When's the last time you were disappointed by a running back coached by Andy Reid? If you can't remember, you should race to draft Damien Williams before the end of Round 4 (and maybe even the end of Round 3). Williams scored eight times in the Chiefs' last five games, averaging 114.4 total yards and 18.6 touches per game. It's silly to expect those averages to continue, particularly since Williams has never been a featured back before, but with a firm grip on beginning the year as Kansas City's top running back ahead of Carlos Hyde and rookie Darwin Thompson, Williams offers plenty of intrigue for Fantasy managers looking for a running back with huge upside. Your best move could be drafting Williams and Hyde (Round 9).
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said Williams is the Chiefs' starting running back, John Sleezer and Brooke Pryor of The Kansas City Star report. "Williams is our starter," Bieniemy said. "We expect him to excel in that role." Bieniemy seems to be shutting down any idea of a competition with Carlos Hyde or sixth-round pick Darwin Thompson, but that doesn't mean Williams will be the only running back with a significant role in the offense. Coach Andy Reid has a well-established history of giving his lead backs sizable workloads in terms of both carries and targets, typically relying on one player to log at least 60 percent of the snaps. Williams isn't anything special in terms of running ability, but he's a good receiver and capable blocker.
Williams could lose red-zone touches following Saturday's signing of Carlos Hyde, Adam Teicher of ESPN.com reports. It's fair to question whether the Chiefs believe Williams can be a true three-down back despite evidence supporting the notion throughout Week 15 and carrying into the postseason, in which the fifth-year back tallied 362 rushing yards, 210 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in five starts. Hyde's one-year deal likely won't stop the Chiefs from adding more depth at the position throughout the rest of the offseason, so while the two-year extension Williams signed in late December should be seen as a vote of confidence from the organization, it's difficult to project just what kind of timeshare the 26-year-old might face entering the 2019 regular season.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said the starting job at running back is Williams' to lose, Brooke Pryor of The Kansas City Star reports. Williams emerged over Spencer Ware after Kareem Hunt was released, scoring 10 touchdowns over the final six games of the season (including playoffs). The Chiefs rewarded Williams with a two-year, $5.1 million extension Dec. 27, while Ware is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. The team figures to bring in backfield help via the draft and/or free agency, but Williams should still be on track to open training camp with the first-team offense. Given that Tyreek Hill may soon join Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins atop the team's cap sheet, Kansas City isn't likely to make a splash signing at running back. There's a real chance Williams demands consideration in the early rounds of 2019 fantasy drafts.
Williams carried 10 times for 30 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 37-31 AFC Championship Game overtime loss to the Patriots. He also caught five of eight targets for 66 yards and two more touchdowns. Williams managed just 3.0 yards per carry against a respectable New England front, but he was utilized often as a receiver and nearly reached 100 scrimmage yards. He enjoyed a tremendous fourth quarter, scoring on a one-yard reception, a 23-yard grab and a two-yard run to help his team climb all the way back into the game. Williams was outstanding during the postseason, piling up 154 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns in two games. He signed an extension with Kansas City in December and will head into the offseason as the team's top tailback, although it remains to be seen if competition will be brought in via the draft and/or free agency.
Williams ran for 129 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries and added 25 yards and five catches during Saturday's 31-13 win over the Colts. He was seen on the sideline having his feet and ankles taped up, but he stayed in through the Chiefs' final drive. Sophomore sensation Patrick Mahomes will get a lot of the headlines heading into the AFC Championship Game, but Williams deserves a ton of the credit. Playing against a Colts team that was sporadic at best on offense, Williams wore Indy's defense down early. He sliced and diced for a 10-yard touchdown on the Chiefs' opening possession and easily converted a fourth and short on the very next drive. How he performs, particularly if the weather is a factor, in the AFC Championship Game will be a major factor as to whether the Chiefs will head to their first Super Bowl in 50 years. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry this season in limited opportunities against potential opponents New England and Los Angeles, scoring twice and adding 74 yards on six catches.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|8||10/28||Green Bay Packers||19||18.13|
|11||11/19||@Los Angeles Chargers||24||20.00|
|14||12/08||@New England Patriots||8||16.00|
|17||12/29||Los Angeles Chargers||24||20.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||44||184||2||22||188||2||58|