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Dynasty Prospect Profile: James Williams

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT


James Williams, RB, Washington State

Height: 5’9.5
Weight: 197
Age: 22.9


Combine results:

40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds (39th percentile)
Vertical: 36.5 inches (76th)
Broad: 118 inches (50th)
3-cone drill: 7.01 seconds (58th)
20-yard shuttle: 4.25 seconds (47th)


College career:

Williams lost his senior year of high school to a knee injury and then redshirted as a Wazzu freshman to finish healing. He took over the role of top back the next season, though, and led a pass-heavy Cougars offense in carries each of his 3 years.

Williams split the top backfield receiving role with James Morrow in 2016 before leading Washington State in receptions each of the next 2 years. He reached 100 yards in his 3rd game as a redshirt freshman but never again reached that number in a contest.

Williams did, however, catch 10+ passes 6 times over his final 2 seasons and scored 60% of the Cougars’ RB rushing TDs in 2018. Overall, he scored once every 12.8 touches while earning honorable-mention all-conference honors.


Film review:

(Courtesy of @WhatsOnDraftNFL)

Games watched: California, Iowa State, Oregon, Washington

Williams makes for a tough film evaluation.

For starters, these were the only 4 games I could find online. And frankly, watching them doesn’t reveal anything obviously exciting about Williams.

Sure, he caught tons of passes over the past 3 seasons -- especially the past 2 -- but they came almost exclusively via short stuff such as screens, dump-offs, swing passes and checkdowns.

via Gfycat

via Gfycat

via Gfycat

Across the 4 games I watched, I counted only 1 time that Williams lined up outside of the backfield. And he didn’t run much of a pattern from his slot position on that play.

That, of course, doesn’t mean Williams CAN’T run WR routes from non-backfield positions. It just means we haven’t seen much of it yet.

Williams also didn’t show a lot as a runner in the games I watched, but he’s at least capable of this …

via Gfycat

Beyond the 4 games, I watched Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio Boiler Room breakdown -- and I’d recommend checking it out if you want more of the James Williams picture.

In short: Waldman lauded Williams for “great but unconventional footwork” and pointed out some useful examples, starting with the long run against Oregon I just shared.


Fantasy outlook:

If you’re ranking RB prospects on their chances of becoming 3-down backs in the NFL, then Williams won’t come out high. He’s not big and he’s not especially fast. The 4.58-second 40 combined with the sub-200 weight delivered a speed score of just 89.5, fourth worst among all the RBs who ran at the Combine.

But Williams is an accomplished pass-catcher and -- as Waldman deemed him -- a “slippery” runner. Williams is bound to draw comparisons to receiving backs such as James White and Theo Riddick (especially White). He out-tested both of those guys, beating White easily in the vertical, broad and 3-cone.

In a stronger RB class, Williams could be easy to lose. Amid this year’s flawed class, however, he looks capable of emerging in the right backfield as a volume receiver who gets enough carries to make him a regular RB3.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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