Fantasy Football Bounceback and Breakout Candidates
Every Friday, the FOX Sports Fantasy team will tackle a fantasy football question for the upcoming season.
For this week, we'll talk breakout and bounceback candidates for the 2016 NFL season.
1. Which struggling player from last year will have the best bounce-back campaign this season?
Ryan Fowler (@FOXSportsFowler): In my mind, Mike Evans has the best odds to drastically improve fantasy point totals. Evans finished 25th in fantasy points scored among receivers while racking up 1,200+ yards. However, defensive backs won’t hold him to three touchdowns in 16 games ever again. Keep in mind that Evans scored 12 touchdowns his rookie season and will have another year of chemistry built with Jameis Winston this time around.
John Halpin (@jhalpin37): After a huge Week 1 performance, 49ers RB Carlos Hyde ran for just 302 yards in his next six games before a stress fracture in his foot ended his season. Hyde is back in a run-friendly offense, with head coach Chip Kelly calling him a "three-down back." He's RB13 - the stars are aligning for a big season.
Adam Meyer (@FOXSportsMeyer): I think Randall Cobb suffered greatly when Jordy Nelson missed the entire 2015 season. Without his teammate, Cobb tallied 458 fewer receiving yards and six fewer TDs. With Nelson back in the picture, look for Cobb to return to his 1,000-yard, double-digit TD self.
D.J. Foster (@FOXSportsFoster): There's plenty of reason to believe Alshon Jeffery will be a top-10 receiver once again. Jeffery only played in nine games all season, but he did rattle off three straight 100-yard games with 28 catches when he was actually healthy. Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett are gone, so even more red zone work and garbage time stats should be headed his way next year, health willing.
2. Who is your breakout fantasy star for next season?
Halpin: Is this a trick question? It's Ezekiel Elliott - period. He might get 1,500 yards from scrimmage by accident. Great situation, lots of talent, blocks and catches well enough to stay on the field ... I can't wait to see him play. Except that I can't stand the Cowboys, which is a problem.
Meyer: David Johnson won a lot of people their fantasy football championships in 2015. He scored four touchdowns in the final two weeks of the fantasy year (Weeks 15 and 16) and rushed for at least 90 yards in three of the four games in December. He should entire the 2016 season as the Cardinals' No. 1 RB, ahead of Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.
Fowler: With Martavis Bryant suspended for the season, Ben Roethlisberger is forced to embrace Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton (Ben’s 2015 breakout) as third and fourth options behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. I also like Drew Brees working with Coby Fleener as the next tight end target to thrive in the Saints’ offense. Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson ate well as did their fantasy football owners.
Foster: Maybe I'm digging a little too deep, but I'm a believer in Browns RB Duke Johnson. After a pretty solid rookie campaign where he caught 61 passes, Johnson could have some more appeal in Hue Jackson's offense with a QB who should check down rather frequently. I can see him being the next Danny Woodhead in that he'll be drafted much later than should he be, despite not getting a ton of carries.
3. Which popular breakout candidate do you actually hate?
Halpin: Since I don't really hate anyone who fits the typical definition here, I'll cheat a bit and go with Eddie Lacy, who's ranked as RB11 per FantasyFootballCalculator.com after finishing as RB25 in 2015. Lacy underachieved for most of the season before putting together a pair of decent playoff games (24 carries, 152 yards, TD). Then he did some P90X workouts with Tony Horton, showed up looking trim in some offseason photos, and everyone freaked out about how awesome he'd be in 2016.
Well, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lacy "did not appear to be as slim in person as the photos appeared once he got to off-season workouts," and head coach Mike McCarthy said his lead back has more work to do. Lacy might rebound, but he certainly can't be trusted with a second-round pick.
Fowler: Eddie Lacy because I think the reaction to his regression spun out of control - not because he's a bad investment. The P90x narrative jumped the shark earlier this year. He made a mistake by letting the lbs get the better of him, but the return of Jordy Nelson will remind fantasy owners that at full strength and an approved game weight, the Packers’ RB1 is a reliable option.
Foster: Michael Floyd is currently being drafted as a sixth round pick, which feels way too optimistic for someone who has been overhyped for three straight years and has always let us down. John Brown put up better numbers last year and is going two rounds later, which I don't really understand. I'm out on Floyd at this price.