Why Mike Williams could be in for a career year | Draft Sharks

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Why Mike Williams could be in for a career year

By Jared Smola 8:06am EDT 6/7/21

This is a free preview of a 2021 player profile. Draft Sharks Insiders will have access to over 300 player profiles in mid-June.

Mike Williams, WR, Chargers

What You Need to Know:

  • Williams dealt with a few different injuries last year. He sprained his shoulder in late August but was available for Week 1. He exited Week 3 with a hamstring injury and missed the following game. Then a back injury knocked him out 2 snaps into Week 14 and limited him to just 42% of the snaps in Week 15.
  • In his 12 healthy games, Williams averaged 6.8 targets, 3.8 catches, 60 yards and .4 TDs.
  • His scoring averages in those games would have ranked 40th among WRs in PPR points and 36th in non-PPR.
  • Williams finished 32nd and 39th in PPR points in 2018 and 2019; 21st and 37th in non-PPR.
  • He missed 1 game in 2019 with a back injury and 6 games as a rookie in 2017 -- 5 with a mild disc herniation in his lower back and 1 with a bone bruise on his right knee. He fractured the C6 vertebrae at the base of his neck in the 1st game of the 2015 season at Clemson.
  • QB Justin Herbert is back for his 2nd season with the Chargers after an impressive rookie campaign.
  • WR Keenan Allen and RB Austin Ekeler, who ranked 1st and 4th on the team in targets last year, are back.
  • But the Chargers lost TE Hunter Henry, who finished 2nd on the team with 93 targets in 14 games last year. TE Jared Cook was signed to a 1-year deal but is unlikely to soak up all of those targets Henry leaves behind.
  • So there’s an opportunity for Williams to claim a bigger target share in 2021.
  • He’ll be playing in a new offense under OC Joe Lombardi.
    • He served as Lions OC in 2014 and 2015, leading the team to 12th- and 9th-place finishes in passing yards.
    • He also spent 12 years in New Orleans working under HC Sean Payton.
    • We’re expecting Lombardi to be an upgrade over the previous offense under HC Anthony Lynn and OC Shane Steichen.
  • Lombardi talked up Williams’ potential in his offense in early June: “I see a big role for him. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on nice numbers coming from him on the stat sheet, that’s for sure. As much as this offense will resemble New Orleans, he plays the ‘X’ and the ball has always kind of found the ‘X’ receiver in this offense. I think that there will be some natural production that comes his way because of the nature of the offense.”

Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

Injuries -- specifically to his back -- have been a problem for Williams. But he’s produced as a borderline WR3 when on the field over the past 3 seasons.

There’s upside for even better in 2021 if QB Justin Herbert takes a step forward and OC Joe Lombardi proves to be an upgrade.

Highlight Williams on your MVP Board as an upside bench stash.

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