Undrafted. Slow. Not Agile. His PlayerProfiler page has him under the 50th percentile in 40-yard dash, speed, burst, agility, and catch radius. More specifically, he’s in the 7th percentile for burst and 13th for 40-yard time. Yuck. To compound things, he suffered a torn ACL in Week 9 of last year. So, why do I think Preston Williams of the Miami Dolphins is a value as the 54th wide receiver and 137th overall player off the board, according to NFFC ADP from 8/1 to 8/23?
Williams is 23 years old, 6′ 5″, and 210 pounds. He played two seasons at Tennessee before transfering to Colorado State University. He led the Mountain West Conference in receptions, receiving yards, and finished second in receiving touchdowns. He then entered the 2019 NFL Draft, where he went undrafted and was subsequently signed as a free agent by the Dolphins.
During his rookie season, he played eight games, starting seven, and produced 32 receptions for 428 yards and 3 touchdowns on 60 targets. You don’t need me to prorate over the course of a full season. Remember, he was an undrafted rookie! Now, for perspective, only 29 wide receivers received at least 100 targets last season. Since 1992, only 44 rookie wide receivers have garnered at least 100 targets in a season.
I’m not a scout or a particularly astute tape watcher, but perusing Williams’ highlights from last season got me giddy inside. Despite the PlayerProfiler numbers, he’s quick off the line of scrimmage and his size and upper body technique makes it difficult to jam him at the line of scrimmage. And it wasn’t against scrub cornerbacks either. Byron Jones. Joe Haden. Stephon Gilmore. Those were but a few of the names he was able to make plays against. He’s able to box out and put defenders on his back. Making difficult catches over the middle wasn’t a problem either, but what really puts a tent in my pants is the ability to Moss defenders. With his size and length, he can go up and grab passes that few defenders can make a play on. From my eyes, he has the looks of an alpha, but don’t take my word for it.
Back in August of 2019, Xavien Howard, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, said that Williams “has the ‘it’ factor and could be a number one receiver.“
Let’s get back to the numbers, though.
Despite playing only eight games, Williams was second on the team with 11 red zone targets, four behind DeVante Parker’s 15. If he can stay healthy, there’s a chance he leads the team this season.
The Dolphins averaged 38.4 pass attempts in 2019, good for 7th in the NFL. They did bring in a new offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey, who was the OC for the Jets in 2015 and 2016. During that stint, the Jets ranked 15th and 23rd in pass attempts, but the Dolphins are once again expected to be among the worst teams in the league, so plenty of passing should be in the works again in 2020.
Finally, Josh Rosen won’t be throwing any passes this season if all goes as planned. That’s a good thing for Williams. Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the most efficient passer, but he will huck ’em and chuck ’em. The wildcard is Tua Tagovailoa. He could play at some point this season and struggle, as most young quarterbacks do. On the flip side, he was very efficient in college as a passer and that could translate to the pros. Either way, no Rosen is a plus, who played in four of the games Williams was active.
Now, the ACL injury he suffered is a definite concern, but early reports are glowing. “Williams is moving fluidly and appears to have no reservation about making cuts. He’s using his 6-foot-5 frame to confound smaller defensive backs.”
Rudy has Williams projected for 113.8 targets, 64.4 receptions, 898 yards, and 5.3 touchdowns. The target projection would be the 33rd most for wide receivers. At his draft price, Williams is a value with tons of upside. The situation could be a juicy one for fantasy as well. The team could be chasing points often and DeVante Parker will command the attention of defenses.