some value in floating offers for C.J. Prosise, who (when healthy) has the backfield’s only predictable role, but it’s a relatively low-ceiling one that I wouldn’t chase.

J.D. McKissic is the interesting name here, as he’ll be a popular waiver target in every league. His first 10 snaps of the season produced 5 touches, 65 yards, and 2 touchdowns, which should always grab some of your attention. But I can’t imagine the team has any sort of early-down role in mind for him, especially while both Lacy and Rawls are healthy, so when would I really use him? Even if he retains an offensive share, he’d be a nail-chewing, pray-for-a-touchdown start every week.

VanderWoude: It is very hard to pick one running back on the Seahawks for investment, at least at this current juncture, because we have not seen extensive duty from either Thomas Rawls or Eddie Lacy. Lacy has always been a guy who needed to have a big workload to make a difference, as he got stronger as the game went on and was able to wear down defenses. Unless Pete Carroll suddenly decides to give him 15+ carries a game, Lacy will not be fantasy relevant. 

Thomas Rawls is the obvious answer, but he's only seen a total of five carries, and they all came in week 2. When healthy, he is a dynamic runner who can put up big games and be a low #2 or high #3 running back on fantasy teams. Until we see a full game's worth of carries for Rawls, it is very difficult to trust him as anything more than a very deep flier. 

The most intriguing option to me is McKissic. All he did was score on his first carry as a Seahawk last week, and then back that up with a very nice catch on a wheel route deep in the 4th quarter. It was McKissic's two scores that really broke the game open for the Seahawks and it was plain to see how much more explosive the offense became when they had a running back who was capable of creating big plays as both a runner and a receiver.  McKissic was a utility player in college operating as a runner/receiver/returner, but he was mostly used as a receiver.  While he is not as big as Ty Montgomery, I think there are similarities between the two, and if the Seahawks use him like the Packers used Montgomery in 2016, McKissic will be the best option at running back in Seattle. 

VanderWoude's thoughts on McKissic earning a Montgomery-like role in Seattle is a rational assumption of coaching that would be nice to see, but until the Seahawks truly think its out of bodies on the depth chart, I don't think it will happen. 

Here are my thoughts on McKissic from this week's Gut Check:

The odds are stacked against McKissic offering anything more than what we used to see from Dexter McCluster, a talented football player who could deliver 3-5 weeks of production that ranged from flex-worthy to a low-volume/high-intensity (big plays and scores), boom-bust RB1 stats. It could make him a frustrating roster addition for anyone seeking a temporary starter. 

Remember, Rawls was a healthy scratch last week. With Carson gone, Rawls should get a shot to earn his job back. At the same time, McKissic was given an active status ahead of Rawls, which means one of two things: Rawls was healthy enough to go, but another week of rest seemed like a better idea and the team liked the potential matchup of Carson-Lacy versus the Colts defense. Or, the team is emotionally through with trusting Rawls to be healthy and opted to give McKissic a shot.

If Rawls is a healthy scratch or receives limited touches this week in lieu of an expanded workload from McKissic, then you'll know that Seattle sees Rawls as an oft-injured afterthought it can't trust. It could lead to a trade to a RB-needy team, but most organizations think it's easy to find running backs or its easier to roll with backs who worked with them in training camp and understand its pass protection schemes. 

If you're RB-desperate, McKissic could be a cheap addition whose usage this week and next should indicate whether he's Seattle's version of Danny Woodhead or a McCluster fantasy yo-yo. 

My Take: As of this week, there is no clear winner in the Seattle backfield right now. This week, Rawls has the best shot of a Seahawk earning significant yardage on the ground. At the same time, McKissic could remain the best option for all-purpose yards from a back. Prosise is supposed to be back this week, but Darrell Bevell seemed less confident and willing to use McKissic. 

The final answer for this week: Rawls is the best bet, but the odds are low of him earning the game script to capitalize. McKissic is a game-time decision for fantasy owners that is dependent on Prosise's availability. If he's splitting time with Prosise, it's a total crap-shoot. 

Long-term: The Giants, 49ers, Jaguars, Rams, and Cowboys are good rushing matchups on the Seahawks' remaining schedule. That's 50 percent of Seattle's fantasy schedule. If you can afford one of Rawls, Prosise, or McKissic as an end-of-bench option with flex upside, it's worth hanging onto one of them. Otherwise, it's time to get real and make some moves. 

2. Dynasty Price Checks: Quarterbacks

Dynasty remains an area of steady growth in the fantasy industry and Footballguys has been writing about it since the beginning. Jeff Tefertiller's Dynasty Rankings Movement is a great weekly check-in among our writers who play and write about the format. I believe in building dynasty teams around specific positions that can "anchor" your team for the long-term.

The underlying context of an anchor begins with how long one should realistically look at career length for fantasy purposes. For most of us, the answer is three years. The average football player's career is three years and contract lengths are often about that long in the NFL. 

For that purpose, I often recommend that fantasy GMs view their teams within the context of a three-year career window. One way of doing this is looking at a player's age, performance, and standing with his team to estimate how many of these three-year career windows a player has left.

For instance, Doug Martin has the talent of an RB1, but he's 28 years old. Most backs lose starter opportunities after the age of 31. It means he likely has one career window left. In contrast, Kareem Hunt is proving he runs like an RB1 and he likely has 2 or 3 windows left. It makes Hunt more valuable to dynasty teams that are either A) not in a championship window and are building for the long-term or B) in a championship window and prefer to spend less than what Hunt will likely command. 

However, I don't usually see running backs as "anchors" because they usually have 2 or 3 career windows compared to wide receivers, tight ends, and quarterbacks, who often have 3 to 5 career windows. I'd rather begin my builds with these positions and finalize my team with backs who can help me "win-now". 

When this strategy works, it allows me to focus on one position of need rather than multiple spots. Quarterback is an essential part of that build and I prefer to take players who are proven options where I'll pay the premium value to have them for 2 or 3 career windows.

At the same time, it's always good to know who could present good value if you get in early. Dan Hindery offers two options he's higher on than he was before—one a premium pick, another a cheaper long-term stash—in this week's Dynasty Rankings Movement: 

Deshaun Watson - Watson has quickly quieted his critics four games into his rookie season. He has shot up my dynasty rankings from QB22 after a shaky preseason and awful Week 1 debut all the way up to QB8 after Week 4. When dealing with small sample sizes, you have to adjust expectations aggressively when a player massively outperforms expectations. Watson has done that. He has performed significantly better in each successive outing, culminating with 34.7 fantasy points and 5 total touchdowns in an annihilation of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Watson has shown major improvement over the past two weeks as a passer. But from a fantasy perspective, his 132 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns in his three starts are especially intriguing. Over a full season, those numbers project to 704 rushing yards and 10.7 rushing touchdowns.

Jacoby Brissett - Brissett is only relevant for Superflex and Two-QB leagues but worth noting as he jumped 7 spots from QB39 to QB32. He has gone from the verge of getting cut by the New England Patriots to a player with a realistic shot of eventually developing into a full-time starter somewhere after three relatively impressive starts for the Indianapolis Colts. Brissett should have a couple more weeks to make his case to future employers before Andrew Luck returns.

I understand the appeal of both options and it coincides with a lot of what Adam Harstad preaches on quarterbacks. His Dynasty, In Theory, feature lays out a strong argument for league context to build appropriate baselines that help you determine who should be your top quarterbacks:

Who is the most valuable quarterback in dynasty right now? For a while, it was Andrew Luck, but his injury seems to have thrown things into question a bit. For the most part, I suspect a plurality of owners would take Aaron Rodgers, with a second large group standing behind Andrew Luck based on his 5-year age advantage, and maybe a third rogue faction backing Russell Wilson, who is roughly as young as Luck but with a clean bill of health.

A clever dynasty owner might argue that it depends on one's scoring system. If passing yards are sufficiently devalued, Wilson's 33 yards per game rushing might look more attractive. If passing touchdowns are worth 6 points each, Rodgers' average of 38 per 16 games played since 2011 will seem awfully appealing. (If the league also penalizes for interceptions, Rodgers might seem doubly so.)

Scoring system matters, of course, especially on the margins. But there's something really basic that matters far more. Something so basic we don't even really think of it, it's just part of the basic fabric of our leagues, basically invisible. And yes, I'm basically just clubbing you over the head with a clue at this point...

...(As an aside, note that the important attribute here is longevity, not age. The two are linked, but not the same. If you told me I could pick Aaron Rodgers or any one of this year's rookie quarterbacks, and if my pick was still starting in 2022 you'd give me $100... I'd pick Aaron Rodgers.

The single most important factor in longevity is actually being good at football. Once that condition is met, then age becomes important. If that condition isn't met, however, age is irrelevant.)

For most of you, it means Harstad is recommending players like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston above Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. It's a sound strategy right now because there aren't many great producers at the position between the ages of 27 and 30 in the league. Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, and Kirk Cousins are in that age range, but each has issues that may remove them from your consideration as a productive, consistent "anchor." 

Personally, I'm in the Russell Wilson Rogue Faction...but you probably knew that. 

3. Is Wayne Gallman the next back to destroy the Chargers run defense?

We talked about the assumption of rational coaching earlier in this article. If you don't know what that means, I believe Bloom used the term the most and he defines it as fans presuming that coaches will see things as clearly as we do on the surface.

In this sense, Wayne Gallman should be starting for the New York Giants. If the Giants agree, we may have a good fantasy plug-in this week against the Chargers. Matt Bitonti and Justin Mosqueda's feature, In The Trenches, don't have a high opinion of the Chargers linebackers vulnerabilities against the run but wonder if the Giants can even exploit L.A.'s weakness. 

LAC +20

Los Angeles (A) @ New York (N) - Sunday 1 PM ET

JM: This week the Giants' offensive line faces one of the best three pass-rushing tandems in the league in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III. Inside of those two will be Corey Liuget, a faceless $51 million defensive tackle, and Brandon Mebane, a nose tackle you likely know from his Seattle Seahawks years. Los Angeles' run defense is poor, which is due to their linebackers (thanks, Gus Bradley!) but expect the Giants' taped up offensive line to have a long day against this front four.

BIT: It is usually a great matchup when a West Coast team flies cross country for a 1 o'clock kickoff on the East Coast. This week we are going against that logic, as the Chargers' defensive front is red hot while the Giants' offensive line is reeling. Center Weston Richberg will likely miss the contest due to a concussion. Right tackle Bobby Hart will be a game-time decision. D.J. Fluker is ready to face his former team but overall there's not much to like about this matchup from the Giants' side, other than the time zone. 

Sigmund Bloom's Buy Low, Sell High is a perfect example of where Bloom's "Bright And Shiny Toy" mindset of coveting top athletes doesn't jibe with any long-term thoughts on Gallman. However, the fact that Gallman is a sell-high for Bloom means that he expects Gallman to earn production this weekend.  

 Wayne Gallman, RB, NYG - I liked Gallman a lot coming out of Clemson, and he’s a good fit in the Giants shotgun offense. He’s also in an offense that won’t commit to the run and isn’t very good at it when they do decide to run. While Gallman has a lot of “want to” in his game and he is versatile, he’s a middling physical talent. If someone comes asking for him in a dynasty league, I would be willing to deal him as part of a package for a better asset.

When examining beyond the trench matchup, there's a lot of evidence that the Giants could earn strong production on the ground this week based on the way this game script could develop. Aaron Rudnicki's Match Ups Exposed reveals how a banged up Beckham could struggle against one of the better cover corners in the league: 

WR Odell Beckham, NYG (vs LAC)
Beckham is clearly an elite receiver who can beat anyone in one on one coverage. That being said, he'll have his hands full with Casey Hayward this week. He played great for the Chargers last year and has picked back up again this year. Sterling Shepard may have the best matchup working out of the slot against Desmond King. 

Considering that Shepard has yet to produce on an elite WR1 level, it's not a great sign that the Giants passing game is poised for a big day. Much like New York's matchup with the banged-up Buccaneers linebackers, it appears the running backs and tight ends are, in theory, the best way to exploit the Chargers defense. 

David Dodds; Game Predictor doesn't project rushing totals that put the Giants at the top of the league this week, but the data is strong considering that he's factoring past performances with Paul Perkins as the starter and very little work from Gallman, who is poised to be a much larger factor on Sunday: 

The Game Predictor is our primary tool to establish how each team will attempt to play their game (rush/pass) that week. It factors in the opponent, YTD data, recent games, critical injury information, home/away situations and more. I believe it to be one of the best simulation tools available on the internet and has been refined since its birth on the website 17 years ago.


Los Angeles Chargers 23 36 250 1.5 0.8 25 94 0.5 20.2
at New York Giants 25 37 260 1.6 0.8 26 108 0.7 23.5

The fact that Dodds projects over 100 yards and close to a rushing touchdown is a conservative estimate if Gallman's small sample of work against the Buccaneers is an accurate reflection of him as a superior runner to Perkins at this point of their respective careers. 

Ryan Hester's Trendspotting has data the supports the notion that the Giants have a good opportunity to post its best rushing totals of the season thus far. 


Sometimes, the funnel effect can happen in reverse, where a team is very good against the pass but poor against the run (hence, "runnel" defense) Side note: I didn't create this term; I saw it on Twitter last season, but I can't recall who posted it. If you know, drop me a line so I can give proper credit.

Here’s a look at Runnel Defense the criteria:

  • Top 1/3 in the NFL in Net Yards per Pass Attempt allowed
  • Bottom 1/3 in the NFL in Yards per Rush Attempt allowed
  • Top 1/3 in Percentage of Yards Allowed via Pass (looking for low percentage figures here)
  • Bottom 1/3 in Percentage of Yards Allowed via Rush (looking for high percentage figures here)
Jacksonville Jaguars 165.5 147.0 5.7 4.2 53.0% 47.0%
Pittsburgh Steelers 113.0 154.0 4.6 4.0 42.3% 57.7%
Seattle Seahawks 134.0 184.8 5.0 5.3 42.0% 58.0%
New York Jets 143.8 194.8 4.7 5.5 42.5% 57.5%
Los Angeles Chargers* 163.5 192.0 4.8 6.1 46.0% 54.0%

The L.A. Chargers are 13th in net yards per pass attempt, meaning they narrowly miss that criteria, but they meet the other three.

My Take: In my column, The Gut Check, I share a scouting report on Gallman, an assessment of his work against the Buccaneers, and my outlook for htis weekend: 

The difference that I'm seeing (and it's a small sample size so beware of forming any lasting conclusions long-term) between Gallman and Paul Perkins is that Gallman is hitting creases harder and has a more physical style as a finisher. Perkins' rib injury is less serious than Montgomery's, but Montgomery is a proven producer and Perkins hasn't performed well. I'm not expecting Gallman to be a flashy producer if he earns the starting role, but his no-nonsense style could earn him 18-22 touches in close games for 80-100 total yards from scrimmage. 

It's not as exciting as McKissic or Jones' potential on any given play, but Gallman fits a need and has the style to earn the volume that helps fantasy teams on a weekly basis.  

Gallman isn't a top-priority acquisition, but if you're looking for a potential value with a strong matchup to exploit, I endorse Gallman this week.

4. Cooper Kupp is has a great matchup most may not realize is there

In this week's Sleepers, Bloom astutely notes one matchup against the formidable Seahawks defense that could be productive for the Rams: 

Cooper Kupp, LAR - Seattle should be able to take away at least one Rams outside receiver with Richard Sherman, and their ability to create pressure should keep Jared Goff from hanging out too long in the pocket. Kupp has been Goff’s favorite target when the matchup is right, and the only receiver to pile up receptions [against the Seahawks this year] was Randall Cobb operating out of the slot, which is where Kupp has been very effective this year.

Hester's Trendspotting concurs: 

Sometimes, there's no need to dive too deep into the numbers. We know Seattle is excellent vs. the pass but has been susceptible to running back production this season. Between his talent and his guaranteed workload, Todd Gurleyshould be owned in every cash game. If Seattle is to be beaten via the pass, it's more likely to be an interior player that does the damage. Jared Goff and rookie Cooper Kupp have shown their chemistry from early in the preseason. Kupp makes for an interesting contrarian value play.

My Take: I highlighted this in my Top 10 feature last year, the Seahawks defense is predicated on a simple game plan that is highly effective because of its talent. It plays a 4-3 defense with a lot of coverage that transitions into man-to-man on the outside and zone underneath.

The strength of this defense is in the pass rush and outside coverage. When it works at its best, the Seahawks can pressure the quarterback with its front-four and plaster outside receivers long enough that the opposing offense can't exploit the defense for big plays and must settle for short passes over the middle against great tackling linebackers who limit yards after the catch or take sacks. 

This is why Peyton Manning was so awful against the Seahawks in that Super Bowl blowout; Manning was a super-aggressive quarterback who wanted to attack the defense vertically and Seattle know if it tested Manning's patience by giving up the check-downs to Julius Thomas (and punishing him with hard hits to make Thomas drop the ball), that Manning would succumb to his worst tendencies and push the ball downfield to areas that Seattle had covered. 

The underlying weakness of this defense is the middle of the field. If the defense faces receivers with great YAC, they can break tackles or defeat tackle angles with quickness to earn YAC patiently drive down the field (New England) or if it faces quarterbacks who can buy time and let receivers with YAC exploit the latent communication flaws that occur when linebackers pass on responsibility of a receiver to a teammate and something gets lost in understanding of responsibility the longer the play lasts. 

Jared Goff lacks that kind of scrambling ability, but Cooper Kupp has some serious YAC that is only beginning to emerge as he transitions to the pro game. He's flashed it this month and it wouldn't surprise me that, at worst, Kupp collects a respectable number of targets and receptions. If he breaks a couple of tackles, he could transform an "interesting" WR3 day into a WR2 or WR1 performance. 

5. Aaron Jones This week?

Another backfield mess thanks to injury, the Packers starter Ty Montgomery is practice despite multiple broken ribs and there's conjecture he may play. Jamaal William's knee injury is far less serious than it appeared, and he's practicing and likely to play. Then there's Aaron Jones, who lacks Williams' pass protection chops but has been running with greater comfort than Williams. 

Regardless of who starts, Jeff Haseley's Beyond the Stats sets a good backdrop for the Packers ground game that's worth noting as we proceed through the thorny mess that is the fantasy value of Green Bay's runners in Week 5: 

  • The Browns, Patriots, Cardinals, and Packers have not had a running play of 20 yards or more. The Packers longest rush is a mere 13 yards. 

This is important to note if the Packers roll with Montgomery and Williams as the primary rotation. However, Jene Bramel isn't buying that will happen. 

His Injury Expectations feature and subsequent comments on Thursday Night's Audible Live podcast indicates that Bramel will only believe Montgomery plays and produces when he actually sees it happen first. 

The Packers have remained optimistic on Ty Montgomery since late last week. He's worn a protective vest in practice and Mike McCarthy said he looked good on Wednesday. However, I'm not sure I'm buying Montgomery's availability yet. Beat writers didn't see Montgomery in the media portion of practice, McCarthy said the team needed to continue to evaluate his progress, it's very likely Montgomery has more than one broken rib, and Green Bay's medical staff is known to lean conservative. Expect to see a limited Friday practice with little clarity through the weekend as we await the Schefter-Rapoport Sunday reporting.

If Bramel is correct, and I definitely like to lean on his analysis in these situations, then it's a Williams and Jones show for the Packers backfield this weekend against the Cowboys. Hester's Trendspotting reveals two salient points that could help fantasy owners how to navigate this offense sans Montgomery: 

  • Dallas is allowing 7.5 receptions per game to running backs, third-most in the NFL.
  • Dallas is allowing 68 receiving yards per game to running backs, third-most in the NFL.

My Take: While I was higher on Williams than Jones immediately and long-term because of Williams' skill as a runner and pass protector, Williams has not played with the comfort that he displayed at BYU and Jones has. While both runners can catch the ball, Jones is superior in this category based on college tape. 

This week's Gut Check provides numerous example of Jones' work as a receiver and if Montgomery is out, I'd take the chance on Jones having a productive day that could lead to RB2 or flex value in Week 5. 

Good luck and see you next week.