Three Impending Fantasy Football Breakout Seasons
These Three Fantasy Football Breakout Players Are Ready To Shine
It is no secret that every year in fantasy football, players emerge who were just barely on the periphery of fantasy football relevance during fantasy football draft season. Last year at this time, you did not know who Phillip Lindsay was, James White was just a satellite back for the Patriots, George Kittle had only 63 career targets, Eric Ebron was a career flop and Robert Woods was a workman-like vet. The key in our game is to predict the fantasy football breakout stars before they happen. This is never an exact science and here at RotoExperts, we understand that we are playing a game of probability. What follows are three players that our projections indicate have a real chance at providing league-winning seasons.
Fantasy Football Breakout Candidates
D.J Moore, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers
It does feel a little bit like cheating to take a first-round NFL Draft pick who is coming into his sophomore season as a fantasy football breakout. However, we are about to see some tectonic plates shifting at the WR position. A.J Green and Julio Jones are now north of 30, Tyreek Hill is likely gone from the picture, Antonio Brown is in Oakland, Adam Thielen is past prime age, and there are a slew of young wide receivers ready to take the next step. D.J Moore was one of the best wide receiver prospects of the last decade with a 53% Dominator Rating at Maryland, a 4.42 40 at 210 pounds and 92nd percentile SPARQ athleticism. Moore is one of only three players to post more than 750 receiving yards and 150 rushing yards on over 80 targets in NFL history with Percy Harvin and Joey Galloway. Moore plays with a superstar quarterback (when healthy) and is the odds-on favorite to lead the Panthers in targets outside of Christian McCaffrey. With Greg Olsen aging and Devin Funchess out of town, Moore is the unquestioned top wide receiver for Carolina and his pedigree/athletic profile combination screams future star.
Ito Smith, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
I have written fairly extensively about Ito Smith throughout this offseason and it should be clear why. Smith filled in both the Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman roles fairly capably last season and the only thing standing in his way is Freeman. The Falcons running back depth chart is Ito Smith, Devonta Freeman, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison and utility man Kenjon Barner. Barner is more of a special teamer and Ollison is more of a fullback so they do not matter much for our purposes. Freeman barely played last season before being placed on IR and is entering his age-27 season. While Freeman is a fine play at this price in drafts, we know for certain the Falcons plan on splitting work between the two backs. Last season, Tevin Coleman topped the team with 199 touches while Smith had 117. The prior year, Freeman had 232 to Coleman's 183. In 2016, Freeman had 281 to Coleman's 149. In fact, Freeman's last true workhorse year was in 2015 and we are not projecting that to come back around in 2019. While Smith does not have an amazing athletic profile or draft pedigree he has one thing that really matters for coaches: he has already played in the system and played well. Smith seems like a lock for around 35-40% of the Falcons backfield work in 2019 and if Freeman gets banged up or is ineffective, that could turn into a 60% share fairly easily. Smith is one later-round running back that I am heavily investing in.
Chris Hernon IV, Tight End, New York Jets
Projecting breakout touchdown season at the tight end position is one of the best ways to win at fantasy football. Is that an easy task? I can assure you that it isn't. The current state of the tight end position in fantasy football is a nightmare. After Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton, it is essentially touchdown roulette. Only five tight ends saw more than 100 targets last season and four tight ends finished in the top 12 of the position with less than 80 targets. Herndon is intriguing to me both because of his volume and touchdown scoring potential. Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder are not effective redzone wide receivers, with 29 career touchdowns between the two of them. Quincy Enunwa has only five touchdowns in 40 career games. I am operating under the assumption that Le'Veon Bell will handle a great majority of the teams' goalline work but of course, every team still has to pass around the endzone. Herndon scored four touchdowns as a rookie and three of them came inside the redzone while finishing fourth on the team in targets a rookie. In the last 20 years, only 14 tight ends had more than 50 targets and 4 touchdowns as a rookie including Gronk, Hunter Henry, Evan Engram, Aaron Hernandez, Heath Miller, Zach Ertz, and David Njoku. For many reasons, most of them related to Herndon being a Jet, his ADP is not treating him like a top 12 option at the position but a 60 catch, 800 yard, 7 touchdown season is certainly in play for Herndon at the top end of his range of outcomes.
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