How valuable is Damien Williams in 2019?

Fantasy owners who were able to procure Damien Williams were rewarded with a massive return over the final month of the season. How massive? A whopping 18.4 percent of championship teams in ESPN leagues rostered Williams.

Whether you were one of the lucky ones to roster him or not, you may be wondering where his value lies next season. Williams got thrusted into a starting role in the high-powered Chiefs offense following the release of Kareem Hunt and one week of Spencer Ware carrying the load.

Hunt was a common first-round pick in fantasy drafts coming into 2018, so that role was already defined as valuable in fantasy circles. Ware has also had success in the past when healthy and getting the majority of the touches, even in the Alex Smith era of Kansas City’s offense. With Patrick Mahomes clicking on all cylinders, any running back could have fantasy success. But don’t discount the talent of Williams.

While he flashed at times in four mostly forgettable years with the Dolphins and two seasons before that at Oklahoma, he never had an opportunity to be the guy. It looks like 2019 will be his chance, with some help from Daryl Williams and either a re-signed Ware, a free agent addition or a Day 3 draft pick. That lack of competition bodes well for Damien Williams. With all the holes the Chiefs have on defense, it would be foolish to spend big money on the Mark Ingrams and Le’Veon Bells of the world in free agency or use a high draft pick on a RB.

Before we can determine where Williams should go in 2019 drafts, let’s look back at what he did as a starter in 2018.

Over the final four weeks of the regular season, Williams averaged 21.8 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. In terms of overall points, he was the No. 8 player in all of fantasy. On a points per game basis he ranked as RB5 over that span, behind only Derrick Henry, C.J. Anderson, Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey. He was even better in the three-week stretch that most leagues count for their playoffs (Weeks 14-16). Williams was the No. 5 overall player in fantasy and No. 3 RB in both total and average points.

So where would he rank next year if he begins the season as Kansas City’s top RB? Just slot him where Hunt used to be?

Well, no. It’s not that easy.

You be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes the talent level between Williams and Hunt is equal. The opportunity may be nearly identical, but you’re going to get less of a return per touch on your investment. But all that means is that Williams isn’t a first-round pick. So where is he?

TD Fantasy’s full rankings will be out in a few months, but right now I have Williams as my RB17 for the 2019 season. The average ADP of last year’s RB17 (Alex Collins) was 37.4, which is a very early fourth-round pick in 12-team leagues. I would take him over Devonta Freeman, Kerryon Johnson & Derrick Henry. He’s neck-and-neck with Leonard Fournette, so defer to personal preference there.