Here is Part Two of fantasy players that have a great chance to breakout this season, this time from the NFC. If you missed Part One based on the AFC last week, be sure to check that out after you have read this!
NFC Breakout Fantasy Players: Blake Jarwin (TE, DAL)
When one door closes, another opens. This could be no more relevant to Blake Jarwin.
Boatload of targets available
With Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin and most notably Jason Witten all departing Dallas, a massive 190 targets have been freed up in this offence. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas first round draft pick I have projected at 105 targets in his rookie campaign, leaving 85 targets spare.
Talent meets opportunity
For me, there is no reason why Jarwin cannot near double his target volume of this season from the last, which was 41 targets.
The Cowboys signing of Blake Bell, a tight end known for his superior blocking for his position frees up Jarwin to focus the receiving game and showcase his playmaking ability. Despite being Witten’s backup, Jarwin in the playing time he did get last season ranked 6th among his position in yards per target and ranked 8th among his position in yards per route run last season.
Witten departing Dallas also means the Cowboys highest red zone influence (excluding Prescott and Elliott) leaves the team and his 10 opportunities behind. It is likely that Jarwin takes over these opportunities, especially with how McCarthy has utilised tight ends in the red zone in the past.
With the new 4-year, $22.5 million contract Jarwin was given this offseason, the organisation certainly believes in Jarwin’s abilities. Now Jarwin himself needs to repay his organisation’s faith in him.
At a minimum, Jarwin looks like a nice TE2 option with a TE1 upside if he can make the most of being on a high-powered offence. Witten finished as the TE12 in PPR leagues last season so this TE1 upside is more achievable than some think.
NFC Breakout Fantasy Players: David Montgomery (RB, CHI)
Like a lot people last season, I was all abroad the David Montgomery hype. I drafted him as my RB2 in quite a few leagues and whilst his performance did not ruin my chances at championships, he defiantly did not help it.
Montgomery’s 19/20 Fantasy season
Montgomery’s finish as RB24 in PPR leagues was disheartening to say the least. Josh Jacobs and Aaron Jones, who Montgomery was sandwiched in between for ADP last season both had RB1/high-end RB2 performances which did not help matters.
RB1 volume with RB2 production
Montgomery finished last season with 267 touches. This ranked 12th among all running backs and highest among all rookie running backs. This indicates that Montgomery had the touches needed to be an RB1 last season, just did not make the most of it. His 3.67 yards per carry indicating a clear example of this underachievement. However the 25th ranked Bears offensive line last season will need to be better this time around. In addition, QB Mitch Turbisky did not show a good account for himself.
Red Zone efficiency
Another glaring underachievement last season from Montgomery was his inefficiency in his red zone carries. Montgomery had 87.5% of the Bears carries inside the 5-yard line last season. This can only be bettered by Leonard Fournette of the Jaguars (100%) in the entire NFL. Out of those carries, Montgomery converted 35.7% to TDs. If Montgomery can become more efficient in turning these carries into TDs, then we are looking at serious RB1 potential. For a 6th round draft pick, that is great value. Derrick Henry (70%) and Aaron Jones (61.5%) were both very efficient in this area last season. If Montgomery can get anywhere near this figure, that would be huge.
The organisation believes in him
The group of running backs in Chicago has not changed significantly showing that Nagy and the organisation have faith in Montgomery and hopefully with a Superbowl winning QB under centre, we all can be rewarded.
My projections have Montgomery finishing as the RB19 in PPR scoring. With Montgomery’s ADP at the RB28, this represents some good value at a position where there is less guaranteed production for the running back position.
As the famous saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
If you want to dive deeper into Montgomery, check out fellow King Fantasy Sports writer Jacob Vine’s thread on him.
NFC Breakout Fantasy Players: Ian Thomas (TE, CAR)
There has been a lot of change in Carolina this offseason and I think it has benefitted Ian Thomas the most.
With starting tight end Greg Olsen departing for Seattle and the Panthers not bringing in serious tight end competition, Thomas is the clear starter for Carolina in 2020.
Coaching hires benefit Thomas
New offensive coordinator Joe Brady and head coach Matt Rhule are expected to run a high-octane offence where every player will see solid volume. From a Thomas perspective, this is helpful and unhelpful. What is promising is Brady’s use of the tight end position at LSU this past season. Thaddeus Moss, who had not caught a pass since 2016 up until that point, looked like a genuine talent in a Brady offence.
Another huge plus for Thomas is his build as an athlete. At 6’3” and 260 pounds, Thomas represents an anomaly in this Panthers offence. He is the only real big-body pass catcher left on the team. This makes him a great red zone target for Bridgewater and Thomas should see more opportunities in this area of the field than the mere 2 targets that he got last season.
With good speed and size scores for a player with his build, and only 24 years old, Thomas fits exactly what Rhule wants from the young and athletic roster he is looking to craft.
So how willing is Bridgewater getting the ball to Thomas?
Well in the weeks that Bridgewater started at QB for New Orleans last season (Weeks 3-7), the Saints tight ends had 7 red zone opportunities. On top of this, Bridgewater in the same period targeted the tight ends for 33/158 passes, making for a 20.88% target share in general for the position.
If you want to go back even further to 2015 when Bridgewater was a starting QB for Minnesota, he gave starting tight end Kyle Rudolph 11 red zone opportunities over the season. This was more than Stefon Diggs and Mike Wallace (8 each) who were both starting receivers. This was all whilst the tight end position received a 24.37% target share from Bridgewater.
What I am trying to say here is that Bridgewater likes to target Thomas’s position and this offence will allow to do so more than ever.
My current projections have Thomas getting a 15% target share, which is an 4% increase from last season. This is a fairly conservative projection considering Bridgewater’s history at targeting the position and Joe Brady’s tendency to target tight ends in his systems, but it is a fair one considering the various factors at hand.
All in all, Thomas is in the perfect situation to excel this year. I have him finishing as a high-end TE2 with a TE1 upside depending on if his target share increases even more which is likely.
Image Credit: Daniel Bartel – USA TODAY Sports