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Fantasy Football: How should you value Andre Williams?

What can fantasy football owners expect from Giants' rookie running back Andre Williams?

Is Andre Williams the the New York Giants' newest version of Brandon Jacobs?

Williams is a very interesting rookie running back for me. His numbers as a senior were unbelievable. There were two numbers that stood out to me more than the 2,177 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. Those numbers were the insanely high 355 rushing attempts and the big fat zero he put up in the receptions department.

Williams was the Boston College rushing attack, while Alex Amidon was the lone primary receiver. I actually watched a lot of Williams in the last three years because he played along side a tight end, Mike Naples, who was a wide receiver of mine while I was coaching in Somerville. I wanted to see Mike get the ball more in the passing game, but I understood why Williams would eventually become the focus of the entire offense from the first time I saw him carry the ball.

I asked my old wide receiver, Mike Naples #89 Boston College, a few questions about Andre Williams and this is what he had to say:

Q. What kind of teammate was Andre Williams?

A. Nothing but good things to say about Andre. Stand up guy. Team-orientated, great teammate and better person.

Q. How would you describe his running style?

A. Very,very hard runner who will get stronger as the game goes on.

Q. How did it make you feel as a blocker when Andre would finish off one of his physical runs?

A. Andre always finished his runs. When the other guys and myself would block for him we always used to feed off each other. When you know you have a running back that is going to finish like Andre you know you must give every play your best effort. Likewise, when Andre knew we were blocking as hard as we could for him he knew he had to run as hard as he could, and he did.

Q. Do you think Andre has the hands to be an every down back in the NFL?

A.   Yes I think he will be an every down back. His hands are just as good as anyone's on the team.

Andre Williams is a big back, 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, but he has an amazing burst and a devastating stiff arm that he can utilize with his long arms (33 1/2"). While you might think Williams is going to take over the goal line work right away, I would not agree. Williams showed a tendency not to have the best leg drive in goal to go situations and doesn't attack the congested line of scrimmage as ferociously as he does the secondary. I think the Giants will eventually coach him up in those aspects, but I think the goal-line duties will rest with Rashad Jennings to start the year.

The reason I find Williams so fascinating is because of the Giants short-term and long-term outlook at the running back position. The Giants signed the 29-year-old Jennings to be the lead back this season, but at 29 years old with a long history of injury issues, how long can he hold the job? The Giants also have former first-rounder David Wilson, who hasn't been medically cleared after having off-season spinal fusion surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. With Wilson's medical issues and his disappointing 2012 fresh in my mind I have pushed him to the back burner as far as fantasy football goes. I still believe in his talent, but I need to see him healthy and doing the things a running back needs to do. i.e. pass block and hold onto the ball while running it.

Michael Cox doesn't scare me. I don't care what I hear coming out of camp. He wasn't that talented at Michigan and didn't light up a weak conference when he played at UMass. Peyton Hillis, who was a good soldier for the Giants last season, is going to be lucky if he makes this team. If the Giants carry four half backs then Hillis could make the team, but as far as fantasy purposes now and going forward he has zero value.

With all of these question marks and little signs that people in front of him could be injured during the season Andre Williams becomes a very nice dynasty fantasy football running back and a decent late round flyer in redraft leagues 12 teams and larger. He has even a little more value than that in standard scoring leagues. Williams current ADP in dynasty rookie drafts is the 30th overall rookie pick and I haven't seen him last past the mid-third round in any of my rookie drafts. According to he is the last running back going off the board in the 14th round of standard scoring leagues.

I want to thank Mike Naples for answering some questions about Andre Williams and wish him all the best as he continues to train for a shot at the NFL.

Check back every Friday for the rest of the summer as I hope to help you win your fantasy football leagues in 2014.

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