Fantasy football players need to add the correct Mike Williams replacement

Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams tore his ACL Sunday, paving a way to playing time for two other Chargers receivers.

Josh Palmer scores against the Minnesota Vikings.
Josh Palmer scores against the Minnesota Vikings. / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages
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In a 2023 NFL season already flush with tragic injuries, fantasy football players can add Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams to that list. The seventh-year receiver caught seven passes for 121 yards and a touchdown before going down for the rest season with a torn ACL.

Although it will be difficult for the Chargers themselves to replace Williams, that job will be significantly easier for fantasy managers. Los Angeles notably spent a first-round pick on TCU pass catcher Quentin Johnston in April, and although it's easy to get excited about the talent, the production and the usage have been almost nonexistent.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Johnston has had a route participation higher than 30 percent only once (Week 1, 38 percent), and has had a target share greater than six percent only once (also Week 1, 10 percent). The 22-year-old simply isn't playing enough, and when he does, Justin Herbert is hardly looking his way. That may change with Williams now out of the picture, but he is still no better than third in the offense's pecking order right now.

Josh Palmer, on the other hand, is a far safer option for fantasy managers, and just as easy to get a hold of. The 2021 third-round pick is currently owned in less than one percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, and finished as fantasy football's WR36 in 2022 with both Williams and Keenan Allen missing time.

Despite having 72 catches for 769 yards and three scores last year, Palmer was forgotten about with Allen and Williams both healthy to start 2023 and the addition of Johnston. But on Sunday, Palmer caught four of seven targets for 66 yards and a touchdown in Williams' stead, while Johnston managed two receptions for 10 yards on only three targets.

In addition to Palmer's rapport with Herbert, he's been getting on the field and has been a factor in the Chargers' air attack the whole season. Through three weeks, the 24-year-old has had a route participation of 64 percent or higher in each game, and a target share of 13 percent or higher in each of the last two weeks. Palmer's Week 1 target share of a paltry three percent came in Austin Ekeler's last appearance, and Williams was still healthy as well.

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Ekeler's Week 4 status is still up in the air, so feel free to plug-and-play Palmer as the Chargers face the lowly Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon. Johnston may have more long-term appeal, but based on precedent, Palmer is the clear waiver wire add for fantasy football managers heading into Week 4.