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Jump to the Elite

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant (34.01) – The adage for wide receivers is that the third year typically is the “breakout” year, and that can be applied to Dez Bryant. Last season was Bryant’s career year with the Cowboys as he racked up 928 yards and nine touchdowns. However, Bryant would disappear in the second half of games considering that is when his team would need him the most. Similarly, Bryant did not cross the 100 yard mark once last season as his game high for 2011 was 90 yards. Bryant finished 18th among wide receivers last season, and there is room for improvement for the former Oklahoma State Cowboy. In fact, executive vice president, Stephen Jones believes that Bryant needs to be the number one receiver on the team. Likewise, Bryant is trying to shake off the label of being lazy and not having a good work ethic to improve as a professional. For example, this off – season Bryant has revamped his work ethic as he is spending more time with the playbook, watching more film, and concentrating on his conditioning. Moreover, Bryant and Romo are developing a rapport that is of paramount importance for Bryant taking the next step to being a “breakout” player.

Demaryius Thomas (43.41) – Demaryius Thomas will explode this season with Peyton Manning at the helm of the Broncos aerial attack. While, being injured the last two seasons, 2011 was a “career year” for Thomas as he compiled 551 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Similarly, Tim Tebow was the Broncos quarterback last year, but the Broncos acquired Manning for his services. Still, many fantasy aficionados believe Eric Decker will have better numbers than Thomas, but Thomas’ potential is through the roof and if he stays healthy he will be the Broncos leading receiver. Moreover, Thomas has an average draft position that is in the early fifth round and considering he is going off of boards as the 17th wide receiver he is a steal that will finish as a top ten receiver for the 2012 season. In layman’s terms, Thomas will “breakout.”

Darrius Heyward–Bey (114.07) – Darrius Heyward–Bey was deemed a bust before he showed signs of life with a career year in 2011 as he managed 975 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, Bey played with three different quarterbacks last season, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, and Carson Palmer. Campbell would end up being injured and lost for the season with a broken collarbone against the Cleveland Browns. Boller was just flat – out awful as a fill – in for Campbell. Likewise, Palmer was not much better, but he came out of “retirement.” When Palmer grasped and comprehended the playbook, he and Bey were clicking as the two hooked up for 37 receptions, 541 yards, and 3 touchdowns in 7 games. Truly, Bey is on the verge of a “breakout” and will eclipse the 1,000 yard mark as he develops a rapport with Palmer during the off – season and we should also see a slight increase in touchdowns. Additionally, Bey is a bargain with an average draft position in the twelfth round and will be a great high – end number two receiver for your fantasy team. Therefore, Bey is a player who will “breakout” in 2012 because he has and will continue to develop a rapport with Palmer, he can build off his numbers from last year, and he is a steal at his current average draft position.

Malcom Floyd (129.44) – Throughout his career Malcom Floyd has battled nagging injuries as he has stayed healthy for only one season. Likewise, last season Floyd hauled in 43 receptions, 856 yards, and six touchdowns in 12 games. Similarly, Floyd’s quarterback, Philip Rivers was not his usual self has he threw 20 interceptions, and it did not help that his receivers were in the trainer’s room more than they were on the field. However, the two found their groove during the final three games of the season as Floyd had 18 receptions, 318 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Similarly, there is no clear – cut target at the wide receiver position with the departure of Vincent Jackson, but Floyd can help fill that void. If Floyd can stay healthy, he will pass the 1,000 yard mark, and can perhaps match his touchdown mark from 2011 if not eclipse it. Besides, as a fantasy player there is not much risk you invest in a 13th round pick because Floyd has great upside as a high – end number two receiver.

Tight Ends

Fred Davis (83.70) – Fred Davis amassed a career high 59 receptions and 796 yards to go along with three touchdowns in 12 games during the Redskins 2011 campaign. However, Davis would end up being suspended four games for a failed drug test which was believed to be caused by marijuana. The Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft, and while the “hogs” added other weapons at wide receiver, Davis figures to see a bigger workload as RG3’s safety blanket. Likewise, Davis can eclipse the 1,000 yard mark and post six or so touchdowns in the 2012 season with relative ease. Similarly, if your strategy this season is to wait on a tight end Davis is a great value in the 9th round considering he has great upside. Hence, Davis is primed for a “breakout” year in 2012 because of his success in 12 games last season, Griffin III will look Davis’ way being his safety blanket, and Davis presents a great value in the 9th round since he has the capabilities of putting up a 1,000 yard season and six or so touchdowns.

Jared Cook (118.58) – Jared Cook was pegged as a “sleeper” candidate in 2011 and he delivered with a career line with 49 catches, 759 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Still, much more was expected of Cook as he finished as the 15th ranked tight end last season. Nonetheless, Cook will “breakout” this season as the Titans can use the tight end to further complement their running game and help out the passing game. Over his last three games, Cook racked up 21 receptions, 335 yards, and one touchdown as he helped fantasy owners who took a chance on him. Cook is once again touted in fantasy circles as a “sleeper”, but I would put him in the “breakout” category because he had such a strong finish to the 2011 season. Likewise, if your strategy for this fantasy season is to wait on a tight end, Cook has an average draft position in the twelfth round which is a tremendous value given that the former South Carolina product can outperform where his value currently lies. Thus, Cook is a “breakout” candidate because he can complement the running and passing game as a big target, he had a strong finish to the 2011 season, and possesses all the tools to be a “breakout” player considering he will outperform his average draft position.

All in all, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene, BenJarvus Green – Ellis, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Darrius Heyward – Bey, Malcolm Floyd, Fred Davis, and Jared Cook are considered “breakout” players for the 2012 season. Identifying players who will take the next step puts you ahead of the competition as you can grab players with value instead of spending a high draft pick on a player with similar production. Make sure this season you and your fantasy squad make the jump to the elite.

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