When it comes to impact players at the tight end position, many dynasty owners are searching for the next Gronk to explode onto the scene. While it is never a bad thing to be in discovery mode for the “next big thing”, it is wise to have realistic expectations when reviewing young tight ends. To further that point, one tight end I am excited to see in their sophomore year, TE Maxx Williams is near the top of that list. At 21 years old, Williams will be entering the 2016 season competing for the starting position and has a very good chance to walk away with it. At least, that’s what the Ravens and his dynasty owners are hoping for.
When Maxx Williams declared for the draft in January of 2015, he did so with only two years of collegiate experience under his belt. Despite the small sample size, he quickly found himself as the top tight end prospect for many pro teams. Williams drew looks because of his size (6’4″, 250lbs), but also an ability to use that size to fight off defenders and make big plays after the catch. In fact, out of 61 total receptions in college just over 80% of those catches resulted in a first down or touchdown. As you might imagine, Williams quickly drew comparisons to Todd Heap, Jason Witten, Kyle Rudolph, and Jeremy Shockey. With comparisons like that it was no surprise that Williams was the first tight end selected in the 2015 draft with the 55th overall pick.
Rookie Season Breakdown
Maxx Williams had a lackluster first year in terms of fantasy points. In fact, the entire Ravens team had a down year due to major injuries to Flacco, Smith Sr. and Forsett. To say that Williams rookie year should be a baseline for his future would be an insult to his potential. It’s important to note that out of the aforementioned comparable players, only Shockey saw success in his rookie year, as rookie TEs rarely show instant results. However, Williams did end the season on a positive note by finishing with 13 receptions for 100 yards over the last 3 games. The lack of red-zone looks was a result of a plodding Ravens offense, which only scored 5 times in the last 5 games of the season and enduring 3 different starting quarterbacks. Ultimately, Williams finished as the 41st ranked TE in PPR leagues with 53.65 points in 14 games.
Season Total (14 games): 32/269/1 (48 targets)
Game High (Week 17): 6/53/0 (10 targets)
*Williams missed week 7 due to a knee/ankle injury and Week 13 with a concussion.
What to Expect
If you owned Mad Maxx, by way of draft or trade, he likely spent the 2015 season on your bench. While he may not be jumping up the rankings, Williams possesses all the tools to become a breakout tight end, as he is used primarily in the receiving game (move-tight end), rather than as a blocker. Nevertheless, expectations for any tight end to perform like Gronk may be a near unreachable goal, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities for Maxx to become a 50/700/5-type contributor. Another feather in his cap, OC Marc Trestman will be in his second year with the team and should further implement his offensive schemes to a greater extend with a bevy of healthy and more tenured offensive weapons returning next season.
With wide receivers typically dominating the top picks in dynasty rookie drafts, you likely saw Maxx selected somewhere in the 3rd round. At the time, the Ravens were still hopeful for a Dennis Pitta return, while waiting for 2nd year player Crockett Gilmore to emerge. Thus, Mad Maxx fell into a very comfortable spot, which would have theoretically allowed him to develop slowly. As it stands now, Pitta may be forced to retire or get released and Gilmore is coming off of a season ending back injury. Therefore, if you are looking to pull the trigger on a trade for Williams, buy low. There is a chance that Gilmore could take the starting job during training camp and leave Williams fighting for targets. However, should Williams become the full-time starter and remain healthy, there will be plenty of passes thrown his way from Flacco during their 2016 campaign.
Thank you for reading. You can find me on Twitter @DynastyZach.