This is the second of a two-piece article to help Fantasy owners find breakout players this upcoming season. This article will be about young Fantasy breakout players who I expect to emerge from the middle of the positional rankings.
The other article was about veteran Fantasy values who are primed to rebound and have breakout seasons.
These players should be taken in the middle rounds of most standard Fantasy Football drafts and have yet to solidify their status as every week Fantasy players.
4 Young Fantasy Breakout Players
Some of these guys either stuttered out of the gate as rookies, or have been lost in the shuffle in Fantasy play.
Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams
Richardson is looking to be the No. 1 back for the St. Louis Rams this season. He is currently competing for the job with fellow second-year RB Isaiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacy.
In the first preseason game, Richardson was impressive, while Pead lacked inspiration. While playing with the first team, Richardson had 24 yards on only four carries. Pead fumbled his first carry, but redeemed himself with an 11-yard run the next drive.
In the absence of Steven Jackson last season, Richardson was extremely productive. Averaging 4.8 yards a carry and contributing in the passing game. Under Jeff Fisher, Richardson could easily get 200 carries, which would ultimately lead to a 1,000-yard season based on his averages last year. While this might be unlikely, Richardson is still a steal for where he is being drafted and is primed to breakout this season.
Chris Ivory, RB, N.Y. Jets
Nobody questions that Ivory is a beast when he’s running — he just needs to see the ball consistently.
He should definitely see the ball consistently now.
Ivory is slated to be the Jets’ starting running back this season. Head coach Rex Ryan is notorious for a pound-the-rock mentality and this looks like the perfect opportunity for Ivory.
In New Orleans, Ivory didn’t see consistent carries and he was often injured. If Ivory can stay healthy and play 14-16 games, he should be a very nice running back option in Fantasy leagues. Over the past three seasons, he has had 256 carries for over 1,300 yards.
Even if he can’t hold up to those averages, on a 200-carry pace, 1,000 yards is a major possibility this season. Injury is key with Ivory, so monitor his health in the preseason.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sanders finds himself in a wonderful opportunity with the departure of Mike Wallace. Sanders and Antonio Brown will be the primary ball catchers for the Steelers this season.
With Ben Roethlisberger completing 300 passes every season, Sanders should contribute to a quarter of those completions, at least. It’s very possible that you can wait until the later rounds of your draft to get Sanders, as well. Why this guy hasn’t flown up draft boards, I don’t understand.
Sanders had over 600 receiving yards last season on 40 catches, and could potentially double those stats this year with the departure of Wallace.
One thing that scares me about Sanders is that he is too small. A lot of small players who haven’t taken a full season’s worth of hits will inevitably get banged up by midseason. I expect Sanders to play 14 games and approach 1,000 yards this season, and possibly catch 70 balls.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
It’s hard to trust a guy who we haven’t seen very much of and know very little about. This is one of those freakish athletic talents that is hard to keep your eyes off.
While Jeffery hasn’t been productive in the NFL yet, he has been getting better and impressing coaches this offseason. All the talk out of training camp is how talented and athletic this young receiver is. Just like most receivers, this guy has an image issue, though, and is a bit of a diva.
If he can keep his mind on football and dedicate his life to this game, he could become a very good player.
Taking a chance on him this year is risky. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take with a back-end draft pick. He has yet to fill up the stat sheet at the NFL level, but it’s hard not to take a flyer on a player who is deemed to be a star in the making, by many of his peers.
They want to keep Brandon Marshall healthy, as well, by taking some of the burden off him and relying on this second-year player to catch more passes. Cutler has praised this young talent and if his quarterback likes him, that’s good enough for me.
These four young Fantasy breakout players will not be highly sought after in most Fantasy drafts and should not burden any facet of your draft strategy. I believe these players will become every week Fantasy starters this season, and for when they are drafted, they’re absolute steals! Don’t forget to check out the veteran Fantasy players I like to break out, too.