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Fantasy Forecast: Mike Williams

Only four receivers in NFL history have caught 1000 yards in their rookie seasons: Randy Moss (1998), Anquan Boldin (2003), Michael Clayton (2004) and Marques Colston (2006). Many would admit that Randy didn’t even know what he was going out there, and still caught 1313 yards and 17 touchdowns. I don’t think Williams has that superhuman talent and the quality of corners and the innovations in scheme would probably keep Williams from those numbers regardless of how much Stroughter and Stovall distract. The simplicity of the Syracuse offense and the extra time off he had from leaving the team should not be a factor. I do think if Raheem Morris doesn’t give him enough snaps in preseason, that might affect how he executes against NFL corners early.

Here are the questions you must ask when determining what Mike Williams will end up doing:

1. Is he going to be the top target for Josh Freeman? Probably yes. He has been his favorite in training camp. His main competition in the red zone will likely be Stovall, Benn, Winslow and Stevens.

2. Is the schedule favorable for a big year? When Fitzgerald and Boldin each put up enormous numbers in the 2005 season, they were getting them because Arizona had such trouble running the ball and, to a lesser extent, because they were playing from behind. There are certainly some elite pass rushes and secondaries on Tampa’s schedule. However, there is also the likelihood that in half of these games, they will have to pass to get back into them.

Projection: Greg Olson doesn’t seem to be a dummy, so I’m sure this offense will take quite a few shots down the field to Williams and, while Freeman will likely spread the targets around, Williams looks to be on the field for all non-short yardage offensive plays. He has great ability and he has a big-armed if still growing quarterback throwing to him. I’m aiming high because I thought he was one of the most pro-ready receivers in the draft and he’s shown the work ethic to be ready for this level. 78 receptions, 1100 yards, 9 touchdowns.

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