FFL '04: Williams retires

Updated: July 26, 2004, 5:05 PM ET
By Eric Karabell | ESPN Fantasy Games Senior Editor
The news that Ricky Williams intends to retire is stunning not only for the Dolphins, but for the many fantasy football owners who have already made the running back a first-round pick in their drafts. (Don't even ask about keeper leagues, ugh. Too late to change those.)

A year ago, Williams was the consensus first pick in FFL leagues, but a somewhat disappointing season earned him a No. 9 finish among running backs. So far this season, owners have been cautious on the overworked Williams, and he was, on average, being selected eighth in current drafts. Still, even at eight, he was a sure first-round pick and losing him for nothing -- if he indeed does not play; don't drop him, yet -- is difficult to overcome.

What kind of impact will this have in fantasy leagues? Losing your first round pick is decimating to a fantasy team, but hardly unprecedented. A year ago, Michael Vick broke his leg before the season began, leaving his fantasy owners sans their QB and first- or second-round pick. Of course, it's much easier to find a secondary QB (Jake Delhomme, for example, was readily available last season, but running backs aren't just sitting on free agency).