Rookie Rundown: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina

Rookie Rundown: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina

Fantasy Football Rookie Analysis

Rookie Rundown: RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina

By

North Carolina running back Javonte Williams‘ violent rushing style will earn him a place on NFL and fantasy football rosters in no time. He thrashes through defenders and brings an all-around game that is arguably the most versatile of any incoming rookie prospect.

A prep linebacker turned running back, the high school valedictorian isn’t all brawn. Williams’ heady ways will attract plenty of suitors at the next level. The Tar Heels utilized him as a true freshman, and Williams would go on to earn AP second-team All-American and second-team All-ACC honors as a junior in 2020 while sharing the backfield with Michael Carter.

Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 220 pounds
40 time: 4.58 seconds

Williams may not be the fastest back, but neither was Frank Gore (also ran 4.58-second 40), and he turned out okay. Even though Williams may not be drafted as the highest running back taken in 2021’s NFL Draft, he certainly could prove to be the most effective out of the gates for fantasy football purposes.

Table: Javonte Williams NCAA stats (2018-20)

Year
School
Class
Gm*
Rushing
Receiving
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Rec
Yds
Avg
TD
2018
North Carolina
FR
10
43
224
5.2
5
8
58
7.3
0
2019
North Carolina
SO
13
166
933
5.6
5
17
176
10.4
1
2020
North Carolina
JR
11
157
1,140
7.3
19
25
305
12.2
3
Career
366
2,297
6.3
29
50
539
10.8
4

*includes postseason/bowl games

Williams led all NCAA rushers in missed tackles and finished fourth in yards after contact in 2020, per Pro Football Focus. He was second in attempts of 15 or more yards gained.

Sharing time during his three years at North Carolina prepared him for the modern NFL’s penchant for splitting workloads and compartmentalizing backfield chores. His versatility will allow for scheme flexibility, but any team serious about drafting Williams must predominantly value his smashmouth nature.

Pros

  • Only 366 NCAA touches means he doesn’t enter the NFL already half worn out
  • Ridiculously productive per touch, averaging 6.8 per play in his career and 7.9 last season
  • Powerful, violent style of play with elite yards-after-contact ability
  • Patient back who allows blocks to develop and paces his burst accordingly
  • Fluid enough hips to pull off jukes, start-stops, and cut-backs to create extra yardage
  • Three-down back potential
  • Tremendous contact balance — consistently able to shed clinging defenders, reset his center of gravity, and power forward
  • Experienced running more advanced routes out of the backfield
  • Demonstrated a crafty determination for the end zone in 2020
  • Improved pass protection as collegiate career moved along

Cons

  • Capable receiver but not naturally gifted in this area — a few ugly drops
  • Lacks breakaway speed, forcing him to earn extra yardage the hard way
  • The hyper-aggressive running style cuts both ways, opening him up to greater injury potential and possibly shortening any longevity gains resulting from a low touch total
  • While successful on inside zones and behind power-blocking schemes, may be a touch slow for outside zone work in the NFL

Fantasy football outlook

Williams could be a victim of a de-emphasis on his position and an extremely deep class at quarterback and wide receiver, pushing his draft stock below where it should be based on his merits. A likely draft placement is the early second round is still more than respectable, although Williams is deserving of spot among the top 32 players, regardless of position.

There’s a small chance Williams could make his way into the late first round. Either way, there will be a host of teams interested in his services atop the second round. Miami jumps out as a likely landing spot, provided it doesn’t invest a first-rounder in Travis Etienne or Najee Harris. The same can be said for the New York Jets.

The Jets (34th overall), Atlanta Falcons (35th), Miami Dolphins (36th), Denver Broncos (40th) and the New York Giants (42nd) are the most viable landing spots, if he escapes the first round.

In 2021’s fantasy season, Williams has a range of high-end backup all the way up to Rookie of the Year contender. Any of the aforementioned teams present more than enough touches to make him a No. 2 option with the right matchups.

Based on touch potential alone, the Jets and Falcons offer the most volume opportunity to become a bell cow. In Miami or Denver, he’d have more offensive stability but a pronounced role share. Over the long haul, Williams should be among the most coveted backs in upcoming dynasty/keeper drafts.

THE LATEST

More Huddle
Home