What's the difference between a sleeper and a breakout? I know it when I see it. And I see it with the following 10 players, our staff's pick for our favorite breakouts at wide receiver.
We see star potential in these guys, and that's what you want to be looking for at this position. There are so many opportunities in the modern NFL for pass catchers to make an impact, with spread offenses putting three or four receivers on the field for long stretches of the game, and teams passing as much as they ever have.
We expect these guys to take advantage of those opportunities, and you'll want them on your side come Draft Day.
Here's who you'll be hearing from:
- Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Dave Richard, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Heath Cummings, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Ben Gretch, CBS Fantasy Editor
- Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy Senior Editor
I'm so excited for Godwin this season. Then again, I was last year as well. And I'll probably be again next year, even if he fails. But that won't happen. He should be dominant as a third-year breakout candidate with Bruce Arians now as the coach. He's going to be featured in the offense, along with Mike Evans and O.J. Howard. And Godwin should benefit in a big way with DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries gone, as those two accounted for 179 targets, 117 catches, 1,590 yards and nine touchdowns. Some of that production will clearly go Godwin's way. In six games over the past two seasons without Jackson on the field, Godwin has scored at least 12 PPR points in four of them. Godwin's one of my favorite players, and he'll be one of yours as well with his production in 2019.
Under the circumstances of the Cardinals poor offense in 2018, it was a pleasant surprise to see Kirk perform adequately as a rookie and help Fantasy players before suffering a foot injury in Week 13. He missed the final four games of the season, but he's fine now. And before getting hurt, Kirk scored double digits in PPR points in six of his final 10 games. With Kyler Murray at quarterback and Kliff Kingsbury at coach, there's a lot to like about this Arizona offense. Kirk, not Larry Fitzgerald, will be the No. 1 receiver for the Cardinals this year. And he has the chance to be a weekly starter in all leagues.
WAS Washington • #10
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Samuel is another one of my favorite players to draft this season, and he's graduated from a sleeper to a breakout over the past few months. He has the chance to be that good. He is expected to start opposite D.J. Moore, and hopefully Samuel will build on his strong end to the 2018 season. He closed last year with at least 11 PPR points in six of his final seven games, including three outings with at least eight targets. Cam Newton (shoulder) is healthy, and that's great news for Samuel. Remember, Devin Funchess is gone as a free agent to Indianapolis, and Greg Olsen has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. Chris Hogan was the only notable receiver added this offseason, so Newton will rely on Moore, Samuel and Christian McCaffrey quite a bit. I'm buying a lot of stock in Samuel in 2019, and he could end up as a better Fantasy option than Moore – at a much cheaper price.
Amari Cooper WR
DAL Dallas • #19
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
After four years of disappointment, why buy into Cooper now? Because he's going to be a more consistent fixture in the Cowboys' improved offense than he ever was with the Raiders. He nearly had 900 yards with Dallas over 11 games with seven touchdowns — and that's after joining them at midseason. Assuming his bruised heel heals without issue, expect him to be in full rhythm with Dak Prescott and produce his best numbers ever.
CAR Carolina • #11
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
You've got to like how Anderson finished last season, catching 23 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns over four games with Sam Darnold. That connection should continue to manifest now that Anderson has learned more route concepts in the Jets' refreshed offense. This is a team that should find itself playing from behind, which means more passing. And it was just two seasons ago when Anderson finished as a top-20 Fantasy receiver. Grab him as No. 3 receiver ahead of his current ADP (83rd overall).
Larry Fitzgerald is the most decorated receiver in Arizona, and KeeSean Johnson might be making heads turn with his training camp highlights, but Kirk is the one best suited to lead the Cardinals' receiving corps. He's got experience in the Air Raid offense going back to his college days. He even has prior experience catching passes from Kyler Murray when both were at Texas A&M! But the real key is his combination of speed, quickness and route-running, all of which will work magnificently for Kliff Kingsbury's scheme. I'd be willing to spend a top-70 pick on him.
Westbrook is a third-year receiver who is primed for a breakout. He hasn't been used as a downfield threat much in the past, but he's also dealt with the quarterback play of Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. In 2019, things figure to look different for the Jaguars offense. Out is Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator and in his place is John DeFilippo. Yes, the same coach who was fired midseason by the Minnesota Vikings seemingly because he wouldn't agree to coach Mike Zimmer's desire to implement a run-heavy offense. The Jaguars never ranked in the top half of the league in passing yards under Hackett, and that may just change under DeFilippo. With a new offensive coordinator came Nick Foles. These two worked together during the Eagles' Super Bowl run in 2017, and Foles provides a clear upgrade over Bortles and Kessler. Marqise Lee doesn't look to be anywhere close to ready to help the offense, which solidifies Westbrook's grip on targets early in the year. I don't think he'll let go anytime soon.
Chris Godwin may just be the most popular breakout pick in Fantasy Football this season. In two seasons in the NFL, Godwin has caught 62% of his targets and averaged 14.7 yards per reception. The Buccaneers lost DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries in the offseason and have 234 targets to replace from last year's team. They added no one of significance to the offense. It just all fits too perfectly. A third-year receiver who has already had some success, on a pass-heavy team, with Bruce Arians running the offense, and very little competition for targets. You couldn't write a better script for a breakout receiver if you tried. I can't imagine you need more convincing as to why Godwin is a breakout candidate.
As a 21-year-old, Moore caught 51 passes for 788 yards and ran for another 172 yards. You don't find too many receivers that start a career like that and then flame out. His biggest games came with Devin Funchess out, and now Funchess has moved on to Indianapolis. His quarterback looks healthy after offseason shoulder surgery and Moore should be even better in his second year in this system. He was on a 900-yard pace the last 13 games of 2018 and nearly an 1,100-yard pace in his final seven. The sky is the limit for this former first-rounder.
Moore didn't crest a 50% snap share until Week 8 and didn't hit 90% until Week 12, but still posted 960 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season. His easy explosiveness was on display with a ridiculous 7.6 yards after the catch average, plus 13.2 yards per carry on 13 rush attempts. He won't sustain that efficiency, but his volume is certain to increase in 2019 as he'll be playing near or above that 90% snap threshold from Week 1, and he'll likely reach paydirt far more often than the two times he did last year.
Tyler Boyd WR
CIN Cincinnati • #83
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
There's a pattern with my breakout picks, and it's that they were all very productive at young ages in college. Though not the most athletic wide receiver, Boyd's production at Pitt speaks for itself. He posted 1,200 or more yards from scrimmage for three straight seasons before declaring after his junior year, and while it took him a couple of seasons to break out at the NFL level, A.J. Green's questionable injury status leaves Boyd poised to build on his 2018 production in 2019.
The August addition of Michael Crabtree might slow down Kirk’s ADP, and you should count that as a blessing. Stuck in one of the worst offenses of the past decade, Kirk posted an impressive 8.7 yards per target as a rookie. A strong prospect, Kirk’s 1,000-yard receiving season as a true freshman came on a Texas A&M team that also featured his current quarterback Kyler Murray, before Murray’s transfer to Oklahoma. Kliff Kingsbury’s system will be fast and feature plenty of receivers, making it difficult for defenses to key on anyone. That should allow Kirk’s talent to shine.
Will Fuller WR
MIA Miami • #3
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Combine an elite quarterback with the ability to extend plays with a receiver with dynamic down-field ability, and you've got a heck of a potential combination for a Fantasy breakout. Will Fuller has played 11 games with Deshaun Watson, and has 45 catches for 782 yards and 11 touchdowns, a simply ridiculous 16-game pace. Don't expect him to keep that touchdown pace up, but the 1,100-yard pace is certainly reasonable, with the potential for double-digit touchdowns. Yes, he's recovering from a torn ACL, but Fuller is already participating in practice, and his seventh-round cost makes him a relative bargain when you see the likes of Mike Williams and Calvin Ridley going ahead of him.
Corey Davis WR
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #84
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
In the context of one of the worst quarterback situations in the league, Corey Davis' sophomore season looks even more impressive. You try putting up big Fantasy numbers with Blaine Gabbert or a super-limited Marcus Mariota throwing you the ball. Even on an offense that wants to run the ball, you have to expect the Titans will throw more than 437 times this season, so even if all Davis does is improve to 120-plus targets with slightly improved efficiency, it's not hard to get him close to 1,000 yards. Delanie Walker's return could cut into those targets, but an increase in overall passing volume can go a long way in making up for that. He's better than you think, and the situation around him won't be as dire as it was last season.
The Jaguars' passing game should be significantly improved with Nick Foles replacing Blake Bortles/Cody Kessler, and that should mean good things for Dede Westbrook. Westbrook is, as of right now, the only receiver in Jacksonville's offense with a defined role as of the start of preseason action, and while I'd expect D.J. Chark and Chris Conley to settle in as contributors as well, you have to love that Westbrook is this far ahead of everyone right now. Expect Westbrook to see an increase in targets, and his playmaking out of the slot should fit in very well with Foles.
So which Fantasy Football breakouts should you be all over? And which rookie running back is set to explode? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that has simulated the season 10,000 times, and find out.