Mike Williams Will Be a Dud (Fantasy Football)
Every 2017 first round wide receiver has got a lot to prove this year. Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross had NFL rookie seasons to forget. All were plagued with the injury bug, and when they got on the field, they generally failed to impress. So let’s briefly look at Davis and Ross and see why they are not on the dud list.
Davis’ outlook appears to be the brightest due to his end of year surge in the playoffs when the wildcard Tennessee Titans played two games. In those two games, Davis was targeted 15 times, had nine receptions for 98 yards, but most importantly scored his first two touchdowns of the year. Logic would suggest that he should begin 2018 similarly to how he ended 2017, now that he has established a rapport with quarterback Marcus Mariota.
If that is the case, then Davis should be in for a bounce-back year. He is also penned in as one of the starting two receivers on the Titans, playing alongside Rishard Matthews.
John Ross was the least productive of this wide receiver trio last year. He got hurt and never recovered. He only played three sporadic games and never caught a ball on two measly targets.
Clearly, he was not fit to play and eventually went on injured reserve. He was originally going to be my sophomore wide receiver dud until I started doing more research.
One thing Ross has got going for him is his speed. Out of the 700+ current wide receivers on the Player Profiler database, there are only a handful of current wide receivers who ran a 4.35 40-yard dash or faster, which come close to matching Ross’ 5’11, 188-pound frame.
Out of those, there is only one definite bust, Phillip Dorsett. By and large, fast wide receivers who start for their team tend to be successful. Wiley veterans like DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace are two that support this argument.
Tyreek Hill, Marquise Goodwin, and Will Fuller are three ascending speedsters starting on good offenses. The jury is still out on others like Curtis Samuel, who along with Ross were two rookies riddled with injuries in 2017. Both have the chance to bust, but both still have a great chance to bust out.
Straight line speed might be an overrated combine metric, but it cannot be denied that speed can work to a receiver’s advantage. Ross deserves at least one more year to prove skeptics wrong. After all, he is the fastest NFL player ever.
Have this Tiger by the Tail
Clemson’s Mike Williams was the second wide receiver taken in the draft and was the seventh pick overall. It was a strange pick, considering the Chargers had no real need for receiver and because Williams was injured. His rookie season did not go as planned — he was disappointing, to say the least.
In the 11 games he appeared in, he had 11 receptions for a meager 95 yards. He started the season injured and never really got going.
The Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver depth chart is strong, yet nebulous at the moment. Superstar Keenan Allen is the number one guy there, but after that, it gets a little hazy. It seems it is still up for grabs between either Tyrell Williams or Mike Williams with Travis Benjamin as the fourth option.
The Chargers also drafted Dylan Cantrell, who is also an interesting acquisition. T. Williams and Benjamin have the trusted resumes, while Williams boasts the draft clout. Benjamin is smaller and faster and thrives on splash plays. T. Williams is very athletic but was undrafted. Cantrell was only a sixth-round pick but has flattering metrics and a size resembling Williams. For Mike Williams to supplant Tyrell Williams and be Philip Rivers‘ second option, he has to begin the year on fire, stay healthy, and stay productive — something he didn’t do last year.
Since the Chargers spent a lot to get Williams, they still have high hopes for the sophomore to show his mettle. However, there are many obstacles to overcome on an offense that expects big things this year, despite losing Hunter Henry so early.
Paper Tiger Production
To Williams’ credit, he put up some great numbers at Clemson. In 2015, he broke out in his sophomore season posting up 57 receptions for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns. He missed most of 2016 due to a neck injury but bounced back in his final year, finishing off with 98 receptions for 1,391 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Despite his successful senior year, he still only commanded a 27.0% college dominator, which is only in the 42nd-percentile. The college dominator rating represents a player’s “market share” or his percentage of his team’s offensive production. He falls short compared to other first round rookies Corey Davis (96th-percentile), D.J. Moore (97th-percentile), Amari Cooper (93rd-percentile) and Will Fuller (92nd-percentile).
Even John Ross (64th-percentile) was more dominant in college. In fact, you have to go back to the 2013 draft to find another first-round wide receiver less dominant than Williams. Cordarrelle Patterson is the only one in the past five years to have a worse college dominator rating and look how things have turned out for him.
Not a Bolt of Lightning
Williams is not very athletic. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, which puts him in the 32nd-percentile. His burst is even worse (24th-percentile). In many ways, Mike Williams does remind us of his most comparable player, Laquon Treadwell. Both are around the same size, have similar college production, are below average athletes.
Adding Insult to Injury
One major problem both Williams and Ross need to shake off if either will have an impact in the league is proneness to injury. If they can’t get on the field, then they won’t produce no matter how good they are. Most teams would choose consistent and stable mediocrity over erratic blips of genius.
A Charged Up Future or Just a Flash in the Pan?
Some players excel in college and fail to produce at the next level. This happens more often than not, even for first-round draft picks. Although it is too early to tell for Williams, this year will be telling for him.
Many first-round picks took time to adjust to the NFL game like Nelson Agholor and Michael Crabtree. Some like Tavon Austin and Darrius Heyward-Bey never panned out. Mike Williams might be in the same category as Kevin White, Corey Coleman, and Laquon Treadwell.
All are in wide receiver bust out/bust purgatory and these next few years will decide which direction they will go. As for now, don’t expect much out of Williams for year two. One thing is for sure, Williams’ draft capital is shrinking rapidly. If he does not produce this year, his first round status will not be worth much.
Hero to Zero, Dud to Stud
For this year, don’t be fooled by Mike Williams’ low ADP. Right now on FantasyPros, he is the consensus number 62 wide receiver in standard leagues. He’s three spots ahead of Tyrell Williams and over 40 receivers ahead of Travis Benjamin.
He might turn out to be a stud of the future, but for now don’t be surprised if the other two finish ahead of him in fantasy. Instead, it might be worth taking a chance on a few receivers ranked lower than Williams like rookies Anthony Miller and Michael Gallup. Both look to be in better situations and have not had the injury history. If you take a chance of them and get it wrong, you can call it a rookie mistake. But if you bet on Mike Williams again, and he fools you twice, then shame on you.