Javonte Williams 2022 Fantasy Outlook

Javonte Williams

Javonte Williams 2022 Fantasy Outlook

Although the 2021 Denver Broncos stumbled to a 7-10 record, second-round rookie RB Javonte Williams had a promising debut. Despite splitting the backfield touches nearly evenly with veteran Melvin Gordon, Williams accumulated 1,219 scrimmage yards, scored seven touchdowns, and compiled overall RB16 numbers in PPR leagues.

With Gordon set to hit unrestricted free agency ahead of the 2022 NFL campaign, fantasy fanatics made Williams a popular early target for a potential top-5 showing as Denver’s featured back.

But after flirting with the idea of joining a crowded Baltimore backfield, Gordon ultimately re-signed with the Broncos to re-form a deep and talented tandem in Denver.

Now that we know the rejuvenated Broncos, who made one of the biggest offseason splashes by trading for nine-time Pro Bowl signal-caller Russell Wilson, will once again feature a committee backfield, fantasy managers are wondering what to expect out of Denver ahead of the 2022 draft season.

2021 Usage

After opening last season 3-0, Vic Fangio’s Broncos squad endured two separate four-game losing streaks, which led to Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s dismissal. Despite having a top-10 run-blocking offensive line and rushing for 2,025 yards, suboptimal quarterback play sunk the team’s playoff hopes down the stretch.

One thing that Shurmur’s play-calling did last year was utilize both Williams and Gordon in a strikingly similar fashion.

Javonte Williams 17 203 903 4.4 4 53 43 316 3
Melvin Gordon 16 203 918 4.5 8 38 28 213 2

Both backs received 203 rushing attempts and had nearly identical efficiency numbers running behind Denver’s solid front five.

Williams finished his rookie season as the overall RB16, while Gordon was one spot behind thanks to accumulating double-digit touchdown numbers for the fifth time in his last six NFL campaigns.

Because the Broncos rotated backs in drives rather than situationally, Gordon’s elevated red-zone touches appear to be coincidental. Williams cashed in 3-of-10 carries inside the opponent’s five-yard line, while Gordon succeeded in 4-of-11.

Presence of Melvin Gordon

But it was Williams who looked like the better overall producer when exploring advanced analytics. The rookie outperformed Gordon in yards after contact, breakaway rank, and was more elusive. Williams ranked second among all NFL running backs with 63 missed tackles forced.

Gordon was no slouch in those areas either, ranking ninth in missed tackles forced and top-20 in breakaway rushing yards.

Williams was, however, more effective in the passing game and performed exceptionally well in pass protection for a first-year running back. This should bode well for Williams in his sophomore season as Denver’s passing attack should be significantly better with Wilson taking the snaps.

With recent reports indicating that Williams will see an uptick in touches and should lead Denver’s backfield committee, fantasy managers are questioning how they should prioritize both backs in 2022 fantasy drafts.

2022 Fantasy Outlook

Williams was a top-10 pick in early fantasy drafts but has started to slide after the Broncos brought Gordon back into the fold.

Still, Williams is more explosive and played a bigger role in the passing game a year ago and new head coach Nathanial Hackett has a history of successfully employing multiple backs.

With a slight increase in touches and an offense that should be drastically better with Russell Wilson under center, a season with 1,000-plus rushing yards, 50-plus receptions, and approaching double-digit scores seems perfectly within the realm of possibilities for Williams, who will be an intriguing fantasy option in the second round of 2022 fantasy football drafts.

Even if Gordon sees a slight reduction in carries, he’s still an effective fantasy option who has top-10 upside if forced into a featured role. View the eighth-year pro as a solid RB3 with weekly flex value and a solid value pick to target in the middle rounds.

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About Jody Smith 488 Articles
With over a decade of winning experience, Jody is a well-known fixture in the fantasy football community. He was named Fantasy Pros’ **Most Accurate Ranker** previously and was the site’s Top NFL over/under totals picker with a record 65% accuracy in 2020, while also ranking 5th in the country with a 55% against-the-spread hit rate. Jody has written for many sites over the years including Pro Football Focus, FantasyPros, CBS Sportsline, FantasyData, and is a regular contributor to the Fantasy Index magazine expert’s poll, draft, and auction. Jody’s experience ranking and projecting player performance will help prepare the Fulltime Fam for their big draft days as well as answers they can trust on Sunday for those ever crucial Who Do I Start questions.