Faceoff: Cadillac Williams

August 4th

Chris Smith: Cadillac Williams has had an up and down career since entering the NFL back in 2005. He started off with a bang in his rookie season with 290 carries, 20 receptions, 1259 total yards and 6 touchdowns, ranking him 19th amongst running backs. The next three seasons (2006 to 2008), he really struggled due to injuries and general ineffectiveness, never rushing for more than 798 yards, scoring just 8 total touchdowns and playing in just 24 games. On a positive note during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he managed to score 7 touchdowns on just 117 carries proving he is capable of big things when healthy.

Last season, he played very well just one year removed from serious injury. He scored 7 touchdowns on just 238 total touches and finished as the 27th best running back.

Some of my fellow Footballguys believe he will plummet to the late 30's and early 40's this season while I have him currently ranked 29th at the running back position. Let's explore why he is serviceable this season.

Reasons for some optimism during the 2010 campaign

  1. One year removed from injury. Last season while re-discovering his sea-legs, Williams managed to rush for 816 yards and caught 29 passes with a decent 3.9 YPC average. He also scored a respectable 7 touchdowns. He had more touches in the 2nd half of the season and should run with more confidence in 2010
  2. Lack of competition for touches. The only player really in the hunt to steal away touches from him this season is Derrick Ward. When comparing both players from the 2009 season, it is Williams who had the better season and that was while recovering from a nasty injury the previous season. Ward averaged a disappointing 3.6 YPC last year and simply does not have the talent that Williams is blessed with.

Last Word

Obviously with Williams' injury track record and the offensive line's serious question marks, it would be folly to rank Williams to high. However, for him to not finish inside the top-30 this season would mean that either he is injured once again or Derrick Ward replaces him. It is impossible to predict another freak injury for Williams and Ward simply is not good enough to take those touches away from him so expect at least more of the same in 2010.

Andy Hicks: Wasn't it great to see Cadillac Williams make it through a full season in 2009 against all the odds following another debilitating knee injury during the previous season?

In 2007 he was told he'd never be the same again following a torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

He came back in 2008 and played, but was hardly exceptional before tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee.

He played alright last season, but it's hard to see where and how he is going to approach fantasy starter status given:

  • His injury history
  • The Buccaneers inability to run the ball
  • The competition for touches
  • The absence of receiving talent
  • The inexperience of Josh Freeman

Elaborating Further Looking at the fact that Cadillac made it through a full season is probably an ominous sign for his prospects this season. In every other year the 6-year veteran has failed to make it through without missing a couple of games or even worse has had two season-ending knee injuries. I don't doubt that if he is fully fit and not hindered by his pair of patched up knees, he'll benefit from a 2nd year in his current system, a QB in his second season and a head coach in his 2nd season, but that "if" is too big for me to use one of my top 3 RB slots on Williams. I'd be very hesitant to slot him in as my RB4 as well unless I was very strong at other positions and didn't draft a 4th RB sooner.

The Buccaneers finished in the bottom quarter in rushing attempts and yards per carry and the bottom two overall in TDs. With no additions to one of the poorest offensive lines in the NFL and two of it's best linemen (and best is not really an appropriate word) looking for big money deals, the line is in complete disarray. They also have to deal with a young QB that doesn't look ready to make much progress this year in an almost no win situation for poor Josh Freeman. He isn't helped by an inferior wide receiver corps to last year's below average receivers following the loss of Antonio Bryant. Maybe Arrelious Benn turns into a rookie version of Michael Clayton, who's still around by the way, unfortunately getting worse each year. It's easy to look at the best players around on the Tampa offense in Kellen Winslow and Cadillac Williams and think that they have to succeed, but the defensive game plans will be pretty simple for opposing teams this year.

Not only does Cadillac have all the problems of the Tampa offense to deal with he will still have two other backs who have finished as RB2's as many times as him in Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham. There is no doubt that Williams enters the season as the No. 1, but with 2 experienced veterans on hand to take carries away, you cannot expect Williams to average more than 12 to 13 carries a game, even if he manages to play every game.

In conclusion I do find it very difficult to consider Cadillac Williams as anything other than a RB4 for fantasy squads this season. He has never been a touchdown machine, will be lucky to exceed 200 carries, is an average receiver and has only been a RB2 once in his career. I'll take players that are No. 2s in systems before I take a player with the limited upside that Cadillac Williams has in 2010.