The Arizona Cardinals had high expectations for running back Ryan Williams when they selected him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Even though he missed the entire season with a knee injury, those expectations are still there which is why he’s considered to be in the group of 2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers.
Beanie Wells, who has a knee injury himself, is expected to be the starter this season, but Williams should get his fair share of carries. Wells has missed time in each of the past two seasons, and his knee injury could be a bigger concerned than originally believed. Williams, who rushed for 1,655 yards and scored 21 touchdowns his freshman year at Virginia Tech, could distance himself from Wells eventually, but he needs to get on the field in game situations.
Even post-injury Williams has still shown the same explosiveness the Cardinals drafted him for in training camp. There couldn’t possibly be anything worse for a running back than to injure a patella tendon. That said, the Cardinals and Williams should be thankful it came in the preseason because the running back has had plenty of time to rehab and recover.
Fantasy owners haven’t exactly bent over backwards to draft Cardinal running backs recently. Since 2000, Arizona’s 90.4 yards per game rushing is dead last in the NFL. Williams certainly has a lot to prove, and is in no way a sure success. However, the opportunity could present itself for Williams to take control over the Arizona backfield. If he’s up to challenge, he could be a valuable third-string running back, and he’s worth drafting with a late-round pick.