The Denver Broncos have pounced to boost their running back depth chart. The team traded up to the 35th overall pick and picked running back Javonte Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He joins a depth chart that includes Melvin Gordon and Royce Freeman.
Williams is my definition of an old school running back. You never question his love for the game or desire to do everything it takes to give you those extra yards your team needs. As the co-starting back for North Carolina the last two seasons, he played in 24 games, averaging 106.4 scrimmage yards per game and totaling a whopping 28 touchdowns. This comes after not playing all that much at running back, as he was a linebacker in high school until his senior year, when his coach moved him to the offensive side of the ball. And that’s where he blossomed, rushing for 2,271 yards and 27 touchdowns in his final year in high school.
11 games, 157 attempts, 1,140 yards, 7.3 ypc, 19 TDs
11 games, 25 receptions, 305 yards, 3 TDs
If you are a linebacker or safety, Williams will make you look silly. He’ll either stiff-arm, juke or bounce off you as he forces missed tackle with regularity. Imagine a linebacker, but with the skills of a top running back prospect and you have Williams. He led the nation in broken tackles and thankfully wasn’t overused in college, averaging just 13.5 carries per game. His style of play could be detrimental to his longevity, but he’d coming into the league about as fresh as any top running back can be. And, he’s also very young. He won’t be 21 until the start of the season, a little over two-years younger than fellow running back prospect Najee Harris.
Fantasy football impact
Williams enters a Broncos backfield that maybe has a clear-cut RB1 in Melvin Gordon. But as we saw last season, head coach Vic Fangio does not have any problems using a running back by committee system. Williams can be a weapon both in the receiving and running game, which will instantly provide RB2/FLEX value in fantasy football.
As of right now, Gordon is scheduled to be a free agent after the end of the 2021 season. If the Broncos opt to not re-sign him, then Williams could easily find himself as the RB1. In his final season with the UNC Tar Heels, he had over 1,400 yards of scrimmage, which is nothing to sneeze at. We’ve seen running backs with his size and ability be coveted a lot in fantasy drafts every year.