In 2021, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor broke out and became fantasy football's leading running back by the end of the season with 333.1 fantasy points.
Javonte Williams could be this year's Taylor, per ESPN’s Mike Clay.
Clay, who constantly receives the question, "Who is this year's (enter breakout player from last season)?", chose 12 players who could be the breakout fantasy players of 2022. When looking at the trajectory of Taylor's career, he saw similarities in Williams.
"This may not seem like a great comp considering that Melvin Gordon III remains on the Denver roster, but consider this: Taylor was in a similar position early in 2021," Clay wrote. "He played 50% of the Colts' snaps and was 11th at running back in fantasy points through Week 5 before fending off Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines on his way to a 78% snap share and 64 more fantasy points than any other back the rest of the way. Perhaps Williams can achieve something similar this season with 29-year-old Gordon's role only expected to decrease. With a new coaching staff and a much better QB in Russell Wilson, Williams is set up well for a big leap."
Williams rushed for 903 yards and four touchdowns in 2021, logging 161.9 fantasy points. To recreate Taylor's breakout season, he would need to earn a larger share of the carries in 2022.
Gordon and Williams both had exactly 203 carries in 2021, and they saw roughly equal snaps during training camp when both participated in team drills. Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett has not indicated whetherhe will use one running back more than the other, so he may give Williams and Gordon an equal share of snaps to start the season.
Regardless of whether Williams matches Taylor's breakout year, he is sure to be a key player for the Broncos in 2022.
Below the Fold
The NFL's "Top 100 Players of 2022" rankings have started rolling out, and two Broncos have made the list so far. Justin Simmons was ranked No. 81 overall, and Russell Wilson was chosen as No. 61.
"An excellent Red Zone defender, the 28-year-old Simmons tallied 80 tackles, 12 passes defensed and another five interceptions in '21,"NFL.com’s Quang M. Lam wrote. "The do-it-all Broncos safety was named second-team All-Pro, a year after earning his first Pro Bowl nod. Entering his seventh season in the league, the Boston College product has 21 career picks, with 14 of those coming in the last three seasons. He'll need to have another solid season if Denver aims to compete in a loaded AFC West."
On Wilson, Lam wrote, "Wilson's games started streak of 149 ended last season after the quarterback suffered a finger injury, but his run of 10 straight years as a member of the Top 100 list is still holding strong. Wilson remains as shifty and dangerous under pressure as ever. If he sticks to his current pace, he should top 40,000 career passing yards and 300 passing touchdowns in his first season with Denver, all be before he surpasses 100 career interceptions."