Peter Schrager hosted a segment on Good morning, football for the past few years, predicting the top 10 breakout players for the upcoming season. In years past, Schrager has listed names like Patrick Mahomes, Devin White, and last year he chose Sydie Lamb as his top pick.
For the most part, Schrager’s predictions have been pretty accurate with players living up to the expectations placed on them at the start of the season. This year, Schrager’s top pick for breakout player of the year is Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams, who he also believes will finish as the 2022 NFL champion.
“My pick to lead the league in rushing this season is Broncos rookie-turned-sophomore Javonte Williams.”
In one of last year’s GMF segments called “Angry Runs,” Williams was a consistent choice among the finalists. He took home two scepters on the year and is now tipped to continue that great run into the 2022 season.
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In Year 2, Schrager expects Williams to be “a little bit smarter, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster.” All of this could lead to a career-defining season for the young running back.
Williams is expected to be the Broncos’ starter in Week 1. I disagree with Schrager’s prediction that Williams will lead the league in rushing because the Broncos don’t need him as a workhorse this season.
The Broncos have a great backup in Melvin Gordon who can lighten the load and save Williams for when the carries matter the most down and then. If Williams was expected to carry the load this season as Denver’s bellwether, I’d probably agree that there’s a good chance he’ll be in contention for that top spot in rushing yards.
My expectation for Williams is that he will get close to 55% of the carries, with the remaining 45% going to Gordon. During his college career, Williams was in a split backfield system at North Carolina and looks comfortable sharing the load.
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Plus, Nathaniel Hackett just came over from Green Bay, where the Packers had two running backs who split the carries to great success in AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones. With everyone involved coming from this idea of splitting carries to maximize talent, it’s hard for me to see Williams getting the touches he needs to really push for that top spot.
Williams will still have a breakout year despite the injury because of the skill set he now pairs with a quarterback like Russell Wilson who can keep defenses honest and boxes light on the play. NFL analyst and former QB pro Dan Orlovsky recently predicted that the Broncos will win the division in large part because they are the most balanced team in the AFC West.
The ability to beat both the run and the pass should give the Broncos a huge edge over the rest of the division. I, for one, can’t wait to see how the Broncos set up defenses and have them pick and choose which threat to try to contain.
Don’t be shocked to see the Broncos rush for 200 yards one week, then throw for more than 350 yards the next. It’s really nice that Wilson won’t have to lead this team to a win every week for this offense to be successful.
Williams and Gordon are arguably the NFL’s best running back duo by the end of the season.
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