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12 Fantasy Football Breakout Candidates

Jun 7, 2018

George Kittle is shaping up to be a huge steal

Football is back, people! Well, it is for us anyway. We’re pushing out more of those beloved fantasy football articles, publishing more rankings, moving up to three NFL podcasts a week before the end of the month, and we are even giving away a signed DeAndre Hopkins jersey!

We know you’re just as obsessed with football as we are if you’re combing through all the positive OTA news hoping to find that next breakout fantasy stud. We’ve got your back, though, because our featured experts are here today to tell you which RBs, WRs, and TEs could be on the verge of a breakout season.

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Q1. What RB has the best shot of having a breakout year in 2018?

Joe Mixon (CIN)
“It’s got to be Mixon for me, though his price is starting to reflect that. When he came into the league last year, he was widely recognized as the most versatile running back in the class, though his off-the-field issues would impact his draft stock. Many wanted to draft him in the third-round because of his talent, but I warned others to approach the three-headed monster with caution.

Once Jeremy Hill went down, we started to see signs of how the Bengals wanted to use Mixon — which was in a featured role, with Gio Bernard helping out in a limited fashion. The draft pick used on Mark Walton is nothing more than Bernard’s replacement after 2018, as he’s slated to be a free agent. Mixon has the skill-set to finish as a top-five running back if the Bengals offense can get back on track in 2018. My runner-up for this would be Sony Michel of the Patriots.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“Mixon seems like he could have a huge season. He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry in a disappointing rookie campaign, but did so behind a putrid offensive line. The blocking has improved this offseason, as the Bengals traded for tackle Cordy Glenn and then spent a first-round pick on center Billy Price.”
– Walter Cherepinsky (WalterFootball)

Alex Collins (BAL)
“Nobody is talking about Collins as a potential top-15 fantasy RB in 2018, but he finished as the RB16 in 2017 while not even commanding double-digit carries until Week 5. From that point forward, Collins rushed for 64 yards per game, scored six touchdowns, and even caught 23 passes. That’s a 16-game pace of 1,022 rushing yards, eight touchdowns, and 33 catches — a pace which would have been RB12 in PPR leagues in 2017. ”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Rex Burkhead (NE)
“Burkhead hardly played in 2016 and he still scored eight touchdowns. This Patriots offense pushes you into the end zone. Sure, Sony Michel was a first-round pick, but he’s still unproven in the NFL, and he brings a history of fumbling. I’ll be looking to scoop cheaper New England options this summer, with Burkhead at the top of that target list.”
– Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)

Tarik Cohen (CHI)
“I like Cohen for his breakout potential this season. He never really had a chance in John Fox’s offense but with Matt Nagy coming over from Kansas City, I see Cohen getting plenty of work as a receiver and even as a runner. Jordan Howard is good and will get his, but a more diverse offense calls for a player like Tyreek Hill, whom Nagy recognized was more than just a big playmaker, but someone who could be used consistently.”
– Chet Gresham (WalterFootball)

Q2. What WR has the best shot of having a breakout year in 2018?

DeVante Parker (MIA)
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — don’t give up on Parker just yet. Health has always been the issue, not his talent. With Jarvis Landry and his 161 targets off to Cleveland, there’s massive target potential here for him. Not only were the Dolphins one of just three teams to have three wide receivers with at least 96 targets, but Parker reached that number while playing just 12 games (left one early in the first quarter).

He’s got a 100-target floor with a 140-target ceiling. That’s the prime territory for a former first-round pick’s breakout season. In the 25 career games he’s seen at least five targets in, Parker has averaged 68.2 yards per game and 0.3 touchdowns, which amounts to low-end WR2 numbers. ”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Mike Williams (LAC)
“The Chargers’ Mike Williams has become a forgotten man. He received hype last season, but barely played because of an injury. People seem to have forgotten that he was the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The talented Williams is now healthy, and he’ll have a great opportunity to thrive in the wake of Hunter Henry’s injury.”
– Walter Cherepinsky (WalterFootball)

Geronimo Allison (GB)
“Allison is slated to start on the outside in Jordy Nelson’s old spot as he enters his third pro season — a common breakout year for many wide receivers. Allison was quietly solid last season, averaging 3.4 receptions and 46.4 yards-per-game in the five games in which he played more than 20 snaps. His two best games of the season came with Aaron Rodgers under center. With OTAs, minicamp, and the preseason providing plenty of opportunities for Rodgers and Allison to work on routes and timing, Allison looks like a nifty sleeper that can be had in the final two rounds of most fantasy drafts.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Corey Davis (TEN)
“Davis will show up on a lot of breakout lists, so one could argue the value won’t be right. Nonetheless, you must have a conversation about him. Injuries and an outdated coaching staff ruined Davis’s first year. The injuries are healed, and the staff has been replaced.

The last time we saw Davis in a real game, he was (finally) visiting the end zone, scoring twice at New England in the playoffs. I’ve long held respect for TE Delanie Walker and RB Rishard Matthews, but Davis is the upside play in Tennessee.”
– Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)

Chris Hogan (NE)
“There are a lot of possibilities here, but I’ll go with Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. Since joining the Patriots in 2016, Hogan has 72 receptions from 117 targets (61.5 percent) and 1,119 yards along with nine touchdowns. Plus, he’ll now be in line for the big play lead in this offense with Brandin Cooks gone.”
– Chet Gresham (WalterFootball)

Q3. What TE has the best shot of having a breakout year in 2018?

Trey Burton (CHI)
“The player I’d be aiming to get in most drafts is Trey Burton, especially with where he’s being drafted. Not only is he headed to the new and exciting Matt Nagy offense, but the real treat is that he already knows the offense, coming from Doug Pederson’s scheme. The Bears made it a priority to add him at the start of free agency because of this reason, as they needed someone to play the Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce role in the offense. Knowing 95 percent of the playbook (as he’s said) is massive for his immediate impact with the team.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

George Kittle (SF)
“Kittle showed great rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo at the end of this past season. He accumulated 194 receiving yards in the final three games of the season, despite the fact that he and Garoppolo didn’t have much of a chance to practice together. That won’t be the case heading into 2018, as Kittle should thrive in his second year.”
– Walter Cherepinsky (WalterFootball)

“If the 49ers offense is able to carry their substantial momentum and potential over into 2018, Kittle looks like a steal at his current ADP. In the five games that QB Jimmy Garoppolo started, Kittle caught 15 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown. Kittle was the PPR TE10 over the season’s final 10 games and has a solid chance at contending for top-10 numbers in 2018. ”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

“Tight end is a difficult position for a rookie; if a fresh TE can play adequate football as a rookie, he’s so far ahead of the game. With that in mind, I’m interested in Kittle’s second season. He’s working with a tandem everyone likes, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan, and the 49ers do not have a dynamic alpha WR or a touchdown-gobbling one. Kittle could easily lead this team in touchdown receptions.”
– Scott Pianowski (Yahoo! Sports)

Vance McDonald (PIT)
“McDonald is my pick for breakout tight end. If I knew he would be healthy, I would probably have him as a top-5 tight end this year but staying healthy has been tough for him. As a part-time player toward the end of the season and into the playoffs he caught 24-of-36 targets for 300 yards and a touchdown, all while looking great doing so. The difference between McDonald and Jesse James was stark when watching and McDonald will beat him out this season if healthy.”
– Chet Gresham (WalterFootball)

Thank you to the experts for naming their top breakout candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and check out our latest podcast below for more advice.

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