- Blake Bortles
- Bortles looked pretty solid in his exhibition debut this year, misfiring just once en route to over 100 yards passing on just 7 attempts. He’s got a very nice supporting cast around him and has the pleasure of working with quarterback guru Greg Olson, which all points to a significant stock up. The Jaguars will improve this year, but should be bad enough that Bortles should have garbage yard opportunities. Blake also has ample mobility, and should be able to pad some stats via the ground.
- Marcus Mariota
- Mariota may as well be #1, but people aren’t sleeping on him as much as they are on Bortles. Mariota will have an improved supporting cast around him that should feature plenty of runs which diminishes his fantasy impact a bit, but he should make that up in rushing yards. If he can stay healthy, which is a big if, the Titans could surprise some people this year.
- Dak Prescott
- Am I jumping the gun a little bit? Maybe? Yeah… probably. Who knows if he can keep up this torrid preseason start, but Prescott looked like a legitimate franchise quarterback in his first ever NFL game. Couple that with Romo’s inability to stay on the field recently, and this may not be such a vast overreaction after all. If you can’t see a trend with the first few quarterbacks, you can tell that I like dual-threat quarterbacks (and no, DeShaun Watson, race has nothing to do with it).
Honorable mentions: Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill (this is his last chance… if Gase can’t get it out of him, no one can)
- Melvin Gordon
- Look, even Forrest Gump would’ve had troubles running behind that offensive line last season. Let’s cut this guy some slack – he’s not like the former Wisconsin plodders before him. The line looks to have improved enough to see Gordon flash his first-round talent next season.
- Ezekiel Elliot
- With enough carries, my obese lesbian neighbor would rush for 1,000 yards behind this line. It helps that Elliot is just a tad more athletic than she is.
- Lamar Miller
- Finally Lamar Miller will be showcased… Err, at least we think so. I don’t think Miller is a godsend at running back like some are making him out to be, but he’s clearly multi-talented and a 1,200 yard rushing season with 40-50 catches is not out of the question.
Honorable mentions: Matt Jones
- Jared Abbrederis
- This will definitely be my most ballsy breakout candidate yet. The Packers’ offensive struggles were widely reported and recognized last year once Nelson went down, as both Cobb and Adams struggles in more featured roles. Following the playoff loss against the Cardinals, Jeff Janis has garnered a cult following in the fantasy community thanks to his size/speed combination. However, if you’ve followed the Packers as closely as I have, you have noticed the multitude of reports that indicate Janis has struggled to absorb the playbook and develop as a route runner – and his injury doesn’t help his cause. Adams, being a former second round pick who flashed in his rookie season, will get every opportunity to prove that he’s the 3rd wideout on this team. His stone hands last season give me and other Packer fans doubts. So then, who will emerge as the featured 3rd receiver for the Pack? I believe it’s Jared Abbrederis, who although has struggled with injuries, has reliable hands and is a very good route runner, who can also make plays after the catch. His return ability is an added plus. Watch out for #84 this year.
- Amari Cooper
- Cooper already broke out last season with one of the best seasons a rookie wideout has had in recent memory. I expect him to make the leap from very good to elite this season, hence the “breakout” tag.
- Mike Evans
- Jameis will surely improve in his sophomore season, and Evans will surely reap the benefits as the clear-cut #1 target in Tampa.
Honorable mentions: Donte Moncrief, Kevin White, Jaelen Strong
- Jared Cook
- Cook tops many lists as a breakout candidate at the tight end position, and he appears on my list as well. The only difference is that I don’t believe he will set the world on fire like many believe. Cook is an unbelievable athlete, but doesn’t strike me as a top level football player. He will surely improve with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, but I don’t see him being that good.
- Delanie Walker
- Mariota is #2 on my breakout QB list, so it makes sense that his #1 target is #2 on my TE list as well. Walker, although 32, still has a lot of football left in him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him reach 1,000 yards this upcoming season.
- Julius Thomas
- This is more of a bounce back season for Thomas, rather than a breakout year, but I see him regaining his momentum and bouncing back with a double-digit touchdown year this season.Honorable mentions: Zach Miller, Colby Fleener, Ladarius Green