Selected seventh overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams put together a moderately successful four-year run heading into play last season. Over those first four years, he’d topped 1,000 yards (once), reached double-digit TDs (once), and averaged 16.7 yards per catch — that last number cementing his status as a potent downfield threat. Still, he never caught 50 passes in a season heading into 2021 and was no lock to be part of the team’s long-term plans.
Entering the final season of his rookie deal, Williams picked the right time to put together his best year to date, collecting 76 receptions, 1,146 yards, and nine touchdowns. While those wouldn’t be viewed as monster numbers, it was enough to earn Williams a three-year, $60 million deal to remain in LA.
Even in his best overall campaign, it was still an up-and-down performance from Williams in 2021. He opened the year by posting more than 80 yards receiving four times over the Chargers’ first five games and scoring a half-dozen times. After that, however, the Clemson product managed a lone score over his next nine outings with only two games of more than 65 yards receiving.
Doubtless the team will be looking for more consistency this year, though Williams will almost assuredly be less reliable than veteran wideout Keenan Allen based on the former’s designation as more of a field stretcher. At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, the sixth-year pro is among the NFL’s best in that department with the size to win on 50/50 balls as well as the speed to get over the top.
Fantasy football outlook
The question for fantasy owners is how much upside still exists with Williams? Unfortunately, that’s hard to say. If you want to argue he has another level to reach, such a case would probably begin with continued development from quarterback Justin Herbert, who is only entering his third year and looks poised to join the NFL’s elite — like Williams, the Oregon alum needs more consistency. The counter would be that Williams, who is entering his age-28 season, is already in his prime physically, and he has continued to offset strong performances with no-shows. Why would Year 6 be any different?
At this stage Williams feels a bit overextended if you’re counting on him to produce WR2 numbers on a weekly basis. If you can grab him as your third receiver, however, there’s certainly enough upside there to deliver big performances and average out as a viable No. 2 over a full season. He’s poised to be overvalued in more casual settings.