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Week 11 Rookie Report: Williams a bright spot in dismal Packers offense

Jamaal Williams isn’t flashy but he provided useful fantasy stats in his first start with the Packers. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

The Packers running back position has been a carousel for the past two seasons.

Eddie Lacy, Ty Montgomery, Don Jackson, James Starks, Aaron Jones and now, most recently, Jamaal Williams.

And yet again, the player they’ve plugged in is effective. A year after Montgomery averaged nearly 6 yards per carry, Jones has averaged 5.3. But with both ailing, Williams stepped in on Sunday and performed relatively well. In what was a dismal offensive performance for the Packers otherwise, the rookie out of BYU carried the ball 18 times for 57 yards and, most pleasantly surprisingly, caught four passes for 38 yards, totaling a career high 95 yards from scrimmage. Williams is more of a bruising downhill runner than Montgomery and Jones, who more fit the scat back mold, so he won’t have the per-carry averages they post. But he’s a guy that can handle 20-plus touches, and if Montgomery and Jones continue to miss time (as it looks like), there’s reason to believe Williams can be a viable starter, even as his team struggles without Aaron Rodgers.

Here are some other rookies whose Week 11 production (or lack there of) caught our eye:

Leonard Fournette

There was reason to be wary of Fournette this week following an up-and-down past month and facing the league’s best run defense in Cleveland. But Fournette, who expects his ankle issues to continue throughout this season, responded in a big way, carrying it 28 times for 111 yards and adding two short catches. That’s a big time performance from a guy who earlier in the week had complained about having to play in the cold. He excelled in the frigid conditions as the Jaguars picked up their seventh win. He has a pretty tough schedule going forward, but given his role in the offense and his ability to carry an enormous workload despite physical concerns, he’s an RB1 down the stretch.

Samaje Perine

As I wrote on Sunday, there are two numbers working in Perine’s favor. The number 1: Only one of the Redskins’ three opening day running backs isn’t on Injured Reserve, and it’s Perine. The other number? 24. That’s how many touches Perine got on Sunday against the Saints. He’s built for that many carries, and with Washington’s thinning receiving corps, it won’t be a stretch to see Perine get 20-plus touches a game in a system designed for versatile running backs. His stretch as a starter will get underway on Thanksgiving against the Giants, who are eighth-worst in the league in yards per carry allowed.

Corey Clement

CoreyClement has shown a nose for the end zone in recent weeks for the high-octane Eagles. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Clement’s not the top option in a running back by committee in Philadelphia, but he’s scored three touchdowns in the last two weeks and four in the last four. He’s gone over 50 yards on the ground three straight weeks. Despite the depth the Eagles have in the backfield and with Jay Ajayi’s workload expected to increase, Clement has proven he can still provide fantasy value. He is rostered in 10 percent of leagues and could be a valuable pickup in deeper formats.

Dede Westbrook

Westbrook made his long-awaited debut on Sunday and hauled in three passes for 35 yards. That may not sound all that impressive, but he did that in absolutely brutal weather against a tough Browns secondary with Blake Bortles as his quarterback. It’s tough to really count on any Jacksonville receiver given the nature of that offense, but Westbrook has the tools to be a productive receiver. If you’re in a deeper league, he’s worth a look as ascending talent.

Others

  • Alvin Kamara continues to be excellent as the Saints offense is just rolling. He’s an RB1 on a team with two RB1s.
  • Tarik Cohen resurfaced in the Bears offense, getting 13 offensive touches after getting just eight in the previous three weeks combined. He’s worth being back on fantasy radars.
  • After an incredibly consistent start to his career, Evan Engram didn’t do much against the Chiefs. But the volume was still there: He had six targets from Eli Manning. Look for him to bounce back against a Redskins defense that just gave up 91 yards to Coby Fleener.
  • O.J. Howard had a nice afternoon, posting 52 yards and a score on three catches. But keep in mind, every time Howard’s posted a big week (two catches, 63 yards and a score in Week 3; six catches for 98 yards and two scores in Week 7), he’s produced a clunker the next time out (nothing in Week 4, two catches for 16 yards in Week 8). Either way, Cameron Brate has been invisible of late, catching just three passes in the past three games.
  • Cooper Kupp caught six passes for 64 yards against the Vikings but also had a goal-line fumble and a crucial drop. Still, the Rams have confidence in their rookie slot man, and Kupp will continue to see plenty of targets. The Rams get the Saints, who just gave up seven receptions for 72 yards to Redskins slot man Jamison Crowder, next week.
  • Ricky Seals-Jones caught two touchdowns in one of the most thoroughly random big performances of the week. As of now it stands as an outlier and doesn’t really shift the needle on him.
  • One injury hit hard to under-the-radar rookie D’Onta Foreman, who ruptured his Achilles on a really nice touchdown run for the Texans.

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