Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Williams 2017 fantasy football outlook

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Jonathan Williams
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Jonathan Williams /

The departure of Mike Gillislee leaves a gaping hole in the Bills running back depth chart. With LeSean McCoy being the obvious lead-back candidate, Jonathan Williams will most likely be his relief.

The Bills are a run-first team which means that more than one Bills running back will be a viable option in deep fantasy football leagues. LeSean McCoy crossed the goal line 13 times last season for a team-high in rushing touchdowns. Mike Gillislee scored eight times. Jonathan Williams scored once. Take Gillislee out of the equation, and Williams is a sure-fire back up running back.

Jonathan Williams is fresh off of a DUI arrest, but it looks like the league will not punish him

Even Williams acknowledged that the opportunity to have a large contribution towards the team was laid out before him with the Gillislee departure.

In an interview with coach Sean McDermott documented by Buffalobills.com, the coach had glaring things to say about the young running back:

"“Jonathan Williams has done a nice job and he’s taken advantage of the opportunities that he’s been given, and that’s the important part of this,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “He’s a second-year player and his development will be key to our success here moving forward.”McDermott spoke glowingly about Williams after the conclusion of minicamp. He highlighted Williams’ raw ability, which was evident during his time at Arkansas. McDermott also complimented the young running back on his knowledge of the playbook and efforts to improve his ball security."

A player makes his biggest leap between year one and year two. This because of a full offseason unhindered by the draft, and more time to become comfortable with the playbook. It will be fun to see how he improves.

Mike Gillislee was somewhat of a “touchdown vulture” for the team. He was not a lead back but still acquired eight touchdowns on the season. Jonathan Williams is not as talented as Gillislee, or else it would’ve shown last year, but the opportunity is there.

I see Williams gaining 455 yards on the ground when McCoy needs to be relieved.

With the acquisition of second round pick, Zay Jones, the passing game could be more of a focus this year. I don’t think the Bills will have the obscure number of rushing touchdowns they had last year, this year.

With that being said, Jonathan Williams will have just four rushing touchdowns. Unlike Gillislee’s eight.

The addition of the true “touchdown vulture,” Mike Tolbert will hurt Williams’ goal line carries. Add Patrick DiMarco to the mix, and no one will know who gets the ball when the team needs a one-yard gain. I would be shocked if Willaims surpassed the 100 carry mark this year. A mark he had no chance of attaining last year. A safe prediction would be 80-90 carries.

2017 Jonathan Williams projections:

  • 455 rushing yards
  • 4 rushing touchdowns
  • 85 carries

Fans of the NFL are more excited to see new players that just went high in the draft. This could be unexpected, but I see Jonathan Williams having a similar season to draft standout, D’Onta Foreman. Both are behind a star running back, in an offense with high-flying receivers. Foreman will most likely have more yards, but not by a wide margin. It will depend on which coach has more confidence in their young back.

Jonathan Williams is in the lower tier of backup running backs. In other fantasy football outlooks, I have recently written, I have stressed taking players with high upside in the late rounds of your fantasy draft. This is the case of Zay Jones. Taking Jonathan Williams in a later round is a safer pick to add depth to your bench. Pending a Shady McCoy injury, he will never see the Bills top back position, but with a projected 450 yards and four touchdowns he is good for a roster spot.

Next: Buffalo Bills: Andre Holmes 2017 fantasy football outlook

Do you agree with my Jonathan Williams projections? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!