Jamaal Williams Finds Strong Landing Spot in New Orleans
The former Lions back should have a stint as the starter with the Saints, and he'll be a strong backup the rest of the time. FTN reacts to the news.
Mar 15, 2023, 7:25 PM EDT
The David Montgomery signing in Detroit appeared to spell the end of Jamaal Williams’ Lions tenure, and that was cemented Wednesday when the veteran back reportedly signed a three-year deal to head south and join the New Orleans Saints.
The deal is reportedly for three years and $12 million, with $8 million in guarantees, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Williams, who turns 28 in April, is coming off a career-best season, with 1,066 rushing yards (previous career best: 601) on 262 carries (previous high: 153) for a league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns, more than double the 13 he had in his career entering 2022.
He makes plenty of sense for a Saints team that is gearing up for the likelihood of a suspension for starting RB Alvin Kamara as he deals with legal issues stemming from an incident at the 2022 Pro Bowl. For however long Kamara is out, Williams is a much better stem-the-tide interim starter than Mark Ingram proved to be last year. Williams will be a mid-range RB2 with upside in fantasy for however long he’s the starter.
And even when Kamara returns, Williams should still have a sizable role — Kamara has averaged only 3.9 yards per carry with 6 rushing scores across the last two seasons after at least 4.6 YPC each of his first four years. Kamara, who turns 28 in July, is still a more than competent receiver out of the backfield, but having Williams around to help carry the load will help split the work.
Williams contributed next to nothing in the receiving game with Detroit last year, with only 12 receptions on 16 targets, although he’s been more involved in passing games in Detroit and Green Bay in years past. Still, he’s not a receiving back, so his upside will always be capped, especially in PPR leagues.
But the Saints needed a running back who could be a starter for at least a few games, and someone who can be a complementary back to Kamara the rest of the time, and there weren’t many on the market better suited for that role, at a relatively cheap price, than Williams.