Mike Williams – Player-X?

Mike Williams – Player-X?

Dumpster diving for players you can give a second or less for is one of my favorite things. It’s just like going into the liquor store and buying a cheap bourbon you’ve never heard of before. Sometimes it’s shit like Old Tub, sorry Jim Beam, or sometimes it’s Eagle Rare, thanks Buffalo Trace. I think there are a multitude of players that can help you win a title but this article will focus on one in particular that has huge upside and is tied to a young and rising QB who recently set records.

Player and College

Roger Goodell steps up to the podium and does his usual, “With the 7th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select…..” that’s right, we are talking Mike Williams. The dynamic WR out of Clemson at 6’3” tall and 225 pounds was touted by pff.com as dominant at the catch point, slant threat, physical, and excellent hands. They also stated he needed to be paired with a QB that is “aggressive and allows him to win at the catch point in contested situations.” Mike Williams burst onto the scene as a sophomore going over 1000 yards in just 12 games. His junior season was cut short by a neck injury but he proceeded to come back in his Senior season and go for over 1300 yards and 11 TD.


NFL Career

When entering the draft, PFF talked about Mike needing a guy who would let him go up and get the ball.  In 2018, Williams’ 2nd season, Phillip Rivers ranked as #20 in deep ball pass attempts (20+ yards) and Mike only had 11 targets all season over 20 yards. One would think that he had a down season however, all things considered he had a solid sophomore campaign as he tied for the 6th most red zone targets inside the 10 (9 targets) and turned 6 of them into TD’s. He proved in 2018 that he is a red zone threat and that TD equity can be expected.

In 2019, we all had hopes that Mike would explode and have that 3rd year breakout and in a way he sort of did. Phillip Rivers changed his tune and was top 5 in deep shots  and Mike turned that into a 20+ yard per catch season. Combining that with his redzone upside he could have been a solid WR2 with WR1 upside. It didn’t happen that way though, he jumped in red zone targets (15) but only converted 2 of them. This is a drastic difference. He shifted to the most targeted air yards per attempt at 17.4 but couldn’t convert in the red zone. This is a tale of two seasons. 

Going into 2020 the community had high expectations for Mike to combine his prior two seasons and be a late round steal in drafts. With a rookie QB coming in, the question was how could he perform with Tyrod Taylor and Herbert. At face value he performed poorly as he finished the season with 756 yards and 5 TD’s (WR 48 in ppr). If you look closer and do some extrapolation, you may like what you see. Mike left two games early and missed two additional games. If you just look at the 12 games he played and go based on averages he would have been just under 1000 yards with 7 TD’s, and that’s with a rookie QB.  Now with year two of Justin Herbert, LA picking up his fifth year option (which shouldn’t be overlooked),  and all the hype around him filling the X role within the new offense being brought by offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, we can expect him to put up even better numbers. Your argument may be Keenan Allen is really the alpha but something to think about is in the only 2 seasons that Joe has been an OC he supported 2 excellent WR seasons with Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson (table below)

What do the analytics say?

So everyone wants to see metrics or analytics that support growth and couple that with opportunity. So what if the stats (per PFF.com) said that he is better against man coverage than Cortland Sutton, Chase Claypool, DJ Chark, DJ Moore, and Tyler Lockett? All of which have a higher ADP. What if the stats (per PFF.com) say that he is better against zone coverage than Jerry Jeudy, Amari Cooper and Dionte Johnson.  Again, all of which are going significantly before Mike Williams. He led the league in ADOT against zone coverage among qualified WR and was 2nd in ADOT against man coverage behind only Tyreek Hill. Lastly he had the third most contested targets behind Devante Parker and Allen Robinson but had a better catch rate than both of them.

All those stats without his name would tell you to buy. Now tie him to a young stud QB, new proven OC, and hype and you have yourself a sleeper folks. A guy that is currently going as WR59 around Nyheim Hines, Darnell Mooney, Gus Edwards, and Tyler Higbee. Mike Williams is an absolute steal and will at an absolute minimum be a WR2 with huge weeks in your lineup.


What should I pay for him?

This is a complete upside play but I think fits for teams in various situations whether rebuilding or contending. Contending teams can look to give up a young WR asset like Rashod Bateman or Elijah Moore for him in the hopes you see the upside discussed. Rebuilding teams can look to move a second round pick for him in the hopes to either flip him for a first in season or hold as a solid WR in his prime with, fingers crossed, a new contract to stay with Justin Herbert.

Some recent proof that this is his current value via DLF:

  • Lamichael Perine and a 2022 2nd Rounder
  • 2022 2nd and 3rd Rounder
  • Marquez Callaway and a 2022 3rd Rounder

I would smash Mike Williams all day everyday in these trades.  

In summary, the game of dynasty is like the stock market, buy and sell players at the right time to ensure you always are gaining value and contending at the same time. Mike Williams gives you the upside play at a cheaper than dirt price to help you in whatever situation your dynasty team is in.

2021 Projections:

134 Targets, 75 Catches, 1203 Yards, and 10 TD (WR12)

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