Fantasy Football 2014: 5 Breakout Stars for Next Season
Fantasy Football 2014: 5 Breakout Stars for Next Season
The fantasy football season is just about over. There is one game left and then football fans shelter themselves from the outside world until training camp begins. That shouldn't be the case. There is always football news to talk about. Whether it's a trade, signing or retirement, football is a 24/7 sport. All of these news items make fantasy football relevant all year as well.
Because there is one game left, now is a good time to take a look back at the 2013 season and the big surprises that came with it. While Josh Gordon was drafted in most leagues, despite being suspended for the first two games, no one knew he would put up these numbers. Julius Thomas was a steal for anyone who got him after Week 1. Keenan Allen is a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Who knows if 2014 can provide the amount of surprise players like 2013 did, but there is a great chance. There are dozens of players that can have breakout performances in 2014, but I couldn't mention all of them. Andre Ellington could become a No. 1 back if Rashard Mendenhall leaves the Arizona Cardinals. The Philadelphia Eagles can have great success if they implement a two-tight end scheme with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz.
With the 2014 season still eight months away, rankings will change tremendously. Though, the list of breakout stars will continue to grow. Here are my top-five players that played well during the 2013 season, but will have a much bigger role and surpass their draft value in the 2014 season.
WR Rueben Randle
Everyone knows of the New York Giants struggles this season. Eli Manning threw a record-number of interceptions. They were winless in their first six games. Hakeem Nicks did not catch a touchdown all season. The list goes on and on.
However, Rueben Randle was a bright spot for the Giants. He finished 2013 with 41 catches, 611 yards and six touchdowns. He is clearly the No. 2 option behind Victor Cruz. With Nicks a free agent, Randle should have a bigger role for the Giants in 2014.
The Giants have a balanced offense with Manning, Cruz and Randle. They need to focus on their offensive line troubles in the draft. Randle should be drafted as a low-end WR3 in standard leagues. Six touchdowns on just 41 catches is nothing to laugh at.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
A team who had even worse troubles than the Giants and that team is the Houston Texans. They won their first two games and then lost 14 straight. Losing 14 straight games is a tough task to pull off. Matt Schaub regressed heavily in 2013, throwing more pick-sixes than we can keep track of.
However, rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a good first season. He finished 2013 with 52 receptions for 802 yards and two touchdowns. He was the second Texans rookie to have at least 50 catches and 800 yards, joining Andre Johnson.
With Johnson still going strong, Hopkins should be able to have a much better sophomore season. As long as the quarterback, whoever that may be, plays at a top-tier level. Hopkins is a WR4 with the current Texans roster.
RB Jordan Todman
As a backup to Maurice Jones-Drew, Jordan Todman finished with modest numbers. He had 76 carries for 256 yards and three total touchdowns. For most of the season, he played a limited role, carrying the ball 20 times in the first nine games. Todman has his best game of the season in Week 15 with 25 carries for 109 yards (4.36 ypc).
Both Jones-Drew and Todman are free agents. Though, Todman is a restricted free agent. The Jacksonville Jaguars will most likely hold onto Todman. If MJD decides to sign elsewhere, Todman will play a much bigger role in the backfield. Denard Robinson and Delone Carter are the other running backs on the depth chart, so Todman's role is safe.
If Todman does become the lead back, his value isn't as high as MJD's would be. He should be drafted as an RB4 at the highest.
TE Ladarius Green
The tight end position was a revolving door throughout the 2013 season. Many of the top tight ends were not even drafted. Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron were excellent waiver-wire pickups. There was another tight end who, despite not performing as well, showed glimpses of being a breakout superstar.
San Diego Chargers No. 2 tight end Ladarius Green could finish in the top-15, even top-10. Antonio Gates is getting older and has been becoming more injury prone. He will be 34 when the 2014 season rolls around. He did have his most receiving yards since 2009.
Green had 17 receptions for 376 yards (22.1 ypc) and three touchdowns. He took on a more prominent role later in the season. With Gates still going strong, Green still doesn't have the starting job. However, as a backup, bye-week fill in, Green could be worth a late-round pick.
QB Ryan Tannehill
The Miami Dolphins tried to help Ryan Tannehill in the passing game by signing Mike Wallace. The first year wasn't what they expected, but neither played horribly. Wallace finished just outside the top-25 wide receivers and Tannehill was the 16th-best fantasy quarterback.
In his second season, he finished with 3.913 yards, 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, all career highs. He did, however, fumble the ball nine times and lost five of them. He was a viable QB2 in two-quarterback leagues.
With Wallace entering his second year with the Dolphins and Brian Hartline breaking out into fantasy relevancy, Tannehill can slowly climb up the ladder and finish 2014 as a top-10 quarterback. Leading up to the 2014 season, Tannehill is a good backup if you already own a Tom Brady or Philip Rivers. He could be a great trading option to someone with QB problems.
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