Javonte Williams is one of the most valuable dynasty assets entering the 2022 season. After playing 1B in a shared backfield with Melvin Gordon, Williams is poised to be a feature back beginning this season. With the Broncos’ offense vastly improved following the acquisition of Russell Wilson, how should dynasty fantasy football managers value Williams going forward?
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Javonte Williams’ dynasty profile for 2022
Williams is on a very tried and true path toward fantasy greatness. He was mired on the wrong side of a timeshare for the first half of his rookie season. As the year wore on, Williams started to slowly flip the backfield in his favor. Now, he’s set to enter 2022 as the Broncos’ clear lead back.
The biggest question mark surrounding Williams in the short term is whether the Broncos will re-sign Gordon. Currently, Gordon is a free agent and has expressed a desire to be a team’s primary back. Denver has indicated Williams will be their lead back regardless of whether Gordon returns.
My educated guess is that Gordon is currently exploring options to land a lead role somewhere. Ultimately, I expect that to fall through as there isn’t exactly a strong market for a 29-year-old lead back. As a result, there is a decent chance he ends up back in Denver.
Williams’ long-term prospects aren’t impacted by a potential Gordon return. But having to deal with Gordon for another year or two does matter. How should dynasty managers handle Williams in 2022 and beyond?
Fantasy projection for Williams
As a rookie, Williams established that he is really good at football. Despite questionable run blocking, Williams was able to run the ball well due to his incredible yards-after-contact ability. He had the highest rate of broken tackles in the league at 17% and did so despite being hit at the line of scrimmage on 45% of his carries.
Redraft managers may have been disappointed at Williams’ low RB2 finish, averaging just 12.2 PPR fantasy points per game. However, dynasty managers have to be thrilled at what they saw. Williams showcased his elite RB1 upside.
Williams had just one game last season where he had the Broncos’ backfield all to himself. With Gordon out, all Williams did was put up 178 total yards en route to an overall RB1 finish on the week with 29.8 fantasy points. Of course, Williams will not average 29 ppg over a full season, but knowing he has that high of a weekly ceiling is extremely encouraging.
Whether it’s Gordon or someone else, the Broncos are going to need an RB2. However, I don’t expect that RB2 to be much of a threat to Williams. At the same time, I also don’t expect Williams to see an 80% snap share like he did in his RB1 performance last season.
Williams should be around the 65% snap share mark. He should see 12-14 carries and 3-4 targets a game. With the arrival of Wilson, this offense is going to be a whole lot more efficient. Williams is on the shortlist of running backs with overall RB1 upside.
What is Williams’ future beyond 2022?
Williams is in a fantastic position long term. He’s entering his sophomore season at just 22 years old. The age apex for running backs is around 25. Dynasty managers with Williams have four years of production to get excited about. Even after Williams turns 26, it’s unlikely he’s going to suddenly be ineffective. There’s a real chance Williams remains a very productive fantasy RB for the next 7-8 years.
Wilson will turn 34 this season, but he should be able to play effectively into his late 30s. As long as Wilson is still the same elite quarterback we saw for the past decade, this Broncos offense is going to be very prolific.
Last season, defenses were able to key in on the running game as Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater did not pose much of a threat. Wilson throwing to the likes of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy will open things up for Williams and the running game. Additionally, the offense will be better as a whole, leading to more scoring opportunities, which inevitably will lead to more touchdowns for Williams.
The only potential risk with Williams is Gordon returning and the team putting him on the field more than they should. With the Broncos now a legitimate Super Bowl contender with a new head coach, I just have a hard time believing they won’t play their best players. Williams is at least a low RB1 for 2022 and could very well be viewed in the same tier as Jonathan Taylor by the end of this season.
What can dynasty managers expect from Williams?
Whether Gordon returns will impact Williams’ perception amongst fantasy managers. If Gordon does not return, the prevailing thought will be that Williams will operate as the three-down back and play 70-75% of the snaps. In that scenario, managers with Williams should be very excited.
However, understand that the Broncos will sign or draft someone to help ease the burden. Regardless, Williams is still a top-five dynasty back and possibly top five in redraft as well.
If Gordon does return, dynasty managers with Williams should not worry. Williams is not going to play second fiddle to Gordon again. This is still going to be his backfield. However, if you’re a dynasty manager without Williams, this could be a perfect opportunity to try and pry him away from a manager possibly concerned about Gordon taking too much work.
Even if Gordon puts a small dent in Williams’ value, we’re talking maybe one or two more seasons. Williams is too young and talented for that to be a real concern. Sooner or later, he will be the unquestioned lead back on what should be a high-powered Broncos offense. Williams is an elite dynasty asset on both rebuilding and win-now teams.