Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Why I was wrong to doubt Damien Williams
Jamey Eisenberg originally had Damien Williams as a bust candidate earlier this offseason. He's come around on Williams as someone to target on Draft Day.
It's never a bad thing to admit when you're wrong. For me, it happens in arguments with my wife all the time. It's a healthy way to live your life, especially as a Fantasy analyst when you're bound to make plenty of mistakes. That's the nature of the job.
And so far, I've been wrong about Damien Williams.
The good thing is there's time for me to correct myself since most Fantasy drafts won't happen for more than a month. But I think it's worth explaining how I came to this decision.
While I still have my reservations about Williams, which I'll explain below, I was contradicting myself in calling him a bust candidate. And I never want to be a hypocrite.
I realized this when reading what I wrote about Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray in our Fantasy Football magazine. My whole premise for advocating to draft Murray as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback is to look at his upside.
Upside. That word kept sticking in my head when thinking about Williams. I always preach you should draft for upside when the opportunity presents itself, and you deal with the consequences after the fact. You play Fantasy Football to win championships, not just make the playoffs, and you always want players with the highest ceiling as opposed to just the highest floor.
Williams definitely has that as the starting running back for the Chiefs and playing for Andy Reid. It might be hard to find someone who has more upside than Williams.
I was letting a few red flags get in the way of that when I had him ranked as someone to draft in Round 4 instead of Round 3. That's not the case anymore, and he's worth drafting in the first 30 overall picks, regardless of format.
Now, there are some negative things to take into account. The Chiefs added Carlos Hyde as a free agent and drafted rookie Darwin Thompson, and both will likely take touches away from Williams in some capacity. Kansas City also lost a key member of the offensive line with center Mitch Morse signing as a free agent with the Bills.
Williams also is unproven as a featured back over a full season. His 105 total touches last season, including the playoffs, were a career high in five years in the NFL. So we'll see if he's ready to join the long list of great running backs that Reid has coached during his career, including Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Kareem Hunt.
Reid has been a head coach in the NFL for 20 years with Philadelphia and Kansas City, and 11 times he's had a running back finish in the top 10 in PPR. Westbrook did it five times, and he was the No. 1 running back in 2007. McCoy and Charles did it twice, and Charles was the No. 1 running back in 2013. Hunt and Staley were in the top 10 once each.
Those guys have been stars in Fantasy and reality, and Williams looked the part when he took over for Hunt last season. Starting in Week 14 and through the playoffs, a span of six games, he was a dominant Fantasy option with either 100 total yards or a touchdown in each outing.
His stats over that span were 77 carries for 376 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, as well as 28 catches for 226 yards and four touchdowns. If you project that over 16 games, Williams would have had 205 carries for 1,003 yards and 16 touchdowns, along with 75 catches for 603 yards and 11 touchdowns.
That's amazing. It's not realistic that he can do that again, but this offense should once again be dominant with Reid calling plays and Patrick Mahomes under center. Again, upside.
The nice thing is you can still draft Hyde or even Thompson with a late-round pick to pair with Williams. Based on the Average Draft Position for the Chiefs backfield in early July in PPR, Williams is going at No. 21 overall, with Hyde in Round 9 and Thompson in Round 14. I have no problem investing two picks in two running backs who play for Reid.
It could pay big dividends for you based on -- say it with me -- the upside of what Williams could be, or if Hyde or Thompson get the chance for an increased workload. But Williams is the running back you want to target on Draft Day.
Don't make the same mistake I was earlier this offseason. I was wrong. Williams has the chance to be special because of Reid. He has the chance to help you win your Fantasy league in 2019.
So which Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck's huge season, and find out.
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