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Top Breakout Candidates on Each NFL Team (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jun 13, 2022

Breakouts. Correctly predicting and projecting them before the start of the season can be the difference between winning your fantasy football league and getting a tattoo for coming in last place. They come in different shapes and sizes every year, but there are often signs that they’re coming. Sometimes it’s a rookie in a good landing spot. Other times it’s a veteran who has the potential to see a larger role or is one injury away from becoming a high-volume starter.

Our analysts combed through the NFL rosters and identified the top breakout candidate on every team. The results and accompanying justifications are below. Previously, our analysts took a look at the most overrated and underrated players and the top rookies on each NFL team:

CTAs

AFC East

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Buffalo Bills Gabriel Davis Gabriel Davis Gabriel Davis Gabriel Davis
Miami Dolphins Chase Edmonds Tua Tagovailoa Tua Tagovailoa Chase Edmonds
New England Patriots Rhamondre Stevenson Rhamondre Stevenson Rhamondre Stevenson Rhamondre Stevenson
New York Jets Elijah Moore Garrett Wilson Elijah Moore Elijah Moore

Buffalo Bills
I was on this bandwagon last year, so I’m not jumping now after last year’s playoff performance and the clearer path Gabriel Davis has for targets. He’s always been strong in the red zone, now he just needs more volume to reach that next level.
– Joe Pisapia

Miami Dolphins
Tua Tagovailoa shade has gotten out of hand. Despite a leaky offensive line last year, Tagovailoa was top ten in deep ball completion rate, red zone completion rate, and clean pocket completion rate. With upgraded blocking upfront and Tyreek Hill, Tagovailoa is headed toward a season that will silence the haters.
– Derek Brown

New England Patriots
Rhamondre Stevenson experienced a very successful rookie season that should not be overlooked. After fully escaping the Bill Belichick doghouse in Week 9, Stevenson earned top grades across the board. He was PFF’s third-highest graded running back (84.2). Stevenson also ranked 13th in rushing yards and yards per route run (1.41). For fantasy, the rookie running back was the RB25 in total points scored, eight spots behind his backfield teammate Damien Harris.
– Andrew Erickson

New York Jets
Over a five-game span from Week 9 to Week 13 last year, Elijah Moore was the WR2 in PPR, averaging 20.1 points per game. Garrett Wilson was the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft, so it’s understandable that he’s getting a lot of attention, but Moore is likelier to put up difference-making fantasy numbers in 2022.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

AFC North

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Baltimore Ravens Rashod Bateman Rashod Bateman Rashod Bateman Rashod Bateman
Cincinnati Bengals Chris Evans Chris Evans Chris Evans Chris Evans
Cleveland Browns David Njoku David Njoku Harrison Bryant David Njoku
Pittsburgh Steelers Chase Claypool Chase Claypool George Pickens Pat Freiermuth

Baltimore Ravens
Rashod Bateman showed some flashes when finally healthy. Unfortunately, that was while Lamar Jackson wasn’t. However, Bateman has a clear path to the #1 WR job in Baltimore and is the best talent they’ve had at the position in years.
– Joe Pisapia

Cincinnati Bengals
Samaje Perine is viewed as the current backup to Joe Mixon, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Chris Evans take over that role in 2022. The former Michigan Wolverine finished as PFF’s fifth-highest graded receiver and 10th-best pass-blocker at the running back position last season. His 2.11 yards per route run ranked 4th-best among all RBs, which suggests he has a legitimate shot to take over third-down duties in the Bengals backfield.
– Andrew Erickson

Cleveland Browns
David Njoku is a former first-round pick entering his sixth NFL season. Does it even count as a breakout if he finishes, say, TE10 in fantasy scoring? But what if Harrison Bryant is the more productive Browns tight end? A fourth-round pick in 2020, Bryant was a prolific pass catcher at Florida A&M, where he had 1,004 yards and seven TDs as a senior. He’s managed to establish a foothold in the Cleveland offense the last two years despite having to compete with Njoku and Austin Hooper for TE targets. Hooper is gone, and Njoku … well, he’s been teasing us for five years.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Pittsburgh Steelers
Early camp reports have mentioned Chase Claypool is moving around the formation. This makes my heart flutter. The possibility of power slot Claypool is too enticing to pass up. Nickel corners won’t be able to handle the size-speed specimen one-on-one. If Matt Canada is looking for ways to scheme up easy completions for Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, this is a wonderful start.
– Derek Brown

AFC South

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Houston Texans Brevin Jordan Brevin Jordan Dameon Pierce Brevin Jordan
Indianapolis Colts Michael Pittman Jr. Michael Pittman Jr. Michael Pittman Jr. Michael Pittman Jr.
Jacksonville Jaguars Travis Etienne Travis Etienne Travis Etienne Travis Etienne
Tennessee Titans Treylon Burks Treylon Burks Treylon Burks Treylon Burks

Houston Texans
Miami product Brevin Jordan enjoyed a decent rookie season, finishing with a 19% target rate per route run and four top-12 weekly finishes over his last nine games.
– Andrew Erickson

Indianapolis Colts
Sometimes, it is this simple. Matt Ryan has gone from worst to first in terms of offensive line play and he will clearly be in a position to make Michael Pittman Jr. a fantasy stud. There’s no WR close to his ability on this roster, so expect Pittman to have WR1 upside this season.
– Joe Pisapia

Jacksonville Jaguars
Do not forget what this guy did at Clemson with Trevor Lawrence as his quarterback. During his final season as a Clemson Tiger, he led the country in receiving yards and ranked second in receptions among running backs. With an explosive pass-catching skill set and James Robinson rehabbing an injury, Travis Etienne checks off the requisite boxes of a fantasy RB poised to make noise in 2022.
– Andrew Erickson

Tennessee Titans
It’s such a perfect setup for Treylon Burks to have a big rookie year. He replaces A.J. Brown as the most talented, most physically imposing receiver on the Titans’ roster. Robert Woods is the right sort of complementary receiver — good enough to keep defenses from ganging up on Burks, but probably not good enough to be an alpha receiver. And of course, defenses will have to honor Derrick Henry and the Tennessee running game. Burks dealt with bad quarterbacking at the University of Arkansas and still thrived. He’s poised to smash from the get-go in the NFL.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

AFC West

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Denver Broncos Courtland Sutton Courtland Sutton Albert Okwuegbunam Jerry Jeudy
Kansas City Chiefs Skyy Moore Skyy Moore Mecole Hardman Skyy Moore
Las Vegas Raiders Derek Carr Derek Carr Zamir White Derek Carr
Los Angeles Chargers Josh Palmer Isaiah Spiller Josh Palmer Isaiah Spiller

Denver Broncos
Based on Courtland Sutton’s track record of commanding targets near the pylon, I fully expect him to emerge as Russell Wilson’s go-to red-zone target. He led the Broncos in red-zone targets in 2021 and led all WRs in target rate inside the 10-yard line in 2019. Wilson has an affinity for attacking receivers in the red zone; a Seattle WR has finished top-five in red-zone targets for three straight seasons.
– Andrew Erickson

Kansas City Chiefs
The Skyy Moore hype train beckons you. Tickets are free for all. Punch your pass now. Ride the lightning from Patrick Mahomes magical arm now. Moore will be a key cog for Kansas City as a field stretcher and underneath YAC marvel.
– Derek Brown

Las Vegas Raiders
There aren’t many true breakout candidates on the Las Vegas roster, so let’s go with the rookie running back from the University of Georgia, Zamir White. He’s a physical between-the-tackles banger who can wear down defenses, and he should be an effective goal-line back. The Raiders didn’t pick up RB Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option, so maybe they’ll flip the switch early and start giving White significant carries in 2022.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Los Angeles Chargers
As a rookie, Josh Palmer averaged over seven targets per game and scored a touchdown in his three games with a 60% snap share. With a downfield skill set that perfectly aligns with his big-armed quarterback, Palmer is one of my favorite late-round WRs to target.
– Andrew Erickson

CTAs

NFC East

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Dallas Cowboys Jalen Tolbert Jalen Tolbert Tony Pollard Dalton Schultz
New York Giants Kadarius Toney Kadarius Toney Kadarius Toney Kadarius Toney
Philadelphia Eagles DeVonta Smith DeVonta Smith DeVonta Smith DeVonta Smith
Washington Commanders Curtis Samuel Jahan Dotson Jahan Dotson Jahan Dotson

Dallas Cowboys
You may argue that Dalton Schultz already had a breakout in 2021. To that I respond: I think he has elite TE potential in 2022. With Michael Gallup likely to start the year on the PUP, Schultz could become the #2 option in the Dallas passing game and never let that go.
– Joe Pisapia

New York Giants
Kadarius Toney dealt with a zillion different injuries in his rookie season, but his talents were on full display in Weeks 4-5, with six catches for 78 yards against the Saints and 10 catches for 189 yards against the Cowboys. Toney is a twitchy, springy athlete who’s absolutely electric in the open field. If Toney can stay healthy, new Giants HC Brian Daboll should have fun devising ways to deploy this unique weapon.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Philadelphia Eagles
DeVonta Smith will benefit greatly from having A.J. Brown around. Although I still don’t believe Jalen Hurts will become a prolific passer, the targets should be very centralized in this offense spread among Brown, Smith and Dallas Goedert and not many else.
– Joe Pisapia

Washington Commanders
Jahan Dotson is all too familiar with dealing with subpar quarterback play. Adjusting to poorly placed balls is nothing new. Despite his slight frame, Dotson is strong at the catch point and has the prerequisite speed to break a long touchdown whenever he touches the ball. Terry McLaurin finally has a running mate in the Washington offense.
– Derek Brown

NFC North

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Chicago Bears Cole Kmet Cole Kmet Cole Kmet Cole Kmet
Detroit Lions Jameson Williams Jameson Williams Jameson Williams Jameson Williams
Green Bay Packers A.J. Dillon Allen Lazard A.J. Dillon A.J. Dillon
Minnesota Vikings Irv Smith Jr. Irv Smith Jr. K.J. Osborn K.J. Osborn

Chicago Bears
Cole Kmet has already established himself as an important contributor to the Bears offense, but his lousy TD luck has kept him from becoming a useful fantasy contributor. The young TE had 60 catches for 612 yards in his second NFL season but failed to score a single touchdown. He’s bound to have better fortune in the TD department this season, and Kmet should see plenty of targets with the Bears being so thin at wide receiver.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Detroit Lions
It’s not a question of if but when Jameson Williams will make his presence known. Williams Sonic the Hedgehog-like speed and agility give him a sky-high ceiling weekly. This big-play penchant will help as the volume could be a concern in the early going as the Lions are stocked with playmakers. Detroit could be the home for the 2022 stretch run hero in fantasy.
– Derek Brown

Green Bay Packers
Expect the Packers to run the ball at a higher rate now that Davante Adams is gone. A.J. Dillon averaged 3.5 more carries per game than Aaron Jones over the last eight regular-season games they played together, and Dillon took over as Green Bay’s goal-line back late in the season. With a strong roster and a manageable schedule, the Packers should get plenty of run-friendly game scripts. Conditions are right for an A.J. Dillon breakthrough.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Minnesota Vikings
New Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell is a Sean McVay disciple, which means that he’s going to use 11 personnel frequently. That means three receivers on the field for a big percentage of Minnesota’s offensive snaps and more playing time for K.J. Osborn. With 50 catches for 655 yards and seven TDs last season, Osborn was a pleasant surprise. With an enhanced role, he could become an impactful fantasy contributor.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

NFC South

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Atlanta Falcons Drake London Drake London Drake London Drake London
Carolina Panthers Matt Corral Terrace Marshall Terrace Marshall NONE
New Orleans Saints Chris Olave Chris Olave Chris Olave Chris Olave
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Russell Gage Russell Gage Rachaad White Russell Gage

Atlanta Falcons
Drake London’s ceiling may be limited by his QB play this rookie season, but he has the skill set to at least deliver some PPR numbers worthy of your attention. Touchdowns may be scarce, along with big games, but regardless, London offers plenty of appeal.
– Joe Pisapia

Carolina Panthers
Yes, Terrace Marshall had a rough rookie season. There’s no denying that. The Panthers need another pass-catcher to step up in this offense behind D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey. A healthy version of Marshall could do so in 2022 as Robby Anderson looked cooked in 2021. Anderson finished 94th in yards per route run with an 11.7% target per snap rate (63rd). If Marshall is up to the task, there’s volume to be had in his sophomore season.
– Derek Brown

New Orleans Saints
Chris Olave is healthy and with so much uncertainty surrounding Michael Thomas’ health and Jarvis Landry getting up there in age, Olave could have far more upside this season than people realize.
– Joe Pisapia

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The uncertainty swirling around Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski translates into a mountainous upside for Russell Gage. After sharpening his teeth last season as Calvin Ridley’s replacement alongside Kyle Pitts, Gage proved adept and drawing volume and translating it into efficient results. He could be a household name by Week 4 of the NFL season.
– Derek Brown

NFC West

TEAM Erickson DBro Pat Joe
Arizona Cardinals Marquise Brown Rondale Moore Rondale Moore Marquise Brown
Los Angeles Rams Cam Akers Cam Akers Cam Akers Cam Akers
San Francisco 49ers Trey Lance Trey Lance Trey Lance Trey Lance
Seattle Seahawks Kenneth Walker III Kenneth Walker III Kenneth Walker III Kenneth Walker III

Arizona Cardinals
DeAndre Hopkins’ six-game suspension is the trial run for Rondale Moore to prove he should remain the team’s starting slot receiver for the entire season. While his rookie season was a flop on the surface, when digging deeper, there are small indicators the breakout was just delayed to 2022. Moore was 28th in route win rate and 11th in juke rate among wide receivers last season. While we can still question his ability to stretch the field, his route running and playmaking chops are being underrated at this juncture.
– Derek Brown

Los Angeles Rams
Sony Michel and Darrell Henderson combined for 336 touches — third-most among all RBs, 19.7 per game — when operating as the true lead back through 17 games. Cam Akers has a chance to capture that role in 2022.
– Andrew Erickson

San Francisco 49ers
Trey Lance only started 2 games as a rookie but flashed the rushing prowess that excited fantasy managers during last year’s draft season. The 49ers’ first-year signal-caller averaged 22.4 expected fantasy points (QB4 last season) and 60 rushing yards per game.
– Andrew Erickson

Seattle Seahawks
We all know the Seahawks want to run the football (and frankly they have to), but Rashad Penny’s always struggled to stay on the field and Chris Carson is likely done. Kenneth Walker could see his role increase dramatically overnight and his downhill run style suits Pete Carroll’s desires.
– Joe Pisapia

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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