Why Jamaal Williams is the Best RB Sleeper in 2018 (Fantasy Football)
The Green Bay Packers running back situation this season reminds me a lot of a book I read in college (shout out to Centenary University) called, “Who Moved My Cheese?” Amazon describes it as a timeless business classic that reveals truths about dealing with change so you can enjoy more success and less stress in your work and life. Well, I don’t know about you, but when I find a running back sleeper, that gives me less stress and more success. In the story, there is an abundance of cheese which leads to Sniff and Scurry (they are mice) to do whatever it takes to get it. The Packers offense is an abundance of fantasy points, and I believe Jamaal Williams will do whatever it takes to find the cheese in Green Bay.
Williams said in early January that he plans to improve on his rookie season. “I’ve got to get my feet quicker and just get a little more speed happening and make sure that my knees are up,” Williams said. “I’m just going to be working on my lateral movements, speed, make sure I get my knees up, make sure my lower body’s a lot stronger.” He realizes he has a great opportunity in front of him and I believe he separates himself from the “Pack.”
After tearing up his competition at BYU in pursuit to becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,901 yards, the Packers decided to select Williams in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He had a solid rookie season rushing for 556 yards on 153 carries and four touchdowns on the ground plus an additional 25 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver. Perhaps his most impressive stat, he didn’t fumble the ball a single time. Williams touched the ball 178 times and only five other running backs the last two seasons had as many touches without fumbling.
- 2017 Dion Lewis (235 touches)
- 2017 Javorius Allen (199)
- 2016 Jeremy Hill (243)
- 2016 Jerick McKinnon (202)
- 2016 Rob Kelley (180)
Ball security is obviously important, especially for young running backs, but the reason why people are sleeping on Williams is the workload he saw down the stretch of last season was incredible. According to FantasyPros expert consensus rankings, he is RB37 in standard, RB37 in PPR, and RB38 in half-PPR, which is simply far too low.
He played in 79% of the Packers’ team snaps over the final seven weeks of the regular season. During the final eight weeks of the regular season, he had 142 carries for 522 yards and three touchdowns as a rusher and 21 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers in a 16 game sample size would be 284 carries for 1,044 yards and six touchdowns with 42 receptions for 448 yards and four touchdowns. Where would those numbers ranked him in 2017?
- Standard 209.2 points – good for RB7, just ahead of LeSean McCoy
- PPR 251.2 points – good for RB8, just ahead of Carlos Hyde
I want a running back that the team trusted down the stretch of the season and was one of the top performers from the position over the final nine weeks of the season. Finding that sleeper that turns into a gem is how you win a fantasy football title. Unless you get matched up against Todd Gurley Week 16, and he runs for 118 yards and adds 10 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Then, you are screwed.
Now perhaps my favorite part about why Williams is the best sleeper is he did this without quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was putting up these numbers against stacked boxes and Brett Hundley, who should be a member of the three blind mice. He may not get as many carries in 2018, but I know he won’t face as many stacked boxes, which will only help improve his 3.6 YPC from his rookie season.
But why am I so confident that Williams is the running back to own in Green Bay? His competition can’t stay healthy, and they aren’t as fundamentally sound as him. Aaron Jones tore his MCL at UTEP and suffered multiple knee injuries last season that forced him to miss games.
I like the talent of Jones, he breaks big plays which can’t be said about Williams who only had one run over 20 yards last season, but Jones can’t stay healthy. Then you have to look at Ty Montgomery who proved he wasn’t a reliable running back last season. He had 46 carries for 152 yards (3.3 YPC) and two touchdowns with Rodgers. Montgomery proved to be the best receiver, but the Packers just drafted three in the 2018 NFL Draft and need a reliable running back. Not to mention he has also landed on the season-ending IR two of the last three season.
Not sure if reliable is Williams’ middle name, but for the article’s sake I’m going to say it is. There is always speculation when looking at fantasy football, but if there is one thing I am certain about the Packers will look to do this upcoming season, it’s to keep Rodgers healthy for all 16 games. Williams is hands down the best pass blocker among the three running backs, and that will keep him on the field.
The Packers offense is a big piece of cheese that I can’t wait to see Williams sink his teeth into. This is why Jamaal Williams is the best running back sleeper in 2018.