Ascending Players, Imminent Breakouts, and the Aaron Jones Time Machine

by Zach Krueger ·

It’s an imperfect world we live in, where nobody can completely foreshadow a breakout scenario that comes as the result of an injury to a team’s top running back (Ty Montgomery) and shortly thereafter, his backup (Jamaal Williams). As was the case with rookie running back Aaron Jones on the Thursday Night Football matchup to kickoff Week 4.

We’ll hop in the time machine and look at the rare Aaron Jones situation shortly, but also take a look at some other buy-low candidates for Week 4 who are on the precipice of a breakout game.

Opportunity abounds for players in this week’s article, via both injury, and a substantial uptick in Snap Share from Week 3. Time to dive in and call some breakouts as we seek out another opportunity to cash in big in Week 4!

JuJu Smith-Schuster – Steelers WR (DraftKings: $3,000, FanDuel: $5,000)

The Steelers drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of this year’s draft, making his impending rise inevitable. After seeing less than a 50-percent Snap Share in Weeks 1 and 2, JuJu Smith-Schuster took a firm hold on the Steelers’ slot wide receiver position, posting a 91.1-percent Snap Share, jumping well-ahead of incumbent Eli Rogers by a snap count of 51 to 21.

On the season, JuJu Smith-Schuster has posted five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown, seeing a career high six targets in Week 3. While we know Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant will often be fantasy relevant, the Steelers have yet to unlock Vance McDonald this season, and Jesse James has only seen a decline in targets after seeing six in Week 1.

JuJu Smith-Schuster 2017 Game Log

Until Le’Veon Bell‘s soul returns to the corpse that has dawned his jersey these first three weeks, Ben Roethlisberger will need other options outside of Brown and Bryant to garner targets. JuJu Smith-Schuster is slowly turning into that reliable target. He’s a bargain buy in Week 4 DFS formats, and has a chance to produce against a Ravens defense that was just obliterated by the Jaguars in London last week.

Elijah McGuire, RB, Jets (DraftKings: $3,500, FanDuel: $4,500)

Matt Forte is now week-to-week with a turf toe injury, and while Bilal Powell is expected to garner the majority of the touches in the New York Jets’ backfield, he’s going to be occasionally spelled by rookie running back Elijah McGuire, who was already seeing limited action even when Matt Forte was healthy. On the season, Elijah McGuire has seen 13 carries and posted 63 rushing yards, good for 4.8 yards per carry, running behind an offensive line that ranks No. 15 on PlayerProfiler in Run Blocking Efficiency (74.6).

Now, for at least one week, that is an old narrative, and Elijah McGuire is a rising back. Despite a relatively mediocre athletic profile, that is highlighted with a 4.53 40-yard dash time (66th-percentile) and 101.6 Speed Score (67th-percentile), Elijah McGuire also boasts a College Dominator Rating of 32.1-percent (68th-percentile) and College Target Share of 15.4-percent (93rd-percentile). McGuire is a player who once hauled in 45 receptions for 468 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore at University of Louisiana Lafayette, and he finished his collegiate career with 103 receptions for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Elijah McGuire Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Not only does Elijah McGuire have a chance to spell Bilal Powell on carries in Week 4 against the Jaguars, he has a chance to spell him as an interchangeable, pass-catching back that can do everything Powell can. If not more. Let’s not forget that we never liked Bilal Powell because of his athletic profile, but rather his opportunity to benefit from a negative Jets game script. Powell has yet to benefit from that script, and has already lost time to McGuire, which should be a continuing trend in Week 4 against the Jaguars.

Aaron Jones – Packers RB

It’s too late to buy on Aaron Jones in Week 4 DFS games, and despite the recent news that Ty Montgomery may play in Week 5 following his rib injury on Thursday Night Football, it’s time to buy on Aaron Jones in redraft and dynasty leagues.

Check out Aaron Jones on the Updated PlayerProfiler Seasonal & Dynasty Rankings:

In a classic case of poor self-scouting, as we’ve seen with the Packers before (Jeff Janis), the Packers have listed fellow rookie running back Jamaal Williams as their second-string back. Oops. Somehow, some way, the non-athletic, low college producer, Jamaal Williams snuck his way into the backup running back role on the Packers’ depth chart, despite them also having a dominant college producer, and far more athletic specimen in Aaron Jones.

Fortunately for Aaron Jones and his truthers, injuries to both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams yielded him the opportunity to receive significant snaps in Week 4, and he capitalized on that opportunity to the tune of 13 carries for 49 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Aaron Jones has one of the most impressive college profiles of any rookie running back in this year’s draft class, with a 47-percent College Dominator Rating (95th-percentile) and 13.9-percent College Target Share (89th-percentile). Compare that to Jamaal WilliamsCollege Dominator Rating of 36.4-percent (79th-percentile) and College Target Share of 7.2-percent (43rd-percentile), and we begin to see how incomparable the two are. Jones also averaged a 7.7 College YPC (97th-percentile) while Williams had a 5.9 College YPC (64th-percentile).

Aaron Jones Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Should Ty Montgomery go down with a long-term injury this season, the ideal replacement is Aaron Jones, not Jamaal Williams. In the same way the Packers like to target Ty Montgomery in the passing game (23 targets, no. 2 overall), they can target Aaron Jones, as proven by his College Target Share. Again, just like Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones also possesses burst, and the ability to make plays in space with his agility. Jamaal Williams does not possess either of those qualities.

I don’t care what the Packers’ depth chart says. Should Montgomery be unable to play at some point this season, you would have to envision a split in carries between Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones at worst. Once he receives his share of the split, Jones will emerge as the better back, and will be prone for a breakout game long before Jamaal Williams ever becomes a viable fantasy option.

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