2024 NFL Draft: Why Caleb Williams can be a fantasy football QB1 in Year 1

Let's just say, hypothetically, that you only knew the following details about the presumptive draft landing spot for Caleb Williams, without knowing the specific franchise that was likely to select him:

  • He's joining an offense with a pair of elite wide receivers who combined for over 200 receptions and 2,600 receiving yards last season;

  • His team will have a deep and talented backfield, featuring one of the game's premier pass-catching backs;

  • Williams will have at his disposal a tight end duo that hauled in a combined 124 catches last year;

  • His new offensive coordinator is the guy who was on hand for Geno Smith's career revival in 2022.

All things considered, you'd have to say that seems like a pretty solid first-year situation, right?

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Caleb Williams
2023 - 2024 season
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It's basically a turnkey opportunity for a rookie quarterback — a significantly better environment than we'd typically expect for any player selected first overall. Bryce Young didn't exactly step into a talent-rich offense last season, nor did Trevor Lawrence two years prior. Often, when we look at the roster of whichever NFL team has played its way into the top overall pick, we're sifting through smoldering wreckage.

But that's not the case in 2024.

The Chicago Bears, however, are not historically known to be a quarterback development factory, a fact that seems to have dimmed our collective enthusiasm for Williams. We’d love his setup if it was connected to any team other than the Bears. Again, his primary receiving options in the season ahead would have been a stellar 2023 fantasy roster: DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, D’Andre Swift and Cole Kmet.

Chicago also holds the ninth pick in this year’s draft and are widely believed to be interested in the premium receiving prospects, notably Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers. When training camps open in the summer, there’s a very good chance the Bears receiving corps will be universally regarded as one of the best in the game.

We should probably also mention that Williams himself is quite often a wizard:

He brings plenty of arm talent and a special level of creativity to his position, along with a history of exceptional production. Last year, in a down season, he averaged a career-best 9.4 yards per attempt for USC while producing 41 combined touchdowns (30 pass, 11 rush) and throwing only five picks. He is irrefutably good at the game.

The worst people on the internet seem very concerned about Williams’ personal style choices, but those are not legitimate worries because he isn’t being drafted by the 1955 Chicago Bears. He’s actually going to be playing in the current era with contemporary teammates, and those guys are simply gonna appreciate his ability to zing darts:

Under normal circumstances, when a QB prospect is fantastic and his offense is loaded, the fantasy buzz can get pretty extreme. But it probably won’t play out quite that way with Williams, because … well, because Bears.

This franchise is entering its 105th NFL season, yet somehow no Chicago quarterback has ever cleared 4,000 passing yards in any year. It is an actual civic scandal. There have been 227 individual seasons in league history in which a QB has thrown for at least 4,000 yards, and none of them — zero — belong to anyone affiliated with the Bears. Absolutely wild.

We’re talking about a yardage total that, at this stage in NFL history, is not even suggestive of a particularly great year. Dozens of passers have cleared 4,000 yards in disappointing seasons.

And yet the Bears have never experienced life with a 4K quarterback.

Chicago’s single-season passing record is held by Erik Kramer, who threw for 3,838 yards way back in 1995. Kramer’s top receivers that year were Jeff Graham and Curtis Conway. Everyone mentioned in that last sentence is now AARP-eligible, in their mid-to-late 50s. This franchise has been producing unserious passing offenses for three decades.

But in 2024, the script presumably flips. Williams only needs to average 226 yards per game to deliver the most prolific passing season in franchise history, so that’s the first and lowest bar for him to clear. Assuming good health, there’s simply no way he won’t feast with Moore, Allen, Kmet and Swift (and potentially an upper-tier rookie wideout) as featured weapons.

As a rusher, Williams obviously isn’t at the level of Justin Fields, but let’s not forget that he’s capable of game-changing plays like this:

He crossed the goal line 21 times over the past two seasons, so there is clear rushing upside within his game.

When you consider Williams’ screaming talent and his remarkably favorable first-year setup — and ignoring the past century-or-so of Bears football, for which he is not responsible — it’s easy to see a path for him to finish as a top-10 fantasy QB immediately. For dynasty purposes, he belongs near the top of the rankings already, inside the top eight.

With all due respect to Jayden Daniels and the Drake Maye bros, Williams is the top fantasy option at QB in this year’s draft class. By the end of Williams' first season, a thorough rewrite of Chicago’s record book should be well underway.