Dynasty Dilemma: Kyren Williams
One of the biggest surprises of the season so far is the Los Angeles Rams. They went into Lumen Field in Seattle and punched the Seahawks in the mouth. They won in every category, including time of possession, total yards, first downs, and third-down efficiency. They were a well-oiled machine, and the running back room was a big reason why. With only 92 yards on the ground, Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, and the offensive line set the tone and let the young wide receivers be comfortable. In week two, they did not win the game but surprised many people by hanging with one of the Super Bowl favorites, the San Francisco 49ers.
Every team in the NFL wants to have a balanced attack between the passing game and the rushing game. In week one, the Rams did just that. With 38 passing and 37 rushing attempts (not counting Matthew Stafford's rushes, which would make it 40), the Rams offensive scheme could do anything it wanted, and Seattle could not adjust to stop it. Week 2 was a little more pass-happy, but Williams could have been more productive. Matthew Stafford threw the ball 55 times with just 22 rushing attempts. Among those 22 rushing attempts, the only running back to have a carry was Kyren with 14. Kyren Williams has had the most significant impact based on his production. He also may be the guy to get on the waiver wire or trades in the coming weeks. Here is why:
Cam Akers had more rushing attempts in week one with 22, but Kyren Williams was the more productive back. 15 carries for 52 yards and two touchdowns were surprising for many Cam Akers owners in redraft formats. It raised some eyebrows to the dynasty owners who have held Williams in deep bench or taxi formats. Williams's 3.5 yards per attempt was over double Akers's production (1.3 yards per attempt). This number may seem low, but three rushing attempts at 3.5 yards per attempt is a first down.
In week two, Kyren Williams had all the rushing attempts for the running back room. He ended the game with 14 carries for 52 yards and one touchdown. Williams also had a great game receiving-wise, with six receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown. With a 3.7 yards per attempt in week two against what some people call the most formidable defense he will face this year. Performing this well against a tough defense is what the owners of Kyren Williams wanted to see.
Snap Percentage -
Kyren Williams also out-snapped Cam Akers by a significant margin. The official snap counts for the running backs were 53 snaps(65.43%) for Kyren Williams, 28 snaps(34.57%) for Cam Akers, and 0 for Ronnie Rivers. The playing time breakdown was significant in week one because every fantasy manager believed in the offseason that Akers was going to be the RB1 on this team, so to be on the field so for him to be on the field far less was a surprise.
In week two, Cam Akers was a healthy scratch. The other active running backs for the game were Royce Freeman, who only played special teams, and Ronnie Rivers, who played only a handful of snaps and caught one pass for four yards. Williams has been the most efficient back and is the running back in the Rams backfield. In the first two games of the season, Kyren Williams is up to 129 snaps, 80.12% of all offensive plays. Snap percentage is something to keep an eye on in my eyes. Especially in the coming weeks if Akers stays inactive and McVay keeps up this massive percentage with the backups. With waiver pickups about to be in full swing and two weeks' worth of stats, Williams and a slew of his teammates were the top adds of the week for managers. What should we expect? Should we temper expectations?
Fools Gold -
Some things are set in stone for the first few weeks of the NFL season, like a Minnesota Vikings disappointment or a division rival game having an unexpected outcome, like the Cleveland Browns upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals. Week one of the NFL season is also one that usually has the most surprises. The Los Angeles Rams, as a whole, were one of the biggest. That includes Kyren Williams's snap count and production on the field while barely sniffing the field last year. However, I like his yards per attempt at 3.5 yards and 3.7 in week two. Will this continue, or will Sean McVay get in his head and ruin another productive running back?
After two weeks of performance and production, all signs point upward for Kyren Williams. His stats for fantasy are great, and as I have and will state even more soon, I am worried about his coach getting in his way. He also has not broken a tackle in the first two weeks, so as defenses adjust and put more defenders into the "box" or by the line of scrimmage, can Williams keep up this productivity?
In my Dynasty Dilemma in May about Cam Akers, I barely brought up Kyren Williams because I thought he was the running back after camp to be cut. That was a mistake. I did not believe Williams had a significant role on the team then. I put too much stock on the rookie Zach Evans and Ronnie Rivers. His role, although substantial, has yet to be clearly defined. In what I will call classic Sean McVay fashion, he doesn't know what to do with his running back room.
With the inconsistencies from last year with Akers, injuries to players, and not getting a role in the backfield after returning until late in the year, Williams kept his head down and worked on becoming the lead back in LA. The lead-back role in Los Angeles has been by committee for the past two years. That has yet to be the case through the first two weeks of the 2023 season. Kyren Williams is the lead back now, and it may take an injury or surprising play by one of the rookies to change that.
Whether you are going for the gold this year in Dynasty or trying to rebuild, Kyren Williams is an asset. Some deeper leagues in Dynasty need more luxury to pick up WIlliams through the wavier wire. It may be time to strike while the iron is hot and see if the owner is willing to part ways with him. Use the Dynasty Pros Trade Calculator to see what is deemed a fair trade. If you learn anything from playing fantasy football in this day and age, it's that you know the running back position takes a lot of work to navigate. So try to get yourself as many as you can for as cheap as possible to have options.
In redraft, many guys were picking up the wide receivers for the LA Rams in Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell. These two have had significant games to start the year. While the receivers are always good options, getting a potential running back that could help you in a bye week or solidifying your RB2 role is beneficial. Last week, Kyren Williams was a cheap get on the waiver wire. After week two, we may see significant amounts of blind bids or free agent dollars on him.
I will try to acquire Williams if you need help at the running back position. If you have Kyren Williams, I would hold. He can be an asset to your team for one of the running back slots, and his price tag might increase shortly. Be patient; we still have 12 to 13 weeks until the fantasy playoffs. If he does become the real deal and a must-start, someone might cave and give you an offer you can't refuse. Hold for a few more weeks and sell when his price is at its highest. We have seen crazier things happen, and in desperate times, people sell top assets to improve their team to make a run.
He isn't a Todd Gurley type back. He is a complementary back who will see RB1 touches for this year. Sooner than later, he is going to be an afterthought to McVay. Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers got the same hype during their drafts, and the same thing is happening to Williams. Henderson was cut, and Akers is becoming an afterthought, being a healthy scratch and, if rumors are true, on the trade block. Williams will be getting the hype until one of the other rookies comes in and impresses. He then may fall victim to the Sean McVay trap. Kyren Williams is a great play this year, but you can never know the thought process or trust McVay until proven otherwise. Although the future might not be as clear as we would want, the opportunity to shine is there for Kyren Williams.
Cody Folden joined the Dynasty Pros team in 2023. He plays in many dynasty leagues but dabbles in other leagues like devy, contract, and scouting leagues. He loves to dive deep into learning about prospects coming up through college and seeing them thrive when they get to the league.