Mike Williams - Fantasy Football Dynasty Star
I recently selected Mike Williams as the 28th receiver taken in the RotoViz dynasty startup. Since Williams finished as WR20 in 2012, is two years removed from a dominant rookie season, and possesses prototypical No. 1 receiver size and speed, this represented a substantial discount to his future value.
As you can probably guess by my Contrarian article on the recent PFF rookie draft, I’m not always in lockstep with the masses on player evaluation. I still like to check the PFF dynasty rankings to make sure I haven’t run completely off the rails. Currently, you’ll find rankings from Bryan Fontaine, Scott Spratt, Alex Miglio, and Ross Miles – four of the best minds in the fantasy football business. And when I checked their ranks on Williams he came in at WR40.
So there must be something in Williams’ statistical background that suggests a young player who finished WR20 in 2012 will be passed by twenty guys in 2013. Let’s take a look and see what it might be.
The biggest misperceptions with Williams’ future value seem to center around upside and opportunity. Many see Vincent Jackson as the clear No. 1 in Tampa and expect the Bucs to be more run-oriented as they develop their defense. I doubt either of those issues will impact Williams much at all. I looked at V-Jax versus Williams a little in my Advanced Targets wrap-up column, but it’s worth repeating here.
|Mike A. Williams||923||120||570||0.130||0.211||1.75|
Jackson played more snaps because Williams was occasionally removed on running plays, but he finished with a very similar number of routes. V-Jax was slightly more heavily targeted, but the real difference appeared in terms of yardage efficiency per route.
To give you a feel for how those numbers translate into fantasy value:
|Mike A. Williams||217||0.24||0.38||1.81|
Williams started a little more slowly than V-Jax, but from mid-season on they performed as equals. Using some of the awesome new tools from PFF Fantasy, you can easily break down the season into any chunk you want and sift through the web’s best advanced stats.
Consider the line for the Tampa Bay receivers starting in Week 8.
|Mike A. Williams||87||44||628||6||15.1||142.8||0.26||0.38|
The two big receivers scored the exact same number of points in PPR formats, but Williams led in both targets and touchdowns. The youngster also bested his teammate in terms of points per snap and points per opportunity.
Many experts seem to be focusing on Williams and seeing a lack of opportunity behind Vincent Jackson, but it’s possible that Williams’ situation represents a perfect storm for fantasy value. While the splits suggest V-Jax and Williams are fairly even from a fantasy perspective, the elder statesman is likely to remain the focal point of opposing defenses. Moreover, the Bucs have no other legitimate pass catching options other than Doug Martin.
You can use some of the other great PFF fantasy tools to check the offensive depth chart of any NFL team. The chart includes the projected percentage of targets for each player. Investigating Tampa Bay, you’ll find the next two projected pass catchers are Tiquan Underwood (WR3) and Luke Stocker (TE). Williams is projected for a higher percentage of his team’s targets than any player in Green Bay or New England.
It can be difficult to divine the true intentions of NFL squads, but, even if Tampa Bay would prefer to run the ball more, it’s very unlikely to be a viable strategy. The Bucs play in a warm weather division that includes two high-powered dome teams. Despite the addition of Darrell Revis, Tampa will have to keep throwing the ball around simply to stay in games.
Our rankers currently have Jackson at WR13 and Williams at WR40, a strange gap even when you ignore the age difference. Williams still seems to be suffering from his collegiate reputation and the swoon in his second pro season. It’s easy to forget that V-Jax barely notched 1,100 yards in his first three seasons combined. He scored 9 touchdowns in that span, the same number Williams scored in his third season alone. Moreover, despite an elite size/speed combo and the pleasure of playing with Philip Rivers, V-Jax has never hit double digit touchdowns.
At age 26, Mike Williams is entering his prime at the exact moment Vincent Jackson (30) should see his decline phase begin. Prioritize the young star in drafts and take advantage of the current inefficiency in their respective ADPs.