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2017 NFL Fantasy Football Breakout Players

By on July 11, 2017

Here’s the video version for those of you too lazy to read…

Before we get started here, it’s important to define what a breakout player actually is: Rookies are never considered for my annual breakout players list because, in my opinion, breakout players are at least 2nd year players who have yet to produce at a Pro Bowl level and should perform at a higher level than their respective expectations. So rookies that are expected to perform at a high level, like Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Mike Williams, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, O.J. Howard, and other top picks are excluded from this list.

Dolphins WR DaVante Parker

The Dolphins offense found some much needed balance in 2016, and the dividends should be paid to the WRS in 2017 as defenses key in on stopping Jay Ajayi. The third year for wide receivers is supposed to be the year that it all comes together and the Dolphins have to be hoping that’s the case for DeVante Parker. Parker could step up as the WR1 in the offense this year with Jarvis Landry filling the role as the possession guy and Kenny Stills keeping defenses honest as the deep threat. Newly acquired TE Julius Thomas could steal some touchdowns in the red zone from Parker, but he hasn’t shown an ability to consistently contribute since his time with Peyton Manning, so don’t let that throw you off. Parker’s ADP (Average Draft Position) is currently hovering around the century mark, so you should be able to grab him in the 8th round in a 12-team league.
BOLD PREDICTION: DeVante Parker leads the Dolphins in receiving yards and TDs in 2017.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston 

Jameis Winston has steadily been making improvements in his 1st two seasons as the Buccaneers franchise QB. The 3rd year is assumed as the season where players make the biggest jump in performance, and combine that with the plethora of weapons Winston has at his disposal, sets 2017 up for a huge year for the Buccaneers offense.

Jameis Winston might be the most sure thing on this list to break out in 2017. With a bunch of new weapons acquired via free agency and the draft, Winston can finally settle down, allow plays to develop, and find the open man. As long as his offensive line can keep him upright, Winston could produce in the top 10 of the league for the quarterback position, and if Doug Martin can return to his 2015 form, look for the offense as a whole to be full of fantasy studs. Winston currently has an ADP of 93 overall, but he’s likely going to skyrocket as the season approaches so you might want to plan on drafting him around the 5th or 6th round.
BOLD PREDICTION: Jameis Winston leads the league in passing yards.

Redskins WR Jamison Crowder

The Redskins had a WR shuffle this offseason: they moved on from DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency and brought in Terrell Pryor on a one year deal. Meanwhile Josh Doctson was hurt for most of his rookie year but should be healthy this year and will be a huge red zone target for Kirk Cousins alongside and Pryor. But Jamison Crowder really blew up last year as the Redskins slot receiver and should continue to build on his 2016 performance with an even greater one as the most familiar face for Cousins. Crowder has an ADP of 76, so you’ll have to grab him in the middle of the 6th round, or even earlier in PPR leagues.
BOLD PREDICTION: Jamison Crowder has over 80 receptions in 2017.

Packers RB/WR Ty Montgomery

Hopefully Ty Montgomery can keep his RB/WR position flexibility in 2017 but he’s primed for a big year regardless, especially in PPR leagues. Montgomery is a receiving back in one of the best offenses in the NFL with one of the best QBs in the NFL; he’s going to get his touches. And the addition of Martellus Bennett is an underrated on for the Packers rushing attack as Bennett is one of the top run blocking TEs in the league. With a full offseason at RB, Montgomery should easily establish himself as the Packers RB1. Montgomery has an ADP of 48, so if you’re in a PPR league you’ll want to grab in in the 3rd or 4th round. 
BOLD PREDICTION: Ty Montgomery has over 1,400 total yards in 2017.

Chargers TE Hunter Henry 

Hunter Henry only had 36 catches in 2016, but 8 of them went for TDs. Tight Ends don’t typically have as much success in their rookie season as Hunter Henry saw in 2016 and, with Antonio Gates a year older, Henry should be an even bigger focal point in the Chargers passing game in 2017. Gates is currently tied with Tony Gonzalez for All Time TD catches by a TE, so Philip Rivers should be targeting him early and often in the red zone, but the pendulum should swing Henry’s way as the season progresses. The only drawback on Henry is that there are a ton of passing weapons at Rivers’ disposal and he might not get as many redzone looks if the injury bug doesn’t strike the WRs again. Hunter Henry’s ADP is 88, so he’s going between the 7th and 8th rounds on average.
BOLD PREDICTION: Hunter Henry will have double-digit TDs in 2017.

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill 

With the release of Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill becomes a WR1 for the Chiefs going into 2017. He had an explosive rookie season, finding ways to contribute in the passing game, running the ball, and as a return specialist. Andy Reid has likely been spending a majority of this offseason planning for ways to get him involved even more. The Chiefs likely had a vision of eventually stretching the field with Hill when trading up for Patrick Mahomes, because Alex Smith won’t be able to fully take advantage of his deep speed. The trick will be avoiding overusing the undersized Human Joystick. With an ADP of 42, Tyreek Hill is going pretty early in drafts, but if he slips to the 4th round scoop him up and don’t look back.
BOLD PREDICTION: Tyreek Hill scores 12 total TDs in 2017.

Browns WR Corey Coleman

The Browns letting Terrelle Pryor walk in FA wasn’t an indictment on Pryor, but shows confidence in Corey Coleman being able to take the WR1 role in the Browns offense going forward. Rookie seasons are tough enough for WRs anyways, but Coleman breaking his hand was especially unfortunate for him. Coleman is currently at 108 in ADP, so you can wait on Coleman until the 9th round.
BOLD PREDICTION: Corey Coleman has 1,000 yards receiving and 8 TDs in 2017.

Eagles QB Carson Wentz 

Carson Wentz had a solid rookie season and the additions of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith should provide him with more reliable targets than Jordan Matthews. The Eagles coaching staff asked a lot from Wentz in his rookie season (5th in passing attempts with 607), especially considering they had such an inconsistent running game. While his passing attempts should go down in 2017, expect his productivity to go up as they achieve more balance. Wentz has an ADP of 141, so he’s a great option late in the draft for upside QB production.
BOLD PREDICTION: Carson Wentz throws 30 TD passes in 2017.

Giants RB Paul Perkins

Every free agent running back was rumored to be a potential match for Giants, but they stuck with their current stable of backs. There’s belief in-house that Perkins can be a 3-down RB and he will certainly get that chance in 2017. The offensive line has held the Giants offense back in the past, but teams will have to respect the weapons in the passing game, opening holes for Perkins. Until further notice, he’s the best option the Giants have got at RB. Perkins has an ADP of 88, so grab him in the 7th.
BOLD PREDICTION: Paul Perkins scores 8 TDs in 2017.

Bills WR Sammy Watkins

Sammy Watkins has probably been on a fantasy breakout list going into every season going back to 2014, but this year is THE year. Call me crazy, but this should be the season that the stars finally align for Watkins. Injuries will continue to be the biggest threat to hold Sammy Watkins back since he’s missed 11 games over the past two seasons. The Bills declined the 5th year option on Watkins’ rookie contract, so this becomes a contract season for him. He’s the only familiar face at WR for Tyrod Taylor and Taylor is also in a “prove-it” year. Watkins currently has an ADP of 33, which means you might need to grab him early, but if he slips into the 4th round he could be one of the biggest steals in the draft.
BOLD PREDICTION: Sammy Watkins has over 1,200 total yards and 10 TDs in 2017.

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