Kansas City Chiefs running back Damian Williams has decided to opt out, according to team’s twitter page.
Williams was key to the Chiefs playoff success after an injury-marred regular season. His six playoff touchdowns were the most by any undrafted player in the Super Bowl era. Williams was also instrumental in the Chiefs 31-20 Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers, rushing for 104 yards and one touchdown while tacking on four receptions for 29 yards and another score in a performance many said deserved Super Bowl MVP honors. His efforts led the Chiefs to exercise the 2020 option in his contract this past offseason.
With Williams out of the picture, one has to imagine that 2020 first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire shoots up draft boards all the way to the back of the first-round when draft season hits its peak. The former LSU running back has been touted as a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s offense as a skilled pass catcher, though worries remained about his role with Williams in tow. With the backfield all but Edwards-Helaire’s, he seems set for a featured role in one of the league’s most explosive offenses. He should be a lock for mid to back end RB1 production and a player to target in that second or third tier of running backs.
It’s also worth noting that DeAndre Washington should slot in as the backup running back and be a top 60 running back at least. He’s a capable pass catcher and a serviceable running back in a pinch. Should Edwards-Helaire struggle in pass protection or split carries as a rookie with a truncated offseason, Washington could be a late-round target to keep in mind.
Williams’ opt out joins Green Bay’s Devin Funchess and Philadelphia’s Marquise Goodwin as the fantasy-relevant opt outs to date. Nobody should have been banking on either Funchess or Goodwin to perform, but both open up a clear path to playing time for the options behind them. In Green Bay, Allen Lazard should step into the No. 2 role with options like Jake Kumerow, Equanimeous St. Brown and Reggie Begelton challenging for playing time. With Green Bay’s new devotion to the run game, I wouldn’t expect big things. Goodwin’s absence allows for rookies like John Hightower and Quez Watkins to fight for more time as speedy options. With Alshon Jeffrey projected to start the season on the PUP, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor and DeSean Jackson should be the starting trio, with room for Hightower and Watkins to flash should the starting options falter. Regardless, Philadelphia will continue to utilize tight ends Zack Ertz and Dallas Goedart as the only two reliable weapons among the receiving threats while targeting Miles Sanders heavily out of the backfield.