Javonte Williams
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Does Javonte Williams Have Value in 2021 Fantasy?

Javonte Williams was taken in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Denver Broncos traded up to get the North Carolina running back with the 35th overall pick. Williams is a power back who led the country in broken tackles with 76 and can be explosive in bursts. Of the rookie running backs, I think Williams landed in a really good spot. Najee Harris, although in Pittsburgh, is running behind a bad offensive line, and Travis Etienne went to the Jaguars. With Javonte Williams splitting carries with Melvin Gordon, can he be relied on for 2021 fantasy?

I’m not going to lie; I did not notice how productive Melvin Gordon was in 2020. On a disappointing Broncos team, Gordon had 215 carries, 986 yards, and nine touchdowns. That landed him as the 13th ranked fantasy running back when the season concluded. The Broncos have a plethora of elite offensive talent, which is going to take some attention off Williams, but I question how many touches he will consistently get.

One thing working in Javonte William’s favor is the bad quarterback play of the Broncos. Drew Lock has shown he has a hose of an arm but plays too loose and throws some bad interceptions. Teddy Two Gloves is a backup quarterback in this league, and I think that was evident after Matt Rhule and the Panthers were done with him after one year. With bad quarterback play and a decent offensive line, this offense should be pretty run-heavy despite the great young receivers they have.

Another positive for Williams is the departure of Phillip Lindsay. Despite missing five games in 2020, Lindsay still managed to get 118 carries behind Melvin Gordon. Besides Gordon, the Broncos do not have another running back on the level of Williams. He is going to get touches, the question is, how many?

I think Javonte Williams may have a Jonathan Taylor-type rookie season. While I don’t think he’ll put up the stats Taylor did, towards the end of the season, he could see more touches like Taylor. Once Marlon Mack went down with a season-ending injury, Taylor became the featured back and finished the season as a top-7 fantasy back. I do not see Williams getting a ton of touches at the beginning of the season as he adjusts to the Broncos’ offense but if Gordon gets hurt or is not as productive, Williams’s fantasy value increases dramatically.

I would not aggressively go after Javonte Williams, but if you already have two good running backs and competent wide receivers, Williams could serve as a solid flex. In 2020 at UNC, Williams rushed for 19 touchdowns in just eleven games. Melvin Gordon does not strike me as a power back, combine that with Williams’s ability to break tackles, and this kid should be a monster in short-yardage situations near the goal line. Look for Williams later in the draft. If Gordon goes down with an injury or cannot repeat his 2020 production, you may find a diamond in the rough with Javonte Williams.

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