Everyone loves a feel good story. Last season we watched Damien Williams, a career backup, burst onto the scene in the fantasy playoffs to average 24.76 PPR fantasy points per game in weeks 14-16. He continued the success in the real football playoffs with 4 touchdowns combined in the divisional round and conference championships. Williams parlayed all of this into a new two year contract.
The fantasy community took notice, and Williams is currently the 21st player off the board in drafts per Fantasy Football Calculator. This valuation is supported by the high octane nature of the Chiefs offense and Williams potential fit into the scheme. However, when other factors are brought in to project Williams 2019 season the picture isn’t so clear.
- The Chiefs had a storied 2018 winning 12 games and scoring 34.8 points per game.
- Andy Reid is considered one of the top play callers in the NFL, specifically scheming effective passes to the running back into the offense on a weekly basis.
- Reid has had multiple successful fantasy RBs in his past, and prefers to have a lead back.
- The Chiefs offensive line is considered an above average overall unit. They are stronger in pass protection, ranking 16th in adjusted line yards in 2018. The team is also potentially replacing a starting guard and center.
- The Chiefs 2019 schedule ranks as one of the ten most difficult in the NFL in 2019, which is typical for division winning teams from the year prior, but the Chiefs also face the NFL’s most difficult schedule of rush defenses in 2019 in terms of defensive efficiency per Sharp Football Stats.
- The Chiefs are projected for the 4th most wins in the NFL per Vegas odds, many of the schedule difficulties could be alleviated by positive game scripts.
Situation and Talent
- Damien Williams is in for an uptick in volume from what he has seen in the past. Although, it must be noted that in a majority of the games in which Williams broke out last year the running back options on the team were limited to a mostly inactive Darrel Williams, an injured Spencer Ware, and Charcandrick West, who they signed in early December.
- The lack of volume in the past could be a positive with fresher legs than your average 27 year old NFL running back.
- The Chiefs brought in Carlos Hyde. Hyde is actually getting paid more in the 2019 season than Williams, so much for follow the money.
- The front office drafted Darwin Thompson in the 6th round. We can’t worry about every 6th round running back drafted, and he is small. However, he would’ve finished 2nd in the combine in the bench press, and is an above average athlete, not a pure scat back.
- Damien Williams was undrafted.
- He received minimal playing time in Miami behind two average talents in Lamar Miller and Jay Ajayi.
- Williams is a 65% percentile Sparq score per Player Profiler.
Damien Williams slots into a perfect offensive environment for success. He has the RB1 within his range of outcomes. In order to do so he needs to maintain the same volume as Week 14 forward from last season and the same efficiency. That is within his range of outcomes, but I don’t believe that will happen.
In my mind, RB2 is not an outcome for Williams season. He is either going to hit his ceiling and run away with the job, or get overtaken by Hyde/Thompson. Williams is the arguably least athletic player on the running back depth chart in Kansas City. If you look at the running backs within the first 3-4 rounds in current ADP there is not another running back who has the potential of simply losing a role in their respective offense without injury. If you draft Damien Williams in the 2nd round you are making a statement. You are putting your season in his hands and that is a lot of risk to assume with a 2nd round pick. If you want to try to find a competitive advantage in the 2nd round it would be a smaller risk to draft Travis Kelce, if available, who has a much stronger likelihood to lap the entire tight end position in points than Williams does of becoming a RB1.
If Williams ADP falls into the 3rd round he would most certainly jump back into my personal consideration. He fits much closer to the risk involved with the players in the 3rd and 4th round range. The way steam gets behind trendy pre-season players it is extremely doubtful that this happens. I recognize that not every reader will agree with my assessment… I don’t think most of the Razzball staff agrees with my assessment! If that is the case I don’t want to leave anyone out to dry. There are two routes to drafting Williams. The first is if you go WR/RB to start the draft. If Williams is your RB1 I would advise that you draft at least one, if not two, stable situation backs in the next 2 rounds such as Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram, or Chris Carson, if your league has a flex position. The other scenario is RB/RB in the first two rounds. In this case it can be assumed that the 1st round back is secure. This team could draft the best WR available in round 3, and in one of rounds 4 and 5 draft another high upside RB. That way in the event Williams does fall off you have another high upside player to fall back on. If they both hit you are in the drivers seat to your league championship. I won’t be along for the ride.