Pick-a-Player: Jones, Montgomery, or Williams - Footballguys

Footballguys staff and Facebook answer a dilemma at the 9.01 spot

The premise of a Pick-a-Player question is as follows:

  • You need a player at that position and all three are available.
  • The draft is at a stage where these players are usually drafted, and none of their bye weeks are duplicated on your current roster.

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In this case, it is a PPR league, and you are up at Pick 9.01. Would you take Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery, or Jamaal Williams? Or would you pass on all three?

The Results

And the winner is none of the above. See the percentages below.

Group
Percentage Picking...
Jones
Montgomery
Williams
None of the Three
Footballguys Staff
16.7%
0.0%
33.3%
50.0%
Footballguys Facebook
21.1%
5.3%
21.1%
52.6%

The Reasons (from the Staff)

Jason Wood: I'm not drafting any Packers running back that early. Green Bay brought back Joe Philbin this offseason, who was McCarthy's right-hand man and the team's former offensive coordinator before taking the Dolphins head coaching job years ago. While Philbin should be great for Rodgers and the passing game, his history argues against betting on the Packers running backs.

As much as I don't like any of the Packers runners in the 9th round, I would strongly prefer Jamaal Williams of the three if they were available a few rounds later. Aaron Jones is probably the most talented, but he's suspended to start the season and is on the razor's edge of relevance as a result. We know what Ty Montgomery is; a hybrid receiver and runner who can help in lots of ways, but isn't elite at anything. Williams is the bruiser of the trio and could dominate first and second down work with a strong preseason.

Daniel Simpkins: I’ll pass on all three. Many think this backfield is going to be the key to fantasy seasons, but I don’t. It could just as easily be a muddled mess like last year where each of these runners has their moment in the sun. I would rather look at other running back options with more clearly defined roles in this range, such as Isaiah Crowell.

Matt Waldman: I'm with Simpkins and Wood. Until there's a scenario where one clear-cut starter emerges, I don't want any of them as my second or third running back on my roster -- or even later. Montgomery could be the safest because he could work the slot if the Packers need him to do so and that gives him two fantasy lives to count on. However, his production upside is more like a plus version of James White, who is a smart football player but one that fantasy analysts have been overvaluing for three years because he helps his team more than he produces consistently worthwhile statistics.

I'm not looking for safest in a situation where there are three viable backs on the same team. Jones is the quickest runner of the three and he has good hand-eye coordination as a downfield receiver. However, Williams is the smarter receiver, best blocker, and toughest runner between the tackles. If he can cultivate just a little more acceleration, he'll be the best player on the depth chart.

Ray Rice and Le'Veon Bell are examples of players who added a little more burst between their first and second seasons. Williams got quicker as the year went along because he got more comfortable on the field and processed the game faster. If he can physically get more explosive, he has the most upside of the three and is the most likely option to close the book on any competition in camp.

Chad Parsons: I am fine with the overall price point to take a shot on the lead back for a good NFL offense. This is well into RB3/4 range in terms of typical fantasy team-building. I took Jamaal Williams in the mid-seventh round in a recent Footballguys staff mock draft at RB33. With Aaron Jones out, Williams likely gets the first shot to gain the role and ride the momentum. Does he keep it? Only injury and his play will tell, but considering the investment is low enough and very few Week 1 lead backs are available by Round 9, Williams is worth the shot.

Bob Henry: I have toyed around with the Packers backfield in best balls, but going forward I've turned the other way more often than I've taken the bait.

I don't mind doubling up on a backfield, particularly in best ball formats, when the investment costs picks in the second half of the draft (or one higher in the draft like Fournette and then a later round pick like Yeldon).

With these backs, though, you're committing two picks in a range where there are a lot of legitimate receivers, tight ends or even the early range of where I start looking at quarterbacks if the right one falls.

The downside is you pick the wrong two and the third one on another team is the one who yields the greatest value. That is a doomsday scenario if you invest two picks in the first eight or ten rounds chasing the potential value.

Around the same spot in the draft (or the early range of taking one of these players) I'm far more likely to take a shot on Kerryon Johnson, Tarik Cohen or dare I say --- Marshawn Lynch.

Devin Knotts: This is basically the last team that you could potentially get a number one running back on a team. After this, you are primarily looking at backups or guys with specific roles such as Chris Thompson. Would love to take the running backs Bob mentioned, but the reality is that in the 9th round, those running backs are not going to be available.

The guy that I am targeting here is Aaron Jones. He is the most complete back of the three. Jamaal Williams is just a plodder who had three carries longer than 10 yards in 153 rushes last season. Aaron Jones brings a special talent to the running back who can change the game with a single carry with his speed and elusiveness. Even if Jamaal Williams pays off, his upside is minimal, where if Jones wins the job - which I expect him to do - he could be a top-10 running back.

Ari Ingel: Unfortunately, unless there is an injury, it looks to be a major running back by committee situation.

Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones will most likely be mixed and matched depending on who has the hot hand and the opponent. Jones has game-breaking speed and talent, so he’s worth betting on for the upside alone, while Williams has the safer weekly floor. Although that floor might not help you very much as a reliable week-to-week starter.

Ty Montgomery, on the other hand, should shuffle in and out on some passing downs in addition to playing some receiver, especially if Randal Cobb gets hurt again.

However, keep in mind that the Packers love to throw in the red zone, passing on 67% of their red zone plays last year. Not to mention that Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Jimmy Graham are all red zone beasts, so this running back committee looks like a headache that is best avoided.

Will Grant: I'm with Ari on this - the Green Bay situation screams running back by committee this year. Ty Montgomery always felt like a 'fish out of water' to me - a guy who was pressed into service and he never really 'filled' the role or lead back. He blew up a few DFS lineups for a while, and was the hot waiver wire add - but in the end, he was a guy you could pass on and now feel like you missed anything.

With Aaron Jones suspended for two games, it seems like Jamaal Williams is probably the guy to have if you are married to taking a Packer running back this early. He should see enough playing time to justify the price-tag - especially in a PPR league.

Personally, I file this in the not-with-a-10-foot-pole portion of my draft board. I'll let two or three other owners take a shot at landing the guy in Green Bay.

Bob had an interesting idea with using them in a Best Ball format - but you'd have to burn two picks back to back in order to feel like you locked up the position. Spending 8.12 and 9.01 on a running back would be fine if you knew you had the position closed, but the fact that all three of these guys could see significant time this year makes this a dangerous tactic.

Andy Hicks: I’m not challenging the consensus here. I’d pass on these players at this position unless there was an injury to at least one of them. As it stands, I think that Jamaal Williams will see the most carries, but he hardly excites as a prospect. Ty Montgomery should be good for a few catches and carries every game, but he is not a starting caliber NFL running back. Aaron Jones has the best upside but appears to be behind Williams as the lead back. If this was a later draft round and all were available I would take a chance on Jones, but not in the ninth round. There will be plenty of better options available.

Clayton Gray: If for some reason, I only have two running backs at this point, I'll consider Williams here. Usually, however, I have three or four running backs at the 9.01 pick and will pass on all three of the Packers running backs.

That said, I do have all three in one best-ball league. It was probably a mistake, but when you have dozens of drafts, it's smart to get slices of a lot of different pies.