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Fantasy Football 2014: Every NFL Team’s Biggest Breakout Candidate

2014 Fantasy Football: Every Team's Biggest Breakout Candidate

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Breakout seasons happen every year in the NFL that help fantasy owners win their leagues. Whether it's someone entering their prime that was on everyone's radar, a surprise emergence or a talented backup that takes advantage of an injury, there is at least one player on every team that will show significant improvement this year. Let's take a look at each NFL team's biggest breakout candidate for the 2014 fantasy football season.

Andre Ellington - RB - Arizona Cardinals

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Andre Ellington - RB - Arizona Cardinals

andre ellington arizona cardinals rb
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Ellington had a productive rookie season with 1,023 total yards and four total touchdowns. This took place while he dealt with splitting touches with Rashard Mendenhall even while he was proving to be the superior back. Now that Mendenhall has retired, Ellington will be the featured back for Arizona. Coach Bruce Arians has made it clear that they plan to get him 18-20 touches per game. This could lead to Ellington doubling his numbers in 2014.

Devonta Freeman - RB - Atlanta Falcons

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman - RB - Atlanta Falcons

devonta freeman atlanta falcons rb
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson's career has been a good one, especially with the St. Louis Rams, but he has shown significant signs of aging and a decline in production. The Atlanta Falcons' answer to that took place in this year's NFL Draft when they selected Devonta Freeman. Freeman has the upside of a younger Jackson in a smaller frame. He is durable, possesses great balance and catches well out of the backfield. This will be on display in 2014 and beyond.

Dennis Pitta - TE - Baltimore Ravens

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Dennis Pitta - TE - Baltimore Ravens

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Pitta was set for a breakout last season after he had a productive 2012 with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he only played in four games last year due to a hip injury. Now that he's fully recovered and the Ravens have Gary Kubiak as their new offensive coordinator, he should have his true breakout season in 2014. It also doesn't hurt that Kubiak's system loves to target tight ends more than any other team in the NFL.

Robert Woods - WR - Buffalo Bills

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Robert Woods - WR - Buffalo Bills

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Woods had a decent rookie season with 40 catches for 587 yards and three TDs. He should improve on those numbers in 2014, especially now that the Bills' coaching staff have more confidence in him. They will play him in the slot which should help increase his receptions by at least 20. Additionally, he is excellent in gaining yards after the catch and has good speed. Many are excited about Sammy Watkins, but Woods may end up being more productive.

Kelvin Benjamin - WR - Carolina Panthers

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Benjamin - WR - Carolina Panthers

kelvin benjamin carolina panthers wr
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell are no longer on the Panthers and their receiving corps is thin. Therefore, their first-round selection of Benjamin made perfect sense. He has excellent size, which makes him an ideal red-zone target. Additionally, the one concern about his hands seems to have disappeared after reports have been released stating that Benjamin is catching everything. His first year will be his breakout year.

Jay Cutler - QB - Chicago Bears

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Jay Cutler - QB - Chicago Bears

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Cutler last threw for over 4,000 yards back in 2008 when he was still playing for the Broncos. Since that year, he has only topped 3,500 yards once and that was in the following year. Additionally, he has never thrown for 30 TDs in any season of his career. Barring injury, this will all change in 2014 as Cutler enters his second year in the high-powered Marc Trestman system. He is a lock for a breakout year with 4,000-plus yards and 30-plus TDs.

Giovani Bernard - RB - Cincinnati Bengals

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Giovani Bernard - RB - Cincinnati Bengals

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Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

There aren't many RBs in the NFL that are poised for a breakout season more than Gio Bernard. He will no longer have to worry about splitting touches with Benjarvus Green-Ellis, and the Bengals plan to significantly increase his workload from last year. If they succeed in their goal to get Bernard close to 300 touches in 2014, then that could lead to an output of nearly 1,900 total yards with at least eight touchdowns.

Terrance West - RB - Cleveland Browns

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Terrance West - RB - Cleveland Browns

terrance west cleveland browns rb
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Although Ben Tate is still has the starting job in Cleveland, West is doing everything he can to make it hard to hold onto. He continues to impress in training camp with his ability and has improved on his deficiency in pass blocking. If you consider the fact that Tate has questionable durability, then it makes sense to think of West as the true breakout candidate. Additionally, Cleveland has already guaranteed significant work for West in 2014.

Terrance Williams - WR - Dallas Cowboys

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Terrance Williams - WR - Dallas Cowboys

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Williams had a good rookie season with 44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns. This was during a season where he admittedly took some mental breaks during certain plays. With one year behind him and a stronger focus coming into 2014, Williams is poised for a big breakout year. Starting opposite of Dez Bryant will create single-coverage situations for him, and a season with 70 catches for over 1,000 yards and seven TDs is highly probable.

Montee Ball - RB - Denver Broncos

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Montee Ball - RB - Denver Broncos

montee ball denver broncos rb
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Asides from Gio Bernard, the running back with the greatest chance of having a major breakout season is Montee Ball. The former Wisconsin Badger had to deal with Knowshon Moreno being the featured back in Denver last year. Now that Moreno is on the Miami Dolphins, Ball is now in the position to receive the bulk of RB touches. If he doesn't rush for over 1,200 yards and at least nine TDs, then it would be a huge disappointment.

Golden Tate - WR - Detroit Lions

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Golden Tate - WR - Detroit Lions

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Although the former Notre Dame standout was in a run-heavy Seattle offense last season, he still managed to record 64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns. Now, as a member of the Detroit Lions, he should be poised to have his first season with over 1,000 yards receiving. Detroit passes the ball more than Seattle by a wide margin, and Tate will see plenty of single coverage while defenses focus mostly on the league's best WR, Calvin Johnson.

Jarrett Boykin - WR - Green Bay Packers

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Jarrett Boykin - WR - Green Bay Packers

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Due to Randall Cobb's injury last year, Boykin was able to achieve a good level of success. He finished the 2013 season with 49 catches for 681 yards and three touchdowns. Due to his performance, he is the solidified No. 3 receiver for Green Bay. When you consider the attention that Cobb and Jordy Nelson will get from defensive backs, Boykin's true breakout year may come in 2014. He should be good for 70 catches for 900 yards and six TDs or more.

DeAndre Hopkins - WR - Houston Texans

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DeAndre Hopkins - WR - Houston Texans

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Hopkins had a pretty good rookie year with 52 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns. However, those numbers only scratch the surface of what his true potential is. He will be receiving more targets in 2014 as teams will look to contain Andre Johnson more and dare Hopkins to beat them. There is a great chance that Hopkins will eclipse 70 catches for over 1,000 yards and at least seven touchdowns. He is perfectly positioned for a breakout year.

Trent Richardson - RB - Indianapolis Colts

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Trent Richardson - RB - Indianapolis Colts

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It's funny how people can lose faith in a young player so quickly. Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 TDs in his rookie year, and everyone expected more in 2013. However, T-Rich suffered a sophomore slump and suddenly everyone has lost faith in him even though he had to learn a new system after being traded to Indianapolis. Those same people will be back on the bandwagon after he rushes for 1,220 yards and 10 TDs for a true breakout year.

Toby Gerhart - RB - Jacksonville Jaguars

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Toby Gerhart - RB - Jacksonville Jaguars

toby gerhart jacksonville jaguars rb
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

As the backup for Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, Gerhart carried the ball over 100 times only once and that was in 2011. He ran for 531 yards that year and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Now he's in Jacksonville, where he will get the chance to start all the time as their No. 1 RB, and they plan to give him around 275 carries this season. This should lead to an immediate spike in his production, and an easy route to 1,300 yards and seven TDs.

Travis Kelce - TE - Kansas City Chiefs

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Travis Kelce - TE - Kansas City Chiefs

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It's going to be near impossible for this talented TE not to have a breakout season after he basically missed all of his rookie year in 2013. Kelce was hampered with a knee injury and only played in one game where he recorded zero receptions. Now he is healthy, and figures to play a big part in the Kansas City offensive plans that want to get more involvement from the TE spot. I predict that he catches 63 passes for 745 yards and five TDs.

Ryan Tannehill - QB - Miami Dolphins

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Ryan Tannehill - QB - Miami Dolphins

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This will be a critical third year for the former first-round draft pick, and the "kid gloves will be off" according to reports from training camp. Tannehill's biggest issue last season was his deep ball chemistry with the lightning-fast Mike Wallace. This problem seems like it will be resolved in 2014 as both players have put in extra offseason work to improve their connection. Tannehill should see a breakout year with 4,300 yards and 25 TDs.

Cordarrelle Patterson - WR - Minnesota Vikings

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Cordarrelle Patterson - WR - Minnesota Vikings

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Patterson flashed signs of exciting playmaking ability last year as a rookie, and his opportunities will increase in 2014. Minnesota plans to utilize him as their No. 1 receiver this season, and the arrival of Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator raises Patterson's stock even more. Last year, he finished with 45 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns. It's a safe bet that he will literally double those numbers this season.

Danny Amendola - WR - New England Patriots

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Danny Amendola - WR - New England Patriots

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Talent has never been the issue with Amendola. The issue has always been his health as he hasn't finished a complete NFL season for his six-year career. This year will be a "put up or shut up" season for Amendola as it is critical for him to get through the season healthy and produce numbers that match his potential. I feel this is the year he finally puts it all together and finishes the season with 80 catches for 930 yards and eight TDs.

Kenny Stills - WR - New Orleans Saints

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Kenny Stills - WR - New Orleans Saints

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With the arrival of Brandin Cooks to the Saints, it seems that many fantasy players have forgotten about Stills and what he brings to the table. As a rookie last year, he finished with an impressive line of 32 catches for 641 yards and five touchdowns. This didn't go unnoticed by Saints head coach, Sean Payton, and he plans to get Stills even more opportunities this year. Cooks will be impressive, but Stills will have the better season and stats.

Rueben Randle - WR - New York Giants

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Rueben Randle - WR - New York Giants

rueben randle new york giants wr
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

In his second year with the Giants, Randle led all receivers in touchdowns with six and showed signs of being a future star. He also recorded 41 catches to go along with 611 yards. With Hakeem Nicks gone, Randle officially becomes the No. 2 receiver for New York and this will create a nice spike in production. Randle projects to finish 2014 with 68 catches for 920 yards and eight TDs. Personally, I feel he will break the 1,000-yard barrier.

Geno Smith - QB - New York Jets

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Geno Smith - QB - New York Jets

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Smith had his ups and downs last season as he finished with 3,046 passing yards with 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. While those numbers aren't particularly good, he did end the 2013 season on a high note. Smith looks to be vastly improved and more confident coming into this season, and will have a breakout second year. He shouldn't have much trouble throwing for 3,700 yards for 22 passing TDs, and an additional six TDs on the ground.

Mychal Rivera - TE - Oakland Raiders

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Mychal Rivera - TE - Oakland Raiders

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The former Tennessee Volunteer had a decent rookie year with 38 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns. This was good enough for him to be considered the No. 1 TE for Oakland entering the 2014 season. Rivera spent the summer working on his blocking in order to get more opportunities on the field, and this will lead to more production. It also helps that new QB Matt Schaub loves to throw to his tight end. Rivera's numbers should double in 2014.

Zach Ertz - TE - Philadelphia Eagles

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Zach Ertz - TE - Philadelphia Eagles

zach ertz philadelphia eagles te
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While splitting touches with Brent Celek last year, Ertz still managed to get 36 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns. This could be considered a breakout year, but his numbers could have easily been doubled without the timeshare with Celek. For 2014, Philadelphia coaches have vowed to make Ertz their top red zone target. He will finish 2014 with 65 catches for 800 yards and nine TDs.

Le'Veon Bell - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers

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Le'Veon Bell - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers

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Considering that he started the season injured, Bell was able to put together an impressive rookie year with 860 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He also recorded 45 catches and proved to be a viable option in the passing game. This season will be even better for Bell as he enters 2014 weighing 10 pounds lighter and moving quicker. He still has the size to run over defenders, and a 1,300-yard season with 11 TDs is a virtual lock.

Tavon Austin - WR - St. Louis Rams

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Tavon Austin - WR - St. Louis Rams

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Due to difficulty in figuring out how to utilize him, St. Louis wasn't able to witness the exciting playmaking ability of Austin until late in the 2013 season. Now that the issue seems to have been resolved, the plan is to get Austin significantly more involved in the offense. He finished last season with 40 catches, 418 yards and four TDs. Austin should see that dramatically increase to the tune of 65 catches, 850 yards and eight TDs for 2014.

Ladarius Green - TE - San Diego Chargers

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Ladarius Green - TE - San Diego Chargers

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Green flashed signs of deep ball greatness during the last two months of 2013, and finished the season with 17 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns. With the once-elite Antonio Gates' decline due to age, Green looks to be the obvious successor, and a significant spike in production should be seen in 2014. He has the ability to catch around 55 passes for 850 yards and seven touchdowns, which would definitely be a breakout year.

Carlos Hyde - RB - San Francisco 49ers

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Carlos Hyde - RB - San Francisco 49ers

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Hyde has impressed the San Fran coaching staff all summer, and looks to be getting immediate opportunities to have an impact on the offense. Even though Frank Gore remains the clear-cut No. 1 RB in San Francisco, it's clear that Hyde was drafted in order to eventually replace him. Therefore, even though Gore will get the majority of carries, look for Hyde to rush for around 600 yards and at least five touchdowns for a breakout rookie season.

Christine Michael - RB - Seattle Seahawks

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Christine Michael - RB - Seattle Seahawks

christine michael seattle seahawks rb
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Michael is in a similar situation as Carlos Hyde, except he is not a rookie. However, he is considered to be the running back of the future, and the Seattle coaching staff plans to give Michael a much bigger role this season. While it's hard to quantify what a "much bigger role" means, it shouldn't shock anyone if the explosive Michael ends this season with close to 800 yards rushing with around 6-7 touchdowns.

Mike Evans - WR - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Mike Evans - WR - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Evans was a great deep ball and red zone threat while playing for Texas A&M, and this led to the Buccaneers making him their first-round draft pick this year. Along with Vincent Jackson, he will form one of the tallest receiving duos in the NFL since both are 6-foot-5. However, team will be paying more attention to V-Jax and dare Evans to beat them. This should lead to an immediate breakout year with 65 catches, 825 yards and seven TDs.

Justin Hunter - WR - Tennessee Titans

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Justin Hunter - WR - Tennessee Titans

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At first glance, Hunter will remind you of Bengals WR, A.J. Green. He has a tall and lean frame at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. Hunter is also an excellent deep ball threat, and flashes glimpses of it last year as he finished with 18 catches for 354 yards and four TDs. Even though he's not currently listed as a starter, he will still receive plenty of opportunities in the Titans' offense. I expect him to grab 50 passes for 800 yards and six TDs.

Jordan Reed - TE - Washington Redskins

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Jordan Reed - TE - Washington Redskins

jordan reed washington redskins te
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The former Florida Gator was well on his way to a breakout season before it was cut short by an injury. His playmaking ability led him to a season with 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns. He looks to be fully recovered this season, and the arrival of Jay Gruden as the offensive coordinator will only help his numbers improve from 2013. It will be no surprise when Reed ends 2014 with 75 catches, 850 yards and seven touchdowns.

Roje Smith is a Fantasy Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @RoKnowsDFS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google