We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.
Every year, there are a few rookie running backs who inevitably shake up the fantasy football world. Sometimes it’s a top-five stud who works as his backfield’s three-down workhorse from Day 1. Other times, it’s a Day 2 or even 3 selection who doesn’t find his way into the starting role until later in the season, only to do nothing other than ball the hell out the rest of the way.
Denver Broncos RB Javonte Williams seems poised to fall in the latter bucket. Selected with the 35th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after the Broncos traded up, Williams was a consensus top-three running back prospect and might just find himself in a backfield ripe for a takeover.
What follows is a breakdown on just how good Williams was during his time at North Carolina as well as what we should expect from him as a fantasy asset in 2021.
Williams is tough to tackle, man
Williams racked up an asinine 76 broken tackles on 157 attempts as a junior. His 5-foot-10 and 220-pound frame, combined with good-not-great hands, could wind up making a 250-plus touch workload look like nothing if the Broncos are happy enough to send it his way.
Mama, there goes that man!pic.twitter.com/dKl4gOx412
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 2, 2021
PFF’s 2021 prospect profile on Williams had the following conclusion:
“There was no bigger riser at the running back position in 2020 than Williams. After putting on 15 pounds in two years, Williams added an explosive element to his game we hadn’t seen in the past. He broke the PFF record for broken tackles per attempt (0.48), and his 75 broken tackles led the country. His 95.9 rushing grade was also far and away the highest we’ve seen in a single season. That elusiveness translated after the catch as a receiver as well, where he broke nine tackles on 24 receptions. There’s really not much to dislike about Williams as a prospect.”
The comp for Williams: Bigger Aaron Jones. I like that.
Essentially, Williams checks all the boxes we’d hope for from a rookie running back: big, explosive, fast enough and at least possesses adequate ability to make plays in the passing game. Of course, there are a number of running backs alive who also possess the traits of a great player; the million-dollar question is whether or not Williams will garner the sort of high-end usage to make him a fantasy star as early as 2021.
We won’t know whether or not Williams will have this role for quite some time, although history tells us early-round backs aren’t drafted to sit on the bench.