Fantasy Football: Mike Williams Can Win You A Championship

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Mike Williams
CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Wide receiver Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates his catch for a first down in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at StubHub Center on November 18, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It’s never too late to find a good player in fantasy football, even if it is the final week of just about every fantasy league. Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams flashed promise throughout the season and finally put together his most complete game in Week 15. Facing off against the division rival Kansas City Chiefs, the second-year wideout recorded seven receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns. If you’re fighting for the fantasy championship and you need a wide receiver, Mike Williams is the guy for you.

Fantasy Football: Buy In On the Mike Williams Hype

It’s inherently dangerous to go all-in on a player after one amazing performance, but almost all of the underlying peripherals suggest Williams can continue his success. First off, and most importantly, he’s a really good receiver. Williams was initially selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, so he clearly has a lot of god-gifted athletic ability. Williams has put that ability on display this season whenever the ball goes his way.

Through 14 games, Williams has 37 receptions for 592 yards and nine touchdowns. His 64.9% catch rate is pretty good for a perimeter receiver, and his 16.0 yards per reception and nine touchdowns show that he’s capable of making big plays every time he touches the ball.

Additionally, Williams has played his best, most efficient football over the past month. In his past five games, Williams has recorded 19 receptions on 25 targets for 254 yards and four touchdowns. His 76% catch rate shows how reliable he is, and his four touchdowns in five games show that he has a good chance of finding the endzone each and every week.

The advanced statistics back up what the traditional numbers say. Per SharpFootballStats.com, Mike Williams currently has a 57.9% receiving success rate. The league average is 51.8%, which means Williams is considerably more efficient than the average NFL receiver. By comparison, fellow Chargers wideout Tyrell Williams has a 53.7% receiving success rate.

Snap Count on the Rise

Basically, the only reason Williams hasn’t been a better fantasy option this season is that of a lack of opportunity. The second-year wideout has played in 63.6% of the Chargers offensive snaps this season, per Pro Football Reference. By comparison, Keenan Allen has played in 79%  of the snaps, while Tyrell Williams has played in 75.8% of offensive snaps.

However, Mike Williams is about to see his snap count rise dramatically in Week 16. The oft-injured Keenan Allen suffered a hip injury midway through Thursday’s game, taking him out of the contest altogether. As of now, nobody knows if he’ll be able to suit up in Week 16. However, per @profootballdoc, it doesn’t seem likely.

With Allen sidelined, Williams will thrive. Williams played in 89.2% of snaps against the Chiefs, his second-highest percentage of the season. Additionally, the majority of Williams damage came after Allen left the field. After Allen left the game, Williams recorded six receptions for 38 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He also added a 19-yard touchdown run and game-winning two-point conversion, but those feats probably aren’t repeatable.

The Big Obstacle

The biggest obstacle facing Williams in Week 16 is his matchup. The Los Angeles Chargers offense has to face off against the Baltimore Ravens and their top defense during Championship Weekend. By just about every measure possible, Baltimore’s defense is one of the best at defending wide receivers. Through 13 games, Baltimore allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers in standard scoring. Football Outsiders doesn’t paint a prettier picture, as they rank the Ravens as the fourth-best team at defending both WR1’s and WR2’s.

However, this is 2018, and elite offenses tend to beat elite defenses. Baltimore won’t make it easy on Los Angeles, but it’s hard to imagine any defense completely stopping Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Rivers is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, throwing for 3,951 yards, 31 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions through 14 games. There really hasn’t been a defense capable of slowing him this season, as his play is just on another level.

Going up against the Ravens defense is obviously a tougher task than facing the Chiefs, but Williams should still prevail. Between his high snap count and Philip Rivers’ ability to do basically whatever he wants, Williams should still put up starting-caliber numbers for you.

Last Word on Mike Williams in Fantasy Football

It’s been a long time coming, but it is now officially time to believe in Mike Williams. The wide receiver has immense physical talent, as evidenced by his seventh-overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s flashed his raw ability throughout the season and has actually performed well when called upon.

Williams was efficient when on the field, but the presence of Keenan Allen stopped him from reaching his potential. However, Allen suffered a hip injury in Week 15, allowing Williams to jump into the spotlight. Williams dominated without Allen, catching six passes for 38 yards and two touchdowns after Allen’s injury. Philip Rivers and the Chargers coaching staff clearly see him as their best receiver with Allen sidelined.

Matching up against the Baltimore Ravens won’t be easy, but Williams should still prevail. Philip Rivers is in the midst of a magical season, and he’ll need somebody to throw to. Given Williams’ ability to make big plays and win on the outside, Rivers should target the second-year pro early and often. Despite the unfavorable matchup, Williams should put up starting numbers thanks to a high snap count and the benefit of playing with a great quarterback.

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