Fantasy Football is back everyone! Championship-level team owners are looking for that extra edge every season, and that means finding players in later rounds with high value. Rookies are covered at large, but sometimes players in their second season make enormous jumps in play after a year of experience. Some start on the bench while others are thrown in the fire their first year. We sifted through all of the 2016 rookies and made a list of 12 players who could break out in their second fantasy football campaign.
The Philadelphia Eagles look like they have struck gold with Carson Wentz after a promising 2016 campaign. The second-year quarterback showed flashes of brilliance last year, particularly during the first half of the season. Wentz failed to reach 20 fantasy points in 10 of his final 12 outings, but that could be attributed to not having Pro-Bowl tackle Lane Johnson due to suspension and a lack of receivers who can create consistent separation. According to Pro Football Focus, Eagles receivers dropped a total of 36 passes in 2016, only to be surpassed by the Raiders’ receivers with 37 drops.
The front office recognized this problem and addressed the wide receiver position the first few days of free agency with signings of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. According to PFF, for comparison purposes, Jeffery has had 19 drops in 323 catchable targets in his career. Dorial Green-Beckham, Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor had 20 drops on 165 targets in 2016 alone. If Jeffery returns to 80 percent of his full potential and can beat some 1-on-1 coverage, I look for Wentz to break out this season by finishing as a mid-tier starting quarterback option in later rounds.
The Giants backfield is a bit of a mystery going into 2017, and that is why Paul Perkins is a breakout candidate on my list. The UCLA product began getting touches midway through 2016 and he started the final two games of the season, including the Giants Wild Card Game. In an interview with WFAN, head coach Ben McAdoo said that Perkins will be the starting running back on first and second downs. It looks like they have Shane Vereen, who missed most of last season due to injury, penciled in as the third-down back.
I love Perkins’ upside this season because Vareen is a question mark with his injury history and there is not a veteran like Rashad Jennings to lean on. According to NumberFire.com, after the team’s bye week in 2016, Perkins saw his offensive snaps per game increase from 12.5 per game to 27.5 as the season progressed. The only question mark on his value comes from the team’s lackluster offensive line. The unit was not very good in 2016, and I don’t expect it to be much better in 2017. They did add Brandon Marshall opposite Odell Beckham Jr., so that should bring some defenders out of the box and possibly create some favorable run match-ups for the O-line. Perkins has a lot of value as a RB2/Flex player that you look for in the mid to later rounds.
Another potential receiver breakout candidate is former TCU Horned Frog Josh Doctson. The 2016 first-round pick struggled to find his role in a very crowded and talented receiving core. He will surely get more opportunities in 2017 following the departures of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. That pair combined for 135 catches, 2,046 yards, and seven touchdowns on 216 targets in 2016, which will need to be made up by Doctson and free agent signing Terrelle Pryor.
Doctson should have a leg up on Pryor having already been in the system for a season. The Redskins offense is loaded with weapons that should create favorable matchups across the board. With Jordan Reed demanding double teams and Pryor’s size creating mismatch problems for defenses, I think Doctson will feast on favorable 1-on-1 matchups in a breakout sophomore season.