Every season there are fantasy players that breakout. Here Liam Connolly takes a look at some from the AFC.
Whenever free agency passes and the draft concludes, the weeks and months following are filled with people picking ‘their guys’. As well as people they think will ball out this upcoming season for their fantasy teams.
This isn’t that exactly. But there are some players that are in great situations to showcase their skills. Therefore have a good chance of breaking out.
AFC Breakout Fantasy Players: Drew Lock (QB, DEN)
Lock burst on to the scene towards the end of last season throwing for just over 1,000 yards and achieving a 2.33:1 TD to INT ratio. This all resulted in a 4-1 record for the Broncos. Which ties the rookie record of John Elway win total. Elway himself has rewarded Lock this offseason with an influx of weapons starred by Jerry Jeudy.
The best thing about Lock is that everyone has a different view and projection on how he will perform. Some as far as saying he can win MVP like other second-year QBs have recently. Whilst I am not that high on Lock, I do think he will prove his doubters wrong. Even with an unkind schedule, he can lead Denver to a wildcard spot in the postseason.
AFC Breakout Fantasy Players: Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)
Whilst the hype for Johnson has picked up the last few weeks and his average draft position (ADP) continues to rise, it does not put me off him one bit as a fantasy asset. Thanks to some number crunching from @_TaylorCornell, Johnson’s rookie numbers of 92 targets, 59 receptions, 680 receiving yards and 5 receiving TDs has only been achieved by 15 other rookie wideouts since 2010. This list of 15 includes Michael Thomas, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham, and many more top players at their position.
To only add to how impressive those numbers are, Johnson was having to catch passes from backup QBs. Mason Rudolph and Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges who really should not be seeing the field, not as starting QBs anyway.
Now Johnson, who caught 91% of catchable targets thrown to him according to PFF and created 3.6 yards of separation for each target in 2019 according to NFL Next Gen Stats which is the highest among his position gets to catch passes from a hopefully fully healthy two-time Superbowl winner in Ben Roethlisberger.
AFC Breakout Fantasy Players: Gardner Minshew II (QB, JAC)
A lot of people believe the Jaguars will be in the position to have their pick of the 2021 QBs in the draft but Minshew may have something to say about that.
The now sophomore QB finished his rookie year with a 6-6 record as a starter, alongside 21 TDs and 6 interceptions giving Minshew a PFF grade of 70.3, making him the highest-graded rookie QB. Also, according to PFF, Minshew ranked the third highest in 20+ yard passes downfield, only beaten by Russell Wilson and DeShaun Watson. With no Nick Foles in Jacksonville, Minshew now has one season to show he is the QB for this organization.
Minshew will be working under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden this season. Gruden has a good track record of working well with young QBs in the past with Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins being testimonials for this.
Minshew as an athlete has an incredible work ethic and you can tell from his progress since the end of the season to now in his workouts. He is in tremendous shape and looks to be focusing on his arm strength, something that critics slated him for last season.
Whether Jacksonville pick up a veteran to back up Minshew or not. There is a lot less expectation on his side than there has been the past few seasons. Meaning a sophomore player like Minshew could thrive in that environment, especially with the weapons he has around him.
Who do you reckon will have a good chance of breaking out from the AFC in the 2020/2021 season? The NFC version will be out next week so keep your eyes peeled!
Image Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports