'Reception Perception' numbers align with Jameson Williams' late surge in 2023

As Jameson Williams' snap shares rose late last season, notable improvement in deeper metrics are promising looking as we look toward this year.

Late last season, thing started to come together for Jameson Williams. After the Lions' Week 9 bye, he played at least 52 percent of the offensive snaps in all 11 games he played (over 60 percent of snaps six times; 70-plus percent snap share in two of three playoff games).

Production wasn't always there for Williams over that stretch. But he did have 13 targets over a two-game stretch, with 69 yards the following game. And of course he ended the season with two total touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game.

So it's been all-aboard the Williams breakout train this offseason, internally and in some spots outside the Lions' organization.

From a fantasy football perspective very early this offseason, Yahoo!'s Matt Harmon was generally skeptical about Williams looking toward this year. The case is well-founded (target share, etc.).

Harmon hasn't done a full 180 on Williams, and it's not that he should. But he has offered some positive light.

'Reception Perception' data shows potential launch point for Jameson Williams

Harmon is the creator of "Reception Perception", which gauges a receiver's success on various route types and against various coverages to try to uncover hidden gems. A recent edition of the podcast extension of "Reception Perception" was focused on Williams.

A lack of production over his first two seasons, even easily explained as it is in his case, is historically working against Williams. Harmon noted how that kind of analysis is not fair to Williams.

"One thing I do think I actually believe pretty strongly is that the typical analysis for players—which is ‘guys haven’t produced to this x standard through two years or whatever—we can write those guys off.’ I don’t think that’s fair in this situation."

For some pre-context, Reception Perception perceives a good receiver has having a 70 percent success rate against vs. man coverage and an 80 percent success rate vs. zone.

Harmon noted how Williams measured up from Week 15 on.

"If you just use those Week 15 games (and) on, Williams checks in with a 67.3 percent success rate vs. man, 84.9 percent success rate vs. zone, and 64.7 percent against press,” Harmon explains. “Those are still mixed-bag results, but they’re far more encouraging than what we saw in the full-season sample."

For the entire season, Williams was successful 57.5 percent of the time against man and 72.1 percent of the time against zone. He a dismal 53.3 percent success rate against press coverage for the full season.

From last season's late surge in playing time to the positive reviews of his work this offseason, it's all small sample sizes at this point with Williams. Harmon had a player comp for a "best-case scenario", before seeing a possible path to 100 targets for Williams this season.

"I think if you want to squint and see a best-case scenario, maybe he’s early-career Brandin Cooks,” Harmon said.

In 2015 and 2016, his second and third seasons in the league, Cooks topped 1,100 yards with 84 and 78 receptions respectively. Harmon also noted Gabe Davis having similar metrics to Williams, and if Williams became Davis that should be considered a win for the Lions.

All in all, the good things Williams did late last season are further backed up by deeper data. Time will tell it if becomes the launch point to a breakout season.

Check out the full podcast video, with Harmon and co-host James Koh, below:

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