Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams was electric down the stretch last season following the team’s release of starter Kareem Hunt.
The Chiefs offense desperately needed someone to fill that role vacated by Hunt in the stretch run and postseason, a role which Williams embraced.
Ranked 21st in Matthew Berry’s Top 200 list, Williams could be poised for a breakout campaign as he looks to shed his ‘role player’ label to become a top-10 running back in the NFL. He won the starting job last year, but that doesn’t mean he’ll do the same again this season.
After all, the Kansas City backfield is much deeper this season. Along with Damien Williams, rookie Darwin Thompson has had a strong start to the preseason while veteran Carlos Hyde has proven himself to be a primary back in the past.
So is drafting Damien Williams worth taking the risk?
Damien Williams is definitely a dual-threat running back. Not only is he quick out of the backfield, but he provides a significant check-down option for Patrick Mahomes.
During his time with Miami, he was utilized primarily as a receiving back and a reliable one at that. His career catch-percentage is 78 percent, including 95.8 percent last season.
He hasn’t compiled a ton of rushing yards in his career but did average 5.1 yards per carry a year ago. Williams rushed 50 times for 256 yards – both career highs.
It’s a small sample size, yes, but if it’s any indication what he can do in the Chiefs offense and in support of Patrick Mahomes, Williams is definitely one of the most reliable options to have at running back.
Prior to this week, Williams was sidelined by a hamstring injury that kept him entirely out of camp. In his absence, it has allowed other Chiefs’ backs to make an impression and a case for the starting job. The injury has hindered him longer than many in the Kansas City organization expected which has created the heavy competition at running back.
In the past, Williams has battled with injuries when he was with the Miami Dolphins. During his lone run as a starter in 2017, he dislocated his shoulder after just four games in an extended role and missed the remainder of that season. In his place, Kenyan Drake earned the starting job.
And in 2016, he began the year on the PUP list which derailed his ability to jettison into a larger role behind Jay Ajayi.
It appears Andy Reid is looking to embrace a ‘running-back-by-committee’ philosophy on offense this season. While this has some overall positive effects in throwing off opposing defenses, it does create a challenge for fantasy owners to judge production.
Hyde, Thompson, and even Darrell Williams have emerged as potential backs for the Chiefs. Now with Damien entering the fold, the next couple weeks of preseason will be telling.
But some fantasy owners don’t have that luxury of waiting.
So given his history of injury and the uncertainty of his overall production, it might be best to pass on Williams. But if you have already drafted him, don’t fret. He will get you good numbers in a flex role and given his versatility it’s a good ace-in-the-hole to have on your bench.