Each week in Three Fantasy Breakout Players we highlight a few inexpensive players on the verge of launching their Hall-of-Fame careers with earth-shattering breakouts. Or, less ambitiously, we discuss players with the potential to have big performances at low ownership. In Week 1 we witnessed injuries to key fantasy contributors, which created opportunity and value this week. At the running back position specifically, two previously unheralded players have been thrust into the fantasy football spotlight.
Kerwynn Williams, Cardinals RB: $4,800 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel
The biggest news of Week 1 was the wrist injury to all-world running back David Johnson. With a wrist surgery sending Johnson to the Injured Reserve, the early favorite for the primary running back role in Arizona is Kerwynn Williams.
It might not seem great that Williams’ most comparable player on PlayerProfiler is LaMichael James, but (like James) Williams is fast, evidenced by his 4.48-second (81st percentile) 40-yard dash. Although Williams has just average burst and agility, speed is the most important and predictive running back workout metric. Unlike James, Williams was a true workhorse at the college level, ringing up 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns, bolstered by an exceptional 6.9 yards per carry and 13.6 percent college target share in his final season at Utah State. His 35.7 percent (76th percentile) College Dominator Rating suggests that Williams is capable of absorbing an every-down workload if called upon.
Despite football analysts predicting a committee to replace Johnson, Williams’ all-purpose skill set may convince Cardinals coaches to play Williams in most situations, relegating Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson to minor roles on the offense. The Cardinals are heavy 7.0-point favorites against the Colts this week and implied for 25.5 points. As the trusted incumbent with all-terrain ability and a relatively inexpensive salary, Williams is this week’s under-the-radar free square DFS running back. Best of all he’s projected at less than five percent in the Models.
Javorius Allen, Ravens RB: $4,100 DraftKings, $4,900 FanDuel
At 6’0″ and 221 pounds, Javorius Allen has the desired athleticism to be an NFL back. With his 105.0 Speed Score, 120.9 Burst Score, and 11.24 Agility Score, Allen is above the 60th percentile in each workout metric. Allen has the college production as well, posting a 27.7 percent (53rd percentile) College Dominator Rating at Southern California in his senior season. Boasting an 11.7 percent (81st percentile) College Target Share, Buck is the satellite back-plus — an excellent route runner and pass catcher who also possesses bell cow running back traits.
In fact, Allen has already shown his NFL potential, as he logged multiple top-12 RB weeks as a rookie in 2015, highlighted by a Week 13 performance in which he totaled 170 total yards, 12 receptions (!), and a touchdown on 17 carries and 13 targets. With Danny Woodhead on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury, Allen steps in as the featured receiver out of the backfield, offering more versatility than the one dimensional grinder Terrance West.
Allen led the Ravens in running back snaps in Week 1 with 33 compared to 27 for West. Allen also out-touched West 21-19, although West did score a rushing touchdown. Nevertheless, in the fourth quarter Allen out-carried West 9-4. The Ravens were beneficiaries of a positive game script in Week 1, as quarterback Joe Flacco attempted only 17 passes thanks to five Bengals turnovers. With more competitive and potentially negative game scripts on the horizon, Allen will almost certainly see more touches, specifically targets, in future games. With a tenuous hold on the starting job, West could be usurped by Allen as early as this week against the Browns. At a minimum Allen should get the chance to accumulate some run-out-the-clock carries as the Ravens are 8.0-point home favorites.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins WR: $5,400 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel
At 6’3″ and 209 pounds with a 109.5 (89th percentile) Speed Score and 124.6 (70th percentile) Burst Score, DeVante Parker has a tantalizing prospect profile. Endowed with a 46.3 percent (91st percentile) College Dominator Rating and 19.9 (94th percentile) yards per reception in college, Parker fits the mold of an alpha receiver at the NFL level.
In comparison to volume-dependent slot receiver Jarvis Landry, Parker is a better fit for the gunslinging downfield style of new quarterback Jay Cutler, who tends to lock onto his favorite target and has touted Parker as a “faster Alshon Jeffery.” He’s right, as they bear a striking resemblance to one another.
|DeVante Parker||Alshon Jeffery|
|Arm Length||33 ¼”||33”|
With Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett out with a knee injury, Parker is slated to draw Desmond King in coverage. Of course, it’s always possible that the Chargers could reshuffle their defensive backfield, putting Casey Hayward on Parker. Hayward last year was the No. 7 defensive back in the PlayerProfiler Coverage Ratings. Still, for better or worse, Cutler has shown a willingness to give his receivers chances to make contested catches downfield. Even if Hayward defends Parker, he should still get his chances to make plays. As 3.5-point road underdogs, the Dolphins could be forced into a pass-leaning game script that gives Parker the enhanced opportunity to kick off his breakout campaign.
Good luck this week and be sure to research for yourself with our entire suite of Tools.
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