The Los Angeles (then San Diego) Chargers were in dire straits after losing Keenan Allen in the first half of Game 1 in 2016. They drafted Hunter Henry to eventually replace Antonio Gates, but they did not have a ready-made in-house alternative to cover losing Allen. Someone needed to step up; and that someone was Tyrell Williams.
Why do you want to draft Williams in 2017?
The second-year player from little Western Oregon University had developed quicker than anyone expected. He was the height, weight, and speed that decision makers fawn over, but for every one that pans out there are 20 who don’t. To that point Williams hadn’t given the Chargers any reason to believe he was one of the latter. He stuck out in Summer 2015 and between injuries flashed brightly his rookie season. He had carried that momentum into Summer 2016, so the Chargers wanted to see what they had in him. He was not dominant from the outset, although he did hit pay dirt Week 2, but he really took off beginning Week 5:
at Oakland – 5 catches, 117 yards, TD
vs. Denver – 3 catches, 28 yards
at Atlanta – 7 catches, 140 yards
at Denver – 1 catch, 4 yards
vs. Tennessee – 6 catches, 65 yards, TD
vs. Miami – 5 catches, 125 yards, TD
at Houston – 8 catches, 70 yards, TD
Yes, he struggled against Denver. Remember that everyone struggled against that defense in 2016 though; he dominated everyone else. His numbers faded down the stretch, but the torn labrum he was playing through played a big role in his crawl to the finish line. Despite that, he still ended up netting the second-most yards-per-route from the slot in the entire league. A 1,000-yard season would be a quality showing from any second-year receiver, let alone an undrafted prospect from a FCS school battling a late-season injury. The sky is the limit for 2017 and beyond!
And that leads us to why one wouldn’t draft Williams
And that is due to another Williams, this one is named Mike. The Chargers sought out the highly coveted receiver out of Clemson in the Top-10 of the 2017 draft. A gut punch to Tyrell Williams and all of his dynasty owners. Philip Rivers has experience feeding many mouths but he has a limited grocery budget as he only has one football. An offense comprised of Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Hunter Henry, both Williams’es, deep threat Travis Benjamin and elder statesman Antonio Gates can only net so many numbers. As a result, Tyrell Williams’ stock has remained lukewarm since May.
As you probably know by now, the rookie Williams has battled injury since being picked. He was just recently activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list and still needs a few weeks before he’s ready for games. Mike Williams is still not even healthy, and, as the old saying goes – guys injured in August are usually guys who are injured in October. Not that any injury is a comforting one, but the fact that it’s a back injury gives even more pause. At one point there were rumors that he would need season-ending surgery. Despite all of this bad news surrounding Mike Williams, nothing has happened to Tyrell Williams’ stock price. Did we all forget what he did last year? He’s still in the same neighborhood as Eric Decker (who is only cleared to run in a straight line), Jeremy Maclin (who hasn’t played with his quarterback), Donte Moncrief (who is both dealing with an injury and an unknown quarterback situation), and not just one but TWO Cleveland Browns!
Tyrell Williams can’t control Mike Williams and how the team chooses to deploy him. He can only control what he does. Fortunately, he has time to earn that role before Mike Williams is ready to play. The game clicked quickly for him Year 1 and he obviously made a big jump Year 2. Not all developmental charts are linear, but there really isn’t any reason right now for his game to take a step back. If he continues to progress, are the Chargers really going to take targets away from him and give them to an unproven rookie who has barely practiced since being drafted? Of course they’re not.
Tyrell Williams is a 5-star Texas Chili flavor of the week
Like any good chili he has needed some time to slow cook and develop flavor. It was good after being cooked for a while, but a little bit more time and it’ll be a ribbon winner – or in this case, a fantasy title winner. Your opponents are making a mistake ignoring Tyrell Williams. If you can avoid starting him Week 1 (at Denver) by all means do so, but even an average game should leave you smiling ear-to-ear about utilizing him going forward. It’s now up to Tyrell Williams to overcome his own team moving on from him too quickly and I have all the confidence that he’s hungry enough to take on the challenge. It’s what he’s been doing since he first got into the league.