Williams, who took over for Kareem Hunt (suspension) after he was released in November, signed a two-year contract extension in December worth up to $8.1 million. He impressed general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid enough that they are confident in him leading their backfield this year.
"We were happy with how Damien played, good football player," Reid said. "He stepped into big shoes. Kareem is a good football player. He did a nice job for us. We look at every position to fill, but he has established himself as a legitimate NFL player. And we feel good about that."
Added Veach: "He just needed an opportunity. And when the opportunity presented itself, he kind of took it and ran with it. That is why we extended him. He's always been a talented player. He can run, catch and block. He can really do everything. He was great on special teams. I would certainly say going into this offseason and going into the 2019 season, it's Damien's job to lose."
Starting in Week 14 and through the playoffs, a span of six games, Williams 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 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. Now, 27 total touchdowns isn't realistic, but Reid has been a running back guru throughout his career with Philadelphia and Kansas City.
He's had plenty of success with guys like Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Hunt, and Williams could be the next in line. That is, if he keeps the full-time job.
While I believe Reid and Veach that Williams is the guy for now, it would not be a surprise to see Kansas City add another running back in free agency or the NFL Draft. It's something to keep an eye on.
If we get to training camp with Williams atop the depth chart and no significant competition, then he's worth drafting no later than Round 3 in most Fantasy leagues. But depending on his competition if someone is added to the Chiefs' roster, Williams could slide to around Round 5 or 6.
I'm cautiously optimistic for Williams given Reid's track record with running backs. But he also feels like someone who could be a bust, especially if Kansas City brings in someone to push him for touches. Stay tuned.
News: Chargers general manager Tom Telesco excited for Mike Williams
Quote to note: "We thought he had a really, really good year, and it was really from the first day of training camp," Telesco said. "You could see the talent that was there, and he did a tremendous job this year. His route running, his speed, his quickness and his awareness. His toughness to go across the middle and make tough catches on third down, he made a lot of those for us this year. He had a great year for us, but we're also in an offense where we have a lot of guys to get the football to, so he didn't have 80, 90 or 100 catches, but he has that type of ability. With the other guys we have, the opportunities he had, he really took advantage of it. It's great to see."
Fantasy outlook: Williams had a breakout season in 2018 with 43 catches for 664 yards and 11 total touchdowns on 66 targets. He could see a boost in targets with Tyrell Williams headed to free agency, but Hunter Henry will also return from last year's torn ACL. Still, given Mike Williams' upside heading into his third year, he should have the chance to build off his sophomore campaign. He's a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver to target in all leagues with a pick around Round 6.
Quote to note: "They both got better," Broncos general manager John Elway said of Hamilton and Sutton. "I think that greatest thing for them is the fact that they got a lot of playing time late because of the injuries we did have. We have high expectations for them that they're going to make that jump from the first year to the second year. Obviously, they have a long way to go, but we're excited about the first year that they had. They're workers, and I really think the sky is the limit for both of them."
Fantasy outlook: Elway said the Broncos plan to keep Sanders, 32, even though he is coming off a torn Achilles in December and will make $10.2 million in 2019. Said Elway, "I love the way Emmanuel Sanders plays the game. I love his heart, I love his competitiveness." If healthy, Sanders should lead Denver in targets, with Sutton and Hamilton fighting for the No. 2 role. Joe Flacco is the new quarterback for the Broncos, so none of these guys are better than No. 3 Fantasy receivers in most leagues. Keep an eye on Sanders and his health, but all of these guys are mid-round picks at best.
News: Raiders still interested in free agent Marshawn Lynch
Quote to note: "I think he's still trying to figure out what he wants to do. And obviously we'd be open to potentially having him back depending on what his position is," Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said. "A lot of it has to come from Marshawn (and) what he wants to do. How quickly he feels like he can come back from the injury. What he wants to (earn). Does he want to make a commitment to going back to work again? I just love the fact that if he's in the running-back room we've got someone for our young guys to look up to and learn how to work from."
Fantasy outlook: Lynch, who will be 33 in April, was limited to six games in 2018 because of a groin injury. The Raiders could bring back Lynch if they are unable to upgrade at running back via free agency or the NFL Draft, and the current depth chart has Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren as the top options since Doug Martin is also a free agent. Lynch would be a mid-round pick at best if he returns to the Raiders, even as the starter, and we'll see if he ends up elsewhere should Oakland move on from him in 2019 -- if he decides to play.
News: Coach John Harbaugh says Gus Edwards is "our No. 1 running back" right now
Quote to note: "It's his second year. How much better is he going to get between Year 1 and Year 2?" Harbaugh said. "You've got to love a 240-pound guy that brings it every single snap. He fits pretty well with the running game that we're involved with right now. We expect him to be really good."
Fantasy outlook: The Ravens will certainly be in the market for a running back in free agency or the NFL Draft, but it could be as a complement to Edwards, who had 122 carries for 654 yards and two touchdowns, along with one catch for 13 yards, in the final seven games of the regular season. "We're going to put some competition in there for him, too, and we'll see how he responds to it," Harbaugh said. Edwards excelled with Lamar Jackson as the starting quarterback, but clearly he's limited in the passing game. Should Baltimore stand pat at running back, Edwards would compete with Kenneth Dixon for playing time. For now, plan on drafting Edwards around Round 5 in most leagues, with his value lower in PPR.
Quote to note: "Jaylen came on this year and really proved himself as, not only as a receiving back, but also as a runner," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. "That was encouraging to see that. And doing what James did, the two of them together, complemented each other very well. We hope that continues to grow."
Fantasy outlook: With Le'Veon Bell leaving as a free agent, Conner should be the full-time starter, with Samuels as the backup. Conner finished last season as the No. 6 PPR running back with 215 carries for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 55 catches for 497 yards and one touchdown on 71 targets in 13 games. He missed three games from Weeks 14-16 with an ankle injury, and Samuels played well in his absence, averaging 16.3 PPR points over that span. Conner is worth drafting in Round 1 in all formats, and Samuels is a good handcuff with a late-round pick.
News: Colbert remains confident in James Washington
Quote to note: "James had a rough start. It was disappointing because he was dropping balls that he didn't drop in college," Colbert said. "But he also went through an adjustment in learning the NFL game. He fought through it week after week. But his confidence grew to where he was a contributor down the stretch. Not uncommon for rookie receivers to go through that. We have no question about James Washington's ability to catch the football."
Fantasy outlook: Washington could be headed for a big role with Antonio Brown expected to be traded, and Washington could be the starter opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster. We'll see what the Steelers do in free agency and the NFL Draft to replace Brown, but Washington could be a sleeper with a late-round pick in all leagues. He was disappointing as a rookie with only 16 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown on 38 targets, but his arrow will be pointing up in a big way if he's Brown's replacement in 2019.
News: Coach Freddie Kitchens endorses Nick Chubb over Kareem Hunt
Quote to note: "Nick Chubb is our running back," Kitchens said. "We are always looking for good football players to come in and compete. We like competitive situations and of course that will be a competitive situation. Nick Chubb is not going to back down from any kind competitive situation. That is why Nick Chubb is a great football player and a great Cleveland Brown."
Fantasy outlook: The length of Hunt's suspension will determine the Fantasy value for both running backs, but it would be a surprise if Hunt misses fewer than six games. When both are active, and if Cleveland holds on to Duke Johnson, it could be a messy backfield, but Chubb appears worth drafting in Round 2 in most leagues for now. There's also the chance Hunt could get suspended for 12 games, which would make Chubb even more appealing as a Fantasy asset. It's a good sign that despite the Browns wanting to give Hunt a second chance, they are backing Chubb as their starter following his strong rookie campaign when he had 192 carries for 996 yards and eight touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
News: Coach Zac Taylor said John Ross staying with Bengals
Quote to note: "I'm excited to work with John," Taylor said. "He's a very exciting player. He's a guy that you can move around and do a lot of different things. He has a very bright future with us. I know football is important to him. He has a lot of traits we're excited to work with. May can't come around soon enough."
Fantasy outlook: There was a report that the Bengals were looking to trade Ross, who has struggled in two years in Cincinnati. He had some productive moments in 2018 with 21 catches for 210 yards and seven touchdowns on 58 targets, but he will be the No. 3 receiver at best in 2019 behind A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. We'll see if Taylor can help improve things for Ross, but he's only worth a late-round flier in most leagues on Draft Day, even in his third season.
News: Lamar Miller will again lead backfield in 2019
Quote to note: "We like the composition of the current depth chart," Texans general manager Brian Gaine said. "Then, we're going to evaluate the draft here coming up. Ideally, we'd love to have a committee backfield and have contributions from various players, but Lamar was a three-down back last year and we're optimistic that (D'Onta) Foreman will return to full health."
Fantasy outlook: Gaine said "yes" when asked if Miller is going to be the starter, and we'll see how Foreman does after limited action in 2018 after he suffered a ruptured Achilles as a rookie in 2017. Miller had 210 carries for 973 yards and five touchdowns, along with 25 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown despite missing two games. He's proven to be a serviceable No. 2 Fantasy running back with little upside, but maybe that changes if the Texans improve their offensive line this season. That said, Foreman should take on a bigger role, along with the chance of Houston adding another running back in the offseason. At best, Miller should be drafted in Round 5 or later in most leagues, with Foreman a late-round selection.
News: Will Fuller (ACL) on road to recovery
Quote to note: "I know he's doing well," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's been in Houston the whole offseason. He's working hard. Can't say enough about Will. Will's frustrated that he hasn't been able to be on the field. I think when he has been on the field, he has made a huge difference for our team. He's a touchdown-maker. He's working hard to get back to that point. He's been in there every day."
Fantasy outlook: O'Brien is hopeful Fuller can return to practice prior to training camp, but that hasn't been decided yet. "Could he do something in May? Could he do something in the June minicamp? I don't know yet, but I know he's working hard to get back and be ready to keep making plays for us," O'Brien said. Fuller was hurt in Week 8 against Miami, but in the seven games he was able to play he had 32 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns on 45 targets. Over 16 games, that projects to 73 catches for 1,150 yards and nine touchdowns. But Fuller has played just 31 games over three seasons due to injury, so hopefully he can stay healthy in 2019. If he's back for training camp as expected then draft Fuller around Round 7 in most leagues.
News: Colts confident with Marlon Mack as lead runner
Quote to note: "He's a pretty good back. I mean 1,200 yards -- I think -- through the playoffs ... - and that is after missing four games," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "So no, we think a lot of Marlon Mack. We think he can play on all three downs. We think he can carry the load."
Fantasy outlook: Mack actually finished with 1,102 rushing yards in 14 games, including the playoffs. He also added 10 rushing touchdowns and 19 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown over that span. Indianapolis seems set at running back with Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, and Mack should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back in all leagues. It would be great if he did more as a receiver, and health has been an issue for him over two seasons. But playing behind a standout offensive line and with Andrew Luck, Mack has the chance to build off his performance in 2018. He's worth drafting by Round 4 in all formats.
News: Marcus Mariota (neck) should be healthy for offseason program
Quote to note: "I know that he's ready to get back at it," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. "Just having the conversations, and the text messages that we've had, and checking in with him. And he checks in on us, so it's been good. I think he's been seen by some doctors, and I would anticipate him being ready to go when we get back here in April."
Fantasy outlook: Mariota didn't play in Week 17 against the Colts because of a nerve injury, and he struggled for most of 2018 because of injuries. But he appears on track to make a full recovery, and hopefully he can start playing at a high level again. Last season, Mariota only had five games with more than 20 Fantasy points, but he had eight games with 10 points or less. He has a lot to prove to Fantasy owners in 2019, and he should only be considered a low-end No. 2 quarterback at best in most leagues. But, if he starts out the season playing well -- and can stay healthy -- then he can turn into a potential starter that you can likely get off waivers.
News: Leonard Fournette poised for rebound campaign
Quote to note: "I think last year was tough with the injuries," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "I think anytime that you are young and you have a lot of expectations put on you ... then I think when you have some injuries that it is tough to deal with. It is a tough situation for anyone, not just Leonard. I think after the season was over it has been noted that we sat down and spoke, he and I, and I really believe he is in a good place. He has been in a good place."
Fantasy outlook: Jaguars general manager David Caldwell added "I think Leonard is in a good spot." Fantasy owners will be scared off from Fournette after his performance in 2018 when he was limited to eight games due to injury and finished with just 133 carries for 439 yards and five touchdowns, along with 22 catches for 185 yards and one touchdown. But he has the chance to bounce back in 2019, especially with Jacksonville also getting improved play on the offensive line following a rash of injuries there last season. And the quarterback situation should improve as well, with free agent Nick Foles the potential replacement for Blake Bortles. Fournette still has No. 1 upside at running back, but you should be able to draft him as a No. 2 option in Round 2.
News: Bills general manager Brandon Beane excited about receiver Robert Foster
Quote to note: "I've seen Robert in town a decent amount, and I know he's from the south and it's cold in Buffalo," Beane said. "But I've seen him up there a lot so I like where his arrow is, and he's really embraced the opportunity. I look forward to seeing where he goes in his second season."
Fantasy outlook: Foster turned into a decent Fantasy option to close the season in 2018. In his final seven games, he had five outings with either 100 receiving yards or a touchdown. Over that stretch, Foster had 25 catches for 511 yards and three touchdowns on 35 targets. We know the Bills will try to upgrade their receiving corps this offseason, so we'll see where Foster ends up on the depth chart. But he should be worth a late-round flier in all leagues if he's one of the top three options for Josh Allen in 2019.
News: New coach Adam Gase calls tight end Chris Herndon a "unicorn type of player"
Quote to note: "Chris is unique," Gase said. "I don't think you'll find a lot of tight ends that are able to be on the field all three downs. Obviously, he's a very good receiver, he's very good in the run game, and he did a really good job in pass protection last year. And I think he helps the other guys that are there, the receivers, to where people have to account for him and he may dictate some different coverages."
Fantasy outlook: Gase also called Herndon a "unicorn type of player," and hopefully he'll use Herndon as one of his primary weapons. The Jets could be in the market for help in the passing game, with Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa the top two receivers, but Herndon played well as a rookie in 2018. He had 39 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns on 56 targets, and he scored at least 10 PPR points in four of the eight games where he had at least four targets. Herndon is a good tight end to wait for on Draft Day with a late-round pick, and he has the chance to be a low-end No. 1 option in 2019.