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Darwin Thompson: Pick Up This Potential League-Winner (Fantasy Football)

by Shane Manila | @DFF_Shane | Featured Writer
Dec 3, 2019

The Chiefs were already dealing with various maladies at the running back position entering Sunday, with Damien Williams week-to-week with a rib injury and LeSean McCoy having fumbling issues all season. Outside of a Patrick Mahomes’ injury, the Chiefs could least afford another issue with a running back. Unfortunately, Darrel Williams, the starter against Oakland, came down with a hamstring injury. I am not a doctor, but this does not look good to me.

Chiefs head coach has already indicated that Darrel Williams is likely not going to be able to play against the Patriots this week, while he did not provide an update on Damien Williams’ status. Damien was unable to practice last week, so there’s a good chance he won’t be able to play this week either. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’m a Darwin Thompson fan. If he’s finally given a chance at a significant workload this week, I have a feeling I won’t be alone in my fandom.

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Player Profile

Darwin Thompson played one season at the D1 level in college football, spending his first two years at a junior college. In his lone season at Utah State, he showed that he has three-down ability. Not only was he able to handle 153 rushing attempts and haul in 23 receptions, but he also did so at a proficient level. He averaged 6.8 rushing yards per attempt on those 153 runs and 15.3 yards per reception on those 23 receptions. Thompson also showed a nose for the end zone with 14 rushing touchdowns and two more through the air despite only measuring 5’8″ and 198 pounds. Thompson isn’t some finesse back. As noted by PFF, Thompson was adept at breaking tackles and getting yards after contact.

But being a one-year college standout and small in stature meant he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine and fell to the sixth round of the NFL Draft. After the NFL Draft, Thompson was one of my favorite sleepers and showed some up his upside during the preseason. On the pass below, he displays his elusiveness in the open with a nice spin move, which enabled him to pick up several more yards.

After the Chiefs shipped Carlos Hyde to the Texans, there was a brief, fleeting moment of hope that Thompson would carve out a significant role for himself in the offense come the regular season. Soon after that trade, though, the Bills cut McCoy and the Chiefs picked him up, basically dashing those hopes. Up until Sunday against the Raiders, Thompson has largely been forgotten, having scored a grand total of 4.8 fantasy points through the first 12 weeks of the NFL season. With the Williams’s both battling injuries and McCoy battling his hands and age Thompson could be poised to become one of those unheralded players that always seem come out of nowhere to help teams win a fantasy title.


Finally given a chance to contribute, Thompson didn’t fail to produce on Sunday. He played on season-high 36% of offensive snaps and took 11 carries for 44 rushing yards, including his first career touchdown.

He ended up scoring 10.4 fantasy points in what was easily the best day of his young career. Thompson is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, even if the Chiefs didn’t need to target him on Sunday since they were up by four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. In tighter matchups, when the game is still in doubt, it’s likely the Chiefs would utilize him as a receiving weapon.

Assuming neither Williams is able to play Sunday you can expect Thompson to be heavily involved in the Chiefs’ game plan. Damien Williams 48.2% Oppurtunity Share (rushing attempts + targets) on the year leads the Chiefs but ranks just 30th at the running back position. The Chiefs often get multiple running backs involved in both the running and the receiving game. The only other healthy running back on the roster, LeSean McCoy, is 31 years old and had to be given a week off a few weeks ago due to “load management” concerns. If given an even larger oppurtunity this coming Sunday, perhaps Thompson can then force himself into the Chiefs’ weekly offensive plans.

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Shane Manila is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @DFF_Shane.

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