Ryan Williams: Updated Fantasy Football Analysis & Outlook

Jesse ReedCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23:  Running back Ryan Williams #34 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Eagles 27-6. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams had a breakout game in Week 3, rushing for 83 yards on just 13 carries, and his fantasy football stock is trending up at the moment. 

Apparently, things aren't looking up for Beanie Wells, who is suffering from a toe injury. 

ESPN's Mike Sando reports:

Cardinals announce Beanie Wells to injured reserve.

— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@espn_nfcwest) September 26, 2012


Williams is now the starting running back, and he'll have plenty of opportunities to make plays. Let's take a look at what he brings to the table as the team's No. 1 option at running back.



Williams is essentially a rookie in his second year. He missed the entire 2011 season after rupturing his patella tendon in his right knee during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers

The Cardinals drafted him in the second round (No. 38 overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech.

Williams was phenomenal for one-and-a-half seasons, piling up 2,132 yards on 403 carries with 30 touchdowns during his freshman and sophomore seasons. He then injured his hamstring, forcing him to cut his 2010 season short, and then came out early to enter the NFL draft.

Through three games this season, Williams has rushed for 105 yards on 31 carries. Most of his yardage (83 yards) came in Week 3 after Wells left the game with his toe injury. 


Fantasy Outlook

It's tough to know what to expect from Williams going forward. 

The Cardinals haven't been running the ball well so far in 2012 (247 yards on 87 carries for an average of 2.8 yards per carry, 27th in the NFL), but Williams ripped off some excellent runs against the Eagles in Week 3. 

Ken Whisenhunt likes to establish the run (No. 12 in the NFL in attempts), and he won't abandon it, especially considering the lack of depth and talent on his offensive line as it relates to pass protection. 

Williams will have plenty of opportunities to make plays. 

Unfortunately for him and the Cardinals, the Dolphins come to town in Week 4—the No. 3 ranked rushing defense in the NFL in terms of yards, and the No. 2 ranked team in terms of yards per carry. 

In Week 5, the Cards travel to St. Louis to face their inter-divisional rivals, the Rams. This game will provide Williams with an excellent opportunity to have a big game, as the Rams currently allow 4.5 yards per carry. 



Williams has been a highly-hyped running back in fantasy circles since the preseason. Many analysts correctly predicted he'd eventually take over for Wells—a man who can't stay healthy for long, and who is out for at least the next eight weeks. 

At least for Week 4, starting Williams on your fantasy team is a bit of a gamble. If the Dolphins hold true to form, it's going to be tough sledding for the Cardinals in the running game. 

Going forward, though, Williams has a chance to become one of the biggest breakout fantasy stars of 2012. The Cardinals have a dominating defense, and given the shaky play of Cardinals quarterbacks the past couple of seasons, a strong running game is the key to continued success in 2012. 

If Williams is available in your fantasy league and you have a player or two who haven't been producing, pick him up. He could be a handy addition for your late-season push to the playoffs. 


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