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Give me a breakout candidate

For the most part, you can break down every player heading into the draft into four categories. Everyone talks about sleepers and how you can ride them to the championship, but if you can hit in the middle rounds and get that player on the cusp of being a star, you are on your way to a championship.


Category 1

– The studs.
These are the guys you draft and plug in every single week and you expect them to carry you week in and week out. Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald and Drew Brees.


Category 2

– Breakout candidates.
This is the category which I will be focusing on. These are the guys you are looking to acquire in Rounds 3-4 for running backs, 4-5 round for receivers and 5-7 round for quarterbacks. These are the guys who are either young or guys who switch teams and you expect to breakout and become a highly coveted player the next year. Last year we saw Calvin Johnson, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams and Jay Cutler pull off this feat.


Category 3

– Value players.
Derrick Mason, Donald Driver, Fred Taylor and Big Ben are steady veterans who you know every year will put up solid numbers, however truly have a very limited upside. These are great bye week fillers and they provide great depth as they usually put up very consistent seasons.


Category 4

– Sleepers.
After you draft your starting lineup everybody starts looking for those great sleepers. The diamond in the rough like MJD, Earnest Graham, Ryan Grant and Marques Colston have all been major sleepers in the last few seasons.


Everyone talks about the third year receiver breakout candidates (and there are some every year going into the draft), but if we look at all the positions, there are definitely many candidates, and if you can hit on them, you are golden.




Kyle Orton

– We saw some flashes of serious potential last season especially early in the year during a five-game stretch. In those five games he averaged 274 yards a game, had 10 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He battled injuries the rest of the season and couldn’t keep up the hot start he had going. Now Orton is in

with some great weapons, a new system and a clean bill of health. If he can put up numbers anywhere near the pace he had starting the year, he could be a great No. 1 quarterback.

Trent Edwards

– It is tough to make a case that Edwards was a good fantasy quarterback last year, but lets try to look at the upcoming season to predict his potential to breakout. And the reason: T.O. The addition of Terrell Owens will allow Lee Evans to become the second option and take much of the pressure off of him. Look for Owens, who has a one-year deal, to behave and have a great first season. Despite his age, he is a workout warrior and just scores touchdowns.


Matt Schaub

– When he was healthy last year he had as good a year as anybody. Health is a big issue, but I expect a big year from him and Andre Johnson. The Texans have a great balanced attack which includes Steve Slaton (the versatile running back), Johnson (maybe the best receiver in football) and a very underrated target in the middle of the field in Owen Daniels. Don’t be surprised if he throws for 3,500 yards and 24 touchdowns.




Kevin Smith

– Let’s just break down his numbers last year into the first half and second half.


First half stats – 70 carries, 305 yards, 4 TDs; 24 catches, 162 yards

Second half stats – 168 carries, 671 yards, 4 TDs; 15 catches, 124 yards


Between getting accustomed to the league and the fact Rudi Johnson was the starter, it took Smith a while to get going. But with a full season under his belt now, I would look for his stats to look more like the second half stats which would put him somewhere around 1,300 yards and possibly double-digit scores. Also, he ended the season with three straight games with a score.


Derrick Ward

– Teams don’t generally throw a lot of money at free agent running backs for them to not get the bulk of the carries. Ward last year proved he is better then just a backup running back.

will definitely be a team that will rely heavily on the run, and Ward should see well over 200 carries and be a threat in the receiving game. Ward could be this year’s Michael Turner, a backup who finally gets his chance to shine. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 45 catches and 1,500 total yards.


Darren McFadden

– Last year McFadden was adjusting to the league and had to deal with turf toe (just ask Deion Sanders how painful that injury is). Now with a season under his belt and a fully healed toe, expect to see last year’s fourth overall pick take hold of the starting tailback job and post a solid season. Also, McFadden can be a true threat in the passing game and can easily rack up a solid fantasy season.


Wide Receiver


Dwayne Bowe

– Bowe has already shown he is a great receiver; however, he is still being drafted just outside the Top 10 for receivers. This means you can get him as a third-round pick and could possibly put up first round points. He reminds me much of Calvin Johnson last year and is ready to be called one of the best in the league this year. With a better quarterback, a new pass-happy coach, and the exit of Tony Gonzalez, look for Bowe to not only have over 100 catches, but look for double digit scores.


Roy Williams –

isn’t a young pup anymore, in fact he has been waiting to breakout for years now. Last year

gave up the farm for him and he seriously disappointed. This year, though, with the disappearance of T.O and a fully healed toe, look for the Cowboys to try and get the ball in his hands to erase the talks about how awful of a trade it was. With Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Jason Witten as weapons for Tony Romo, Williams should see single coverage and be the go-to-guy on the outside.


Anthony Gonzalez

– It used to be Manning to
Harrison. Then it was Manning to Harrison, and if Harrison was covered,

. Then it was Manning to

. This year look for Gonzalez to be the
Wayne to
Harrison. Confused? Gonzalez showed some skill last year and now that
Harrison is gone, should step up nicely as the No. 2 receiver for a team that has 11 dome games and Peyton Manning.

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