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5 Reasons to Draft Ryan Williams in Your Fantasy Football League

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 21, 2016

5 Reasons to Draft Ryan Williams in Your Fantasy Football League

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    After watching running back Beanie Wells slog his way through two mostly disappointing seasons, the Arizona Cardinals added some competition to their backfield last year by selecting Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.

    Williams then ruptured his patella tendon before ever playing a down for the Cardinals, and Wells went on to have the first 1,000-yard season of his three-year NFL career.

    That may seem to indicate that fantasy football drafters should steer well clear of Williams while targeting Wells, but here are a handful of reasons why that may not be the case.

1. Williams' Recovery Is Going Well

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    Frankly, a patella tendon injury is just about as bad as it gets for a football player, especially a running back.

    However, the fact that Williams' injury occurred in the preseason last year may have been something of a blessing in disguise.

    The second-year pro has had a full year to recover and has been practicing with the team at its training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona.

    In fact, there's a chance that Williams may see a few game reps when the Cardinals open the preseason against the New Orleans Saints in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5, although Williams told Arizona Sports that a final decision has yet to be made on whether he'll play.

    "I'm still anxious at the same time because I haven't played a game in a while, but I'm not because I want to make sure I'm completely comfortable, and going to be comfortable with myself."

2. Beanie Wells Can't Stay Healthy

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    Beanie Wells may have rushed for 1,000 yards a season ago, but durability has always been a concern for the former Ohio State star, and that concern has only been magnified this summer.

    After battling a nagging knee injury for much of the second half of last season, Wells reportedly had minor arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason.

    However, as Gregg Rosenthal of recently pointed out, the fact that Wells is still limited after six months raises the very real possibility that the surgery was much more involved than originally believed.

    Wells, who has missed time in each of the past two seasons, began camp on the PUP list and still has not been cleared to practice, although head coach Ken Whisenhunt recently told the team's website that, "He will probably start doing some work next week."

3. Ken Whisenhunt May Be Losing Patience with Wells

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    When he's at his best, Beanie Wells possesses an exciting blend of speed and power.

    The problem is that for whatever reason we rarely get to see Beanie Wells at his best.

    That act may be wearing thin at Cardinals headquarters, which opens the door for Williams to carve out a larger role in the Redbirds offense if he can show that he's ready for one.

    Ryan Williams has apparently done just that to this point this summer, as Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic, who is one of the better beat reporters in the NFL, reported not long ago that head coach Ken Whisenhunt made it clear that Wells' grip on the top of the depth chart is far from ironclad.

    There is a feeling around Cardinals headquarters that Wells needs to be pushed. That's not unusual for a player, or any other human for that matter. But it wasn't a coincidence that on the final day of offseason workouts, Whisenhunt commented that Wells should be ready for camp because other backs had looked good. He didn't name anyone, but it was clear Whisenhunt was talking about Williams.

4. Open a Door for Ryan Williams, and He May Just Run Through It

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    This wouldn't be the first time in Ryan Williams' football career that the tailback took hold of an opportunity to show what he could do and made the most of it.

    In 2009 Williams was thrust into the starting lineup at Virginia Tech as a redshirt freshman after starter Darren Evans tore his ACL.

    Not only did Williams pick up Evans' slack, but also he proceeded to set several Virginia Tech and ACC records en route to rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns.

    This isn't to say that Williams is going to top 1,500 rushing yards a season after a devastating knee injury.

    However, it does seem to indicate that Williams has a knack for rising to the occasion.

5. What Do You Really Have to Lose?

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    Granted, at best, Ryan Williams would likely start the 2012 season on the short end of a timeshare with Beanie Wells, assuming both backs are relatively healthy.

    That would make Williams a marginally startable "flex" player in deeper fantasy football leagues.

    However, according to his current average draft position at, Williams is being drafted in the 11th round of 12-team drafts, around the likes of such backs as Ronnie Hillman of the Denver Broncos and Mikel LeShoure of the Detroit Lions.

    Those are the sort of speculative draft picks that don't usually lose you a fantasy football league, but if they hit, they can certainly help win you one.

    The question then becomes, are you ready to spin the Wheel-O-Running Backs?

    If Williams wins the starting job or his role increases as the season progresses and he pays off huge, then great.

    If he doesn't, then it's off to the waiver wire he goes and on you proceed.

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