Week 4 player prediction: Tyrell Williams turns it up


Every week I’ll pick one player who I believe will have a breakout performance. Week 4’s player prediction involves WR Tyrell Williams.

Prediction: Williams records first career 100-yard game.

I’m big on Williams. While nobody can replace what Keenan Allen (torn ACL) brought to the Chargers, Williams’ presence can overcome that loss. Heck, maybe he will be the Allen of 2016.

But let’s slow it down a bit. Williams has done a good job through the first three weeks of the season. He has 11 catches for 201 yards and one touchdown. This is a guy who caught just two passes (four games played) in 2015. His exciting play from training camp has clearly carried over to the regular season.

And quarterback Philip Rivers clearly likes him, too. Rivers has targeted Williams 20 times this season, which is the second-most behind speedster Travis Benjamin. Williams even led the Chargers in targets (nine) in Week 3’s loss against the Indianapolis Colts.

Look for that to continue against the winless New Orleans Saints. The Saints have arguably one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They are allowing 299 passing yards per game (25th) and rank 30th overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), which includes a passing defense that ranks 27th. They have also allowed 13 plays of 20-plus passing yards, which ties them for seventh-worst in that category with four other teams (including the Chargers). They are missing their top corners in Delvin Breaux (broken leg) and P.J. Williams (concussion), and their backups have struggled badly–Ken Crawley, Sterling Moore and De’Vante Harris have all graded negatively, per Pro Football Focus.

Williams is a big guy (6-foot-4) whose speed allows him to do damage after the catch. Expect quick slants and deep posts/go-routes for Williams. Running back Melvin Gordon should have a nice outing against the Saints’ 32nd-ranked rushing defense, which will also set up play action for the deep ball.

And I’ll one up it–Williams gets his first career multi-touchdown game. According to Rotoviz.com’s Timothy Talmadge, the Chargers have the fifth-most red-zone attempts per game; the Saints are allowing the most red-zone attempts per game. Even better, Williams leads the Chargers with six red-zone targets.

25.3% of Phil Rivers' pass attempts have come inside the red zone this season (highest of all QB). Home game vs the Saints on deck.

— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) September 26, 2016

The only negative going against Williams is drops. He’s catching just 55 percent of his passes. He needs to pick it up in that department if he wants to become one of the Chargers’ top playmakers on offense.