Faced with losing both of their top running backs this offseason, the Green Bay Packers opted to sign Aaron Jones to a long-term extension and allow Jamaal Williams to depart in free agency. Williams didn’t go far, landing with the division-rival Detroit Lions on a multiyear deal.
Jamaal Williams signing: Fantasy football impact
Williams’ best play came over the past two seasons while working in the Kyle Shanahan-influenced offense brought to Green Bay by head coach Matt LaFleur. That scheme, which focuses heavily on outside-zone runs and vertical routes for tailbacks, played to Williams’ strengths and allowed him to set career marks in yards from scrimmage and efficiency. Earlier this offseason, the Lions hired former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn as their new offensive coordinator. Under Lynn, the Chargers ran many Shanahan staple concepts in 2020, suggesting Detroit will do so as well moving forward.
That fit offers Williams decent upside even as the No. 2 running back. D’Andre Swift, the Lions’ second-round pick last year, has a slighter build and probably shouldn’t see as many touches per game as he did during his debut season. Williams worked well in a timeshare with the Packers and, when injury opened the door to the starting job, he flourished.
The Lions also appear more committed to the ground game than the Packers, creating more available carries for all of the top backs in Detroit. Williams figures to see at least as many in 2021 as he did this past year if health permits.