News: 5 days agoWilliams is listed as the starting running back on the Broncos' first unofficial depth chart ahead of Saturday's preseason opener against the Cowboys, Zac Stevens of TheDNVR.com reports.
Spin: Williams' placement atop the depth chart doesn't come as a major surprise, as recent reports have indicated that the second-year back has received the slight edge in snaps with the first-team offense in training camp over veteran Melvin Gordon. With Gordon playing on an expiring deal and set to turn 30 next offseason, Denver will likely prepare for the 22-year-old Williams to operate as Option 1A out of the backfield after the two had worked in a near-even timeshare in 2021. With that said, the coaching staff is committed to using multiple backs this season, which should cap the overall upside of both backs when they are healthy. Offensive coordinator Justin Outten recently said the running backs will be on a pitch count this season, further complicating matters for fantasy purposes.
ESPN Fantasy Projection: Williams is primed for a sophomore-year leap after splitting Denver's backfield with Melvin Gordon as a rookie last season. The 2021 second-round pick played 51% of the snaps and was effective as both a rusher (2.57 YAC ranked seventh) and pass-catcher (43 receptions, 13th among RBs). Williams showed his elite upside during the one week Gordon was sidelined, exploding for 178 yards and one TD on 29 touches. Gordon is back, but a reduced role is likely at age 29, especially with a new coaching staff in place. Williams, meanwhile, is very young (22), can contribute as both a rusher and receiver and will benefit from an offense that will be more productive with Russell Wilson under center. Williams has an elite ceiling and should be viewed as a fringe RB1.