Breakout 2nd + 3rd Year Candidates

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2nd Year Players:

QBs: Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, Brock Purdy

This is by no means an elite group of QBs, but all four are projected starters for Week 1. With Kenny Pickett, I’m looking for a solid jump in year two, specifically with his TD ratio and Yards per Attempt. Last year, he only posted a paltry 1.79% pass to TD ratio and 6.18ypa. I expect both of these numbers to improve greatly in year two as the game should slow down for Pickett, as he gets the benefit of a much improved offensive line. Not expecting the Steelers offense to be elite, but it feels safe to project an improvement all around, and that starts with Pickett. He should be a decent QB2 option this year, so I’ll say a mini breakout for Pickett.

Desmond Ridder started the last 4 games of 2022 and went 2-2. He was 2.2% more accurate than Marcus Mariota but had a lesser QB Rating with 49.8 to Mariota’s 55.6. Ridder also posted an awful 1.74% pass to TD ratio so I would expect that to grow, as well as improved YPA and Completion %. Ryan Tannehill posted a 6.86% in 2020 and 7.69% pass to TD ratio under Arthur Smith a few years ago, but I don’t expect Ridder to come near these numbers. I just wanted to share that it is possible in Arthur Smith’s offense. I want to like Ridder in 2023, especially with this group of star weapons. He feels like a low-end QB2 this year, ideal for a Superflex league bench. No breakout, but I see him building a solid foundation to potentially lift off in 2024.

So much is unknown with Sam Howell, as he started in just one game last year. His passing numbers were fine, but I think we need to pay attention to his rushing upside, as he went 5 for 35yds and 1TD with his legs. He ran for over 800yds and 11TDs in his final college season, and we all know rushing stats are King for fantasy QBs. I like the nucleus of weapons in Washington, and think Howell can at least match Taylor Heinicke’s level of play at worst, but it’s the rushing upside of Howell that makes me think he could surprise us and finish as a low end QB2. No breakout here, but much like Ridder, he can build towards a bright 2024.

Brock Purdy was magnificent last year, but his entire 2023 outlook depends on the health of his elbow. It sure sounds like he’s on track to be ready for Week 1, and his ADP price is still way too low. I expect Purdy to play at a fringe QB1 level when he’s starting, although it might take a few weeks to get into a good flow. We love the Shanahan system for QBs and love the weapons in SF, so I’m gonna say Purdy breaks out in 2023 as a solid Superflex QB2, and maybe a fringe Top 12 QB1.

RBs: Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker III, James Cook, Rachaad White, Brian Robinson Jr., Dameon Pierce, Zamir White, Tyler Allgeier, Jerome Ford, Kyren Williams, Ty Chandler, Keaontay Ingram, Isiah Pacheco

It’ll be hard to say Breece Hall is a breakout candidate this season, because he already was breaking out last year before his injury, but he’s very likely breaking out in 2023. I’m expecting him to be brought along slowly in September, ramping up for a feature back role by mid-season, so just be patient for the breakout.

Kenneth Walker also broke out as a rookie, but now has 2nd Round pick Zach Charbonnet to deal with. This likely lowers KW3’s ceiling, but I still expect him to be a 1,000yd rusher and get his 15+ touches per game. Maybe not a breakout, but a continuation of his rookie success as a solid RB2.

I am super close to anointing James Cook as my #1 Breakout 2nd year player. Devin Singletary is out, grinder Damien Harris and old man Latavius Murray are in. I see no competition for Cook’s receiving role from Harris/Murray, and this role yielded Singletary 3 straight seasons of 50+ targets. Singletary also put up rushing attempts of 177, 188, 156 and 151 in his four seasons as the lead ball carrier. If Cook steps into 175+ rushing attempts and 50+ targets, I’m willing to bet he finishes as Top 20 RB in 2023. Singletary PPR finishes: RB23, RB20, RB32, RB33. It’s very easy for me to see that Cook > Singletary in terms of talent. Cook’s ADP is currently RB29, 94th overall. I’m drafting as much Cook as I can in prep for this 2nd Year breakout.

Rachaad White is an interesting RB for 2023. We know Tampa Bay is going to stink. They will struggle to run the ball, and White’s advanced rushing metrics were underwhelming as a rookie. He will have a large receiving role, which will boost his PPR value, but I am just not ready to call breakout yet.

Brian Robinson Jr. will be a full year removed from his gunshot wound to his knee. He missed the first 5 games last year and still managed to put up 205 rushing attempts, 17.08 per game. He will likely not be used enough as a receiving back to warrant a breakout tag, but the man is set up to be a carry hog in 2023 and will very likely go over 1,000yds rushing. Mini breakout maybe?

Dameon Pierce is another guy who somewhat broke out as a rookie, so I’m not sure he qualifies for a breakout call. He nearly rushed for 1,000yds in just 13 games on an awful offense. I’d like to think things will be a little brighter in Houston this year, so we should be excited about Pierce. They brought in Devin Singletary to replace the ghost of Rex Burkhead as the receiving 3rd down back, so I don’t think Pierce’s touches are in jeopardy. I expect a rock-solid RB2 season from Pierce, and the breakout is on if he goes over 40 receptions.

I’m gonna pass over the list of backup handcuffs in Zamir White, Tyler Allgeier, Jerome Ford, Kyren Williams, Ty Chandler, and Keaontay Ingram. Sure, breakout potential is there if they get their opportunity, but we’ll leave them as deep stash guys on our dynasty benches or late-round best ball fliers.

The final breakout RB candidate is Isiah Pacheco. He also somewhat broke out as a rookie, but there’s a lot of meat left on the bone here. He finished as RB32 in PPR last year and didn’t really emerge as the RB1 for the Chiefs until Week 10, where he averaged 12.11 PPR ppg the rest of the way. Assuming he is the lead back for the Chiefs again this year, we should expect a Top 24 finish, yet he’s being drafted as RB28 next to James Cook. I’ll say mini breakout for Pacheco.

WRs: Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, Jahan Dotson, Treylon Burks, Christian Watson, John Metchie III, Tyquan Thornton, George Pickens, Alec Pierce, Skyy Moore, Romeo Doubs, Calvin Austin, Khalil Shakir, Kyle Phillips

The breakouts you are looking for are in this 2nd Year WR list. I am fully expecting Garrett Wilson to be a fringe Top 5, Top 10 lock WR1 with Aaron Rodgers. Chris Olave will also flirt with the Top 10 with Derek Carr as his QB. Drake London will be very good this year, but I find it hard to breakout in this run-heavy offense. Jameson Williams is a full year removed from his injury but with the 6 game suspension, his breakout is on hold. I’m buying Jameson at his current ADP though. Jahan Dotson is a great breakout candidate but has Terry McLaurin ahead of him to suppress that breakout a bit. I am all in on the Treylon Burks breakout hype train. I don’t care who the QB is, Treylon is the only receiver in town and should get as many targets as he can handle. I’m going to cool down on the Christian Watson breakout, although I am very excited about his 2nd season. There will be ups and downs with Love at QB plus increased competition at WR/TE. The last breakout candidate from that list is George Pickens, who will need a Kenny Pickett breakout first and has target hog Diontae Johnson ahead of him. I’m higher on Diontae in PPR formats but I recognize that I need more Pickens shares, as the potential for him to hit 1,000yds is very good this year. The rest of the guys on the list are exciting, especially Thornton and Doubs, but I think they are a year away from true breakout status.

TEs: Trey McBride, Jelani Woods, Greg Dulcich, Cade Otton, Jake Ferguson, Isaiah Likely, Chigoziem Okonkwo

It’s going to be difficult for these guys to “breakout”, but there’s a lot to like about this group. The top breakout TE for me is Chigoziem Okonkwo. He’s locked into the starting TE spot and is the 2nd target on the Titans behind Treylon Burks. He’s a Top 12 TE for me this year. After Chig, I really like this group but I don’t see any TE1 starters. Trey McBride will be the starting TE while Ertz is likely on the PUP to start the year, but the Cardinals are going to be rough. Jelani Woods is an ideal breakout TE candidate but we have a lot of uncertainty here with Anthony Richardson plus the competition from Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson. Greg Dulcich is still a solid prospect but now has a new HC/OC and will need to impress them. I see Dulcich as the 4th or 5th best target on the Broncos as well. Cade Otton impressed as a rookie and is the clear starting TE for TB, but he’s the 3rd/4th target at best. Jake Ferguson excites me with his opportunity to be the Cowboys TE1, but it’s unclear who will be the guy there and likely is the 4th/5th target at best. I think Isaiah Likely gets a slight downgrade with the improved WR room in BAL and needs a Mark Andrews injury to truly emerge as a breakout.

3rd Year Players:

QBs: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Kyle Trask

I believe Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields already broke out in 2022. Fields has Top 5 upside at the position and Lawrence feels like a lock for Top 10 again. The breakout isn’t happening for Lance, Mac or Trask in 2023, although I do expect Mac Jones to play much better this year with a true OC and improved weaponry.

RBs: Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams, Rhamondre Stevenson, Chuba Hubbard, Kenneth Gainwell, Elijah Mitchell, Khalil Herbert

It’s tough to call any of these RBs a breakout for 2023. Harris is probably a volume heavy RB2 this year and he likely won’t come close to his rookie season numbers as RB3. I like Etienne but can’t call for a breakout after they drafted Tank Bigsby to help in the short yardage areas. Rhamondre broke out last year and has the chance to improve upon that this year, so I guess he’s the true 3rd Year breakout RB to target. Javonte Williams is recovering from a serious multi-knee ligament tear and will be eased into the offense early, but he could emerge as a breakout late in the season. The presence of Samaje Perine tells me no breakout though. The rest of the list are backups or role players and will need injuries ahead of them to breakout, although Khalil Herbert could emerge as the guy in Chicago.

WRs: Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Kadarius Toney, Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, Tuta Atwell, Terrace Marshall Jr., Joshua Palmer, Nico Collins, Amon-Ra St. Brown

Ja’Marr, Waddle, DeVonta and Amon-Ra have already broken out, leaving the top breakout candidates as Kadarius Toney, Rashod Bateman and Elijah Moore. I’m not sure I’m buying the Toney hype though, he’s just so hard to trust to stay healthy plus the Chiefs have a crowded mid WR room. I am interested in the Bateman breakout, although it did get a little tougher with adding Zay Flowers and OBJ. I think the best breakout 3rd Year WR is Elijah Moore. He’s finally going to be unleashed in the Cleveland offense and is paired with a great passer in Watson. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a Top 24 WR by the end of 2023, but likely finishes as a solid WR3. Nico Collins has some upside as the Texans WR1. Rondale and Marshall both have opportunities to be more involved this year as well.

TEs: Kyle Pitts, Pat Freiermuth, Hunter Long, Noah Gray

Kyle Pitts is always going to be a breakout candidate. Last year was very frustrating catching passes from Marcus Mariota and then the injury, but 2023 presents some hope. There should be more catchable passes from 2nd Year QB Desmond Ridder, and just another year of experience in the system for Pitts could lead to his 2nd 1,000yd season. People often forget about that 1,000 yard rookie season. Please unleash the Pitts, Arthur Smith.

Besides Pitts, Pat Freiermuth is a clear breakout 3rd-Year TE. He ranked top 6 among TEs in Yards, Receptions and Targets in 2022. His only weakness last year was the 2 Touchdowns, which we noted the poor TD ratio from Kenny Pickett earlier. He’s a clear positive regression candidate in the TD department this year, and you still get those Top 6 numbers in yards, receptions and targets. He’s currently being drafted as TE10 and that feels like his absolute floor, seeing as he finished TE7 last year with just the 2 TDs. Pat is an easy breakout TE for me and is my most drafted TE.

As for Hunter Long and Noah Gray, they remain as primary backups to Higbee and Kelce. Perhaps some more opportunities this year for both and the potential to start in a year or two could lead to future breakouts.


My favorite 2nd Year Breakouts are Pickett and Purdy at QB, with Breece Hall, James Cook and Isiah Pacheco at RB. The WRs are super exciting with Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Drake London, and Treylon Burks. Chig is my guy at TE.

My favorite 3rd Year Breakouts are Pat Freiermuth, Elijah Moore, Kyle Pitts and Rhamondre. So many of these 3rd year guys already broke out, so continue drafting the studs from this class.

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