Welcome to the 2022 edition of the Fantasy Football Rookie Snapshot NFL draft series! In this space, fantasy football expert Liz Loza will analyze the incoming class of first-year stars and gauge their impact — be it immediate or latent — on our fake football game.
Next up, the wide receivers. Liz covered Treylon Burks here. Then, Ohio State standout, Garrett Wilson. She also profiled Drake London and the elite Buckeye, Chris Olave. Finally, we have Alabama's very own Jameson Williams!
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Size: 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds
Age: 21-years-old (3/26/2001)
Bio: Williams was off to a fast start long before he arrived in Tuscaloosa. A track-and-field star at Cardinal Ritter Prep, Williams holds the state record for the 300-meter hurdles (previously set by Ezekiel Elliott). While the track and field titles were gratifying, football remained Williams’ primary passion. He exited high school a four-star prospect and Missouri’s No. 2-rated player at the position (per 247Sports). After being heavily recruited by top schools (including Alabama) and receiving 46 offers, Williams enrolled at Ohio State.
Williams contributed on special teams as a true freshman but was minimally involved. The following year he started six of eight games and flashed with a TD grab in the 2021 Sugar Bowl. However, given the Buckeyes’ stacked receiving corps, Williams’ opportunities were limited. As such, he entered the transfer portal and suited up for the Tide in the fall of 2021.
With Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith in the NFL, the St. Louis native filled an obvious void. Williams closed out his college career as a Biletnikoff Award finalist (79-1,572-15) and was named a first-team Associated Press All-American. Unfortunately, all of the good juju came to an abrupt halt when he tore his ACL in the National Championship loss to Georgia.
Pros: Elite athlete with game-breaking speed, footwork is next level, added value on special teams (2 TDs on 10 returns in 2021)
Cons: Ultra-lean build with below-average play strength, spotty hands technique, only one year of starting quality ball, tore his ACL in January of 2022
The Big Picture
Watching Williams play is like listening to jazz (or 90’s country, if you’re me). There are no wasted movements in his play. Everything is executed with fluidity and purpose. From the stutter steps to the head-fakes and the cut-backs, Williams' footwork is a masterclass on smooth transitions. His routes have tempo and his acceleration is swift (without being herky-jerky).
Undoubtedly, his deep speed is the hallmark of his game, making him one of the most accomplished deep threats (20.7 YPR) in the 2022 class.
There is a question, however, of whether or not that speed would be hindered by an increase in mass. Given Williams’ wiry frame and thin legs it’s not surprising to discover that he lacks play strength. That lack of physical brute might prevent him from consistently winning on the outside at the next level. Obviously, smaller receivers have learned to adjust their game accordingly but there is concern Williams could struggle to make that adjustment in the pros.
NFL Comp: I see a lot of Robby Anderson (those potential TDs!) ... #DraftTwitter is feeling the Will Fuller comp, though.
The Fantasy Fit
Unfortunately, we don’t have an exact 40 time for Williams because of that torn ACL and he wasn’t able to participate in drills at the Combine or Alabama’s Pro Day. The tape, however, clearly illustrates his long speed and prowess as a vertical threat. I think he’ll get there eventually, but the transition won’t be seamless or fast.
From a fantasy point of view, the slowed maturation process figures to depress his immediate value in redraft.
That is, unless Williams were to join a prolific offense helmed by one of the most gifted young signal callers in the league. A prolific offense that just lost their No. 1 WR and will need to keep pace in what’s shaping up to be the most competitive division in the AFC.
So, yeah, if the Chiefs tap Williams to eventually fill the hole left by Tyreek Hill (calm down, Hardman truthers) then I’d anticipate using a fifth-round fantasy draft pick to acquire his virtual services.
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