The Home of Fantasy Sports Analysis

The Monday Morning Sleeper – Joe Williams

Welcome to this weeks’ edition of the Monday Morning Sleeper. Last week I profiled a wide receiver who will be playing for the Los Angeles Rams this upcoming season, named Robert Woods. His opportunity as the primary weapon for Jared Goff could pay high dividends to savvy fantasy owners who draft him higher than his average draft position.

A Fantasy Football Sleeper is a player that is in a position to play beyond their rankings or expectations, and who may provide you with some value at their draft position.

This week I will be profiling a rookie running back named Joe Williams, who will be playing his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers. He may be able to benefit from a favorable coaching scheme, and an injury prone veteran, to earn the starting job through a successful training camp.


Joe Williams was drafted 121st overall in the 2017 NFL entry draft by the San Francisco 49ers. While being drafted in the fourth round isn’t generally an indication of future success, it doesn’t preclude it either. While in college playing for the University of Utah in 2016, Williams amassed 10 rushing touchdowns and 1,407 yards on 210 carries, for an average of 6.7 yards per carry. What’s more impressive is that most of those numbers occurred over seven games after returning from mini retirement, with 1,332 yards, on 188 carries, and 10 touchdowns in seven games, for an average of 7.1 yards per carry. Over his college career, Williams ran for a total of 1,884 yards on 314 carries, for an average of 6.0 yards per carry, with a total of 2,075 scrimmage yards on 334 plays.

Williams also possesses explosive speed, running a 4.41 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. This explosiveness gives him one-cut ability needed to break through the holes and extend plays. This speed, coupled with his footwork and agility, should make for some big-play potential on every possession.


Williams slipped in the draft, and one of the major reasons was his retirement from football during his senior season with the Utes. Some felt that he had abandoned his team two weeks into the season, while others understood that sometimes the demands placed on a young player can boil over and reach a head. After his return to the gridiron, he started running with a purpose, and was putting up impressive numbers, including a game against UCLA, where he ran for 332 yards. His short retirement set off alarm bells with some scouts, and suggested that there may be some character concerns. Williams, as explained by ninersnation, had some personal issues to address and sought professional help over his month away from football. After coming to terms with an incident from his past, he returned to football with a focus and determination which helped the Utes win the Foster Farms Bowl.


Kyle Shanahan recently became the 49ers head coach, leaving his position as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. After trading up in the 2017 NFL entry draft to take Williams in the fourth round, Shanahan and the coaching staff clearly have faith in the young running back, and based on his coaching style, Williams should flourish when given the opportunity. With Williams known for his speed and lateral footwork, he seems like a great fit for Shanahan’s coaching scheme, where historically he likes to utilize backs out of the Shotgun and I-formations. Given Williams’ speed and agility, he will be able to break out to the outside and wheel up field, or find his way through the holes.

On the other side of the coin, Carlos Hyde is a product of the previous regime, which means the new coaching staff isn’t necessarily committed to him, and could make him expendable. Hyde is physical runner who takes a lot of damage to his body due to his style of play, which may further open the door for Williams.


Williams is currently ranked 166th overall, and is the 58th ranked running back, according to Fantasy Pros. He is ranked behind some aging running backs such as Matt Forte, Frank Gore, and Marshawn Lynch. I believe he will outperform these veterans, and will provide great value if you can grab him around the 11-12th rounds. If he is still sitting after the 13th round, grab him before another manager steals him out from under you, especially if you own Hyde, and he will reward you for your faith sooner rather than later.

Thank you for reading The Monday Morning Sleeper, and follow me on Twitter, @HaehnelJames

Have an opinion? Let me know in the comments below.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.