The Indianapolis Colts suffered a crushing blow in Week 11 when stud running back Marlon Mack left the game with a hand injury, not to return. It was later reported that Mack fractured his hand and will likely miss a number of games.
Fortunately, despite the loss of their starting running back, the run game didn’t miss a beat a week ago thanks to journeyman Jonathan Williams. Williams enjoyed his first 100-yard game as a pro vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Williams is now in line to draw the start in the Indy backfield this Thursday night. Is the four-year veteran shaping up to be a late season find worthy of carrying your fantasy team to the promise land? Or was the former Arkansas Razorback simply just another flash in the pan? Let’s discuss.
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Jonathan Williams’ Fantasy Outlook vs. Houston Texans
Jonathan Williams had touched the ball just twice all season long prior to Week 11. In fact, last week’s matchup marked just the second time the running back had been active in 2019. Yet with Jordan Wilkins inactive due to injury, and Marlon Mack going down with an injury of his own, the little-known Williams was next up to bat in the Indianapolis backfield.
Williams responded to the tune of 116-yards on 13 carries, that’s a phenomenal 8.9 yards per carry average. He also managed to rip off a 31-yard gain on his lone reception of the evening. Williams’ performance in limited duty was good enough to put him on the cusp of RB1 territory for the week, finishing as the 14th-highest scoring fantasy player at his position.
Williams’ eye-popping numbers were good enough to make him a waiver wire must-add ahead of Thursday night’s game against the division rival Houston Texans. Yet, while Williams will likely draw the start for Indianapolis, there are numerous reasons to be cautious about rolling with the running back in your fantasy starting lineup.
For starters, Jordan Wilkins, Mack’s original backup who missed last week with an injury, has been taken off the team’s injury report and is expected to play in Week 12. Wilkins is no scrub himself, having an 80+ yard rushing performance on his 2019 resume and a career yards per carry average of 5.80. To think Wilkins won’t at the very least eat into Williams’ workload would be foolish.
Secondly, Williams and Wilkins have just 23 receptions combined over a total of six NFL seasons. Fellow running back Nyheim Hines already has 30 catches just this season. Hines will be the player featured in the passing game, limiting Williams’, and for that matter, Wilkins’ fantasy value.
Backup Gus Edwards did indeed gash the Texans in garbage time for 112-yards and a touchdown last Sunday. However, prior to that showing, Houston was riding a five-game streak of holding every running back they had faced to 66-yards or fewer on the ground, while not allowing a single touchdown to the position.
Should You Start or Sit Jonathan Williams in Week 12?
Indianapolis played Houston earlier this season and managed to accumulate just 62 yards rushing as a team that day, and that was with a healthy Marlon Mack at their disposal.
It’s quite evident that it won’t take just one running back to replace Mack in the Colts backfield. In fact, it will take three, and that still may not be enough to simulate his production.
Williams is too risky of a play to start on a Thursday night in a tougher matchup than meets the eye. Don’t put yourself through the horrors of plugging him in on a whim, only to regret it throughout the weekend.
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