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Week 4 Breakouts

I touted James Jones right in this very column last week and proclaimed ‘start him everywhere.’ Of course, his performance got overshadowed by the highest-scoring fantasy football week around the league in a very long time. This week, I will again be touching on some football players you need to keep an eye on as potential waiver wire pickups, guys you should insert into your starting lineups or they may even be future trade targets. Let’s get it rolling.

1) The mandatory start Karlos Williams if you have him blurb. A player I watched live in 2014 at Florida State and somebody who did not impress me. One thing I have learned – players change. Confidence factors in as a major role in any given athlete’s career and this is a case where Williams seems to have the faith in holes opening up in front of him. His size, speed and power really have never been in question – which is more than just a perk for an NFL runner. He looks the part, can move like an every-down NFL starter should and now is rapidly improving at the intricacies of the position. Twenty touches should be in store for him against a New York Giants team that has been strong against the run. Even so, don’t expect the Giants to get too far ahead, if at all, keeping this the type of grind-it-out game Buffalo coach Rex Ryan enjoys. Williams just needs to bust one and his entire fantasy day will be worthwhile.

2) Ted Ginn Jr. has been thrust into the game plan and is making plays for Carolina.

WR_Ted_Ginn_CAR_1
Carolina WR Ted Ginn.

Ginn has played more than 60 percent of the snaps in all three Carolina football games and has gotten on average more than 7 targets per game. He is turning his low catch rate into big plays – 18.8 yards per reception. I actually like the fact he only plays about just higher than 40 snaps per game, as it keeps him fresh and his one unteachable value trait in tact – speed. His four-catch, 93-yard game last week is exactly the type of game we are shooting for here with this play. Tampa Bay has already given up four touchdowns to wide receivers on the season and you could definitely do worse than playing a big play threat in an offense that has few other options to get the ball down the field. With early-season injuries to several wide receivers in 2015, Ginn has already vaulted himself into WR4 territory. Now it’s simply a matter of getting him into your lineup when the time is right.

3) Gio Bernard is the running back to own in Cincinnati. Stats can be pretty deceiving at times, but not this time. Bernard has been the more consistent, explosive, versatile runner over Jeremy Hill in this backfield and he is a better fit. Bernard has only seen one negative game script (where Cincinnati was comfortably ahead) and he still managed 14 touches and 88 total yards. The previous two weeks to date, Bernard has handled more than 65 percent of the snaps here. The run defenses against Hill’s style don’t get much easier as Kansas City, Seattle and Buffalo await the Cincinnati offense over the next three weeks. Maybe, just maybe, Hill will be a potential buy-low candidate during the Week 7 bye for this team, but for now, and over the next month, Bernard is the back you will want to get in your lineup.

4) Latavius Murray is a very good sell-high candidate … after this week. Start him again this week and reap the benefits given out by the Chicago defense. After this week, though? His value will rival that of the other top 5-8 running backs minus only the elite few. Murray has never carried the load for a full season and Oakland will still be in plenty of games where the game script will not be in his favor of sniffing 20 carries. Yes, he can catch the ball consistently out of the backfield and it is very difficult to say he isn’t a high-end RB2 right now; but with that said, what kind of player(s) could you get in return for Murray from a team in your league needing a running back? Impossible for me to know, but absolutely worth finding out by shopping him around to your leaguemates.

The Oakland offense has impressed early on, and it isn’t easy to sell a guy high when he is helping you win on a weekly basis, but the goal isn’t to win early, it is to create the best team possible for Weeks 13-16 in most cases and maximizing his value by getting an elite player or two very good players for a back who has never produced for a full season. This is a progressive way of thinking that gets managers to championships.

5) Last chance to get Christine Michael for cheap. These are the last few days, folks. I beat this drum a week ago and I have to send out one last reminder to either pick him up before Sunday’s games or send a trade offer to the Michael owner and grab him for a discount while you still can. He will get some carries Sunday, so … watch out.

6) Andrew Luck will turn it around. It has always come down to T.Y. Hilton’s health and this is the week where you will see Hilton and Luck start to take off. If you are a Luck owner, you are obviously very disappointed in his slow start. If you are a team who thinks you could steal Luck from a rival manager, and I do mean steal, by all means, make the move now. Jacksonville, New England and New Orleans are on tap three of the next four weeks to make things right, and in the right directions things will head.

Donte Moncrief has emerged as a real weapon, Phillip Dorsett is starting to make plays and Frank Gore looks like a fresh and hungry running back. This offense will turn the tide and Luck will rise again as a top-3 fantasy quarterback the rest of the season. Not long ago, we were all worried about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, and he told us to R-E-L-A-X – he went on to be his dominant self. One year ago this week, we left Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for dead after getting blown out in Kansas City – he went on to amass huge statistics on his way to another Super Bowl victory. Andrew Luck is a generational talent, and the extreme bounce back to fantasy stardom will happen, period.

Thanks again for reading and make sure to follow me @JohnnyLFootball. I have opened the young football season 7-4, 63 percent, against the spread (if you are into that kind of thing). Also feel free to ask me any questions you might have regarding trades or your starting lineup. You can also catch me on the Ticket Sports Talk radio at 8:45 a.m. Eastern/7:45 a.m. Central time on Friday mornings every week in the Florida area or on the www.theticketsportsnetwork.com. Have a great Week 4!

About John Lanfranca