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The Fire Sale: 2013 Breakout Players

In the last “
Fire Sale” of the preseason, I’m releasing my top breakout candidates for 2013. Then I’ll return on Tuesday following Week 1 for the real thing. No more sleepers. No more average draft position. No more mock drafts. No more preseason depth charts. Nothing but real football baby.

I targeted seven players who I believe for one reason or another are the best sleeper/breakout candidates for 2013. People are always asking me on Twitter which players I like to break out, but that’s a long list. However, these are my top-5 breakout players, along with two longshots to watch.
Just a quick note

all seven players happen to be receivers. It’s not like this every year, things just fell that way and it came up all receivers in the end. Hopefully a couple of these players will hit big for you this season.

Now on with
The Fire Sale

Top 5 Breakout Candidates

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago –
If you follow me on Twitter (where Jeffery is my profile picture) or any of my work, you’re already well aware of my feelings on Jeffery for the upcoming season. I’m all in on him.

Every year I have a player that I’m all in on. I’m not always right. I fully admit that. Actually, my motto is, “I hit around 50 percent.” However, I have a pretty good track record with my ‘all in on’ guys. Last year it was Eric Decker. A couple of years ago it was Austin Collie. This year it’s Jeffery.
I hate repeating myself so below is what I wrote about Jeffery when I did my receiver rankings on Aug. 5:

Jeffery is my top sleeper/breakout player for 2013. Jeffery was a beast in college until he became unmotivated in his final year, got lazy and gained weight. While I don’t condone that kind of mental weakness because it’s part of being a great player, Jeffery appears to be back on track. He’s in tremendous shape and he should put up big numbers playing opposite Brandon Marshall in coach Marc Trestman’s offense. Jeffery is a stud and he’s going to start playing like one this season. If he stays focused, 60-70 catches and 8-9 scores are my expectations for him.

Also keep in mind that Mike Tice was the offensive coordinator in Chicago last year. Man, has anyone ever lived a more charmed life than that guy? He played 15 years in the NFL. He was a miserable coach but somehow made it to head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and then after getting fired, the Bears handed him the keys to their offense. Finally, he’s out of football and hits a Pick 6 betting horses for more than $100,000. Hey Mike, what’s the devil’s phone number? I’d like to make a deal too.

Tice’s offense had no imagination and he didn’t take advantage of Jeffery’s physical talents other than sending him on fly routes. Toss in the fact that Jeffery battled injuries as a rookie and he should easily double his reception total under Trestman (he had 24 last season).
My only word of caution is to be patient with Jeffery. Jay Cutler has to learn to stop forcing the ball to Brandon Marshall even when he’s covered like he did in the Bears’ second preseason game against San Diego.
On the play Jeffery had a corner giving him a 10-yard cushion and Cutler didn’t even look his way. Instead, he just heaved the ball up to Marshall, who had three guys around him and the pass was intercepted. It was a terrible throw due to a bad habit that Cutler has develooped that Trestman will no doubt try to break. So Jeffery may begin the year off slowly, but, once Cutler starts looking his way more and builds that trust, he’ll take off.
I know a lot of people are expecting Jeffery to break out in 2014. Maybe I’m a year too soon on the call, but I believe Jeffery is too talented and plays in the perfect offensive system to wait. I’m confident Jeffery will make a big fantasy impact this year if he stays healthy.

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