Every year in fantasy football, we see players take the next step. Identifying breakout players, often lead to fantasy championships. These are the mid-to-late round selections that can bolster your lineup or even provide depth along the way.
We give our best shot at identifying some of our favorite breakout heading into the final draft weekend of the year. This is part two of our five-part series. We will be covering our favorite sleepers, breakouts, bounce backs, and a few bold predictions for the upcoming season. As the pieces get linked, we will link each piece. Enjoy, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter.
Be sure to check out part one of the series covering our favoirte sleepers.
Who is a breakout player you think can outperform their ADP?
With the season-ending injury to Marquis Lee, the door is firmly open for Keelan Cole to build upon his rookie season where he posted 748 yards on 48 receptions and scored three times. Cole was an unknown coming out of a small school Kentucky Wesleyan. He showed well last year in the preseason and really took off the last four weeks of the fantasy season. From Weeks 13-16, Cole was the No2 overall wide receiver hauling 19 of 26 targets for 442 yards and all three of his scores. He demonstrated his ability to be a useful deep threat posting the second highest YPT (17) and YPR (23.3) over that four-week stretch which only Tyreek Hill had better numbers.
Cole was already expected to be the No2 WR behind Marqise Lee, now with his 91 targets vacated from last year, Cole is the logical choice to soak up plenty of those targets and should see time in the slot. While I expect for his ADP to rise from the 14th round it currently stands, he would have to jump significantly over the next week for me to move off of him.Past
Past Cole, the options are Donte Moncrief, DJ Chark, and tight end Austin Seferian Jenkins. Moncrief has the talent, however, he has never been able to put it all together. Moncrief is currently a better value (16th round) and is worth a shot at the end of your drafts if Keelan Cole is selected ahead of you. As for DJ Chark, he is more of a deeper league target. He has freakish athleticism but is still raw and will need to become a more nuanced route runner to be more than just a deep threat tethered to Blake Bortles. – Kevin Steele (@FantasyWrath13)
After spending the first 4 years of his career playing behind Zach Ertz in Philadelphia, Burton is primed for a breakout campaign in 2018 as the Chicago Bears’ starting TE. When he’s played in Ertz’s absence, Burton has been very fantasy relevant, most recently in 2017. In the two games where Ertz sat due to injury in 2017, Burton finished as the TE9 and TE1 during that week. The upside is there, and he’s going to fit into the Travis Kelce role in Matt Nagy’s offense. I don’t think the two are comparable players in terms of talent, but I love that role in an offense. If things work out well for Burton, he could finish inside the top 5 at the position. He’s a great target in your drafts if you miss out on the big names early. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, you can get Burton as TE9 in the 8th round of 12-team leagues. – Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT)
After setting career highs in receptions, yards, and TDs a year ago, Nelson Agholor is primed to exceed expectations in 2018. Yet for some reason, he’s currently being drafted as the WR42 (Per FantasyFootballCalculator.com) in PPR leagues after finishing as the WR22 in 2018. So, what gives? While he is dealing with an injury at the moment, it’s only considered to be day-to-day. Meanwhile, Alshon Jeffrey is rumored to be a candidate for the PUP list. If you ask me, Agholor’s 9th round ADP makes hardly any sense at all. This is a guy who could be the de facto WR1 on what should be one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league. Draft him ALL DAY in the 9th if he falls that far, and don’t be afraid to reach much higher, as I personally believe he’s got an outside shot to be a top-15 fantasy WR. – Patrick Clapp (@PHClapp)
After a lot of hype entering the 2017 season, Taylor had a disappointing year, as many rookies do. Really, the Titans offense as a whole disappointed. That disappointing season has led to owners seemingly forgetting that rookie hype as he is currently going effectively undrafted. News out of Titans camp has been overwhelmingly positive. With one of Marcus Mariota’s favorite targets in Rishard Matthew still mysteriously missing, Taylor has been able to flash. Against the Buccaneers in the Titans second preseason game, Taylor produced 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. If Matthews continues to miss camp, Taylor will be given the chance to start alongside Corey Davis. With a coaching change and the Titans due for positive regression, picking Taylor late can reap some very high rewards, possibly even a WR2 finish. – Sam Lane (@FFStompy)
I just discussed my love for Chris Hogan in my newest ADP Battle article. This guy is bound to break out, especially in the first four weeks of play while Julian Edelman serves his suspension. The departure of Brandin Cooks also vacates over 100 targets. We’ve already seen the connection from Brady to Hogan, as Hogan notched five touchdowns while only playing in nine games last year, as well as five receptions and a touchdown in last week’s preseason game. I’m all-in on Hogan. Although his preseason and camp hype has pushed his ADP up a bit, he’s still worth a mid-round pick. Get this guy on your roster. – Katie Babino (@Katiebabs23)
I can’t say enough about this cat, he is being drafted as at least the 20th RB off the board and he is going to produce like an RB1/RB2, I see him right on the cusp. He is a tough runner with great vision and patience and it is time the Detroit Lions commit to the run and become a complete offense. 1,200 total yards and nine touchdowns are what I have him down for and I think there could be much better. Grab him, he’s gonna eat! – Dwight Peebles (@FFPeeblesChamp)
It was reported on Redskins.com that new Redskins QB Alex Smith looks “extremely comfortable” throwing to Crowder in camp. This is exactly what I expected and looked forward to when the Redskins brought in the 4th ranked fantasy QB from a year ago. Smith had his breakout year in 2017 showing that he can command the offense rather than be just a game manager. Smith had a career-high 341 completions in 505 attempts, but I expect both those numbers to rise again this year as, In three years as the full-time starter in Washington, Cousins attempted an average of 563 passes per year.
The backfield situation is a big question mark so Smith will be likely be passing early and often every game. Crowder has hovered around 60 receptions during his three NFL seasons and was 24th last year with 103 targets. Tyreek Hill who had his breakout season a year ago with Alex Smith had two more targets with 105. I think Crowder will shatter his average receptions and will end up with around 80 receptions on around 120 targets allowing him to rack up more yards. I think he will have a touchdown total closer to his 2016 total of seven. I think Crowder will finish as a top 20 PPR WR this season as the go-to option in Washington. – Travis Finkel (@TravisFinkel)
We’re going into the third game of the preseason and I haven’t seen one analyst bring up the fact that Rishard Matthews is still on the PUP list. I get it, Davis was hurt most of his rookie season and didn’t produce when he was on the field. Still, he will fall into targets if Matthews isn’t there the first six weeks of the season. Davis’ 65 targets from a year ago will surely go up if he plays in all 16 games but with the departure of Eric Decker (83 targets) and Matthews (87 targets, second on the team) possibly starting on the season on the PUP list, Matthews has an outside chance at 120 targets (Matthew lead the team in 2016 with 108, Delanie Walker had 102). In fantasy, you want players who will have an opportunity and have talent. Davis has the talent and in his second year, he will have a clear path to opportunity. Going as the 32nd WR off the board in ESPN leagues, Davis has top-20 upside. – Joshua Kellem (@FFTalkDotOrg)
We finally get to see a fully healthy Mike Williams after he suffered a mild disc herniation (back) and then later a bone bruise in 2017. His injuries caused him to miss all of OTAs, training camp, and the majority of his rookie season. After drafting Mike Williams in the first round last season, the Chargers hope to now fill the offensive crevice left by Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry with their fully healthy, 6’4”, 220-pound red zone threat. Williams participated in OTAs, camp, and preseason and had a year to gain chemistry with the offense.
Rumors remain that free agent Antonio Gates might kick retirement for another go around, but no news. So, that leaves 114 targets vacated, including 34% of the red zone target share. Now, Tyrell Williams is still there and really stepped up last season. But, the Chargers will involve Mike Williams and allow him to earn a bigger role over time. He is a huge red zone asset, with his size and ability to catch balls in traffic. Matt Harmon’s reception perception of Mike Williams (based on college sample) showed an 81.3% conversion rate on contested throws. If he can stay healthy, he will outperform his 10th round ADP and be just what the Chargers need. This is a team to watch, with a solid team on both sides of the ball. Watch his ADP though, it’s on the rise after his preseason TD unfortunately. —Jen Smith (@TheOnlyJenSmith)
I have been baffled by James White’s ADP over the past month. It’s currently sitting at 13.02 in standard leagues according to FFCalulator. The movement has been pretty stagnant and that’s even after his six-catch, 61 receiving yards with a TD in a preseason win versus Philly (Don’t like preseason doesn’t affect ADP). He’s one of the most underrated pass-catching backs in the league. Let’s not forget it was just in 2017 when White was being fawned over by Terrific Tom for his record-setting 14-catch performance in the comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Fast forward to a year and some change and Brady is still raving about how about how White just “does everything right.” Could this be a testament to more playing time? Time will tell. But the writing is on the wall. Dion Lewis & Brandin Cooks are gone. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead have been dealing with nagging injuries this offseason. Julian Edelman is suspended for the first four games. Outside of Hogan, not many weapons for the 41-year-old Brady to rely on. Even reaching well past his current ADP and snagging White in the 9th or 10th round, gives you a potential league winner that everyone else is sleeping on. Wake your ass up and get in on the fun. – Ryan Williams (@RyanAlexander_W)