25 NFL Youngsters Who Will Break Out As Fantasy Stars In 2014

1 of 26

25 Fantasy Football Breakout Performers In 2014

FFB
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football principles are quite comparable with NFL Draft principles: hit big with your early picks and then find gems in the middle to late rounds that can develop into key players. Even if drafters go bust at the top of the draft, there are always the later rounds that can alleviate previous mistakes. There are also players that aren't even drafted that go on to have successful seasons.

The 2013 fantasy season had its share of breakout performers. Players like Nick Foles, Josh Gordon, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno went from previously unknown players or former busts to fantasy stars that helped teams win their leagues. 2014 doesn't appear to be any different than previous years. While the same names will be occupying the top of draft boards (Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning to name a few), there is once again a deep group of under-the-radar players that have the potential to be the next Foles, Gordon, Thomas and Moreno. These picks will turn good owners into great ones and will give you a considerable advantage once you are officially on the clock.

While I am no fantasy expert, I have won two NFL leagues using mostly players who weren't talked about but produced big-time. I have also been on the other side of the stick where big-name players picked early failed to produce, leaving me scrambling to find sleeper picks for answers.

The following is my list of the 25 NFL youngsters who have the chance to be breakout performers in 2014.

Brian Kalchik is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @BrianKalchik, like him on Facebook or connect with him on Google.

2 of 26

25. Justin Hunter, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans

Hunter
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Hunter had a slow start to his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans. He only recorded three catches in his first five games with two going for touchdowns, and made 18 catches on the year with four touchdowns.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

3 of 26

24. Joseph Fauria, Tight End, Detroit Lions

Fauria
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Fauria went from undrafted free agent to being the Detroit Lions' second-best red zone option in 2013. While Fauria had zero games with more than three catches, his seven touchdowns on only 18 catches won't be ignored by GMs this year.

Projection: Top-25 tight end.

4 of 26

23. Jarrett Boykin, Wide Recceiver, Green Bay Packers

Boykin
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Boykin stepped up in a depleted Green Bay Packers receiving corps and was a solid flex option in 2013. He had seven games with more than 50 yards receiving and also had three receiving touchdowns.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

5 of 26

22. Bilal Powell, Running Back, New York Jets

Powell
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets' backfield frustrated owners week in and week out in 2013 by splitting carries between Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. Powell finished the year with 176 carries for 697 yards, but only scored one touchdown.

Projection: Top-30 running back.

6 of 26

21. Tim Wright, Tight End, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wright
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Wright was an undrafted free agent who gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a legitimate threat at tight end. With the turmoil that the Bucs endured all season, Wright's season was overlooked as he caught 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns.

Projection: Top-20 tight end.

7 of 26

20. E.J. Manuel, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills

Manuel
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

When healthy, E.J. Manuel showed why he was worthy of being the first quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. What separates Manuel from previous Bills quarterbacks is that he has the ability to run with the football, having tallied 53 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Projection: Top-25 quarterback.

8 of 26

19. Khiry Robinson, Running Back, New Orleans Saints

Robinson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a role similar to James Starks' for Green Bay in 2010, Khiry Robinson shined in the playoffs with 57 yards and one touchdown against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense in Seattle.

Projection: Top-30 running back.

9 of 26

18. Golden Tate, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks

Tate
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In a Seattle Seahawks receiving corps that was decimated by injuries to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, Golden Tate emerged as the best receiver of the Seahawks. While the Seahawks are not a pass-first offense, Tate did post respectable numbers with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns.

Projection: Top-40 wide receiver.

10 of 26

17. Ladarius Green, Tight End, San Diego Chargers

Green
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ladarius Green is well on his way to being the guy to try to replace future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates with the San Diego Chargers. Green showed flashes of brilliance during the middle of the season with back-to-back 80 yard receiving games, as well as a big touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals that helped the Charges pull off the upset.

Projection: Top-25 tight end.

11 of 26

16. Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals

Eifert
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals rookie Tyler Eifert had a solid inaugural season, teaming with Jermaine Gresham to form one of the best tight end duos in the NFL. He had 39 catches for 445 yards and two touchdowns while Gresham had 46 receptions for 458 yards and four touchdowns.

Projection: Top-15 tight end.

12 of 26

15. Joique Bell, Running Back, Detroit Lions

Bell
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Joique Bell turned into a fan favorite for the Detroit Lions in 2013. An undrafted free agent from Wayne State, Bell supplanted second-round pick Mikel Leshoure as the backup running back. He had 650 yards rushing with eight touchdowns and 53 receptions for 547 yards.

Projection: Top-30 running back.

13 of 26

14. Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

Woods
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

With three different quarterbacks who started for the Bills in 2013, Robert Woods still had a good rookie season. He had five games with more than 50 receiving yards, but had zero games with multiple touchdowns.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

14 of 26

13. Zach Ertz, Tight End, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles rookie tight end Zach Ertz had the best season of any tight end in the 2013 draft class. He recorded 36 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns, with another touchdown in the wild card loss to the Saints.

Projection: Top-25 tight end.

15 of 26

12. Jordan Reed, Tight End, Washington Redskins

Reed
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Reed took over as the top tight end as a rookie in 2013 with the Washington Redskins, supplanting Fred Davis. Reed had five games with more than 50 yards receiving, and had three touchdowns in only nine games.

Projection: Top-10 tight end.

16 of 26

11. Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys

Williams
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Terrance Williams has turned into the second best wide receiver on a very talented Dallas Cowboys offense. After some early season struggles, he caught on in the middle of the season and had 44 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.

Projection: Top-40 wide receiver.

17 of 26

10. Mike Glennon, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Glennon
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Glennon's rookie season started in Week 4 after Josh Freeman was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had eight games with multiple touchdown passes and only two games with multiple interceptions.

Projection: Top-20 quarterback.

18 of 26

9. Terrelle Pryor, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders

Pryor
Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After two seasons sitting on the bench, Terrelle Pryor showed what he could do on the field as a dual-threat quarterback. His passing skills aren't up to par with only 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but his running ability made the Raiders' offense explosive with 576 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Projection: Top-30 quarterback.

19 of 26

8. Shane Vereen, Running Back, New England Patriots

Vereen
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Overshadowed in the running game late in the season by LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen is the New England Patriots' most versatile running back and one of the best pass catchers on the team. Vereen only had 91 total touches in 2013, yet still had over 600 yards of total offense.

Projection: Top-35 running back.

20 of 26

7. Rod Streater, Wide Recevier, Oakland Raiders

Streater
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rod Streater had a solid season for the Raiders, which had three quarterbacks starting under center in 2013. He recorded seven games of 50-plus yards and had four touchdowns on the year.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

21 of 26

6. Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, New York Giants

Randle
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Rueben Randle produced in 2013 for the New York Giants where Hakeem Nicks couldn't. Randle had 41 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns compared to Nicks, who had 56 catches for 896 yards and zero touchdowns.

Projection: Top-30 wide receiver.

22 of 26

5. Jake Locker, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans

Locker
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Before his injury, Jake Locker had 721 passing yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. When he tried to come back, he had zero touchdowns and four interceptions.

Projection: Top 25-quarterback.

23 of 26

4. Marvin Jones, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals

Jones
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Jones broke out last season as a great no. 2 receiver for the Bengals opposite A.J. Green. While it will be hard to top his 10 touchdowns on 51 catches, four of those came in one game against the New York Jets.

Projection: Top-35 wide receiver.

24 of 26

3. Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

While I can't ignore the fact that Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins had a poor finish to their season, the quarterback was the least of a fractured team's worries. He was still a near 4,000-yard passer with 24 touchdowns, but also threw 17 interceptions. With a new offensive coordinator coming in to replace Mike Sherman, Tannehill will bounce back big-time in 2014 and be a solid option for GMs.

Projection: Top-15 quarterback.

25 of 26

2. Montee Ball, Running Back, Denver Broncos

Ball
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Montee Ball was supposed to be the rookie who would replace Knowshon Moreno, but Moreno had a fantastic season, limiting Ball's carries to 120 for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

Projection: If Moreno leaves, top-10 running back. If Moreno stays, top-20 running back.

26 of 26

1. Le'Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Le'Veon Bell did not get his rookie season started until Week 4, but when he did, the Pittsburgh Steelers were dramatically better than they were without him. The Steelers were 0-3 without him and 8-5 with him in the lineup. Bell had six games with 70 or more rushing yards and had eight touchdowns.

Projection: Top-10 running back.

1 of 26

25 Fantasy Football Breakout Performers In 2014

FFB
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football principles are quite comparable with NFL Draft principles: hit big with your early picks and then find gems in the middle to late rounds that can develop into key players. Even if drafters go bust at the top of the draft, there are always the later rounds that can alleviate previous mistakes. There are also players that aren't even drafted that go on to have successful seasons.

The 2013 fantasy season had its share of breakout performers. Players like Nick Foles, Josh Gordon, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno went from previously unknown players or former busts to fantasy stars that helped teams win their leagues. 2014 doesn't appear to be any different than previous years. While the same names will be occupying the top of draft boards (Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning to name a few), there is once again a deep group of under-the-radar players that have the potential to be the next Foles, Gordon, Thomas and Moreno. These picks will turn good owners into great ones and will give you a considerable advantage once you are officially on the clock.

While I am no fantasy expert, I have won two NFL leagues using mostly players who weren't talked about but produced big-time. I have also been on the other side of the stick where big-name players picked early failed to produce, leaving me scrambling to find sleeper picks for answers.

The following is my list of the 25 NFL youngsters who have the chance to be breakout performers in 2014.

Brian Kalchik is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @BrianKalchik, like him on Facebook or connect with him on Google.

2 of 26

25. Justin Hunter, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans

Hunter
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Hunter had a slow start to his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans. He only recorded three catches in his first five games with two going for touchdowns, and made 18 catches on the year with four touchdowns.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

3 of 26

24. Joseph Fauria, Tight End, Detroit Lions

Fauria
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Joseph Fauria went from undrafted free agent to being the Detroit Lions' second-best red zone option in 2013. While Fauria had zero games with more than three catches, his seven touchdowns on only 18 catches won't be ignored by GMs this year.

Projection: Top-25 tight end.

4 of 26

23. Jarrett Boykin, Wide Recceiver, Green Bay Packers

Boykin
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Boykin stepped up in a depleted Green Bay Packers receiving corps and was a solid flex option in 2013. He had seven games with more than 50 yards receiving and also had three receiving touchdowns.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

5 of 26

22. Bilal Powell, Running Back, New York Jets

Powell
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets' backfield frustrated owners week in and week out in 2013 by splitting carries between Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. Powell finished the year with 176 carries for 697 yards, but only scored one touchdown.

Projection: Top-30 running back.

6 of 26

21. Tim Wright, Tight End, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wright
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Wright was an undrafted free agent who gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a legitimate threat at tight end. With the turmoil that the Bucs endured all season, Wright's season was overlooked as he caught 54 passes for 571 yards and five touchdowns.

Projection: Top-20 tight end.

7 of 26

20. E.J. Manuel, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills

Manuel
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

When healthy, E.J. Manuel showed why he was worthy of being the first quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. What separates Manuel from previous Bills quarterbacks is that he has the ability to run with the football, having tallied 53 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Projection: Top-25 quarterback.

8 of 26

19. Khiry Robinson, Running Back, New Orleans Saints

Robinson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In a role similar to James Starks' for Green Bay in 2010, Khiry Robinson shined in the playoffs with 57 yards and one touchdown against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense in Seattle.

Projection: Top-30 running back.

9 of 26

18. Golden Tate, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks

Tate
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In a Seattle Seahawks receiving corps that was decimated by injuries to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, Golden Tate emerged as the best receiver of the Seahawks. While the Seahawks are not a pass-first offense, Tate did post respectable numbers with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns.

Projection: Top-40 wide receiver.

10 of 26

17. Ladarius Green, Tight End, San Diego Chargers

Green
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ladarius Green is well on his way to being the guy to try to replace future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates with the San Diego Chargers. Green showed flashes of brilliance during the middle of the season with back-to-back 80 yard receiving games, as well as a big touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals that helped the Charges pull off the upset.

Projection: Top-25 tight end.

11 of 26

16. Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals

Eifert
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals rookie Tyler Eifert had a solid inaugural season, teaming with Jermaine Gresham to form one of the best tight end duos in the NFL. He had 39 catches for 445 yards and two touchdowns while Gresham had 46 receptions for 458 yards and four touchdowns.

Projection: Top-15 tight end.

12 of 26

15. Joique Bell, Running Back, Detroit Lions

Bell
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Joique Bell turned into a fan favorite for the Detroit Lions in 2013. An undrafted free agent from Wayne State, Bell supplanted second-round pick Mikel Leshoure as the backup running back. He had 650 yards rushing with eight touchdowns and 53 receptions for 547 yards.

Projection: Top-30 running back.

13 of 26

14. Robert Woods, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills

Woods
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

With three different quarterbacks who started for the Bills in 2013, Robert Woods still had a good rookie season. He had five games with more than 50 receiving yards, but had zero games with multiple touchdowns.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

14 of 26

13. Zach Ertz, Tight End, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles rookie tight end Zach Ertz had the best season of any tight end in the 2013 draft class. He recorded 36 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns, with another touchdown in the wild card loss to the Saints.

Projection: Top-25 tight end.

15 of 26

12. Jordan Reed, Tight End, Washington Redskins

Reed
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Reed took over as the top tight end as a rookie in 2013 with the Washington Redskins, supplanting Fred Davis. Reed had five games with more than 50 yards receiving, and had three touchdowns in only nine games.

Projection: Top-10 tight end.

16 of 26

11. Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys

Williams
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Terrance Williams has turned into the second best wide receiver on a very talented Dallas Cowboys offense. After some early season struggles, he caught on in the middle of the season and had 44 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.

Projection: Top-40 wide receiver.

17 of 26

10. Mike Glennon, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Glennon
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Glennon's rookie season started in Week 4 after Josh Freeman was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had eight games with multiple touchdown passes and only two games with multiple interceptions.

Projection: Top-20 quarterback.

18 of 26

9. Terrelle Pryor, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders

Pryor
Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

After two seasons sitting on the bench, Terrelle Pryor showed what he could do on the field as a dual-threat quarterback. His passing skills aren't up to par with only 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but his running ability made the Raiders' offense explosive with 576 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Projection: Top-30 quarterback.

19 of 26

8. Shane Vereen, Running Back, New England Patriots

Vereen
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Overshadowed in the running game late in the season by LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen is the New England Patriots' most versatile running back and one of the best pass catchers on the team. Vereen only had 91 total touches in 2013, yet still had over 600 yards of total offense.

Projection: Top-35 running back.

20 of 26

7. Rod Streater, Wide Recevier, Oakland Raiders

Streater
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rod Streater had a solid season for the Raiders, which had three quarterbacks starting under center in 2013. He recorded seven games of 50-plus yards and had four touchdowns on the year.

Projection: Top-50 wide receiver.

21 of 26

6. Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver, New York Giants

Randle
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Rueben Randle produced in 2013 for the New York Giants where Hakeem Nicks couldn't. Randle had 41 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns compared to Nicks, who had 56 catches for 896 yards and zero touchdowns.

Projection: Top-30 wide receiver.

22 of 26

5. Jake Locker, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans

Locker
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Before his injury, Jake Locker had 721 passing yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. When he tried to come back, he had zero touchdowns and four interceptions.

Projection: Top 25-quarterback.

23 of 26

4. Marvin Jones, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals

Jones
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Jones broke out last season as a great no. 2 receiver for the Bengals opposite A.J. Green. While it will be hard to top his 10 touchdowns on 51 catches, four of those came in one game against the New York Jets.

Projection: Top-35 wide receiver.

24 of 26

3. Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins

Tannehill
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

While I can't ignore the fact that Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins had a poor finish to their season, the quarterback was the least of a fractured team's worries. He was still a near 4,000-yard passer with 24 touchdowns, but also threw 17 interceptions. With a new offensive coordinator coming in to replace Mike Sherman, Tannehill will bounce back big-time in 2014 and be a solid option for GMs.

Projection: Top-15 quarterback.

25 of 26

2. Montee Ball, Running Back, Denver Broncos

Ball
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Montee Ball was supposed to be the rookie who would replace Knowshon Moreno, but Moreno had a fantastic season, limiting Ball's carries to 120 for 559 yards and four touchdowns.

Projection: If Moreno leaves, top-10 running back. If Moreno stays, top-20 running back.

26 of 26

1. Le'Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Le'Veon Bell did not get his rookie season started until Week 4, but when he did, the Pittsburgh Steelers were dramatically better than they were without him. The Steelers were 0-3 without him and 8-5 with him in the lineup. Bell had six games with 70 or more rushing yards and had eight touchdowns.

Projection: Top-10 running back.


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