Serving as the thunder to D’Andre Swift’s lightning, can Jamaal Williams play himself into fantasy prominence this year?
For fantasy football purposes, even in this era of widespread timeshares and few true bellcows, the No. 2 running back on a team is at times an afterthought. With all the buzz around D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams is that forgotten man in the Detroit Lions backfield.
A year ago, Swift and Williams each played 13 games. It wasn’t a perfectly overlapped 13 games, but Williams had the slight edge in rushing attempts (153 vs. 151) as he set a career-high with 601 rushing yards.
Williams also set a career-low with 157 receiving yards, which drove his yards per touch to a career-low 4.2.
Williams’ upside is capped by his lack of a pass-catching role in the Lions offense. Swift is one of the best pass catching backs in the league.
While Williams can be fantasy relevant as a flex option if he averages close to 12 rush attempts per game again this year, he won’t be someone fantasy managers can feel confident playing on a weekly basis. His path to upside is an injury to Swift, which is about the only thing standing in Swift’s path to a finish as a top-10 fantasy running back (or more) this year.
A late-round pick on Williams as an insurance policy to Swift, or a standalone RB4/RB5 with a possible path to relevance, might seem like a good idea. Taking running back handcuffs is not always a sound strategy in normal size leagues though. A roster spot can usually best be used elsewhere.
Rather than straining to envision Williams’ upside that may go unfulfilled if Swift stays healthy, taking a swing on easily seeable upside late in a draft is a better plan. Think someone like Tyler Allgeier (Atlanta Falcons) or Brian Robinson (Washington Commanders).