If you have done some early research into the 2021 RB class, you have probably had a double take seeing two UNC RBs that are often being ranked together in the top-5 or top-10 of RB prospects. It’s not an optical illusion. The University of North Carolina (yes, the basketball school) produced both Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, who are shaping up to be hot commodities as we approach the NFL Draft on April 29th (and your ensuing fantasy football rookie drafts).
So which RB should be on your radar as we get into draft season?
Williams, a three-year player who played 34 games at UNC, is a 5 ft. 10, 220 lb. bruising back
that makes you work to find something lacking in his game. He can break tackles, get into
space, and even though he didn’t have a huge part in UNC’s passing attack, he showed that he will be able to operate as a receiver out of the backfield.
In Williams’ senior season, he had 157 rushes for 1,140 yards (7.3 yards per carry), and 19 TDs. He added 25 receptions for 305 yards and three TDs receiving. Williams finished sixth in the NCAA for RBs in yards from scrimmage with 1,445 total yards. While the final game of Williams’ career against Miami is highlight central, as you can watch here, but I would suggest looking into his 11/7/20 game against Duke where he put up 12 rushes for 151 yards and three TDs with an additional 24 yards and a TD in the air. You can see highlights of that game here.
For all of you age-truther dynasty players, Williams will be only 21 (and a half) when he takes
his first snaps in the NFL so don’t be surprised if he is going to be a top-5 pick in your rookie
Usually when it comes to tandem backfields, they are complimentary in the typical “thunder
and lightning” trope that sees one back be a bigger, heavy hitter (thunder) and the other back
be small and shifty (lightning). The complimentary aspect of the Carolina backs is that…they’re both just really, really good. Carter is the smaller back coming in at 5 ft 8 and 199 lbs., but he plays like both a bruiser and an elusive back. The best aspect of his game are his cuts and if he gets into space, he is gone.
Carter played all four of his collegiate seasons at UNC and in his senior season, rushed the ball 156 times for 1,245 yards and nine TDs, and added 25 receptions for 267 yards and two
receiving yards. The Miami game mentioned earlier is immediately where you need to go for
Michael Carter clips, which you can see here. The senior RB balled out to the tune of 24 carries for 308 yards and two TDs.
So which back is set up for success and deserves a spot on your team?
Both of them have good-to-great potential, but I view Williams as more prepared to be a bell-
cow, three-down back that can take over a backfield from the jump no matter what team he
ends up on. Williams shouldn’t make it past your top-7 in your rookie drafts.
Carter’s main knock from me is that he can get too “happy feety” in the backfield trying to
make multiple cuts to find space, but ends up going nowhere. I think based on his play style, he needs the right situation in the backfield to be successful, but he could be a great complement piece to an older RB in an offense. Carter is going to be a steal in the early 2nd round of your drafts, when he is going to be everyone’s breakout candidate heading into the second year of his career.