Every season a handful of NFL players go from relative -- or complete -- obscurity to becoming household names. The inevitable injuries, roster attrition and struggles of an aging starter will demand that the next man step up, and in several cases that opportunity will propel someone to stardom.

It's difficult to forecast how those opportunities will come, and sometimes it takes until midseason before those former practice squad guys are thriving on Sundays. But make no mistake, there were plenty of Septembers when precious few people were paying any attention to a guy like Tony Romo, or Terrell Davis, or Miles Austin, or Victor Cruz, only for them to be the talk of the NFL by the end of that respective season.

I'm not saying there will be any future Hall of Famers, or generational standouts, among the inevitable group of young, or youngish, NFL players who take a leap or two up the ranks in 2017. But then again, you never know. And in general I am a decided skeptic when it comes to buying into much of the chatter about which second- or third-year player looked like an All-Pro in shells and shorts during OTAs and minicamps. Because that ain't football, and is hardly a replication of it.

But there are some under-the-radar players who I am keeping an early eye on this summer to continue to gauge their progress. There are a few who I believe are primed to make a leap up in their production. And while they might not end up altering the course of their team's season -- because frankly, several of them play for teams that aren't going anywhere -- they might make some fans a dollar or two helping their Fantasy teams to victory any given Sunday.

You could probably still buy in pretty low on most of this group, and though they might not all start off paying dividends straight from Week 1, I do expect several of these breakout candidates to take the next step this season and outperform several more prominent veterans at their positions in the process.

Expect much more from Paxton Lynch in Year 2. USATSI

Paxton Lynch, QB, Broncos

This is a case where the hype surrounding his work this spring grabs my attention. He was the perfect candidate for what amounted to a redshirt year in 2016, and his athletic prowess and physical ability won't be as limited by his lack of experience under center, and in a pro-style offense, in 2017.

Lynch's mind is catching up to his body, and John Elway moved up to take him in the first round a year ago for a reason. His new offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, is uniquely experienced in developing this kind of athlete.

The sophomore signal-caller will make his share of mistakes and throw some picks, but I also believe the scope of this offense will expand considerably and that Demaryius Thomas will get his swag back. Lynch will be a handful by the end of the season. I like his chances of succeeding with this defense backing him and that franchise having been limited by an inability to get yards in chunks since the rapid demise of Peyton Manning's arm.

Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Patriots

So much has been made of all of New England's additions, and for good reason, but don't forget that player development is a strength there as well.

Newcomer Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski, coming back from another surgery, are going to demand a ton of attention from opposing defenses. I like Mitchell to shine on the outside on the opposite side of Cooks. Remember, he overcame early injuries to still become a regular in this offense by midseason, and I believe he can double last season's output of 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns. 

Mitchell can latch on to the deep ball, and he has Tom Brady's trust. He should be able to find plenty of running room out there given all the weapons around him.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts

I might have written this same item about Moncrief two years ago. In fact, I probably did. I like the way he plays and his physical attributes and have been waiting for him to become a top option in this offense for a while. I still believe it can happen and he can end up with a season stat line that looks closer to that of teammate T.Y. Hilton. 

Moncrief could be a vulture in the red zone, especially with two of Andrew Luck's former tight ends no longer around (Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener). Moncrief was among NFL leaders with an 80 percent catch rate in the red zone (eight receptions on 10 targets), with six touchdowns among them last season. Those numbers will keep going up … as long as Luck plays most of the season, which, well, you can't exactly bank on that.

Regardless, I like Moncrief to earn himself some money after playing out the fourth and final season of his rookie contract.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns

Crowell has put his struggles behind him to become a major cog in what has been an awful offense, but one that has to be better in 2017. The offensive line is also going to be much better -- it has nowhere to go but up -- and no matter who is playing quarterback, the running game will be his best friend.

Crowell quietly accounted for nearly 1,300 yards from scrimmage a year ago, averaging a gaudy 4.8 yards per carry. I anticipate him getting in the end zone more than seven times, and he could catch 50-60 balls along the way.

Terrance West, RB, Ravens

Like Crowell, West struggled with maturity issues early in his career and made his share of mistakes, but he has taken advantage of a final crack at the NFL in his hometown of Baltimore and stands to benefit this season. He led the team in rushing a year ago and had 19 carries of 10 yards or more on just 193 carries playing for a putrid offense that refused to feed any of its backs.

Now, with Kenneth Dixon suspended the first four games, and with John Harbaugh brining in run-game guru Greg Roman to essentially babysit and browbeat coordinator Marty Mornhinweg into sticking with the ground game, I like Dixon to break out. He's in phenomenal shape and was quietly a major bright spot of Baltimore's offseason. West also flashed his catching and ability after the catch last season. Danny Woodhead might cut into that somewhat (and Dixon upon his return), although Woodhead has been a major injury concern in recent years.

Jesse James, TE, Steelers

A year ago the Steelers signed Ladarius Green to be a vital part of their offense. Coordinator Todd Haley loves to feature the tight end, and they believed they were getting a very good one in Green, only for injuries to essentially wipe out his season. In the interim, James only got better and better, and Ben Roethlisberger is not afraid to thread him the ball.

Listen to what Haley has been saying about the tight end position and it's not lip service. James will have an opportunity to wreak havoc between the yard markers with so many weapons on the outside. He flashed sure-enough hands last season, and the former fifth-round pick enters this season with renewed confidence and without the pressure of having to try to replace Green from a year ago.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jets

From everything I have heard, dating back to his release by the Buccaneers and arrival with the Jets last season, the young man is dedicated to fighting his demons and staying on a straight path. That was a massive first step. He has always had tremendous gifts and an NFL frame and all the potential in the world.

Given the fact the Jets parted with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker -- and former coordinator Chan Gailey, who didn't much care for the tight end position, it seems -- Seferian-Jenkins could be in line for a ton of targets. The Jets will be on the wrong side of several blowout losses, which allows pass-catchers to pad the stats on offense.

If Seferian-Jenkins can stay healthy, this could be a situation like Gary Barnidge two years ago in Cleveland (or Ben Watson in New Orleans that same season, for that matter) -- journeymen becoming fantasy sensations pretty quickly. In 2015, the last season Josh McCown was able to play regularly, he attempted 26 percent of his passes to tight ends, seventh most in the NFL. That also happens to be the year Barnidge essentially doubled all of his previous career stats in one season, catching 79 balls for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. And this kid is way more athletic than Barnidge.