Category: Breakout Players


The NFL is a league full of cliches, and perhaps the most common of these is the 3rd year breakout.  Brandon LaFell is entering his 3rd year with the Carolina Panthers and is a popular candidate to break out.  Coming out of LSU the Analysts were touting his soft hands, willingness to make grabs in the middle of traffic and ability to get yards after the catch.  LaFell was the 3rd WR on the depth chart last season as but still ended up scoring more fantasy points than Legedu Naanee.  Now that Naanee is gone LaFell is the clear favorite to start opposite of Steve Smith this season.  Even with limited action LaFell put together a decent seasonwith 613 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 36 catches.  LaFell’s 17 average yard per catch last season was the 12th highest in the NFL ahead of big play receivers such as DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, and A.J. Green.

Now that LaFell is the starter opposite Steve Smith he should perform much better than his current ADP which has been mostly in the last 2 rounds in the mock drafts I have completed.  With Steve Smith drawing the majority of the coverage LaFell should see a lot of one on one coverage which he can take advantage of.  I think that LaFell should easily be able to catch 60 plus balls and 900 plus yards.  When you take in consideration his 6’2 frame and natural ball skills he will easily be the best WR in the red-zone leading to an increase from the 3 touchdowns he had last season.  He is my top sleeper this season I am targeting and should be a decent flex play much of the season.  Don’t hesitate to take him as early as the 12th round.

In my personal opinion Jay Cutler is the most undervalued QB heading into the 2012 fantasy season.  With the exception of last season in which he only played 10 games, Cutler has never thrown for under 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns.  In fact the season Cutler threw 3,274 yards he only played in 15 of the 16 games, prorated he would have posted nearly 3,500 yards.  In 2008 he threw 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns with the Denver Broncos.  Having his old teammate back in Brandon Marshall and the addition of rookie Alshon Jeffery instantly give the Bears WR corps a must needed boost over players like Earl Bennett and Johny Knox.  Having these wideouts will keep defenses more honest and open things up for Matt Forte to make space on underneath routes and screens.  Forte over his career has averaged 496 yards per season receiving and was actually on pace last year to post 653 yards before going down with injury.  And lastly lets not forget the fact Cutler plays both Aaron Rodgers and Mathew Stafford twice meaning that Cutler will be needed to post big numbers through the air in an effort to keep up.  All in all I think the winds of the windy city are finally blowing Cutlers way this season and will translate into fantasy success.  Cutler will be around in the later rounds and will be a QB2 with great upside.  BOLD PREDICTION: 4,200 yards, 30 Touchdowns

As any veteran fantasy football owner knows the season is not won in the first couple rounds but in the later stages of the draft and through active wavier wire additions.  Top fantasy studs such as Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, and Calvin Johnson obviously will help get you wins as they can get you off the chart numbers weekly, but each roster can only have so many quote on quote studs on their team.  In a standard 10 team league your only going to get 4 players inside the first 40 picks regardless of your draft slot. This is why identifying players that should be available in the later rounds is so important in achieving fantasy success.  So without further ado my first major breakout candidate…

  • Jermaine Gresham–  The 6-4 Bengals TE showed flashes last season going for 56 rec, 596 yards and 6 Touchdowns last season while finishing 13th among TE’s using ESPN standard scoring.  Gresham has nice size at 6’5, 260lbs with natural athletic ability.  A full off-season with Andy Dalton should help Gresham turn his third year into a breakout year.  Gresham is easily the second best option outside of A.J. Green and is a very nice red zone target.  Hes has added value in PPR leagues as he had at least 4 receptions in 9 games last season.  I would not recomend drafting him as your starter out the gate, but as a later round TE2 with upside.  Don’t be surprised if he turns into a top 10 option at his position.   BOLD PREDICTION: 60rec, 770 yards, 8 Touchdowns.