What was the most interesting thing that happened for Fantasy Football 2011 among all the final NFL preseason cuts?
Many will point directly to the Cardinals signing of recently released Chester Taylor as has having the most potential Fantasy Football impact in 2011, among all the offensive players recently released. Taylor will be 32 years old this season, and will likely be the 3rd-down RB only...not a 10+ carry a game RB, plus there is also a higher age/injury risk. Taylor could be productive with the Cardinals, but not likely with a huge Fantasy Football upside. We still think the Cardinals will also make a play for another younger, below-the-radar speed-RB as well (please give Jalen Parmele a chance!).
However, the Taylor change of uniform is not the most interesting team maneuver of the last few days to us...
There was a RB released, that shocked us...and he has landed in an absolute perfect place. So perfect, that he may lead his team in rushing TDs and Fantasy Football scoring (among RBs). That RB is Keiland Williams, formerly of the Washington Redskins, now with the Detroit Lions.
The Keiland Williams back-story:
Williams was an undrafted Free Agent for the Redskins in 2010.
Williams was a lesser-used RB at LSU, in a crowded backfield (with fringe NFL talent Charles Scott, Stevan Ridley and Jacob Hester). Williams played as a Freshman, and was 4 yards shy of leading LSU in rushing (436 yards) in his debut season in 2006.
Williams never was really used any more or less in his following 3 seasons. Williams always had respectable numbers on his team rankings, but by no means jaw-dropping output. Williams' best season was 2007, with 478 yards rushing and 7 overall TDs. Williams also began to return kicks in 2007, which is impressive for a 230+ RB/return-man.
Williams was an NFL Combine invite, but had to skip the Combine due to a late season ankle injury in his Senior year. Williams did run a 4.52 40-yard dash with good agility measurements at his Pro-Day, which are rare physical tools for a 5'10+, 230+ RB...who also can return kicks.
Williams was good enough, or the Redskins RB situation was bad enough, to where he made his debut in his rookie year last season in Week-2...grabbing (a 2nd highest on the team for the game) 4 catches, for 15 yards. A few weeks later he scored a rushing TD along with 3 receptions against (his new team) Detroit.
Where Williams hit the radar screen, was in a Week-9 game against the Eagles. That game will always be known for Michael Vick's stunning Monday Night Football performance where he posted 6 TDs in crushing the Redskins. Lost in that night's mayhem, was that Keiland Williams ran for 89 yards and had another 50 yards receiving, and scored 3 TDs on that night.
Williams was the feature RB the following week with 23 carries, and a modest 68 yards, plus 6 receptions for 27 yards. The following week Mike Shanahan professed his love for James Davis (which did last a week or two), and Williams quietly finished the 2010 season with a couple carries and receptions per game.
Why was Williams cut?
I have no idea.
I cannot figure out Mike Shanahan for anything. Maybe, there are issues behind the scenes...but from what I gather -- they brought in Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, and then tried to make Williams into an FB, and he was beaten out by the other FBs.
Flashback to 2008, the Broncos (under Shanahan) draft Peyton Hillis in the 7th-Round of the NFL Draft. Shanahan (seemingly) makes no attempt to later acquire Hillis in 2010, while the Browns stole him from Josh McDaniels. Shanahan may have a non-preference, or a blind spot, for bigger/faster pounding RBs. To me, Keiland Williams is a much better NFL RB prospect than Tim Hightower...but for Shanahan's system, maybe not? It's possible this surprising release of Williams is not an indictment of Williams' talent.
A Mikel Leshoure mindset...
Remember Mikel Leshoure, the best (to us) RB in the 2011 Draft? Why we think that Keiland Williams could be important for Fantasy Football 2011 -- is based on the same mindset of why the Lions drafted Leshoure.
On the surface, drafting Leshoure this year makes no sense. The Lions have a very favorable thought of RB, by the fans, in Jahvid Best...so why use a high draft pick to bring in Leshoure? This does make sense if you have realized that Jahvid Best is not that good, and/or he is injury prone, and/or you realize that a 190-199 pound, small-RB with an injury history cannot take on a 15+ carry per game workload. With that mindset, with several other needs on your team, you still move up to take Leshoure. The Lions screamed to us in April 2011, that their RB situation was of concern.
Leshoure is lost early in camp with a season-ending injury, and now the Lions are reeling. Definition of "reeling" -- giving Mike Bell a tryout (to be cut soon after). Jahvid gets nicked up again preseason, and Jerome Harrison is a nice upside/inconsistent RB addition...but he is may be just the better version of Jahvid Best. The Lions still don't have a "banger" RB-type...or they didn't, but now potentially they do.
The Lions RB situation is now totally "Sainted-up". Like the New Orleans Saints, the Lions now have too many good RBs with specific specializations. Great for the Lions/Saints NFL win-loss prospects, not so great trying to read the tea leaves on it for Fantasy Football.
If you leave this article with one thing, that thing is -- you must unload Jahvid Best if he still has better value still among your competitors. The Lions are doing everything they can to show that they don't think Best is a feature RB. Even if Best forces Harrison to the back of the line, Best will still have to deal with Williams for Fantasy Football...and that may be a win for Williams. Who do you think the Lions will give the ball to in deep red-zone situations? The oft injured 190-199 pound RB in Jahvid, or the 230+ pound monster who is fast/agile and can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
Williams is a poor man's Mike Tolbert or Peyton Hillis potentially. Unlike Tolbert, the path to becoming the main Lions RB doesn't have as many speed bumps as the Chargers (Ryan Mathews). I'm not saying that Williams is Hillis 2.0...but I am saying, Jahvid Best is in trouble for Fantasy Football (we've been saying that for months). Jerome Harrison is not helped by this either.
The great Fantasy Football value here is Keiland Williams, which if I am wrong...would cost you all of a dead-end roster spot, because likely he is sitting on waivers right now. Free of charge...
*Caution, it may take Williams a week or two to get integrated with his new offense...so don't get too worried about a 3-5 carries in a game for the opening week. Actually, if Williams gets 3-5 carries...it's probably a good sign that they are ready for him now, and serious about him being a part of the offense.