You know it’s time to start worrying about a fantasy football pick when the guru himself starts worrying.
ESPN’s fantasy expert Matthew Berry took to Twitter on Saturday night to react to the news of the Kansas City Chiefs signing six-time Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy to a one-year deal after the Buffalo Bills made him surprise cut earlier Saturday. More specifically, he expressed concern for the fantasy stock of Chiefs starting running back Damien Williams with the arrival of McCoy.
The Chiefs had earlier Saturday offed Carlos Hyde to the Houston Texans for an offensive lineman, trimming the rushing stable down to Williams and a couple of yet-to-be-tested youngsters in rookie Darwin Thompson and second-year Darrel Williams.
Now though, especially considering Andy Reid drafted McCoy when he was at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles and already said in early August that the Chiefs running backs would be “by committee” in 2019, there could be troubles for fantasy owners targeting or in possession of Williams.
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Fantasy Concern Begins to Grow
On Berry’s list of Love/Hate for the 2019 fantasy season, he listed Williams as his second choice for his “running backs I love” for the upcoming season alongside the likes of Arizona’s David Johnson, Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, Seattle’s Chris Carson and Oakland’s Josh Jacobs.
Among Berry’s reasons for loving Williams this season was his analysis of how he performed down the stretch for the Chiefs last season, which saw him rack up 35 carries for 159 yards, 10 catches for 91 yards and four total touchdowns in the team’s playoff games alone.
Looking solely at the final four games of the regular season, Williams’ versatility was on full display as he ran his way to four touchdowns and caught another six more from do-it-all starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Put that all together with Kareem Hunt vacating the starting job and now playing for the Cleveland Browns and 2019 was shaping up to be a breakout season for Williams.
Fighting Against History
McCoy and Reid have a nice history together, but Reid has an even better history of developing running backs — another reason why Berry was high on Williams’ stock this season. The Chiefs head coach won’t cast aside the talent he has for McCoy, but he does seem likely to make room for him to take several carries.
The “by committee” approach Reid discussed during the preseason is not great for owners hoping to have an RB1 that sees the majority of touches, which could have been Williams without a veteran in the stable. But now that seems to be an issue on top of the other concerns about Williams, such as the hamstring that held him out of a large chunk of training camp.
Once a certain RB1, according to Fantasy Pros, Williams had fallen to the 16th-ranked running back with an average draft position of 13 well before Buffalo cut McCoy. A strong ending to the 2018 season boosted his stock tremendously, but longevity is a concern on two fronts: with his injuries and in that he has never recorded more than 50 carries in a regular season as he enters his sixth pro year.
How Williams stock will fluctuate in the days leading up the regular season remains to be seen, but it is hard to imagine replacing a small factor like Hyde with a down-but-not-out veteran such as McCoy doesn’t bode well for production.