It’s been an up-and-down season for Jamaal Williams. With D’Andre Swift questionable for Week 13 with a sprained shoulder, should fantasy football managers rush to add Williams offer the waiver wire? The answer might or might not surprise you, depending on whether you might or might not add him. (Those are a lot of conditions, so bear with me.)
Why fantasy managers should not add Jamaal Williams off waivers
Remember when Detroit had two RB1s in the season’s opening weeks? We all knew what Swift means to this team. But the newly-signed Williams was the No. 3 overall fantasy RB in Week 1 and posted back-end RB2 numbers in Week 3.
Then his receptions waned and he got hurt before returning with a whimper in Week 11 against the Browns (7 carries for only 11 yards and zero receptions). Williams played a season-low 29% snap rate in that game, perhaps because he was getting eased back in. Still, not a promising sight.
Let’s hold off on the positives until my alter-ego takes over in the next section. For now, understand that Williams remains a fascinating figure in a morbidly fascinating Lions offense. For context, he’s earning only 2 fewer carries per game than Raiders starter Josh Jacobs.
So it’s pretty remarkable, and not at all surprising, that Williams has garnered 8.5 fantasy points or less in seven of his last nine games. When Swift is on the field, Williams is essentially unstartable. And even if Swift sits, can we really bank on 20+ touches for Williams?
Could Jermar Jefferson or Godwin Igwebuike cut into his usage?
While being adept in the passing game, Williams is not at Swift’s level. And there’s a strong possibility rookie Jermar Jefferson or journeyman Godwin Igwebuike (who’s produced some nice runs this season) will cut into Williams’ usage.
We also need to consider game script — the Lions should be playing from behind for much of their upcoming games against the Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals. Can we bank on Williams continuing to get much work if Detroit is down 2+ scores?
The case against Williams is clear: if you have an RB3 collecting cobwebs on your bench, you don’t need another RB3, especially a likely rental like Williams. Target a higher-upside handcuff in a better offense.
Why fantasy managers should add Jamaal Williams off waivers
Please forgive my above-self. He doesn’t always see clearly. Look, Williams isn’t an ideal add. But it’s Week 13, and many of you are desperate for some points. Williams should give you top-30 production if Swift sits, and he might sneak in top-40 numbers even if Swift suits up.
Jefferson was a seventh-rounder and Igwebuike is largely a 27-year-old unknown. We always roll the dice with players. At least we know Williams is an experienced back who can catch balls. Not too shabby.
Williams’ upcoming opponents (Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals) are all subpar against the run in terms of yards per carry. Even if the Lions fall behind early, Williams has demonstrated an ability to thrive amidst negative game scripts. His highest ypc has been while playing from behind (4.3) versus playing from ahead (3.6) or tied (4.1). Of his 12 rushing touchdowns, 8 have occurred with his team trailing, as well as 76 of his 143 catches (53%).
Williams is a complete back. Not as flashy as some. Not as explosive as others. But he can handle a full load when needed. Not every RB has that skill set. Williams definitely should be picked up off waivers this week as we await word on Swift’s Week 13 status.