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Mike Williams Start/Sit Week 12: Will the real Big Mike please stand up?

Seemingly beyond his knee injury, should fantasy managers start Chargers WR Mike Williams in Week 12 lineups following big Week 11 numbers?

After a scorching start to the season, Mike Williams’ production and fantasy football value has cratered over the past two months. With a matchup in Denver on tap and last week’s performance suggesting a full emergence from his knee injury, should fantasy managers start Williams in Week 12 with no hesitation?

Mike Williams’ 2021 is a tale of two halves

Over the first five weeks of the season, Williams was the overall WR2. He had four games over 80 receiving yards and scored 6 touchdowns. Here’s Williams’ weekly target share over the first five weeks of the season: 26%, 25%, 25%, 10%, and 38%.

Since Week 6, Williams’ usage, production, and target share dropped quicker than my bank account on Black Friday. His highest target share over that span was just 18%. Prior to last week’s 5-97-1 line, Williams scored between 3.9 and 7.8 PPR fantasy points four straight games.

Is his Week 11 stat line an anomaly or a harbinger of things to come?

Fantasy managers finally got a strong outing from Williams last week. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely anything is about to change. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, Williams caught a 53-yard touchdown from Justin Herbert. Of course, the touchdown counts. But before that play, Williams had just 44 yards on 4 catches.

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The inconvenient truth is this is who Williams has always been. He’s a contested-catch specialist with a high aDOT (average depth of target) who occasionally scores touchdowns. In 2020, Williams caught 48 passes for 756 yards and 8 touchdowns. Over his past five games, he’s on pace for similar overall numbers to what he had last year.

Should fantasy managers start Williams in Week 12 lineups?

The real Big Mike is the guy who catches 3-4 passes a game for 40-50 yards and randomly finds the end zone to give fantasy managers a big week. He’s a touchdown-dependent WR4.

Guys like Williams have fantasy value. By no means should he be dropped or unceremoniously dispatched from fantasy rosters for pennies on the dollar. Especially in deeper starting lineups, there’s a place for someone like Williams who can swing a week when he pops.

For those of you in standard-sized leagues starting two or three wide receivers, Williams is probably not one of your best players.

The Broncos are right in the middle in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Consistently behind Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler in target share, Williams is a boom-or-bust WR4 that only belongs in fantasy lineups if you need to swing for upside or just don’t have anyone better.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here. Don’t forget to listen to the PFN Fantasy Football podcast and check out our free fantasy newsletter.

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