Will the Real Mike Williams, Please Stand Up?

Will the Real Mike Williams, Please Stand Up?

By Zack Cimini


Playing with Greg Paulus as his quarterback during his junior year at Syracuse, Mike Williams broke multiple records at Syracuse. Including consecutive games with a touchdown at nine. Paulus had just went from finishing his basketball career at Duke to using his graduate eligibility at Syracuse to have a shot at quarterback.

For Syracuse fans it still is one of the better seasons offensively in quite some time. 2009, also was costly for Williams as himself and other Syracuse teammates were disciplined by head coach Doug Marrone for violating team rules. Williams was suspended for the rest of Syracuse’s games in 2009, and the team never had the explosiveness it had prior.

Instead of coming back for his senior season, Williams decided to put his name in the NFL Draft. Expecting to get drafted in the first two rounds was out of the question, after his troubled career at Syracuse. Yet, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a gamble on him in the third round, going higher than most draft prognosticators had predicted.

During 2010, Williams and quarterback Josh Freeman were a dynamic duo. With Tampa Bay struggling to find a solid tight end, Williams became Freeman’s main red zone threat. Eleven touchdowns as a rookie is unheard of, and Williams entered the class of rising wide receivers along with Josh Freeman becoming an elite quarterback.

Year two together did not fare very well, as both had awful seasons. Freeman as the quarterback just did not look remotely similar to 2010. He was one of the few quarterbacks that seemed affected by the lockout. Either that or Tampa Bay’s receiving core just was not cutting it.

Josh Freeman dedicated his off-season to getting in shape and lost nearly twenty pounds. Tampa Bay also went out and signed receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson who was embattled in a contract dispute with San Diego for a couple of seasons, finally was able to land elsewhere.

With a top target alongside him, can Williams come anywhere near his rookie levels? There are always variables to look at. Josh Freeman should have regained confidence, that hopefully can transfer to on the field. Excitement over rookie running back Doug Martin and power back LeGarrette Blount should provide a proper ground attack.

It boils down to Williams. Nothing is just going to come to him. His rookie season he had the hunger of someone that needed to prove something. He played as if he was an undrafted athlete. Fantasy owners should keep a radar eye on Williams during the important second and third preseason games.

If Tampa Bay’s offense looks fluid and Williams looks involved, than touchdowns can be counted on for Williams. Yardage has not been an area Williams has excelled in as he has caught 65 catches in both his seasons. If his touchdown consistency can rise though, Williams will be a high caliber number two fantasy wide receiver.


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