Born into a track-star family (both of his parents ran track and his mother was recruited to UCLA by gold-medal Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee), Jameson Williams attended Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School where he excelled in football and — surprise! — track. In fact, he won multiple state titles in the 300-meter hurdles and broke a state record previously held by Ezekiel Elliott in the process. On the gridiron, Williams posted 1,062 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 36 receptions with three kickoff returns for scores as a junior, then followed that up with 68 catches for 1,626 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.
He received his first offer from a college in 2017 (as a 16-year-old) from Kentucky with over 15 big-time college programs following. Rated a four-star prospect from 247Sports, Williams chose to attend Ohio State beginning in 2019. But for two years he was stuck on the depth chart behind several receivers including Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. With Buckeyes receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba expected to pass him on the depth chart to play in the slot, Williams opted to transfer before the 2021 season to Alabama. With the Tide, Williams instantly served as a top receiver and was named a Biletnikoff Award finalist. His season ended in the worst possible way: tearing his left ACL in the National Championship.
Williams told NFL Media in late March he was “ahead of schedule” in his rehabilitation and hopes to be ready for training camp. He insisted he’s “going to make sure everything is 100 before I come back.”
Age as of Week 1: 21 | Height: 6-1 1/2 | Weight: 179 | 40-time: n/a
Comparable body-type to: Will Fuller
We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Williams from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
And if you want to dive into the advanced analytics side of things, Sportsline’s Jacob Gibbs has you covered here.
Best Fantasy fits
Kansas City Chiefs
Williams wouldn’t have to get rushed back as the Chiefs have Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to hold down the fort as downfield threats. Once he does get acclimated, he’ll have a great shot to thrive because Andy Reid has proven over and over that he knows how to get guys open downfield. Plus, Patrick Mahomes has one of the best arms in the game. Williams’ highest ceiling could get realized here.
Green Bay Packers
The thought of Williams catching deep balls from Aaron Rodgers is exciting. Moving on from Valdes-Scantling doesn’t mean the Packers won’t be afraid to throw deep. With someone like Williams, they might do it more frequently. How long would the Packers have to wait for it to happen? And how long would the Rodgers-Williams connection be around in Green Bay with Rodgers turning 39 in December. The duo would be fantastic for however long they stay together.
Los Angeles Chargers
It would be a luxury pick for the Chargers to get Williams, but he wouldn’t have to play right away and would, eventually, make the Chargers passing game very tough to defend. His deep-ball skills could give the Bolts more wiggle room on how to utilize Mike Williams. And when the day comes that Keenan Allen leaves the team (it could be as soon as 2023 given his age and salary cap number), the Chargers would have Williams there to pick up the slack. The Chargers are one of the league’s pass-heaviest teams, and while they haven’t proven to be schematically efficient with their receivers, they do have one of the best quarterbacks around. Williams would become the go-to guy for Justin Herbert for a long time.
Next-best Fantasy fits: Arizona, Jacksonville, Dallas, New Orleans, New England
Worst fits among teams with WR need: N.Y. Jets, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Detroit
Long-term Fantasy managers will basically overlook Williams’ torn ACL and stay fixated on his speed. However, because he’s not a well-rounded receiver, there is potential for some downside — perhaps more so than other top-shelf wideouts in the draft class. So much will come down to where Williams is drafted: If he’s stuck with a meandering quarterback, or with a run-minded offense, for the foreseeable future then his upside is hindered. If he lands in a terrific offense with a great quarterback or on a team that may undergo a quarterback change in 2023, then he has a shot to be very special for Fantasy. He’s a lock as a top-10 pick in rookie-only drafts and could sneak into the top-3 if the draft results in a best-case scenario.
- Tall and slender build. He certainly might be able to add bulk to his body without diminishing traits.
- Long, lanky arms with nearly 76-inch wingspan.
- Specialized in lining up wide but did pull up across the formation and was used in motion.
- Fooled cornerbacks with effective footwork off the snap. Well-practiced stutter-steps, hop- and jab-steps, head-fakes and cut-backs got him the leverage he needed to earn space.
- Ran every route in the book but was constantly open versus zone coverage because defenders feared his speed. He made money on slants and outs, and was of course featured on deep go routes.
- Quarter-turn cuts in his routes were smooth thanks to loose hips.
- Legit deep-ball game breaker with good acceleration and very good speed. Routinely blew past cornerbacks. Feasted on bombs — 11 of his 15 touchdowns in 2021 were on passes traveling 15-plus Air Yards.
- Ate up space quickly versus zone coverage and then knew when to attack a cornerback’s blind spot and break off his route.
- Speed also afforded teammates the chance to make plays — receivers were wide open at shorter distances for easy pickups and his quarterback frequently found ample room to run for first downs.
- Mastered subtle trait of waiting until the last second to move hands into position to catch a ball so as to not “tell” receivers when the ball is coming.
- Extended for off-target throws when needed, including a handful of terrific adjustments to low, wrong-shoulder throws.
- Consistently followed his blockers on shorter and intermediate plays for max gains.
- Was not scared of contact — was a willing battler for footballs in close quarters and actually leaned into tacklers at the end of plays.
- Incredible, albeit fairly inexperienced, kick-returner. Had two touchdowns on 10 returns with a 35.2-yard average. Also registered a tackle as a gunner in the SEC title game. He told reporters he asked to play on special teams.
- Only one year of dominant football — played behind plenty of receivers at Ohio State (including Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave) before transferring to Alabama.
- Tore his ACL in January during the National Championship game. Believes he’ll be ready for training camp but obvious potential risks related to the injury. ACL is the only documented injury he’s missed games with dating back to high school.
- Lean build with thin legs.
- Though he wasn’t scared of contact, he was not a physical player nor had much play-strength to break tackles routinely (though he tried). Occasionally got rag-dolled on blocking attempts. Rarely used a stiff-arm.
- Route-running has room for improvement. He rounded his cuts on deep posts and digs. Struggled to ditch tighter coverage on full-comeback turns toward the quarterback, which led to incompletions. Coaching can help him improve his technique and nuance. Would love to see more double-moves.
- Was inconsistent judging deep passes. Would sometimes haul it in perfectly, would sometimes unnecessarily slow down. This might be a potential problem if he were to play with an inaccurate downfield QB.
- Awareness is a question mark. Wasn’t consistently tuned into where his quarterback was and did not improvisationally find space to get open. Also stepped out of bounds when running down the sideline on way to the end zone against New Mexico State.
- Only six drops over 115 targets, but strangely had a number of targets fall incomplete just past the reach of his hands. A handful of targets did bounce off his hands, arms or chest.
- Caught a number of deep passes on his hip or in his breadbasket. Fear is that those completions will turn into knocked-away incompletions in the pros.
- Below-average run-blocking technique with usually negative results. Long arms rarely helped him lock on to defenders. Frequently couldn’t block for longer than one or two seconds.
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Advanced stats to know
- 12 missed tackles forced in 2021 (ranked 50th among qualifying receivers per Pro Football Focus)
- 3.14 yards per route run (ranked 12th among receivers with at least 50 catches)
- only four contested catches in 2021 (234th)
- 9.3 yards after catch per reception in 2021 (4th-best in nation)
- drop rate: 7.1% (172nd)
- career 19.6 yards per catch average
- caught 22 of 45 targets (49% catch rate) on passes of 15-plus Air Yards for 976 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those plays accounted for 28% of his receptions, 62% of his yardage and 73% of his touchdowns in 2021.
- returned 10 kicks in 2021, averaged 35.2 yards per return
Williams is a game-breaking, ball-in-space receiver who can be especially effective when schemed up. He also has room to improve physically and functionally. Thinking about his best traits and his size, I think of Robby Anderson a lot. That’s not a back-handed compliment — Anderson made his career catching long throws, but he didn’t have many (any?) great quarterbacks throwing to him. The same thing could end up happening to Williams, but he could also have a much better career statistically if he has a capable quarterback throwing to him.