While the 2021 class is not as highly valued in the NFL and fantasy football communities, that doesn’t mean we don’t have some incredible running backs in this class. For those who love dynasty running backs with an old-school flair, UNC Tar Heels RB Javonte Williams might end up being the best value of the whole class this time next year.
Javonte Williams’ dynasty value for 2021
Draft capital is a significant marker on how an NFL team views an individual player, especially in the case of the running back position. There is a massive trend going that teams don’t want to spend early picks on a running back.
While there is no denying how special Christian McCaffrey is as a player, Mike Davis comes along and makes you wonder if large contracts are worth the investment. By investment, I mean from an opportunity cost perspective. If you choose “X,” in doing so, you can no longer get “Y.”
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the only RBs likely to go in the first round will be Alabama’s Najee Harris and Travis Etienne from Clemson. They have the hype, the numbers, and the pedigree from their university to back it up. And I get it. However, Javonte Williams going in the second round brings far greater value, and for me, slides directly between the two in dynasty value.
Second-round capital for a running back is still perfect for us in dynasty. Javonte Williams is a top-five pick in 1QB formats and someone I would take over Etienne. The running back position as a whole is critical for championship aspirations. Williams could be the next to add his name to the list of great fantasy running backs.
Javonte Williams elevated his dynasty value despite playing in a committee
Usually, running backs who are esteemed were likely workhorse backs in college and dominated the touch and snap share. Javonte Williams was not one of these players at North Carolina which led to his sharp rise in dynasty value. First off, he was not a highly sought-after prospect.
Williams attended Wallace-Rose Hill High School in Wallace, North Carolina. As a senior, he rushed for 2,271 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns. Williams also competed in track and field and won the state title in the 4×100 meter relay.
He committed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his only FBS offer to play college football. According to 247 Sports, Williams was the 94th-ranked RB of the 2018 class and 46th overall from the state of North Carolina.
As a freshman at North Carolina in 2018, Williams played in 11 games, rushing 43 times for 224 yards and 5 touchdowns.
In 2019, Williams took on a larger role in the Tar Heels’ backfield. Playing in 13 games, Williams had 166 carries for 933 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also improved his production as a receiver, putting up 176 yards and a touchdown on 17 receptions. This was just a small taste of what was to come in 2020. As a junior, Javonte Williams took his dynasty and NFL value to another level.
Williams continued his progression as a junior
Once again, we saw him continue his progression, playing a physical brand of football that left defenders in the ACC needing ice baths after games.
As a junior, he rushed for 1,140 yards on 157 carries, averaging 7.3 yards a carry. Williams took a step forward in the receiving department as well, catching 25 passes for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns. He led the nation with 75 avoided tackles, was second with 42 rushes of 10 yards or more, and was third with 72 rushing first downs.
In his final game at UNC, Javonte Williams put the finishing touch on his incredible season. Against Miami, Williams rushed for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries. Amazingly, that wasn’t the highest on the team. Teammate Michael Carter led the team in rushing in that game with 308 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Where should you draft Javonte Williams in dynasty rookie mock drafts?
When it comes to the running backs, Najee Harris is the top of the class and is the 1.01 in 1QB leagues. In Superflex formats, he is the first position player coming off the board. Things get a bit more interesting behind him, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference or team need. What I can say is the player’s names are set in stone for me.
Following Harris, it is Javonte Williams, Travis Etienne, DeVonta Smith, and Ja’Marr Chase. That group of players would be coming off the board in whatever particular order you would like. The one player I could see sliding in there at the 1.05 mix is Florida’s Kyle Pitts. In Superflex dynasty formats, the value of the QB pushes Javonte Williams down a bit. However, he is still a mid-first-round pick.
You can’t help but watch Williams play and not come away impressed. At 5’10”, 220 pounds, there is nothing he cannot do on the field. Williams bowls people over and can make them miss. He also showed his chops in the receiving game, despite playing with Carter. He has the best contact balance in the class and has more tread on his tires than most do, with just 416 total touches.
The one knock is he does not have breakaway speed. Williams is likely to run a 4.5, and quite frankly, that is perfectly fine. Javonte Williams is my RB2 in 2021 dynasty rookie drafts, and I believe his value will quickly be the same as Najee Harris by mid-season next year.
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