While Jameson Williams may not be in fully healthy form and the Lions’ No. 1 wide receiver until 2023, one early fantasy projection for his rookie season borders on being disrespectful.
Williams has said he wants to be ready for training camp, but that and being fully cleared to play Week 1 are two different things. If he is cleared to suit up to start the season, his snap counts will surely be somewhat limited early. Even with good progress from his January ACL tear right now, it often takes a player a year to feel like he’s all the way back with the eye test to show it.
It’s fair to project Willliams to miss a few games to start his rookie season, as the Lions don’t rush him onto the field. But any more than five or so, carrying decently into October, would be a pretty big surprise.
In citing how he’s hard to rely on as more than WR5 in re-draft leagues, with reasons beyond his injury recovery, I stopped short of a rookie season statistical projection in my immediate fantasy profile of Williams.
Football Outsiders projected 2022 rookies in a fantasy realm, including Williams of course. They have him ranked No. 12 among their top-12 rookies.
Jameson Williams fantasy projection is borderline disrespectful
Here’s the projection and blurb on Williams.
"Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions2022 Projection55.2-36.2-451-2.6 receiving96.5 PPR points80th WRWilliams nearly matched Chris Olave with a 19.0% touchdown rate at Alabama in 2021 and crosses what seems like an important threshold for his professional touchdown potential at 6-foot-2. He might have been the first receiver drafted if not for his ACL tear in the NCAA National Championship Game. But that injury dropped Williams to 12th in the draft and drops him to 10th in projected rookie scoring. KUBIAK estimates Williams will make his Lions debut between Weeks 7 and 10—the same schedule as John Metchie III on the Texans. And while that delay may render him unworthy of a shallow fantasy league draft pick, Williams has top-30 wide receiver potential in the second half of the season and will at least merit a speculative in-season pick-up."
On almost the same recovery timetable as former Alabama teammate John Metchie III, who suffered his torn ACL in the SEC title game, Football Outsiders’ KUBIAK system estimates Williams will make his debut between Week 7 and Week 10. Week 7 feels far more likely than Week 10.
Based on the early projection they have, call it 36 catches for 451 yards and three touchdowns, FO seems to think closer to Week 10 and Williams playing eight or nine of 17 games. At which point, as cited, he could be a fantasy factor down the stretch.
Ultimately, it’s far more important Williams is fully healthy and confident he can go full bore on his knee than the precise number of games he plays as a rookie. But if his current recovery track continues, albeit still very early, he should have little trouble usurping this projection.