2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Kyren Williams (Fantasy Football)
Kyren Williams, the running back out of Notre Dame, is the ultimate film vs. analytics prospect. The film looks pretty good, but the underlying metrics suggest this is a difficult player to evaluate. This article will highlight Kyren Williams’ college production profile, his athletic testing, measurables and his film. Finally, at the conclusion, we’ll take a look at how Kyren Williams may or may not produce for our fantasy rosters in 2022 and beyond.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.
|Year||Rush Att||Rush Yards||Rush TD||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Rec TD|
Kyren Williams barely played in his first season on campus at Notre Dame, but he’s been the focal point of their offense over the last two seasons, both as their featured runner and as one of the team’s leading receiving weapons. In fact, Williams’ 77 receptions over the past two years were the second most on his team. When we evaluate RB prospects, receiving production matters, and Williams’ profile obviously checks that box. He eclipsed a 10% target share in each of his final two years in South Bend.
From a production standpoint, Williams also checks the box when it comes to when in his career he started to produce. Williams was a depth piece for the Fighting Irish in his first season, but he broke out in 2020 as soon as he got an opportunity to do so. Per our Production Profiles in the Dynasty Pass, Williams earned a breakout age of 20.0, 9th best at the position in this year’s class. His 30% dominator rating also suggests that from a production standpoint, there really aren’t any red flags to Williams as a college prospect if you only look at how he produced on the field while at Notre Dame. The athletic testing and measurables? Now that’s a different story.
|Age||Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump|
|21.6||5’9″||199 lbs.||4.65 seconds||32″||116″|
Before Kyren Williams showed up at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, most dynasty fantasy football players thought Kyren Williams had a chance to be one of the top RB prospects in this class…then Williams went out and ran a 4.65 40-yard dash. To put this in perspective, Williams, who weighed in at less than 200 lbs., logged a weight adjusted speed score in the 9th percentile.
We thought Williams might be able to improve upon his Combine time at his Pro Day, but alas, that was not the case. Williams actually ran a slower 40 at his Pro Day, logging a 4.66. While athletic testing certainly isn’t everything, his below average speed score certainly lowers his chances of hitting for us at the NFL level, especially from a fantasy perspective. Per ESPN’s Mike Clay on Twitter, Kyren Williams speed score was the 8th lowest among 372 RBs since 2003. There’s no way to sugar coat it – the speed score for Williams is a major red flag on his overall profile.
The other issue with Williams’ measurables is his weight. At less than 200 lbs., we should expect Williams to be much faster for his size. Unfortunately, at his size, he doesn’t profile as the type of back who is likely to carry the load at the NFL level. While the athletic testing and size is a bit of a disappointment for his long term outlook, there’s plenty to like about Kyren’s tape. Let’s dive in.
What’s on Tape
Games viewed: Navy (2021), Purdue (2021), Cincinnati (2021), UNC (2021), Alabama (2020), Clemson (2020)
1. Williams is a natural pass catcher who can contribute in multiple ways as a receiver.
Williams actually played a lot of wide receiver in high school, so it’s not surprising to see him contribute a ton in the passing game when you turn on the tape. Notre Dame even lined Williams out wide or in the slot at at times. Recall from above, Williams’ 77 receptions in 2020 and 2021 combined were the second most on the team. Per PFF, Williams only had one drop in 2021. Even if Williams struggles to carve out a three down role in the NFL, we can at least hang our hat on his pass catching ability.
2. Kyren Williams excels in pass protection.
Naturally, this correlates extremely well with Williams’ ability to contribute in the passing game. In the six games I watched, Williams not only demonstrated that he is a very willing blocker on passing downs, but his technique and ability are sound. There aren’t many reps where Williams gets beat by a blitzing linebacker in pass protection. NFL coaches should love this about Williams, and this in conjunction with his ability to catch the ball, further helps Kyren’s case as a pass catching weapon for an NFL team on third downs.
3. Williams is compact, running low to the ground, which helps him bounce off tacklers.
I would certainly not call Williams a ‘power back’ but he certainly is able to absorb contact and maintain his balance as he picks up extra yards. This run against Navy is a perfect example. Yes, he fumbles at the goal line but this clip highlights his ability to weave through defenders and bounce off arm tackles. (This was later ruled a TD).
What’s Not on Tape
1. Ball security.
In the six games that I watched, I saw at least two fumbles, which suggests Williams could benefit from improving ball security at the NFL level in order to gain his coaches’ trust. Williams fumbled eight times over the last two years.
2. Power running.
It’s not like Williams can’t finish runs or make defenders miss, but there were some plays on tape where I thought Williams would be able to initiate contact and pick up extra yards. Again, at less than 200 lbs., this isn’t a surprise. The concern for fantasy is Williams could lose valuable goal line touches if his NFL coaching staff chooses to use him as a committee back where the bigger back comes in for those high value opportunities.
2022 Fantasy Outlook
Kyren Williams is a very difficult prospect to evaluate for fantasy purposes. The tape says he’s a good running back with top tier passing catching skills. However, he’s undersized for the NFL, and his speed score is among the worst we’ve seen in the last 20 years. Truthfully, NFL Draft capital is likely to determine Williams’ fate for dynasty formats and rookie drafts.
According to GrindingTheMocks.com, Williams has a current expected draft position of 181 as the 14th RB off the board. Assuming this mock draft data is accurate, we can project Williams to be selected in back of the 5th round or early in the 6th. That projected draft position would tank Williams’ likelihood of being a contributor for our fantasy rosters in a meaningful way as know the hit rate for late round picks is quite low.
In an ideal scenario, Williams lands on a roster with a clear need for a pass catching back. In the right situation, I could see Williams being a 10-12 touch type of guy as a change of pace back, but expecting true three-down work for Williams at the next level is likely to be fool’s gold. For dynasty purposes, Williams profiles as a back who can add depth to our rosters and contribute flex type numbers or fill in on bye weeks, but the reality is top 12 upside is probably not in his range of outcomes.