I've already done two breakout columns this offseason, with one more to go at the end of August. So for Breakouts 3.0, I wanted to do something a little different.
Using the NFC Average Draft Position data for PPR from July 17-31, I wanted to find the best breakout or breakouts for each round for eight rounds. These are the players who I believe have the best chance to be difference makers this season.
Now, this doesn't mean they are the best player in each round. But they are the guys who I expect to exceed expectations in 2023.
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Bijan Robinson (No. 9 overall)
I have Robinson as the No. 3 running back this season behind Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler and the No. 6 overall player. Robinson, the No. 8 overall pick from Texas, has the chance to be special this year, and he could be the . He landed with the right team in Atlanta since the Falcons led the NFL in rushing attempts in 2022, and he's already looking like a special talent in the passing game as well in training camp. Robinson profiles like other rookie running backs who have dominated recently in their first NFL season, including Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4 overall pick in 2016) and Saquon Barkley (No. 2 overall pick in 2018). Both of them finished top 3 in PPR, and Robinson has the chance to follow suit this year.
Garrett Wilson (No. 15 overall)
Wilson is dealing with a low-ankle sprain at the start of training camp, but he's expected to be fine. I have no problem with him as the No. 15 overall player in Round 2, and I love the potential for the second-year receiver. The addition of Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback for the Jets should help Wilson become a star. It's fun to look at how well Wilson did last season whenever he didn't have Zach Wilson under center. In seven games with Joe Flacco or Mike White, Garrett Wilson averaged 17.6 PPR points per game, including three outings with at least 24 PPR points. At that average, he would have been the No. 7 PPR receiver in 2022. There is plenty of competition for targets with Wilson, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Randall Cobb and Corey Davis all competing for Rodgers' attention, along with the tight ends and running backs, but Wilson should stand out above the rest. He has top-five upside in his sophomore campaign.
Tony Pollard (No. 22 overall)
We keep waiting for the Cowboys to add another running back, and that could certainly happen prior to Week 1. But even if Ezekiel Elliott comes back or another veteran joins the team, Pollard should be the leader of the backfield and a No. 1 Fantasy running back in all leagues. I would draft him toward the end of Round 1, so this ADP is a steal. We saw last season, even when Elliott was healthy, Pollard was great and averaged 14.8 PPR points per game, which was good enough to be the No. 9 running back. But more could be in store for Pollard this year. Elliott missed two games in 2022 with a bad knee in Week 8 against Chicago and Week 10 at Green Bay. In those two games, Pollard combined for 54 PPR points and looked dominant. It was amazing production and actually two of six outings that Pollard had with at least 19 PPR points. He has star potential, and I would be thrilled to draft him at the end of Round 2.
Chris Olave (No. 25 overall)
We'll see how Olave does with a new quarterback in Derek Carr and (hopefully) playing a full season alongside Michael Thomas. But Olave should be the star of this passing game. Carr is an upgrade over Andy Dalton, which is a plus for Olave, who averaged 12.9 PPR points per game in 2022. But he left a lot of production on the field. He was sixth in the NFL in air yards among wide receivers (1,686), seventh in targets per route run (targeted on 31.2 percent of his routes) and sixth in yards per route run (2.73). Prior to Week 13, Olave was actually No. 10 among all wide receivers in targets (92) and receiving yards (822) and 15th in receptions (56). At that time, he was on pace for 143 targets, 87 catches and 1,270 yards, but he struggled down the stretch while dealing with a hamstring injury. He will hopefully maximize his potential in Year 2, and I love drafting him in early Round 3.
Rhamondre Stevenson (No. 31 overall)
Stevenson still might get competition prior to Week 1, and the Patriots have already hosted Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette for workouts and reportedly are looking into signing Dalvin Cook. But if Stevenson remains the lead running back in New England then he has the chance to be a star. He had a mini-breakout in 2022 when he averaged 13.8 PPR points per game, but he can be even better in 2023. With Damien Harris gone, Stevenson could be looking at 300 total touches, which could lead to a top-five Fantasy finish in all formats. He proved himself as a receiver out of the backfield in 2022 with 69 catches for 421 yards and a touchdown on 88 targets, and he averaged 5.0 yards per carry. He only scored five rushing touchdowns, and New England had just 10 rushing touchdowns from its backfield in 2022, but in 2021 the Patriots running backs combined for 24 rushing scores. I'm expecting a better offensive performance from New England this season with Bill O'Brien as the offensive coordinator, and Stevenson should be the team's best offensive player. I plan to draft him toward the end of Round 2 in all leagues.
Jahmyr Gibbs (No. 36 overall)
The Gibbs highlights in training camp have been fun to watch, and it appears like the Lions are going to give him plenty of chances to succeed. That should be the case after Detroit selected Gibbs at No. 12 overall in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. He should be a significant factor in the passing game, and he just led Alabama in receptions in 2022 with 44. Last season, D'Andre Swift was No. 10 in running back targets and No. 12 in running back receptions despite missing three games and parts of others, and Gibbs should prove to be a better version of Swift, especially if Gibbs stays healthy. And if he can prove that he's a better rusher than David Montgomery then Gibbs has top 15 upside in all leagues. I like Gibbs as a No. 1 running back in PPR, and I would draft him at the back end of Round 3. This Lions offense is poised for greatness, and Gibbs should be heavily involved, especially in the passing game, which helps his breakout case in PPR.
Jerry Jeudy (No. 38 overall)
The entire Broncos offense felt like a bust last season, and Jeudy was no exception. He averaged 13.1 PPR points per game, but he missed two games and parts of others and failed to post consistent production. That is, until the end of the year when he averaged 19.4 PPR points per game over his final five outings. He had at least eight targets and six catches in four of those games, and he finally looked like the No. 1 receiver the Broncos and Fantasy managers have been waiting for since he was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft in 2020. This year, with Sean Payton at head coach, a revamped offensive line and a seemingly rejuvenated Russell Wilson, Jeudy should finally deliver his best year in the NFL. And he might benefit with the unfortunate injury suffered by Tim Patrick (Achilles) in training camp. I would draft Jeudy as early as Round 3, but I love him as a high-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver at this ADP in Round 4.
Travis Etienne (No. 42 overall)
While I do like the addition of Tank Bigsby in Jacksonville, he's more of a lottery ticket this year as the backup to Etienne. Etienne has the chance to be a top-10 Fantasy running back in all leagues, and he's a steal at this point in Round 4. Last year, in the 11 games after James Robinson was traded to the Jets, Etienne had some great moments. Taking out Week 12 when he was injured, Etienne averaged 13.7 PPR points per game, but he did that with just five rushing touchdowns and a limited role in the passing game. He recently spoke to the media in training camp about being a more complete running back, and Doug Pederson said Etienne being fully healthy this offseason is a big plus after he was returning last year from the foot injury that kept him out as a rookie. This Jaguars offense should be explosive in 2023, and Etienne will play a vital role. You won't be disappointed if Etienne ends up on your Fantasy roster this year.
Christian Watson (No. 50 overall)
How you feel about Watson likely comes down to what you expect from Jordan Love this season. I'm optimistic that Love will be a capable starting quarterback, and a big reason why is that I like the talent of Watson, Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed, with Watson as the lead singer. He showed flashes of his potential in 2022 when he had a four-game stretch from Weeks 10-13 with at least 20 PPR points in each outing, and he also had 18 PPR points in Week 18. In each of those games he had at least six targets, and only twice did he fail to score 18 PPR points when he had that much work (one of those games was Week 16 at Miami when he left with a hip injury). If Love isn't a disaster then Watson has the chance to be a top 15 Fantasy receiver in all leagues, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 4.
Trevor Lawrence (No. 52 overall)
Lawrence made a small leap as a Fantasy quarterback from Year 1 to Year 2 in 2022 when he got better coaching (Doug Pederson over Urban Meyer) and better weapons (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram). The coaching is the same in Year 3, and the weapons got even better with Calvin Ridley joining the aforementioned group. Now, Lawrence is about to become a star. He had plenty of good moments last season when he scored at least 24 Fantasy points in four of his final eight games, but just watching him you could see there's potential for more. Lawrence should see his Fantasy production rise from 19.5 points per game in 2022 to potentially over 25.0 points per game this season. He has top-five upside, and I plan to have a lot of shares of Lawrence on my Fantasy teams. I would prefer to draft him in Round 6, but I'm not going to pass on him here based on his potential for a breakout campaign.
Justin Fields (No. 53 overall)
I'm surprised Lawrence is being drafted ahead of Fields, but I expect both to have huge seasons in 2023. Fields just has a higher ceiling based on what he can do as a rusher, and you have to love the addition of D.J. Moore this offseason. Along with that, Darnell Mooney is healthy after dealing with an ankle injury last year, and hopefully guys like Chase Claypool, Tyler Scott, Cole Kmet and Robert Tonyan can contribute in a big way as well. If Fields can improve as a passer then he could break records. He only attempted 318 passes in 2022 and had 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but all of those totals (minus the interceptions) should rise. But we know the allure to Fields is his rushing prowess, and he was amazing in that category last year with 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns. If he can somehow stay above 1,000 rushing yards and surpass 2,500 passing yards or more then Fields could be in the conversation for the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in 2023. I love drafting Fields in Round 5.
J.K. Dobbins (No. 56 overall)
Dobbins is someone I would target as early as Round 4, but his price should stay in this range while he remains on the PUP list. While there could be a legitimate injury that he's dealing with after battling knee problems in 2022, the thought is Dobbins is sitting out because he's unhappy with his contract. If he's able to play in Week 1 then I'm expecting a big year, especially since he's two years removed from the torn ACL he suffered prior to the 2021 campaign. He returned last year and struggled for most of the season, but he closed the year on a high note with at least 93 rushing yards in three of his final four games. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry over that span, and I love his upside in new offensive coordinator Todd Monken's system. Having a healthy and rejuvenated Lamar Jackson will help also, but Monken should help Dobbins have a career season in the passing game. I'm counting on Dobbins to perform like a top-15 Fantasy running back in all leagues, and I hope he remains in Round 5 to make him somewhat of a bargain.
Alexander Mattison (No. 66 overall)
Mattison limped off the field during Tuesday's August 1st practice, which is something to monitor, and hopefully he's OK. We want to see Mattison have a healthy season as the new lead running back in Minnesota now that Dalvin Cook is gone. He'll face competition from Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangnu and DeWayne McBride, but Mattison will hopefully be the best of the bunch. Mattison has 14 games in his career with at least 10 carries, and he scored at least 15 PPR points in seven of those outings. He's averaging 13.4 PPR points over that span. In seven games in his career where he's played at least 48 percent of the snaps, he averaged 19.5 carries, 84 rushing yards, 3.7 catches and 34 receiving yards, along with five total touchdowns. Over a 17-game season, that puts him on pace for 332 carries, 1,430 rushing yards, 63 catches, 583 receiving yards and 12 total scores. We'll see how much the Vikings put on Mattison's plate, and if he can handle being the full-time guy for an entire season. I'm surprised his ADP remains in Round 6, and most Fantasy managers will likely select him as early as Round 4.
Kyle Pitts (No. 67 overall)
Pitts has been a breakout candidate since the moment he was selected No. 4 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He had a standout rookie campaign with 68 catches for 1,026 yards and one touchdown on 110 targets, and he averaged 10.4 PPR points per game. It looked like the start of a great career, but he struggled in 2022 before hurting his knee after 10 games, averaging just 7.5 PPR points per game. Now, we'll see if he can rebound and have the best season of his career, but there's a reason he's being drafted in Round 6. The Falcons should remain a run-first team after drafting Bijan Robinson this year, and Desmond Ridder doesn't inspire confidence in helping Pitts maximize his talent. He also has to share the field with another top playmaker in Drake London. Pitts didn't play in any of the four starts Ridder made last season, so hopefully that rapport is established quickly. If Pitts can play to his potential then he could be a top-three Fantasy tight end in all leagues, so he's easily worth the risk in this spot on Draft Day.
Rachaad White (No. 69 overall)
The biggest positive for White is the lack of competition he should face in Tampa Bay with Leonard Fournette gone. His backups are Chase Edmonds, Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Sean Tucker, and most likely those guys aren't taking White off the field for any significant amount of time. White also proved himself as a receiver last season, as he was one of 11 running backs in the NFL with 50 receptions. Now, the downside for White is Tampa Bay might be a terrible team, but the Buccaneers offensive line should be improved. Pro Football Focus actually has Tampa Bay's offensive line ranked No. 14 going into the season, and the Buccaneers should be much better at running the ball in 2023 after having the fewest rushing yards in the NFL in 2022. Tom Brady's retirement will definitely hurt, but Baker Mayfield might actually surprise you with how much he'll use White in the passing game. I'm not sure White has top-10 upside this season, but he could be a top-20 running back in PPR, which is why you're drafting him in Round 6.
Dameon Pierce (No. 70 overall)
Pierce had a solid rookie campaign before missing the final four games of the year with an ankle injury. He fell 61 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards, but he had six games with at least 13 PPR points in the 13 outings he played. While he does get tougher competition this year with the addition of Devin Singletary, everything around Pierce should also improve. New coach DeMeco Ryans brought offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik over from San Francisco with designs on running the Kyle Shanahan system, which has been amazing for running backs. C.J. Stroud should provide better quarterback play. And the offensive line should be better with the addition of right guard Shaq Mason. Pierce is a tough runner, and last year he had 62 forced missed tackles, which was fourth in the NFL, according to PFF. His 28.2 percent forced missed tackles rate last season led the NFL. If he can improve in the passing game (30 catches on 39 targets) then Pierce could be a top-10 Fantasy running back. But let's be realistic and just root for a top-15 finish, and he's an excellent pick as early as Round 4 in all leagues.
Jahan Dotson (No. 81 overall)
Dotson has already said "I feel like this is my breakout year," and he might be right. With an upgraded offensive coordinator (Eric Bieniemy) and hopefully a better quarterback (Sam Howell), Dotson can build off a strong finish to his rookie campaign in 2022. Over his final five games, Dotson had 21 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns on 35 targets, and he scored at least 16 PPR points in three of those outings. In his lone start with Howell in Week 18 against Dallas, Dotson had three catches for 72 yards on four targets. While Dotson should once again play second fiddle to Terry McLaurin, this will hopefully be a 1 and 1A situation. Dotson actually led the Commanders with seven receiving touchdowns last year despite missing five games with a hamstring injury. He's a great No. 3 Fantasy receiver to target coming into this season, and he could emerge as a starter in all leagues with a strong sophomore campaign.
James Cook (No. 82 overall)
Most Fantasy analysts were already excited about Cook this season prior to the start of training camp. But then Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey fueled the fire when he said Cook can be an "every-down back." As Dorsey said, "We're really excited about him and what he can do." Cook didn't do much in his rookie campaign in 2022 when he played in tandem with Devin Singletary. While he averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per catch, he only had 110 total touches. He had four games with double digits in carries in 2022, and he scored 16 PPR points in two of them. He'll compete with Damien Harris and potentially Latavius Murray for touches, but Cook should prove to be more versatile than both of them. And while the Bills don't typically involve their running backs in the passing game -- Singletary's best season was 40 receptions in 2021 -- that could change with Cook this season. It's easy to draft Cook in this range as a flex, but he has the potential to be a top-20 running back in all leagues.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 84 overall)
In 2021, when Smith-Njigba was healthy at Ohio State, he shared the field with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Smith-Njigba led the team with 95 catches, 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, Wilson had 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Olave had 65 catches for 936 yards and 13 scores. Wilson and Olave were first-round picks in the NFL Draft in 2022, while Smith-Njigba remained at Ohio State. Despite an injury-marred campaign, Smith-Njigba was the No. 20 overall pick in Round 1 for Seattle this year, and now he'll share the field again with a talented duo in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. While it's hard to expect Smith-Njigba to outperform his new teammates, he's going to make plenty of plays. And he's stacking highlights on top of highlights in training camp, which is fun to watch. I continue to move Smith-Njigba up in my rankings, and I'm fine drafting him in Round 7. He has the chance to be the No. 1 rookie receiver this season.
Gabe Davis (No. 85 overall)
Davis disappointed as a breakout candidate last year, but he has the chance to make up for it this season. Nothing has changed with his situation since he remains the No. 2 receiver for Josh Allen opposite Stefon Diggs. So what happened last year? You can make some valid excuses for Davis, who injured his ankle in Week 1 and missed Week 2. He seemed fully healthy in Week 5 against the Steelers when he had three catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns on six targets, and he followed that up with three catches for 74 yards and a touchdown on six targets at Kansas City in Week 6. Then, in Week 9 at the Jets, Josh Allen hurt his elbow, and the Bills passing game wasn't as explosive. As a result, Davis averaged just 10.0 PPR points per game in his final eight outings. He mentioned the ankle injury being a problem last year, but hopefully he can stay healthy in 2023. And now you get that same potentially amazing upside at a discounted price in Round 8.
Jordan Addison (No. 86 overall)
Addison ended up in a great spot when the Vikings drafted him at No. 23 overall. Minnesota was third in the NFL in pass attempts last year and moved on from Adam Thielen, who was No. 2 in targets with 107. Now, Addison will have to be more involved to have a breakout campaign, and he shares the field with some high-end talent in Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson. But Addison in Year 1 should be an upgrade over the 32-year-old Thielen, and the rookie from USC should make plenty of plays for Kirk Cousins. In three seasons at Pitt and USC, Addison had 219 catches for 3,134 yards and 29 touchdowns. And over the past two years, he averaged nearly 100 yards and one touchdown per game. You can draft Addison as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in Round 8, and he could emerge as a low-end starter in all leagues with enough targets in his rookie campaign.
Tua Tagovailoa (No. 90 overall)
It's evident why Tagovailoa can be a breakout quarterback this season. He has arguably the best wide receiver duo in the NFL with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle and a great play caller in Mike McDaniel. In 2022, Tagovailoa had four outings with at least 29 Fantasy points in the 11 healthy games he played. But it's the six games he missed or didn't finish that have Fantasy managers concerned, and Tagovailoa was plagued by concussions last year. He's hopeful that's a thing of the past, but it's going to be a concern until he plays a full season. We'd love to see that happen in 2023, and then he'll end up as a steal in Round 8. Given his offense and receiving corps, Tagovailoa can be a top-five Fantasy quarterback in all leagues. And, if you draft the right backup quarterback with a late-round pick, you should be covered in case Tagovailoa misses any time again, and my favorite targets are Geno Smith (ADP of 114.9), Daniel Jones (115.5), Aaron Rodgers (121.1) and Jared Goff (122.2).
Elijah Moore (No. 91 overall)
Moore needed to leave the Jets, and the Browns seem thrilled to have him after he was traded to Cleveland in March. He looked poised for stardom in New York as a rookie in 2021 when he averaged 12.5 PPR points per game, but Moore struggled as a sophomore at 5.4 PPR points per game due to poor quarterback play, as well as the coaching staff seemingly frustrated with him. With the Browns, he gets to play with the best quarterback of his career in Deshaun Watson, and Moore should be the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart behind Amari Cooper. There's competition for targets with Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cedric Tillman and David Njoku, but Cleveland is already finding ways to manufacture opportunities for Moore. I love this ADP given his upside, and Moore should be a third-year breakout receiver in 2023.
Quentin Johnston (No. 93 overall)
Johnston on his own should be a significant contributor in his rookie campaign for the Chargers. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore should unleash Justin Herbert and his playmakers, and Johnston has already emerged as a top-three receiver in Los Angeles, alongside Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Along with Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett, there are plenty of mouths to feed, but the Chargers didn't select Johnston at No. 21 overall in Round 1 from TCU to make him a spectator. The Chargers were No. 2 in pass attempts in the NFL last season and should be up there again, and Johnston could be in an amazing situation if Allen or Williams were to miss any time. And remember, both guys combined to miss 11 games in 2022. I love stashing Johnston on my bench to open the season, but he could easily emerge as a weekly starter later in the year.