Ryan Williams: Cardinals RB Is Smart Fantasy Flex Option in Week 4

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23:  Running back Ryan Williams #34 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Eagles 27-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

An injury to Beanie Wells has opened the door for Ryan Williams to become the undisputed lead back for the Arizona Cardinals. The second-year rising star should excel in his new role, making him a solid choice for fantasy owners in Week 4.

Williams, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, gained 83 yards on 13 carries last week. He's been working off the rust, but he finally looked like the dynamic playmaker the Cardinals thought they were picking in last year's second round.

The Virginia Tech product hasn't received more than 14 touches in any game so far due to Wells' presence. He should see a sizable increase in playing time, which will make him a far more reliable fantasy option on a weekly basis.

It starts with a game against a Miami Dolphins defense that has allowed opposing running games to post double-digit fantasy scores in each of the first three weeks. So it's not as bad of a matchup as it might look by simply looking at Miami's rushing yards allowed.

They have been especially susceptible to backs who can make plays in the passing game, something Williams is capable of doing if given the opportunity. He's the type of player who can take a screen pass and turn it into a long touchdown.

The Arizona game plan should be pretty clear moving forward after watching its defense dominate the first three weeks. The Cardinals will want to establish the run early with Williams to set the pace, and let the defense handle the heavy lifting.

For Williams, that means a lot of carries and every time he touches the ball, he can go the distance. He came close to breaking a couple of huge runs against the Philadelphia Eagles, illustrating some of that explosiveness.

With no concrete timetable on a potential return to the lineup for Wells, Williams should remain a key part of the Arizona offense for the time being. And every veteran fantasy owner knows a true No. 1 back always carries a lot of value.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see him take the job and never look back, making Wells' eventual return a non-factor. Williams is the more talented back and he knows this is the best chance he'll get to seize the job for himself.

He's going to have no shortage of chances to do exactly that as the Cardinals look to build off their surprising start. Put him right into fantasy lineups starting this week and watch him flourish.