Javonte Williams Fantasy Outlook Includes League-Winning Sleeper Upside for Rookie Running Back

Jason Schandl
Javonte Williams' fantasy outlook makes him one of the top rookies and a serious sleeper candidate in fantasy football for 2021.
Javonte Williams' fantasy outlook makes him one of the top rookies and a serious sleeper candidate in fantasy football for 2021. / Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Melvin Gordon wasn't terrible for the Denver Broncos in 2020, but he failed to live up to his big contract when he turned in a sub-1,000 yard season on the ground and averaged an abysmal 3.6 yards per target as a receiver.

There's still one year left on his deal, but Denver could already be looking to move on at the position.

After all, the Broncos traded up to grab running back Javonte Williams with the 35th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

That kind of vote of confidence makes Williams a very intriguing player in fantasy football.

Javonte Williams Fantasy Football Value

There have been rumblings all offseason that Williams will lead this team in carries, and the Denver coaching staff has not exactly given Gordon a strong vote of confidence.

Whether he starts in Week 1 or not, it's sure looking like it's only a matter of time before he overtakes Gordon on the depth chart. And as we saw with Philip Lindsay last year, the Broncos will have no qualms getting the ball to their No. 2 while Gordon is the starter.

From Weeks 7 to 15 last season, when both Lindsay or Gordon were generally healthy, Gordon averaged 12.0 carries and 2.6 targets per game. Lindsay was right behind him with 9.8 carries and 1.4 targets.

Looking at that kind of split as something of a floor for the second-round rookie, the potential to eat into Gordon's workload for true lead-back volume is definitely there for Williams.

With Gordon's terrible receiving performance (36.4 receiving grade from Pro Football Focus), Williams' role as a receiver could also quickly exceed what either Denver RB saw last year.

And if his play in college is any indication, Williams will be able to do some serious damage with that workload. He never averaged fewer than 5.0 yards per carry in a season at UNC, and he capped off his collegiate career with a ridiculous showing in his junior season. He tallied 1,140 yards and 19 touchdowns on just 157 carries (7.3 yards per rush) and added an average of 12.2 yards per reception in the passing game.

FantasyPros' average draft position (ADP) data has Williams going off the board at RB27. If the backfield remains ambiguous that may be a fair ranking. But if he takes over the No. 1 job, which he has a real shot at doing, he could quickly climb into "league winner" kind of territory by putting up high-end RB2 numbers at a sixth-round price tag.

The Duel's 2021 fantasy football rankings have Williams checking in at RB25, while Gordon trails him at RB27.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.