By: Jared Forest (Twitter: @ThatGuyFromJerz)
Rookies Vs. Vets
Mike Williams Vs. Davante Adams
The Tale of the Tape.
Davante Adams come into the 2017 campaign with an ADP of about 47 while Mike Williams is slightly ahead of him at 40.8. While I understand I compile these numbers in the midst of rookie fever, I find it very difficult to understand why an unproven rookie who has already fallen down his own rookie board is being taken 6 picks before a X receiver in a prolific offense. We don’t quite know where Mike Williams will fit in the Chargers offense but I think it’s fair to assume he will not see any time in the slot which makes this comparison much easier as we look at two primarily outside receivers. Adams is only 24 years old and entering his fourth year under Mike McCarthy while Williams enters the league as a 22 year old.
According the PlayerProfiler.com, both of these receivers have extremely comparable numbers despite the fact that Williams stands three inches taller and 6 pounds heavier than Adams. Adams and Williams ran the 40 in 4.56 and 4.59 respectively and Williams outscored Adams in the speed test 102.3 to 98.1. Both had very strong breakout ages just before hitting 20 years old and both are projected to be at least semi-featured receivers with quarterbacks that are both in the top 10 in yards, attempts and air yards.
The case for Williams.
Rookie fever is upon us… Let us all mortgage whatever current capital we have in order to capitalize on the amazing 2017 class. How long and often have we been hearing this in the dynasty community? There is no question that when you look at the 2017 class as a whole, it is dominated by a depth of Running Backs and Tight Ends, however… There are those elite options at Receiver that still seem to be in everyone conversation for the first half of the first round of rookie drafts.
Corey Davis is most likely your first Receiver off the board, and arguably should be your first player off the board but that’s a conversation for another day. Sitting behind Davis but in front of a tier of Receivers that include a record breaking speedster and two guys named JuJu and Kupp is the big bodied Mike Williams. First fact to note, Clemson absolutely breeds Wide Receivers. We aren’t talking like USC breeds receivers who never amount to anything or how Wisconsin’s output of under achieving running backs impacts the NFL either. Clemson has a history that includes recent stars like Deandre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant and there’s no reason to think that Mike Williams can’t be attached to those names.
PlayerProfiler Comps Williams to Laquon Treadwell (gross) but many people have had a much easier time comparing him to players like Dez and Alshon. Just by watching the tape, you can see the clear ability that Williams has of being able to go up and get the ball in nearly any situation. What Williams lacks in the agility needed to develop routes, he makes up for his physicality to gain separation and make contested catches.
Keenan Allen seems like he can’t put a stretch of games together in which he remains healthy and Tyrell Williams will be a RFA at the end of the year which opens the door for Williams to step into the vacant spot. With Tyrell possibly being lost to free agency, Allen unable to remain healthy and Antonio Gates approaching the age of dirt, I feel as if Williams can become an instant WR1 in an offense that featured 616 pass plays in 2016.
The case against Williams.
While the dynasty community likes to preach patience, the breakouts of young receivers have impacted the mindset we have on early year stars. The current situation in San Diego is not favorable to Williams as he will probably see snaps lost to Tyrell and unless they move Keenan to the slot, big Mike won’t see the field. We can’t forget about the combination of Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates either. While San Diego only ran two tight-end sets 12% of the time last year, if Anthony Lynn adopts the style of offense he’s used to from Buffalo, we can expect for that to raise slightly (especially because he actually has talent at the position now.) Lynn also ran a two back set nearly 19% of the time for the Bills which would do wonders for Melvin Gordon, but we have to expect that Keenan and Tyrell will be on the field for those packages.
The final issue we have to address in regards to Williams’ production is exactly who is going to be throwing him the ball in the near future. Best case scenario is that the 35 year old Philip Rivers finishes out his contract and quietly rides off following the 2019 season. It is entirely possible that Rivers simply doesn’t play that long and at that point you have to imagine every skill player on that team is going to take a hit, especially the outside receivers.
The case for Adams.
Adams is coming off a career year in which we finally saw his pre-50 ADP pay off. He improved on his snap share, receptions, receiving yards, air yards, yards after the catch and just about any other receiving category you can think of. He carved out a role as A-Rods’ X receiver and it immediately paid dividends as he finished with the 2nd most total TD’s, 4th most RZ receptions and was 10th in the NFL in yards after the catch while being 11th in the most important category for our purposes… Fantasy points. Adams has a younger (and better) QB throwing him the ball with a much less crowded corps to deal with. Jordy is 31 and only has two years left on his current deal while Cobb is a free agent after the 2018 season and seems to be minding his time in a packer uniform. There is no reason to think why we can’t see Adams escalate to the clear #1 option in green bay and a strong contender for WR1 range. Adams is only 2 years older than Williams so I don’t think we can strongly consider the age gap to make that much of a difference in this situation and Adams has a much clearer and WR friendly situation for his immediate and distant future.
The case against Adams.
Dynasty owners don’t have a short memory and anyone who drafted Adams originally may still have that sour taste in their mouth from his first few years in the league. Last season was the first time he eclipsed 500 yards but he still has yet to reach the 1000 yard marker. His 12 TD’s last year was 4x as many as he has had his entire career prior and his career yards per game is a tiny 42.8. Adams has never come close to 100 targets (with 75 being the most in 2016) and he has yet to play a full 16 game schedule. Adams scored TD’s last year at an insane rate, so insane that its very likely that it is completely unsustainable especially with so many weapons on the field at once for Green Bay. According to PFF, Only one player has ever duplicated a 50+ target season with a 10% TD rate and that was Gronk in 2011 and 2012. I am not ready to put Davante Adams in the same category as Gronk… Not yet. The Packers seriously addressed the RB situation during the draft so we have to assume that Rodgers passing production is going to decline. The packers ranked in the top 5 of the NFL in passing plays and A-Rod was 4th in passing attempts. I expect both of these numbers to decline which causes concern for Adams production.
Maybe it’s because of the time of the year with the draft fresh in our mind, but I think the 40.8 ADP for Mike Williams is way too expensive, especially when compared to Adams 6 picks later. Adams has a better situation, a clearer path, a better QB and I personally think just a better option than Williams regardless of ADP. Mike Williams will be a very good Wide Receiver and he will continue to find his ADP within the top 50 but I think Adams is going to see his draft stock rise to the ranks of the 2nd round of startups. If I am in a rookie draft and Mike Williams falls to me at 1.06, I’m offering that pick to the Adams owner 10 times out of 10.