By Mikey Ostrowski

Is Javonte Williams a must-sell right now in dynasty? At his current price… he might be.

For the record, I’d like to state that I am a big fan of Javonte Williams. In my main league’s 2021 draft, I traded up specifically to grab Javonte after he fell to the 1.05 spot and, with what I had traded away, I felt like I had made out like a bandit. I had a feeling that the timeshare with Melvin Gordon was only temporary, and with him slated not to return to Denver in 2022, that assumption seems to have proven to be correct.

So, Javonte is about to get the workload that we want him to get, that’s a good thing, right? Of course, it is, but let’s keep digging into the situation before we come to any conclusions. As a rookie, we saw him finish as a top-20 running back (he was RB17 to be exact) in PPR leagues despite being in a true timeshare. He had managed to stay healthy all year, saw just over 200 attempts on the ground (4.4 yards per carry), had 43 receptions from 53 targets, surpassed 1,200 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone 7 times… and all of this was done in a split backfield.

Meanwhile, Melvin Gordon (though he did miss one game) finished in a fairly similar spot. Gordon was the RB21 on the season and had managed over 1,100 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns. He had actually run the ball with (slightly) more efficiency than Javonte did, but Williams’ upside in the passing game is what got him ahead of Gordon by the end of the year.

Now that Gordon is out of Denver, can we expect Javonte to take on a true workhorse role? The likely answer to this is yes, as the Broncos have not yet replaced Gordon on the roster. However, it is worth noting that the NFL Draft is just around the corner, and they could be a candidate to take a change-of-pace back. I don’t believe that they’ll bring in a guy like Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker, but a 3rd-down back such as James Cook or Tyler Badie is not entirely out of the question either. Then again, anything can happen at the NFL Draft… So let’s keep an eye out.

Continuing on the question of a workhorse role, we need to take into account Denver’s new coach, Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett was the offensive coordinator in Green Bay from 2019-2021 and his coaching style is likely to carry over into Denver. With that being said, we’ve gotta take a look at how he had deployed his running backs in Green Bay.

The funniest thing of all of this to me is that my player comparison for Javonte was actually Aaron Jones. They’re both insanely effective runners and can be used in a unique way out of the backfield. I had no idea that they’d end up in similar offensive situations, but here we are. Anyway, let’s look at the backfield splits in Green Bay during Hackett’s tenure with the team:

  • 2019: Aaron Jones had 236 attempts (68% of the team’s rushing attempts) while Jamaal Williams had seen 107 (32%). As receivers out of the backfield, Jones had seen 68 targets while Williams had received 45.
  • 2020: Aaron Jones had 201 attempts (55%), Williams had 119 (33%), and AJ Dillon had 46 (12%). Meanwhile, Jones had 63 targets, Williams had 35 and Dillon had just 2.
  • 2021: AJ Dillon had 187 attempts (52%) while Jones had 171 (48%). However, Jones still out targeted Dillon 65 to 37.

As you can see, Hackett may not be incredibly likely to give out a workhorse role. Say what you want about Aaron Jones, but he’s a guy that I’ve always thought deserved a bigger role. 2019 was pretty good for his usage, but they definitely took on more of a split backfield after that. So, what does this mean for Javonte?

Well, it means that we need to tread lightly. We all want him to be handed that true workhorse role, but whether or not that will happen has yet to be seen. As of right now, I think Javonte WILL be trusted with the workhorse role… but it’s not because I think that he’s vastly more talented than Aaron Jones was. The only reason why I think Javonte get that role is because of the lack of competition for touches in that backfield. Jamaal Williams was solid. AJ Dillon was solid. Hackett and Matt LaFluer would’ve been out of their minds not to give Jones a break with those two backs on the roster, but that was the luxury that they’d had.

If the depth chart stays the same (or they add a super minor talent), then it’ll be wheels up for Javonte. However, I’m sure that they realize they need a solid RB2 option. Not only to give Javonte a breather but also as injury insurance. With that being said, unless Melvin Gordon makes his way back to Denver, I don’t think I could name a single free agent or day-three rookie running back that would be a legitimate threat to Javonte’s big workload.

So, I’m confused… Are we selling or not?

Well, that’s entirely up to you. The purpose of this article was to highlight Javonte’s short history in the NFL, take a guess at what 2022 will have in store for him and to take a look at Hackett’s potential ideas for the Denver Broncos offense.

I’ll give an argument for Javonte Williams as both a hold and a sell.

Why should you sell Javonte Williams? Because everything with him is theory craft right now. We’re assuming his workload. We’re assuming that Denver won’t bring in legitimate touch competition. We’re assuming that Nathaniel Hackett won’t bring his Green Bay backfield ways with him and make this a committee in the near future. We’re assuming that Javonte will have a decent sized involvement in the passing game despite there being four or five legitimate receiving options on that roster. He had a very solid rookie year, but we haven’t seen an Earth-shattering performance yet out of him. He’s currently valued as a top-5 dynasty asset in most rankings right now, which means you could get a king’s ransom for selling him. Are you willing to hold on to him because you think that he’ll be a premier fantasy option? Or would you prefer to sell and make a massive profit off of a running back who has yet to see a true RB1 role? And don’t forget to look past the 2022 season. If Denver doesn’t grab a decent RB2 this year, who’s to say that won’t bring one in next season? Or the year after that? You’re going to want to think 2-3 years into the future if you’re making a decision like this.

Why should you hold Javonte Williams? Because he’s a stud. Javonte had over 1,200 scrimmage yards as a rookie while sharing the field with an incredibly solid running back. The offense around him got ten-times better this off-season and he’ll have all of the opportunity in the world to be one of the NFL’s greatest threats out of the backfield. Chances are, if you have him, you drafted him last year. That means you believed in the talent as a prospect and were also likely expecting a big workload increase as soon as year two. Well, it’s year two. The hype is there and it seems like Javonte is going to have a massive season. The thought of that type of workload is simply too good to pass up and almost no trade offer will pry him away from you. If Javonte shows up with an elite level stat line in 2022, I’d see no reason for them to bring in any sort of competition for him over the next 2-3 years.

The only argument I won’t make for Javonte is that you should buy him, and here’s why. As I had previously mentioned, he’s already considered to be a top-5 dynasty asset in the consensus. His price tag can get higher, but it won’t get much higher than it is right now. There is a bigger level of risk to acquiring him in fantasy than there is with Jonathan Taylor, Najee Harris or even D’Andre Swift. We’ve seen what those guys can do, and we know what their workload is likely going to be. Javonte, as I had said, is a lot of theory crafting and projecting right now. If you HAVE to grab him, then fine, do it. But he’s a guy whose price tag likely won’t get much bigger despite how good his play is in 2022. If you still feel the need to trade for him this time next year, then do it! The price tag is likely going to be similar to what it is now, and you wouldn’t have had to assume any of the risk of his 2022 season. The fact that he’s already valued so high makes him one of the hardest players to acquire in dynasty right now. That’s a hefty price tag to pay for a risky investment.

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