Mike Williams Remains With Chargers, 2022 Fantasy Stock Set to Ascend? - Roto Street Journal
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Mike Williams Remains With Chargers, 2022 Fantasy Stock Set to Ascend?

NFL players aspire to be the highest-paid at their position. Quarterbacks want that Deshaun Watson money. Running backs want that Ezekiel Elliott money. Wide receivers want that Christian Kirk money.

Mike Williams got his as the Chargers gave him a three-year, $60 million extension to stay in Los Angeles.

It came on the heels of his best season yet, cracking WR1 territory and producing at the WR12 rate in half-PPR (for players who played at least seven games). Contrast that with WR31, WR45, and WR54 rates his past three seasons.

It was no secret that Chargers coach Brandon Staley and OC Joe Lombardi wanted to use him in more of a Michael Thomas-type role, and the adjustment paid nice dividends.

However, those dividends weren’t present all year. In weeks 1 through 5, Williams was the WR2 only behind Cooper Kupp. But in weeks 6 through 15, his 8 points-per-game was only good for the WR53 rate, and Mike’s fantasy managers had flashbacks.

WILL THE REAL MIKE WILLIAMS PLEASE STAND UP?

Along with giving you the freshest of pop culture references, here’s Brandon Staley saying cool things:

“I just felt like Mike’s got the label of just being the deep ball guy,” Staley said. “A guy that kind of plays outside the red line specifically and I’ve just never seen him in that way. … He’s like a three or four (position player) in the NBA, where I want this guy more in breaking cuts. I want this guy on the basics, the digs and then specifically the slants.”

That was after Williams’ seven-catch, 122-yard performance, with two scores to help defeat the Chiefs.

Defenses appeared to adjust well, which Joe Lombardi recognized a month and a half later after L.A. had lost three of their last four games:

“The way that the defense presents itself sometimes decides where that ball goes,” Lombardi explained. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve certainly been making an effort to get him the ball more. But, maybe in a particular look, he was primary, but the particular look took them away, or the ball got batted down or something of that nature.”

The last two weeks of the year gave signs of Williams coming out of that slump, averaging 18.1 points per game and getting 21 total targets.

The Chargers were 6-2 when Mike played and saw double-digit fantasy points, 3-5 when he didn’t.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

Staley and Lombardi have talked the talk, and walked the walk, on treating Williams as a complete receiver. Why past coaches wouldn’t want to realize the full potential of 2017’s No. 7 overall pick is above my pay grade. But, here we are, Mike, entering 2022 at a prime 27 years old, with only one year under his belt of being treated as more than a deep threat/jump-ball specialist.

The last time Williams entered the season with the same quarterback and coach as the season prior was in 2019. And this will be Justin Herbert‘s first time seeing a familiar coaching staff for consecutive seasons, as he and Williams look to study a season’s worth of tape and continue to grow their chemistry under Staley and Lombardi.

Now, with the huge changes the Broncos and Raiders have made this offseason to keep up with the powerhouse Chiefs, the Chargers could find themselves in a lot of shootouts in what could be the most offensively potent division the NFL’s ever seen.

And whether games turn into fantasy points factories or not, the writing’s on the wall that Williams needs to be involved because when he produces stats, the Chargers produce Ws.

So who is the real Mike Williams? Copy last year’s hype train, and paste it right here. Last year may have been Mike’s fifth season, but he was only a rookie in his new expanded role. I’ll hedge my bets that he takes the next step in 2022, to new heights, higher than the WR12, and higher up the ranks of the WR1s.

The Wolf placed Williams as his WR35 (-1 vs ECR) on his most recent 2022 Fantasy Rankings update.

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  • Driven by profit, has the lobes for business. Prioritizes anchors as part of a diversified portfolio. Seeks to be the first hue-mon to become the Grand Nagus. On Twitter @ChaseM_G

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