Javonte Williams leads otherwise mostly low expectations for Broncos fantasy players

Javonte Williams runs. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports.
Javonte Williams runs. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports.

It’s almost that time of year: Fantasy football draft time!

And in preparation for the big day, we’re kicking off coverage with an overview of Denver Broncos players in fantasy football, looking at their expectations and average draft positions.

For Broncos fans who like to draft players from their favorite team, recent years have been difficult to do just that. Because without a great quarterback, the fantasy numbers of tight ends and wide receivers are stifled. Not only can fans comfortably go after the team’s quarterback in their draft now — because Russell Wilson is the real deal — but the receivers’ numbers should be much improved this year too.

However, it’s not a receiver or the quarterback who is expected to be the team’s best fantasy performer, the most hype is going to second-year running back Javonte Williams.

Williams bursted onto the scene last year, busting through the line and breaking tackles left and right when he carried the ball. To wit, his 31% forced missed tackles rate was not only the highest in the NFL last year, but it was the highest single-season number since Marshawn Lynch in 2014.

Overall, he rushed 203 times for 903 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also proved he is a decent receiver, catching 43 balls for another 316 yards and 3 TDs.

Now, it must be noted that Williams only started one game last year, with Melvin Gordon as the team’s starting running back. Both backs split carries, with exactly 203 each, but Gordon had more yards (918) and double the rushing touchdowns (8) compared to the much younger Williams.

This year, Williams is expected to be the starter, but Gordon can’t be slept on either.

That’s why some of the projections for Williams seem a bit high. SI projects him to have, “1,500 combined yards, double-digit touchdowns, 50+ receptions.”

Sure, that could be the case, but only if the Broncos use Gordon a whole lot less than last year.

Fantasy Pros’ projections seem a little more realistic: 1,017 rush yards, 6.9 TDs, 46.1 rec., 337 receiving yards and 2.8 TDs. Yes, they’re only slightly lower than the SI numbers, which he could hit, but only if every single thing goes his way.

Still, Williams’ ADP (average draft position) is incredibly high. He’s the No. 8 running back per Fantasy Pros and the 15th overall player. So, if you have a chance to take him, do it.

Melvin Gordon

But what about Gordon? He’s being taken as the 36th running back per Fantasy Pros and his both his yards (691) and touchdown projections (7) aren’t that far off of Williams.

What does it mean for fantasy owners?

If you have a top-8 pick and want to roll the dice on Williams, go for it! But if you don’t pick that high — or if he’s gone by the time you select — you could find a steal in Gordon around pick 100. Of course, drafting him will be a bit of a gamble when knowing Williams is the go-to guy, but don’t forget Hackett used Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon as backs 1a and 1b last year in Green Bay.

Gordon should be a RB2 or even RB3 on your team, but he will get you some solid numbers, too.

Russell Wilson

Wilson is another gamble considering he’s new to Hackett’s offense and the head coach is blending Wilson’s offense in, too. Plus, chemistry with receivers will be shaky at times considering everyone’s getting to know each other.

Fantasy Pros has him ranked as the 11th quarterback in standard leagues (no PPR ranking) and 86th overall in PPR leagues.

Without a doubt, he’s a starter-worthy QB, but it’s hard to argue he’s among the elite fantasy players at the position like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow.

So, you may be able to wait for the second run on QBs to nab him, but don’t wait too long.

Courtland Sutton

Sutton has recently surged up the ADP charts, landing at 21 at the WR position (66 overall) in PPR leagues. Sutton is a no-doubt No. 1 receiver in the NFL and Wilson’s addition definitely helps hype what could (and should) be a career year.

Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy is a bit of a wildcard due to his injury — and drop — history. However, drafters are liking what they’re seeing in him as he ranks just below Sutton at No. 24 at the wideout position (68 overall). Jeudy will certainly benefit from Wilson’s addition after playing with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater to start his career, and either of those receivers are good value in the 6th round.

KJ Hamler

Hamler’s definitely being slept on, at No. 278 overall and the 96th receiver per Fantasy Pros. Look, he’s coming off a major injury with the torn ACL and is still a major question mark going into the year. But, you could take him very late as a boom or bust type guy.

Albert Okwuebunam

Talk about a wild card. He’s ranked as the No. 20 overall tight end in PPR leagues, meaning he could be a decent backup choice. But, what if Greg Dulcich really impresses and takes the starting spot? Albert O. is probably best to avoid, but keep an eye on him during the year and you may be able to pick him up off the waiver wire if he starts performing well.

Tim Patrick

Patrick is a great, later-round pick as a depth receiver. He’s being drafted way too low at No. 163 overall and as the 63rd receiver. Simply, Patrick doesn’t drop passes and he’s really come on as a red zone threat the last two years, with 11 combined touchdowns. As a 4th or 5th receiver drafted, he’s a great value.

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