Fantasy Football Breakouts 2.0: Dalvin Cook, Josh Jacobs join the list
Jamey Eisenberg updates his list of players to target in Breakouts 2.0, naming 12 guys who could carry you to a championship in 2019.
More Fantasy preview:| |
Leonard Fournette is going to be one of the more fascinating Fantasy options to watch during Draft Prep time. He's polarizing based on past disappointments compared to what his potential upside could be this season.
There are some, like my colleague Will Brinson, who believe Fournette is headed for a monster campaign. Will called Fournette "one of my top buy-low plays" in a recent mock-draft review after selecting him in the third round at No. 33 overall, which is a steal.
Others, like my colleague Dave Richard, are more lukewarm about Fournette. Dave has said on numerous occasions he would prefer to avoid Fournette on Draft Day, and many share that sentiment after Fournette burned them in 2018.
Clearly, I'm with Will on this one, as I expect Fournette to have his best season in the NFL to date. He's someone I plan to target toward the end of Round 2 in non-PPR leagues and early Round 3 in PPR because he's a breakout candidate.
I'm buying what's being said about Fournette this offseason. Team czar Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone are behind Fournette, and he's following through on his word to get in better shape, spending time in Wyoming to train in the offseason.
While he was good as a rookie (286 carries for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 302 yards and one touchdown), I see him going over the 1,500 total yard threshold while scoring at least 10 total touchdowns, with at least 40 catches. And the Jaguars have made several moves this offseason to help Fournette get there.
The Jacksonville offensive line was in shambles in 2018 with left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandin Linder all missing time due to injury, but they should be healthy this year. And the line got reinforcements with rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor — a projected first-round pick — falling to the Jaguars in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Nick Foles is an upgrade over Blake Bortles at quarterback. And Fournette has, in my opinion, less competition for touches behind him with Alfred Blue and rookie Ryquell Armstead replacing the departed Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon.
It's understandable if you want to pass on Fournette this year since he was a disappointment in 2018, but I think that's a mistake. Fournette should be a star this season and is one of my favorite breakout candidates.
I expected to rank Mayfield as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this season, but I never imagined he would be in my top five. Yet here we are. The addition of Odell Beckham to join Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Antonio Callaway and quality running backs should give Mayfield the chance to be a star. I also like the addition of Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator, along with Freddie Kitchens getting promoted to head coach. Last year, Mayfield scored at least 21 Fantasy points in five of his final eight games, and that was obviously without Beckham. There's the chance for Mayfield to have a sophomore slump, and it might not work out with high-profile receivers like Beckham and Landry sharing the same field. But I'll take my chances that this offense plays at a high level, with Mayfield producing big stats. Don't reach for Mayfield on Draft Day, but he should be among the first players at his position to come off the board with a mid-round pick.
This is likely Winston's last chance to prove he can be the quarterback of the future for Tampa Bay, and I'm expecting his best performance to date. He had a choppy season in 2018, but this should be a better situation for him. For starters, he has a new coach in Bruce Arians, who should be good for Winston. Arians won't fear Winston making a mistake or two to hopefully get a big play. As Arians has said in the past, "no risk it, no biscuit.".
Winston also doesn't have a proven starter like Ryan Fitzpatrick waiting in the wings any more since Fitzpatrick is now in Miami, and Blaine Gabbert is the backup in Tampa Bay. In 2018, Winston started nine games, and he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in five of them. Even though he will likely miss DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) and Adam Humphries (Tennessee), the Buccaneers should get quality production from Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. Winston is a No. 1 quarterback worth drafting with a late-round pick.
Cook should have a career season in 2019 — if he can finally stay healthy. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 of his rookie season in 2017, which cost him 12 games, and he battled a hamstring injury last year, sidelining him for four outings. But in the 15 games he's played over the past two seasons, he's scored at least 11 PPR points in 11 of them. And last year, once Kevin Stefanski took over as the offensive coordinator for the final three games of the season, Cook averaged 16.7 PPR points. Stefanski and assistant head coach Gary Kubiak will call plays this year, and that should benefit Cook in a big way since both want to lean on the ground game. Cook also had eight catches in the three games under Stefanski on 10 targets, too.
Don't worry about the addition of rookie running back Alexander Mattison, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. Mattison is the handcuff for Cook, but he shouldn't take away too much work since Cook is by far the superior talent. The more important draft pick for the Vikings was rookie center Garrett Bradbury in the first round, who will help significantly improve the offensive line. I'm planning to draft Cook in Round 2 in all leagues, and if he plays 16 games, he could finish as a top-five Fantasy running back in all formats.
There are three rookie running backs to covet this season as potential starting options in Week 1, including Jacobs, David Montgomery and Miles Sanders. All have breakout potential, but Jacobs should be the best of the bunch. He was selected by the Raiders in the first round of the NFL Draft, and he should be a workhorse in Oakland, especially with Isaiah Crowell (Achilles) out for the season. While Jalen Richard could play on passing downs and Doug Martin will get some touches, the Raiders should make Jacobs a focal point on offense. He didn't play much at Alabama with 251 carries for 1,491 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns, as well as 48 catches for 571 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons, so he should be fresh coming into the NFL.
Coach Jon Gruden has a good history with his running backs, and in 2018 he was able to get Marshawn Lynch, Martin and Richard to combine for 17 games with double digits in PPR points. The Raiders offense should be improved this season with Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and Trent Brown coming to Oakland, and Jacobs should benefit in a big way. I plan to draft him toward the end of Round 3 or beginning of Round 4 in all leagues.
You can make the argument that Mack had his breakout season last year, but I'm expecting him to do even better in 2019. I wouldn't be shocked to see him approach 1,500 total yards and score double digits in touchdowns if he stays healthy. The Colts have a standout offensive line and passing game, and Mack should get the majority of touches, even though he will share with Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins and potentially Spencer Ware.
Last year, Mack had six games with at least 17 total touches of the 13 games he was healthy, and he scored at least 11 PPR points in all of them, including four with at least 18 PPR points. Mack has to stay healthy, and he's dealing with a hip ailment this offseason, although he should be fine for training camp. And it would be nice to see him more involved in the passing game since he has just 38 catches for 328 yards and two touchdowns in his two-year career. But the Colts offense is one to covet, and Mack is the lead running back. I'm planning to draft Mack no later than Round 4 in all leagues.
Montgomery was my second favorite rookie running back prior to the NFL Draft, and his landing spot in Chicago didn't change that. Even with Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis on the roster, Montgomery should have the chance to play on all three downs. He was a star at Iowa State the past two seasons with 515 carries for 2,362 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and 24 touchdowns, as well as 58 catches for 453 yards, which is why the Bears traded up to select him in the third round of the draft. And he should have the chance to get most of the touches vacated by the departed Jordan Howard, who had 250 carries for 935 yards and nine touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 145 yards. Cohen and Davis will take some of that work, but I'm confident if Montgomery gets close to 250 total touches he should be a Fantasy star. I plan to draft Montgomery in Round 5 in non-PPR leagues and Round 6 in PPR.
Godwin was one of my favorite players last season, and he did well in his sophomore campaign with at least 13 PPR points in seven outings. But this year he could be dominant as a third-year breakout candidate. Forget about what Arians said about Godwin catching 100 passes. That's not realistic. However, you should be excited about Godwin playing in the slot, and he's already drawing comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald during his time with Arians. Keep in mind that Fitzgerald posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons and led the Cardinals in targets while playing primarily from the slot under Arians from 2015-2017.
Mike Evans should still be the focal point of this passing attack, with O.J. Howard also a significant factor. But Godwin should thrive with Jackson and Humphries gone, and 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 worth drafting in Round 5 in all leagues.
Moore should be the No. 1 receiver for the Panthers this season with Devin Funchess (Indianapolis) gone, and it's a great opportunity for him to have a standout sophomore campaign. As a rookie in 2018, Moore posted five games with double digits in PPR points in his final seven games, but two of those in particular are worth mentioning. In Week 12 against Seattle and Week 17 at New Orleans when Funchess was out, Moore did not disappoint. He had eight catches for 91 yards on nine targets against the Seahawks and four catches for 81 yards on eight targets against the Saints, even though Cam Newton (shoulder) was out for the season finale.
Newton should be healthy for Week 1, and he should continue to lean on Moore this year. This receiving corps is thin on talent with Moore ahead of Curtis Samuel and Chris Hogan on the depth chart, along with Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield and potentially Greg Olsen at tight end. There should be a lot of targets headed in Moore's direction, and he's someone to target in all leagues in Round 5.
Kupp is expected to be ready for training camp after suffering a torn ACL in Week 10 against Seattle, and hopefully he can pick up where he left off. Kupp scored at least 12 PPR points in six of the eight games he appeared in, including five with at least 17 PPR points, but two of those games (Week 6 at Denver and against the Seahawks) he was unable to finish due to injury.
The Rams are loaded with talent with Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, but Jared Goff loves leaning on Kupp. In his six healthy games in 2018, Kupp averaged 7.8 targets per game. And if you take those six games over a 16-game pace, Kupp would have finished with 93 catches for 1,405 yards and 16 touchdowns. It's not reasonable to expect that type of production, especially the touchdowns, but Kupp is a No. 2 receiver to target in all leagues beginning in Round 5. Just make sure he's back at 100 percent by training camp as expected.
Allison was really only healthy for the first four games of the season in 2018 because of a groin injury, and he had 19 catches for 289 yards and two touchdowns on 29 targets over that span. Over 16 games, that would be 76 catches for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns, and he has that kind of upside playing with Aaron Rodgers and opposite Davante Adams. With Randall Cobb (Dallas) gone, playing time shouldn't be an issue for Allison, even with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown vying for targets. I was high on Allison in 2018, and I'll be targeting him in all leagues again this season with a mid-round pick. Hopefully, we can see Allison healthy for 16 games this year. And, hopefully, new coach Matt LaFleur does the right thing in using Allison as a featured part of the Packers offense.
I had Engram as a bust candidate for 2018, and he was for most of the season. My argument was that his production would slip from his rookie campaign with Saquon Barkley joining Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Well, in the 12 games when Beckham was healthy last season, Engram scored double digits in PPR just twice. But when Beckham missed the final four games in 2018, as well as 12 games in 2017, Engram has been a standout Fantasy option. Last year, he closed the season with four games in a row with at least 10 PPR points, including three with more than 15 PPR points. He had at least 77 receiving yards in each outing. In the 12 games Beckham missed in 2017, Engram had six with at least 15 PPR points.
Beckham is now in Cleveland, and even though he was replaced by Golden Tate, I expect Engram to be the best receiving option for the Giants this year. Engram is a top-five tight end coming into the season, and he's worth targeting as early as Round 4.
Henry played just 14 snaps last season in the playoffs after suffering a torn ACL last May. He was considered a breakout candidate last year prior to getting hurt, and hopefully he can stay at 100 percent this season. We'll see if the Chargers bring back Antonio Gates, who is a free agent, but they already lost Tyrell Williams (Raiders) this offseason. With those two gone, there are 110 targets to replace from last year. A good portion of that should go to Henry, who had at least 11 PPR points in seven of 14 games in 2017. Philip Rivers should lean on Henry as one of his top targets, along with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Melvin Gordon, and I like Henry as a top-five Fantasy tight end this season. Henry is someone to target as early as Round 5 in the majority of leagues.
Additional breakouts from Dave Richard
Over the last two seasons, Andy Reid's offense has produced a running back with 10-plus Fantasy points (non-PPR) in 25 of 32 games (a 78 percent success rate). Reid used Williams late last year and in the playoffs with fantastic results, and then the Chiefs gave him a contract extension and only added Carlos Hyde and sixth-round pick Darwin Thompson in the offseason. All signs point to Williams being the Chiefs' best back.
Andrew Luck threw for over 4,500 yards and nearly 40 touchdowns last season without a quality No. 2 receiver. Just imagine how he will do with a stud talent like Campbell on the field with him. The Colts intend to use him every way possible in what coach Frank Reich dubbed an "unfair" offense. He'll never see double coverage so long as T.Y. Hilton is healthy.
The Jaguars didn't bring in a new quarterback and a pass-happy offensive coordinator for nothing. That helps Westbrook, who was the Jags' top slot option, racking up a 65.3 percent catch rate last season with a team-high five touchdowns and 717 yards. His numbers should pop with the quarterback upgrade and a play caller known for leaning on his slot receivers.
Additional breakouts from Heath Cummings
I believe Jackson is a better passer than he showed as a rookie, and he certainly has better weapons in 2019. Miles Boykin and Marquise Brown could make this an explosive offense if Jackson can be just a little more accurate. With his rushing production it won't take much through the air to make him a Fantasy starter.
With DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries gone, 120 targets feels like it's well within range for the third-year breakout candidate. In his first two seasons, his 120-target pace is 74 catches for 1,093 yards and six touchdowns. His ceiling is well beyond that.
Howard is a breakout candidate for many of the same reasons Godwin is. Tampa Bay looks like a place where targets will be consolidated, and I still expect them to be as efficient as any passing offense in the league under Bruce Arians.
Which other 2019 Fantasy Football breakouts should you be all over? And which rookie running back is set to explode? Visit SportsLine now to get 2019 Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that has simulated the season 10,000 times, and find out.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
SportsLine simulated the 2019 NFL season 10,000 times and identified must-draft Fantasy Football...
The SportsLine Projection Model reveals Fantasy football tiers for the major skill positio...
Heath Cummings unveils 12 early sleepers for the 2019 Fantasy Football season.
SportsLine simulated the 2019 NFL season 10,000 times and identified Fantasy Football busts...
Heath Cummings unveils his 12 early 2019 breakouts to target on Draft Day.
Heath Cummings says you should stay away from these 10 big names in 2019 Fantasy Football...