Fantasy football is a game of many skills which is one of the things that makes it so great. One important skill is being able to look ahead at what players could breakout either through increased workload in the offense, returning from injury, or just raw talent. Sure you could just wait until the breakout happens and hope you land the #1 waiver spot that week, or you can stay ahead of the game and grab players before the breakout. To help you stay a step ahead of your league mates I’ve listed some potential breakout players you can stash now.
Dion Lewis, RB, NE
As expected Lewis was activated by the Patriots this week and is expected to play his first snaps of 2016. If you belong to one of the 45% of Yahoo leagues were he is on waivers go grab him now. Before tearing his ACL in a week 7 game against Washington Lewis had been one of the surprise waiver adds of 2015. In just over 6 games he carried the ball 49 times for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as catching 36 passes for 388 yards and another 2 touchdowns. In total that’s 85 touches, 622 yards and 4 touchdowns in less than 7 games. James White has looked good so far this season as Lewis’ replacement so there is no guarantee he will assume the role he had in 2015, but if he can get even close to that level of production he will help many teams win a championship.
Thomas Rawls, RB, SEA
Another 2015 waiver wire darling Rawls was a great fill in for injured Marshawn Lynch before breaking his ankle. Prior to his season ending injury he carried the ball 147 times for 830 yards and 4 touchdowns posting a league best 5.6 YPC. He added another 9 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. With Christine Michael seemingly losing his job Rawls should be able to return to the 1st and 2nd down back with C.J. Prosise assuming the 3rd down pass catching role. Pete Carrol has already said they are hopeful to have Rawls back for week 11 which is good news for a Seattle team that desperately needs to run the ball better. Rawls is only owned in 45% of Yahoo leagues but that number should rise significantly after week 11 waivers clear.
Chris Ivory, RB, JAC
Ivory was one of 2015’s surprise stars with the Jets setting career highs in carries (247), yards (1070) and touchdowns (8). During the offseason he was traded to a Jacksonville team that struggled to run the ball near the goal line. Many thought Ivory would be the bruiser with Yeldon playing the pass catching role. Unfortunately Ivory and the offense struggled and many gave up on him. In week 9, however, under new OC Nathaniel Hackett, Ivory saw a season high 18 carries. He turned them into 102 yards and a touchdown that was ruled a fumble even though replays clearly showed the ball crossing the goal line. In any case if Ivory continues to see this type of weekly workload he could return value similar to what he did in 2015. Still only owned in 56% of Yahoo leagues go get him before he turns in another good performance.
Eric Ebron, TE, DET
Ebron was off to a good start before missing weeks 5-7. He came back in weeks 8 & 9 and posted 18 targets, 14 catches and 171 yards. With Detroit on a bye this week many owners may have left him on the waivers. If so he can be an every week TE1 for a team in desperate need of help at the position. Owned in only 57% of Yahoo leagues stash him now to help you make a playoff run.
James Starks, RB, GB
Starks may make his return from a week 5 injury this Sunday. He’s by no means the most talented runner but this offense is hurting for a “true” running back. Ty Montgomerey has filled in well and may limit Starks’ ceiling but it seems likely that he should still be in line for 12-15 touches a week. With the running back landscape the way it is that could be every week RB2 production. Starks is only owned in 25% of Yahoo leagues.
Ladarius Green, TE, PIT
With the retirement of Heath Miller after the 2015 season Green was a top 10 ranked tight end in the preseason. Unfortunately a pre-season mysterious injury kept him off the field for the first 9 weeks but this week he was activated from the PUP list. He’s been practicing since October 25th so he should be in line for a decent amount of snaps this weekend. Tight end has been a weak point for the Steelers this season so Green should have plenty of chances to be the guy. A forgotten fantasy asset this year he’s only owned in 10% of Yahoo leagues.
Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF
Watkins was a pre-season top 10 wide receiver pick and many expected him to have a big year. Unfortunately a foot injury derailed his season and sent him to the IR. Recently Rex Ryan has hinted Watkins may be returning before the end of the season. Not eligible to return until week 12 this is a deep stash in the hopes that he comes back healthy for your playoff bound team. Coming off a season in which he caught 60 passes for 1047 yards and 9 touchdowns in only 9 games he would be bolstered by a soft playoff schedule (PIT, CLE, MIA). Watkins is only owned in 37% of Yahoo leagues.
Disagree with any of the players listed above? Someone I forgot? Let me know in the comments below.