Fantasy Football Breakout Players
We are on the heels of the start of the NFL season which can only mean one thing; fantasy football season is right around the corner! Is there anything more exciting than researching players, doing mock drafts, tuning into training camp, and drafting an elite fantasy football champion with all of your friends? No way! Every fantasy football owner goes into the year thinking, “this could be the year I finally win a fantasy football championship!” Some will get that chance at glory, others are going to fall short. You can sit and tell yourself, “it’s all about the fun you have with your league-mates”, but we all know you want that championship more than anything. If you want your shot at winning it all, here are some guys who are poised for big years that you need to target in your fantasy football drafts.
Fantasy Football Rankings
Looking at D.J. Moore’s rookie season last year, you can see from a statistical standpoint, it was a very solid year. In just 10 games started, he racked up nearly 800 yards on 55 receptions. He also had a few good rushes, gaining 172 yards on 13 carries. One of the main areas he lacked however were touchdowns. He was only able to reach the endzone twice last year. The thing to remember though is that this year, he is the clear cut number one receiver with Devin Funchess now in Indianapolis. Also, Cam Newton is coming off of an injury-riddled season and appears to be fully healthy, which will be a huge bonus for Moore. Look for him to put up some big numbers in Carolina this year.
Kerryon Johnson is a polarizing player. Many dynasty owners jumped on board as soon as he was drafted by the Detroit Lions. Even redraft folks were coming around. Johnson can do it all. He has great vision, catches the ball well, runs physical, and can even pass block fairly well. But why did he only appear in 10 games last year? Because he spent most of the season dealing with a knee injury. However, looking at what Johnson was able to do in those 10 games, it’s clear to see that he has the talent to make the jump and become a stud fantasy football running back. He carried the ball a total of 118 times for a whopping 641 yards. He did, however, have only three touchdowns. The main reason for the low touchdown rate was because of the ever-reliable LeGarrette Blount taking away scoring opportunities from him. But now with Blount gone and Johnson the star of the show, we should see all of those numbers rise in 2018.
Hunter Henry is about as exciting of a tight end as anyone in this league. He’s athletic, strong, great hands, and runs routes like a wide receiver. But he has this problem with staying on the field. He’s entering his fourth season in the NFL, and Henry has been able to put together just 29 games. If you take a look back at his rookie season, it was extremely evident that Henry was going to be a tormenting tight end in the league. He started only 10 games but was able to add eight touchdowns to his stat line. Something not many tight ends do. Only one tight end was able to put together more touchdowns in their rookie year. That tight end was none other than Rob Gronkowski. If and when Henry is able to put together a full season, we may be looking at one of the best tight ends in the league. This could be the year.
Let’s be real, is there any other receiver in Jacksonville that can do what Dede Westbrook can do? His final year at Oklahoma, he won the Biletnikoff Award as the top wide receiver in the country. He has the height, speed, and strength to play on the inside or outside in this Nick Foles led offense if he’s asked to. He has a solid set of hands and you can see the evidence of how much acceleration he has off the line of scrimmage. He’s very explosive with the ball in his hands, and that’s what the Jaguars and Foles are going to want to do this year. Traditionally, Westbrook plays out of the slot. According to The Quant Edge, he lines up in the slot on 79.48% of his snaps. His average targeted air yards is one of the lowest in the league at 8.5. The Jaguars clearly want to get him the ball quickly and let him make plays, which is what he is poised to do this year.
Anthony Miller was referred to as a sleeper last year, and he can also be given that title again this year. Currently, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Miller is the 133rd player off the board. Not only will he be a steal come draft day, but he is poised to be a league winner this year. Miller is coming off of a rookie season where he played with an injured shoulder the majority of the time. With a bit of a muddy wide receiver corps and not a solidified receiver outside of Allen Robinson, Miller appears to be the guy that is ready to step up. With Mitchell Trubisky’s average completed air yards at just six, and Miller running mainly quick routes out of the slot, we could see his targets go up, and with his trusty hands, we should see his production go up as well.
Dallas Goedert is one of the most athletically gifted tight ends in the league but was drafted to a team with an elite tight end already established in Zach Ertz. Looking at Goedert’s measurables, he stands at six-foot five-inches tall and weighs in at 256 lb. Each of which is desirable in NFL tight ends. Then you look at his athletic scores where according to Player Profiler he had a 121.8 burst score and an 11.33 agility score. He also had a 30.7% college dominator rating. All of which are very high. He has everything you want in a high profile tight end. Is there reason to worry with Ertz in his way. Yes. But when you dig into the front office portion of the game, Ertz has three years left on his contract, but a potential out after this year. So is there a chance the Eagles try and work Goedert into their system more with plans to go with him long term instead of the aging Zach Ertz? Absolutely.
Christian Kirk is set up in a prime position to succeed this year. He spent his rookie year last year learning from the veteran receiver and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, and you can bet he took a lot from his rookie experience. Before Kirk entered the league, Fitzgerald spent his time moving in and out of the slot. He made his name playing all over the line of scrimmage for the Cardinals. Kirk’s path is looking similar. According to The Quant Edge, Kirk spent 37.67% as the left receiver, 33.14% as the right, and 29.19% lined up in the slot. It appears the Cardinals could be preparing for life without Fitzgerald in the coming years, and Kirk looks like he could take a somewhat of a similar role. The Cardinals have seen a large turnover this season in personnel. New Head Coach Kilff Kingsbury, who is known as an offensive mind, steps in and revamps this entire offense. A whole lot of new weapons are in town in the likes of the first overall pick of the NFL Draft Kyler Murray, as well as KeeSean Johnson, Andy Isabella, and more. Could the new cast of Cardinals help launch Kirk into fantasy football stardom this year? Absolutely.
Antonio Brown is gone, Big Ben is coming off of a career year, the Steelers passed for a league-high 44.6 times per game according to Player Profiler. What more do you need to be excited for the next wide receiver two in Pittsburgh? James Washington appears to be poised to take over that second wide receiver position now the JuJu Smith-Schuster takes over the number one role with Brown gone. Washington is your traditional deep ball threat. He plays on the outside the majority of the time, whether it’d be on the left or right side. The majority of times he was targeted during his rookie year last year was on go routes, which was 11 times according to The Quant Edge. It’s easy to look at his stat line and be extremely disappointed. Starting just six games and catching the ball just 16 times for 217 yards with just the lone touchdown looks like an eyesore to many. But with the absence of the Steelers former top target, there is a lot of volume to make up for, and Washington has the skill and potential to do so.
Dalvin Cook is coming into his third NFL season with hopes of being able to complete his first full season. His first two years have been riddled with injuries. His rookie year he tore his ACL in week four against the Detroit Lions, and last year, he injured his knee again in week two against the Green Bay Packers which hindered him from being fully healthy until week nine. The talent level of Cook is undeniable. Even his time spent in college at Florida State, it was clear that he has the potential to be a star in this league. His vision, the way he can chop his feet and get upfield, his power and elusiveness, even his receiving ability is high caliber. The new offense Gary Kubiak plans to implement fits perfect for Cook’s skill set. The Vikings are moving from a gap blocking scheme to a zone-blocking scheme which is what Cook ran in college. It’s also what rookie center Garret Bradburry ran in college as well. The ingredients are there for Cook to have a monster season this year and implement himself as a top running back option for fantasy football.
Chris Godwin has been on many dynasty fantasy football owners radars for a few years now and is also starting to pop up on redraft owners radars as well, and for good reason. Godwin saw a large uptick in production last year, topping 800 yards and getting into the endzone 7 times. He’s been reliable, appearing in all 16 games each of his first two seasons, but only started seven total, five last year and two his rookie year. This is the year he should step out of the shadows of Mike Evans and solidify himself as a startable fantasy football option week in and week out. According to CBSSports, Bruce Arians said that Godwin will not be coming off of the field this year. Since this time last year, we have seen Godwin’s ADP rise. It’s gone from as low as 6.12, to now 4.10 for PPR leagues according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Some may call his performance last year a breakout, but we have yet to see what his true potential is. Godwin has the tools and the ability to be a fringe WR1 given the opportunity, and with new Head Coach Bruce Arians, the sky is the limit for Godwin this year.
Thanks for reading
I have a lovely wife and three children. I have played Fantasy Football since 2006. I began writing Fantasy Football content for FFDynasty260 in 2017 and covered the weekly waiver wire column as well as other topics. I started covering the Minnesota Vikings for Last Word On Sports in 2018. I am currently the Fantasy Football Expert for The Scoop on KLGR in Minnesota. I merged with FFD260 to Gridiron Experts in 2019 covering Dynasty Fantasy Football and more. I am a co-host on The Dynasty Draft Room podcast which launched in 2019. I stopped writing Vikings content for LWOS and switched to The Vikings Age in 2019.