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Ty'Son Williams, Latavius Murray Fantasy Outlook After Ravens Promote Devonta Freeman

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2021

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Ty'Son Williams continues to hold upside, but the Baltimore Ravens' backfield situation could become a fantasy football nightmare in the weeks ahead.

Devonta Freeman was promoted to the Ravens' active roster Thursday to join Williams and Latavius Murray ahead of Sunday's Week 2 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Le'Veon Bell lurks on the practice squad and could join the group once he gets up to full speed or if an injury occurs.

It could create a dreaded hot-hand scenario in Baltimore, which would make each rusher's week-to-week production hard to predict ahead of time.

Williams looked like a potential breakout star in the fantasy realm after the Ravens lost three of their running backs—J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill—to injured reserve before the start of the regular season.

Baltimore is a team with Super Bowl-level expectations, however, and the front office clearly felt more comfortable bringing in some veteran reinforcements rather than leaning too heavily on a rusher who went undrafted in 2020 and is now seeing his first NFL action.

Williams showed plenty of promise in the team's season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night. He rushed for 65 yards on nine carries (7.2 YPC) with a touchdown and also caught three passes for 29 yards.

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The latter part is important because whoever earns the third-down passing role once the situation stabilizes figures to hold the most consistent fantasy value, especially in PPR leagues. So the BYU product staked an initial claim for that key distinction.

"It's very exciting, very exciting," Williams told reporters before Week 1. "I just try to keep the same approach—doing the things that got me here—and I know they'll take me far."

His 12 touches against the Raiders were only two more than Murray, though. Now Freeman arrives to potentially take away a few early-down carries and possibly create a three-headed monster.

It's unlikely Baltimore will carry four running backs on its gameday roster, even once Bell is ready, but when the former Pittsburgh Steelers star is active, he'll be a threat to take away some of Williams' third-down work given his strong numbers as a pass-catcher in the past.

Add in quarterback Lamar Jackson serving as a key element in the run game, especially in the red zone, and fullback Patrick Ricard emerging as a potential factor in the aerial attack with three targets in the opener and there are a lot of variables in play, which is never ideal from a fantasy perspective.

For now, Williams is the best bet to maintain a regular spot in starting lineups. Consider him a low-end No. 2 running back or a flex option ahead of the clash with the Chiefs. If he survives Freeman's arrival without losing too much playing time, his value should rise in the coming weeks.

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“He’s a chance to score a touchdown every single week.”<br><br>Ty'Son Williams impressed in Week 1 but <a href="https://twitter.com/MatthewBerryTMR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MatthewBerryTMR</a> thinks Latavius Murray could still offer some fantasy value as the season progresses. <a href="https://t.co/JUeEnr54Yg">pic.twitter.com/JUeEnr54Yg</a>

Murray is a touchdown-dependent flex play who will be best used in weeks when Baltimore will run a lot. That likely won't be the case against the high-flying Kansas City offense, so he's probably best left on the bench in most formats for Week 2.

Freeman and Bell are each worth a roster spot until the Ravens' backfield outlook stabilizes over the next month or so, but they'll have to earn a regular role before they belong in fantasy lineups.

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