Dynasty Draft Profile: Maxx Williams
March 12, 2015 | Rich Hribar
|20.7||77||249||33 1/2||10 3/8|
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
In a tight end class that is extremely lacking in true pass catching quality, Maxx Williams is everyone’s darling at the ball this spring. With his cohorts at the position being more TE2 types, it’s likely they placed unreasonable expectations on Williams to dazzle us at the combine and display his dominance over his peers.
His physical performance does raise some doubt on an otherwise impressive resume. For tight ends 250 pounds and under, he’s below the average in measurables of straight line speed (4.67) and brushes against the average and below in the agility marks of three cone (7.14) and short shuttle (4.38). On the positive end, he tests out better than average for his weight in the explosion drills of broad jump (114” average) and vertical (33”). That physical profile and his final year production generate a raw list of unimpressive comparisons.
|Gavin Escobar||San Diego State||21.9||47||78||254||4.84||36||112||4.24||7.4||3.2||41.8||0.5|
Again these comparisons are a strict compilation of measurables only, ignoring traits and nuance, but rather serve a sobering functionality since most player comparisons are strictly high end. Williams is hurt by his physical presence, but it’s really his final season production that dings him, even with solid market shares, and is the area that I’m willing to overlook based on what I see from him on film more so than having any real issues with requisite athleticism.
Williams had 26.6 percent of team target share, the second highest total at tight end in the nation behind Jonnu Smith of Forida International (27.2 percent), but had just 64 total targets (9th of all tight ends). His 56.3 percent catch rate was 26th of 27 tight ends with 50 or more targets as he suffered through attachment to poor quarterback play and a miserable offense overall. Minnesota attempted just 254 passes all season, 121st in the country and passed for just 1,844 yards (also 121st) while completing just 50 percent of their passes (tied for 122nd).
Used primarily as a “move” tight end, he does need to work on creating separation in routes; something his testing also highlights could be problematic in the NFL. While he may not be in the mold of the freak hybrid tight end that we’ve been growing accustomed to in recent years, he’s still very good and a viable target. The alluring qualities about him (especially for fantasy football) are his amazing hands and body control which make up for some of those pure measurable shortcomings and aid him in conjunction with his good explosion to being a major factor in the red zone.
Here are a few examples of his stellar hands and ability to use his frame for maximum leverage and his strength to make plays after the catch.
The other big time spade he’s still carrying in his deck is that he’s still just a puppy, entering 2015 only at age 21. Combine that with the anticipation that he’s going to be selected with significant draft capital this spring and that signals good things for a tight end’s future in fantasy. Here’s a list of all the tight ends entering the NFL as 21-year old rookies that we selected in the first three rounds and the number of TE1 PPR scoring seasons they produced.
The last remaining gray area on Williams will be cost and learning curve. Per Dynasty ADP collected by the great Ryan McDowell, Williams is already being selected as a top 10 dynasty tight end today in startups with rookies available. That cost is really cutting off any immediate upside at a position that has shown to have a consistent transition period in the league. Just eight rookie tight ends have ever caught 50 passes in their inaugural campaign and only one rookie tight end has ever caught 60 or more passes and that was Keith Jackson back in 1988 (81 receptions). Just another 15 have caught 60 or more passes in their second season with the ray of sunshine being that nine of those have come since 2004.
You’re really looking for a third year breakout at a position that isn’t tide turning unless you have a Gronk or Jimmy Graham level player. The ceiling hope would be he becomes a Tony Gonzalez type presence in his team’s passing attack, which is a steady performer and great floor player, but even for Gonzalez’s longevity and consistency, he only produced two of the top 30 scoring tight end seasons in PPR points per game. Having him was an advantage, but not a death blow for eliminating opponents.
It’s not a hard rule, but I rarely like to invest early rookie draft capital into the tight end position because of the value itself on the position in fantasy and their immediate value almost always depreciates. That makes them good buys in years two and three when impatient owners get antsy that their first or second round pick isn’t returning on investment. With Williams’ ceiling likely not as a yearly league tilter, it pushes him into that late first/early second range. I prefer someone else draft him if he’s a top 15 selection, but I wouldn’t take high umbrage with anyone selecting him once the second receiver tier clears.
Williams was the top tight end coming into the draft and he landed in one of the best situations for a rookie tight end to make an immediate impact by going to Baltimore at pick 55. With the late selection of Nick Boyle in the fifth round and the pick of potential hybrid Darren Waller in the sixth, it’s fair to operate under the assumption that Dennis Pitta will be missing from action this season. If that’s the case, the Ravens have 100 targets missing from their tight end unit from 2014.
New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has historically had shallow ball distribution in the passing game and the Ravens don’t have a strong WR3 presence on their roster. Even if sophomore tight end Crockett Gilmore finds the field more, Williams should still find himself in place to garner a large portion of those available targets.The last time a rookie tight end was a top 12 PPR fantasy asset was Rob Gronkowski (TE11) in 2010 and the most targets a rookie tight end has ever received in a season since targets have been tracked is 86 by Cam Cleeland in 1998, so there’s still reason to pump the brakes a touch in anticipation of Williams no longer requiring the slow burn that most rookie tight ends face in hashing out fantasy relevancy.
The draft really helped Williams rehabilitate and retain value as a rookie target. While Williams never projects to be a Gronkonian type fantasy presence, his age insulation and landing spot are enough to make him the clear cut TE1 of this class and cements himself as an option at the top of the second round of rookie drafts once we clear the top two tiers of backs and receivers.
Early 2015 Projection: 69.0 TGT/46.9 REC/506.5 YDS/3.8 TD