One or two breakout guys can turn a hopeful fantasy season into a Can't-Wait-Til-Sunday type of season where the second guessing is kept to an absolute minimum. For those who where fortunate enough to see the potential in guys like Ray Rice and Vernon Davis, 2009 was a very good year. Here's who we're looking at to have coming out parties in 2010.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB Steelers
Santonio Holmes is gone and Big Ben has his own troubles leaving Rashard Mendenhall as the most attractive option in that Pittsburgh offense. This is a young man who put up respectable numbers last year and has so much upside going into 2010 that he's worth a late first-round pick and will most likely be gone before the end of the 2nd round in all leagues. The Steelers get a strong option in the backfield and you get a fantasy workhorse.
Shonn Greene, RB Jets
Greene was a superstar in the postseason for the Jets last year and we expect that to continue. Even with LaDainian Tomlinson now in the mix, Shonn Greene can be looked upon as a genuine fantasy starter. The Jets continue to get better both offensively and defensively. If Rex Ryan opts to give Greene 300 or so carries, expect some brilliant fantasy production.
LeSean McCoy, RB Eagles
For years, Brian Westbrook was the equivalent of gold in PPR-format leagues. The sun may have set on Westbrook's career in Philadelphia but that gives rise to a new dawn and LeSean McCoy. We're tempering our expectations so we're not quite ready to compare the two just yet, but McCoy has the talent and the potential to see a substantial boost in his 2010 fantasy value.
DeSean Jackson, WR Eagles
You'd think that with the departure of Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson's potential would plummet. That's not the case because there's less uncertainty surrounding Kevin Kolb. When Kolb filled in last year, Jackson saw 2 scores and 250 yards in those 2 games. Jackson-owners saw both extremes last year in terms of weekly production, but if his numbers are averaged out, he's the top WR. Combine his raw talent with another year of maturity and DeSean Jackson can make 2010 his year.
Ryan Mathews, RB Chargers
There is so much speculation surrounding the Charger's #1 pick. Several industry experts are calling Mathews the Offensive Rookie of the Year and the season hasn't even begun yet. He's currently ranked #17 among running backs on the FantasyFootballNerd.com's Draft Rankings list and could very well claim that ROY honor. Coach Norv Turner has indicated that Mathews could very well see close to 300 touches this season which tells us that Darren Sproles shouldn't impact Mathews's fantasy potential. His 276 attempts last year resulted in 1,808 yards for a fantastic 6.5 yards per carry average. His 19 scores last season just added to the excitement. He most likely won't see that same 6.5 yards/carry once he reaches the NFL, but he should still see 1,000+ yards this year.
Jermichael Finley, TE Packers
As a Packer fan, I'm thrilled to put Finley on this list. He matured quite a bit last year and the final seven games of the season saw him grab 38 receptions for 416 yards and four touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers should end the year as a Top 5 fantasy QB which bodes well for Finley who appears to have created a great rapport with his QB. Jermichael Finley is currently ranked #5 among TE's on the FantasyFootballNerd.com's Draft Rankings list and it's quite likely he'll end the season at the same spot. We're expecting big things from Finley in 2010.
Remember, it only takes 1 or 2 breakout players to take you to the fantasy postseason. Don't reach for these guys but if they're available, be ready to grab them.
Are we missing a sure-fire breakout candidate? Let us know and we'll share it!
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