Mike Williams emerging as red zone target … and fantasy value

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Mike Williams has looked like the real deal so far during training camp, torching New Orleans Saints’ defenders during joint practices last week and regularly getting open against his own defense.

Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has said he likes how much Williams has grown as a wide receiver in his second season.

“He’s shown us throughout the course of camp all of the different things he can do,” Whisenhunt said. “Whether it’s running a shallow crossing route or a curl, you felt like he could catch some of the balls down the field and make the contested catches.

“But some of the crossing routes and those types of things, you didn’t see him do a lot of that in college. So, I think he’s expanded his ability to line up in different spots and do different things.”7

Whisenhunt went on to say Williams is not just a receiver you line up wide and throw jump balls to, but that he is evolving into a wideout who can run the complete route tree, which makes him even more of a threat at different areas of the field.

Last season, Williams, the No. 7 overall pick, dealt with back and knee issues and finished with just 11 catches for 95 yards as a rookie. Williams said one of the things that has improved since last season is his rapport with quarterback Philip Rivers.

“Just the physical standpoint of being able to go out there and practice every day, it’s getting better,” Williams said. “We come in every day and watch film, and that connection has gotten better just from me being out there.”

However, the Chargers will need the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Williams to step up as a big-bodied target in the red zone.

With Hunter Henry out due to a knee injury and Antonio Gates still unsigned, Williams is expected to step in to fill the void as someone who can serve as a reliable red zone target for Rivers.

“For Mike, it’s going to be day-in and day-out, how consistent can he be?” Rivers said. “We’ve seen flashes and the big plays, but can he do it every day? He’s pretty much shown us that. He’s out here every day, and you just see him working and pushing through.”