Rams’ Kyren Williams aiming to be Fantasy Football RB1: ‘If you’re not first, you’re last’

Written by on June 26, 2024

Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua wasn’t the only offensive breakout star for the Los Angeles Rams in 2023. Second-year running back Kyren Williams, a 2022 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, became a completely different player with great opportunity, going from 139 rushing yards on 35 carries in 2022 to 1,144 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns on 228 carries while playing in 12 games in 2023.

His 95.3 rushing yards per game led the NFL, and Williams’ 1,144 rushing yards in 2023 ranked as the third-most in the NFL behind only Derrick Henry (1,167) and NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey (1,459). He is the first player since Bull Karcis of the 1937 Pittsburgh Pirates to finish in the top three in rushing yards despite missing at lest four games in a season. 

That production earned the 23-year-old a Second Team All-Pro nod and Pro Bowl honors for his efforts in 2023. Now, he’s ready for much more. 

“Honestly, it’s growing off of what I did last year. Being a leader out there on the field and being somebody that people could come to or watch, observe and see what they need to do to be successful,” Williams said on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Tuesday. “It really doesn’t take much. You have to be dedicated and work to where you want to be. The end goal may not happen tomorrow or the next day, but eventually if you continue to keep working each and every single day, that’s going to get to where you need to be. So, for me it’s just living by that and just picking off of what I did last year — being able to create more explosives in the run game, also being able to create more explosives in the pass game.”

Williams totaled 206 receiving yards (tied for 32nd among running backs) and three receiving touchdowns (tied for ninth among running backs) on 32 catches (28th among running backs) last season, which in tandem with his rushing efforts led him to finish as the No. 2 running back in the entire NFL in CBS Sports’ PPR points per game average (21.25), trailing only McCaffrey (24.46). In 2024, he is taking aiming at McCaffrey’s top spot. He hopes to increase that receiving total to compete with CMC. 

“You know, I’m always going for that No. 1 spot,” Williams said when Eisen told him was estimated to be the fourth-best most prolific Fantasy running back in 2024. He then channeled his inner Ricky Bobby. “I don’t like to be anything else (if) not number one. If you’re not first, you’re last. So, I’m going to continue to work.”

The drafting of Michigan national champion running back Blake Corum in the third round of the 2024 could open up more opportunity to allow for Williams to get a breather from running the ball in between the tackles and allow him to line up as a receiver, according to Williams himself. Last season’s No. 2 Rams rusher was Royce Freeman, who totaled 319 yards and two touchdowns on 77 carries, but he signed with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. 

“I’m super excited that we went to go draft Blake Corum,” Williams said. “(He’s) somebody that can run the ball very well and hopefully it allows me to get to the slot or run routes out of the backfield to showcase my skills. … Obviously, we talk together about what we can do as a unit with every guy. Myself, Ronnie (Rivers), Zach Evans, Boston Scott and even Blake Corum, we talk about what we can do as a whole.”

Now, all that’s left for Williams is grind time prior the team’s training camp kicking off on July 25 on the campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. 

“We are just working each and every single day to be where we want to be,” Williams said. “There’s not conversations where we are like, ‘Blake, I can’t wait until I hit this run and you hit this run.’ We are just grinding, and when those times come, those are conversations that you have on the sideline during the game.”

The post Rams’ Kyren Williams aiming to be Fantasy Football RB1: ‘If you’re not first, you’re last’ first appeared on CBS Sports.

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