Fantasy Impact: Tyrell Williams to the Raiders
Another name has come off the free agent market, as former Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams and the Raiders have agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth $44 million with $22 million in guarantees that will keep him in the AFC West.
Some had Williams as the top wide receiver in free agency, though I wasn’t one of them. His standout season was when Philip Rivers had little else to throw to, which was why Williams racked up 119 targets in 2016, leading to his breakout season where he totaled 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns. Since that time, he’s totaled just 1,581 yards and nine touchdowns over the last two seasons. The issue was that he simply wasn’t improving as anything more than a situational deep threat. It’s likely why the Chargers were willing to let him walk in free agency and move to Travis Benjamin who’s delivered 93 receptions for 1,430 yards and nine touchdowns during his three years with the team in a limited role.
NOT A RED ZONE THREAT
Williams is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, but he’s not a red zone threat. While with one of the best quarterbacks of this era, he caught just four red zone touchdowns on 25 targets in a four-year span. By comparison, Mike Williams caught six of them on 14 targets in 2018 alone. Making the move to Derek Carr isn’t going to be an upgrade from Rivers. In fact, it’s quite a bit of a downgrade.
GRUDEN AND OLSON EFFECT
In case you were sleeping over the last week and missed it, Antonio Brown also signed with the Raiders. That’s not going to be a positive for Williams’ target share with his new team, as Brown demands a high target share, and rightfully so. During Jon Gruden’s and Greg Olson’s first year with the Raiders, they totaled 556 pass attempts with just 263 of them directed at wide receivers, a 47.3 percent target share that ranked 31st in the league. When a coach has a system in place, it’s rare to see dramatic systematic changes year-over-year, though Brown is the type of wide receiver you make those changes to accommodate. Williams isn’t the type of wide receiver that demands you change your offense based on his abilities. He’s a deep threat who can stretch the field, but we aren’t going to magically see the Raiders target wide receivers on 60 percent of their attempts under Olson.
The play design isn’t likely to change much from the way the Raiders approached Martavis Bryant last year, as he’s a similar type player, though I’d argue that Bryant is the better player. Even without Brown on the team, Bryant saw 27 target in eight games and saw more than five targets just one time. Under Olson, Derek Carr threw the ball deep (20-plus yards down the field) on just 9.2 percent of his attempts, which ranked 32nd among 33 qualified quarterbacks. On his 51 deep-ball attempts, he threw five touchdowns. I’m not saying that the offense won’t change with the additions of Brown and Williams, but from an offensive structure standpoint, it’s not a great fit for Williams. If you’re wondering what Carr averaged before Olson/Gruden showed up, he threw deep 12.2 percent of the time in 2017, which ranked 19th among quarterbacks.
This may be a better real life signing than fantasy signing, as Williams can serve a purpose as a deep threat in an offense and open things underneath. He does possess rare speed for someone who is 6-foot-4, but the fact that he’s not a jump-ball, contested-catch, or red zone receiver eliminates his fantasy appeal. The only consistent fantasy option that Carr has produced in his career has been Michael Crabtree, who was the exact opposite type of receiver. It’s going to be difficult for Williams to reach 80 targets with Brown on the other side of the field, meaning he won’t have any more value than he had while with the Chargers. Unfortunately, his quarterback situation has been downgraded and his efficiency will take a hit. He’s going to have some games where he makes you wonder if he’s a thing, but it’ll be more common for you to wonder why he’s on your roster. Let someone else draft him in 2019. My early 2019 projection: 78 targets, 47 receptions, 695 yards, 3 touchdowns