Fantasy Football Sleeper Spotlight: Can Ryan Williams Hold Value in 2012?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IJuly 19, 2012

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - AUGUST 04:  Runningback Ryan Williams #34 of the Arizona Cardinals walks off the field following the team training camp at Northern Arizona University on August 4, 2011 in Flagstaff, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you ask fantasy owners how they feel about the Cardinals' Beanie Wells, you will probably get mixed responses.

Coming off his first career 1,000 yard season, you would think owners would be all smiles, however that likely isn’t close to the case.

We can’t easily ignore the injury concerns (he even missed two games a year ago).

We can’t ignore his overall lack of production in the passing game (27 career receptions).

We can’t forget his abysmal 3.4 yard/carry average from 2010.

Yes, he was a nice find a year ago, but for a team that will once again be pass-heavy it is hard to depend on a back that, when in the game, is an obvious non-target. His consistent injury concerns and the Cardinals’ desire to pass the ball should open opportunities for Ryan Williams, who missed all of 2011 with a ruptured patella tendon.

Williams is far from likely to emerge as an every-down back, but in PPR formats he could quickly emerge as a sneaky late round pick (and even more if Wells should be forced to miss time once again).

Selected in the second round out of Virginia Tech in 2011, many speculated that he could immediately make an impact. It was a shame that the injury cost him the season, but don’t let that cause you to sleep on him now.

He had limited opportunities in the 2011 preseason, but he did manage a 23 yard reception and a 5.4 yard/carry average (though on just five carries). In 2009 however, he showed just how explosive he could be with 1,655 yards and an amazing 21 rushing touchdowns in college.

The potential to be a more diverse player than Wells has got to at least intrigue fantasy owners. Obviously, he is recovering from an injury of his own and is going to need to earn the playing time. However, given Wells’ spotty history, it would not be a major surprise.

While he is a much better sleeper for those in PPR formats, as a last round flier he is a player well worth speculating on.

Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: