Potential Breakout NFL Stars Nobody Is Talking About

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A few weeks back I wrote a piece on the top 2013 Fantasy Football Breakout Players, so you're probably thinking to yourself: OK, breakout NFL stars. You already wrote about this. This article, however, is different than the aforementioned piece because the players listed below are Potential Breakout NFL Stars. Which means that while they have the potential to be a success, not many owners are looking their way in regards to fantasy drafts because they come with more question marks than your usual breakout candidates like David Wilson and Chris Givens.

As someone who goes against the grain in regards to fantasy football and drafting, taking chances on guys that would make other owners laugh at me, these are four guys I like a lot after doing my fantasy research. At least one of them is more-than-likely going to end up on one of my teams just because of.....you guessed it, potential. None of these guys are worth high draft spots. I wouldn't even draft any of these guys until the late teen's. So if they don't pan out, I wouldn't have invested much. But if they do, then I got tremendous value for a guy who no one would have considered looking at.

1. Zac Stacy - Rams

It's not easy taking a chance on a rookie in a redraft league. Especially one who is accompanied by two other running backs vying for carries (Daryl Richardson/Isaiah Pead). Pead is the most talented of the three, but couldn't get anything going in 2012 and is now facing a one-game suspension for a marijuana arrest. Stacy lacks speed, but makes good decisions and doesn't come down at first contact. If I can keep a good number of running backs on my squad, I'll take a flier on Stacy and see if he can land a role as the third-down/goal-line back. Keep in mind none of these guys are cemented as the Week One starter as of yet, even if Jeff Fisher has heaped praise on Pead all offseason.

2. Rueben Randle - Giants

As the No. 3 behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, it's hard to gauge just what role Randle will have in the Giants' offense this year, but he's been on the right track in offseason practices. OC Kevin Gilbride has already promised that Randle is "gonna play a lot," with the coaching staff expected to move him all over the field, on the outside and in the slot. Nicks' injury history and the fact that Randle literally has no one to compete with for snaps at the No. 3 spot gives Randle plenty of upside this year. He could be the 2013 version of Laurent Robinson from 2011 (54/858/11).

3. AJ Jenkins - 49ers

As a Jenkins owner in one of my dynasty leagues, I am hoping that the loss of Michael Crabtree will give him motivation to want to do better in his second year. Considered a reach by some when drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Jenkins didn't register a single stat in three games played last year. With a starting spot up for grabs across from Anquan Boldin, Jenkins is considered to have a slight lead over Quinton Patton as we head into training camp. There isn't as much upside here as Randle, but a first rounder who has a chance to start is always going to be someone I'll monitor.

4. Coby Fleener - Colts

Fleener had sleeper potential last year with Andrew Luck having played with him at Stanford, but a lingering shoulder injury put a damper on that notion. Dwayne Allen showed peeks of fantasy potential, but couldn't get week-to-week consistency. Now 100%, Fleener figures to have a big role under new OC Pep Hamilton. Hamilton, as luck would have it, was Luck's and Fleener's offensive coordinator in 2011 after being promoted from wide receiver's coach in 2010. Under Hamilton in 2011, Fleener only caught 34 passes, but he averaged almost 20 yards a catch and scored 10 touchdowns. The National Football Post reports that the Colts are expected to use Fleener more as a vertical threat in 2013, which should push his fantasy value up as we head into training camp. While I do like Fleener a lot, he is the lowest on this list simply because his value could be capped with Allen around.

What about you? Any Potential Breakout NFL Stars on your radar?


  1. rod says

    I’d say , if You are trying to predict an unknown or forgotten player for a breakout performance, You’ll have to dig a lot deeper. I’ve seen numerous articles on all mentioned in this article. Of the many that are available, I’ll give two examples from one team. Without doing any research, here goes. Devone Bess WR CLE. Typical slot guy, 5/6 years experience in Mia, very productive in PPR leagues, Brought in by New coaching staff to replace Josh Cribbs. Has an excellent opportunity to be Weeden’s safety valve over the middle.
    One of My favorites that I’ve heard nothing about, David Nelson WR Cle. Big guy, 6’5 215/220 from Buf. Doubled His stas from rookie season to about 60 for 700 and 5 tds in 2011. Then went on IR in first game 2012. With Josh Gordon a bong hit away from a full year vacation and already sitting out 2 games this year, I believe he has a pretty good shot at increasing his targets well beyond the WR3 position where He currently sits.

    • Greg Brosh says

      “I believe he has a pretty good shot at increasing his targets well beyond the WR3 position where He currently sits.”

      Where are you seeing David Nelson as a WR3? I’ve looked at two popular drafting sites and he isn’t even in the top 100 in either of them. He’s not even No. 3 on his team.