Is Keenan Allen Still Ahead of Mike Williams in Fantasy Football Value in 2022?

Each season, there are inevitably NFL teams that offer us more than one key fantasy football asset.

That can come in the form of a running back within a valuable offense that's elevated by a productive passer.

It can also be multiple pass-catchers on a good, efficient passing offense.

While that no longer really applies to D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, it's certainly the case for the Los Angeles Chargers' top options in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

In FanDuel's best-ball drafts, Allen is going off the board as the WR10, on average, with Williams sitting as the WR13.

Who should we be prioritizing in fantasy football this season?

A Look Back at 2021

The Chargers were both pass-heavy (second in pass attempts) and efficient (seventh in schedule-adjusted passing efficiency, per numberFire's metrics) in 2021 while led by sophomore standout Justin Herbert.

Unsurprisingly, passing volume paired with efficiency is golden for fantasy football pass-catchers.

After an early-season burst, Williams' per-game market shares dropped off before ticking back up toward the end of the season. In total, he averaged 8.1 targets per game on a 20.7% target share.

Allen averaged 9.8 targets per game with a 25.0% target share.

Those are great target baselines.

Even if we expect a decrease in target volume or overall passing volume -- and a drop from Herbert -- this is an elite fantasy situation.

Since 2012, 53.9% of wide receivers who averaged at least 7.0 targets per game over 12 games and played on teams with a top-half adjusted passing offense finished as top-12 receivers in fantasy formats, and 78.2% finished as top-24 options.

With the draft costs being what they are, we'll be a bit disappointed with just a top-24 outing from these guys, but the floor seems locked in so long as they stay healthy.

If we up those cutoffs to 8.0 targets and a top-10 passing offense, the top-12 rate climbs to 72.4% (55 of 76).

By laying claim to elevated volume within a top-tier passing offense, they have individual paths to upside. But can they both have top-12 seasons? It's certainly not unheard of.

Over the past 10 years, we have had 15 sets of teammates each finish as top-12 fantasy receivers.

Keenan Allen or Mike Williams: The Better Fantasy Football Value?

I think the answer is still pretty clear.

Last season, Allen accrued at least a 20.0% target share in 13 of his 16 games (81.3%), a rate that tied him for sixth among receivers with at least 12 games played.

Allen also ranked 10th in the rate of games with at least 15 FanDuel (i.e. half-PPR) fantasy points, doing so in 6 of 16 games (37.5%). He actually ranked sixth in the rate of games with at least 15 expected fantasy points (based on my model) -- at 50%.

As for Williams, there was more volatility. He drew a 20% target share or higher in just half of his games (tying him for 32nd at the position among qualified receivers). Though he reached 15 FanDuel points in the same rate of games (37.5%) as Allen, his strange workload led to 15 expected fantasy points in just 3 of 16 games (18.8%).

While the appeal for Williams' upside is hard to deny, Allen was one of the most reliable fantasy options in the league in 2021 even while falling short of his expected output (as measured by his expected fantasy points).

numberFire's fantasy football projections rank Allen as the WR12 entering the season. He's expected to see 150 targets and catch 101 of them for 1,121 yards and 7.2 touchdowns.

Williams is the WR21 with a projected line of 125 targets, 73 catches, 1,033 yards, and 7.7 touchdowns.

Allen should still be our preference, but either way, getting exposure to the Chargers' passing offense is a winning bet based on the historical trends.