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WR Tyrell Williams | Los Angeles Chargers | 3rd Year
2016 Stats: 69 receptions for 1,059 yards, 7 TDs
With Keenan Allen missing all but one game with a torn ACL, and Travis Benjamin having a disappointing campaign, Tyrell Williams came out of nowhere to lead the Chargers in receptions and receiving yards last season. His seven touchdowns were one behind tight end Hunter Henry for the team lead too, in a true breakout season after catching two passes in seven games as an undrafted rookie in 2015.
Allen is back healthy as the Chargers’ No. 1 wide receiver, as much as he can be counted on after playing nine games over the last two seasons. The Chargers also used the seventh overall pick on Mike Williams, but a back issue has kept him out of full participation at training camp and he may not play until October. Tyrell Williams was unofficially listed as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver last week, and as long as the rookie Williams is not back in action he will open the season in that role.
When he’s been on the field Allen has been a target hog, averaging 8.5 targets per game for his career. Williams averaged 7.6 targets per game in the 15 games without Allen last year, so his volume was not all that far off in the same role. He was also top-12 among qualifying receivers in yards per catch (15.3; fifth) and yards per target (8.9; 11th), with 20 catches of 20-plus yards and six of 40-plus. Consistency was also a strong suit, with 10 weeks as at least a top-36 PPR wide receiver (WR3 or better, based on a 12-team league) and six weeks as a WR2 or better.
Williams averaged one red zone target per game last season, and he only cashed in two for touchdowns. That kind of thing can be very random (see Calvin Johnson a few years ago, regularly getting tackled at the one-yard line), but double-digit touchdowns may be a difficult task for Williams.
Williams (Tyrell, if you’re having trouble) is on the WR3/WR4 border or me in 12-team leagues. His ADP (Fantasy Football Calculator) has risen a full two rounds in the last month, to pick 9.02 and WR41 in 12-team standard leagues. That 11th round ADP in mid-July would have been an absolute steal, but the subsequent rise is a definite response to questions about Mike Williams’ status and fantasy owners climbing back on the bandwagon.
If his average draft position rises too much more, the value appeal of Williams will go away and so will his sleeper potential. But right now he’s still underappreciated, and concerns about a major reduction in his role this year will ultimately prove to be overblown.