In order to make a name for yourself in the NFL, you must be able to get better every year. After a loaded 2019 draft, there are many potential second-year fantasy breakouts for 2020.
It seems like the sophomore season of NFL players is often pivotal in a player’s career. This is the year that players have the chance to show growth from their rookie season or flat out break out into an NFL star.
With fantasy football right around the corner, there are some sophomore players that need to be on everyone’s radar. These are the potential second-year fantasy breakouts for 2020.
Sophomore QB Fantasy Breakouts
Kyler Murray, ARI
Kyler Murray may be in the best position of these fantasy breakouts. Coming off of a season he totaled 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns passing, in addition to 544 yards and four touchdowns with his legs, Murray gets another season in a complicated, but effective, Kliff Kingsbury offense. Murray also finished as QB12 in fantasy last season. Where Murray lacked last season though was his 3.7 TD%. With the Arizona Cardinals adding DeAndre Hopkins to a receiving corps featuring Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, Murray has an abundance of targets to help raise that TD%.
Murray makes his fantasy money with his legs. The ability to scramble effectively has proved beneficial for a successful fantasy football quarterback, and Murray is the second-best rushing QB in the NFL. With the great receiving corps, the rushing ability and an innovative coach, it is more than likely Murray will be one of the top QBs and fantasy breakouts this upcoming season.
Drew Lock, DEN
Drew Lock as a fantasy breakout candidate is mostly because of the weapons that he has around him, rather than his skill as a quarterback. Don’t get me wrong, Lock definitely has the potential to be a franchise quarterback for Denver, but he seems to be a long-term project rather than an immediate star. Lock threw for just over 1,000 yards in five games last season. That number will dramatically increase, due to a whole offseason with Pat Shurmur as the new OC. Shurmur is known for his simple spread offense, and Lock ran a spread offense at Missouri.
With Lock manning the offense, he has a flurry of playmakers around him, including Courtland Sutton, Melvin Gordon, Noah Fant and rookies Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. With these young skill players around him, Lock will get the ball in his playmakers’ hands and let them do the work, similarly to how Eli Manning or Sam Bradford did in Shurmur’s system. Lock also has sneaky scrambling ability, which will get him out of jams if nobody is open downfield.
In today’s NFL, having a multitude of weapons around a developing quarterback is immensely important and could propel Lock to a breakout season.
Sophomore RB Fantasy Breakouts
David Montgomery, CHI
David Montgomery is an intriguing back this season. Montgomery has a lot of factors that will play to his strength as a fantasy football option. Playing in Chicago, it’s likely that Montgomery will play in his fair share of cold weather games. Playing in cold weather is a magnificent recipe for running backs. Chicago is also going through a quarterback situation in which the starter at the position is surrounded with some uncertainty. In order to offset this uncertainty, it seems likely that Chicago will want to run the ball often to take pressure off of a still developing Mitch Trubisky or an inconsistent Nick Foles. The last factor that helps Montgomery’s cause as a featured back is that there is virtually no competition for touches in the backfield. Tarik Cohen is there, but he is more of a pass catching, occasionally lining up at wide receiver.
At receiver, Chicago sports two speedsters on the outside, with Anthony Miller and Ted Ginn Jr, as well as Allen Robinson with his big play ability. This will open up the defense for Montgomery to find holes and hit them hard. Montgomery is a sneaky back who can win someone their league and won’t be drafted until mid rounds.
Devin Singletary, BUF
Devin Singletary is looking to take over the number one spot at running back on the Buffalo Bills roster. He will have the first opportunity to show what he can do at running back, with Frank Gore out of the picture. The Bills did draft Zack Moss, but it’s hard to imagine that a rookie running back will start immediately over someone like Singletary, who showed promise last season.
Singletary’s small size allows him to hide behind his offensive line in order to hit holes easily. I fully expect Singletary to receive a majority of the work on early downs and be given many opportunities to flash his ability as a quality running back. He also should see an increased role as a receiver out of the backfield.
We have already seen Singletary take advantage of the opportunities he was given last season. The only hold up was injuries. Assuming he stays healthy, he should see a breakout season, with Moss playing the “thunder” role to his “lightning.”
Sophomore WR Fantasy Breakouts
Marquise Brown, BAL
In the NFL, if you have speed, you’ll find your way onto the field. Marquise Brown exemplifies this, as he is already one of the fastest receivers in the NFL. With the breakout of Lamar Jackson last season, it is likely that defenses are going to try to contain the quarterback and force him to throw. This works in favor of Brown, as he is undoubtedly the number one wide receiver in Baltimore. Brown is a big play waiting to happen, as Baltimore likes to run the ball, opening up play action and long passes on later downs.
Realistically, the only player that will take Brown’s targets is Mark Andrews. With Andrews and Brown being two very different types of pass catchers, they will be good compliments for not only each other, but also for Jackson.
After a fully healthy offseason, which Brown did not get last year, he should be an improved player and possibly increase his touchdown total from the seven he caught as a rookie. This, with the evolution and progression of Jackson’s game this season, makes Brown an obvious fantasy breakout candidate.
Mecole Hardman, KC
Speaking of speed, Mecole Hardman is the second-fastest receiver in the game, as well as the second-fastest receiver on his team. Andy Reid likes to air the ball out, Patrick Mahomes likes to throw very far, Hardman and Tyreek Hill like to run fast. This recipe resulted in a Super Bowl victory last season.
Hill has emerged as a top-five receiver in the NFL and Sammy Watkins will always be an average-to-above-average receiver. This plays good for Hardman, because he will likely be covered by the defense’s third or fourth defensive back. In his rookie season, Hardman was targeted 41 times, which resulted in 538 yards and six touchdowns. With a full year under his belt, it is inevitable that Hardman will see more targets. His big play ability, similar to Marquise Brown, is what will set him apart from other receivers in the NFL. The pass first, run later offense plays very well for Hardman’s skill set, and he will play a vital role in the Chiefs’ quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Hardman is also a talented returner for Kansas City, so he will contribute in that category, if your league scores it.
Sophomore TE Fantasy Breakouts
Noah Fant, DEN
Being a big receiving option for a still developing quarterback is a good spot to be in. Drew Lock has shown confidence in targeting Noah Fant, as Fant’s four best games of the season came with Lock as starter. With all of the speed that Denver has, with Jeudy, Hamler and Sutton, someone needs to work the middle of the field. At 6-4, 250 lbs, Fant will be a mismatch against both linebackers and slot corners.
Denver’s young offense is something to be excited about. Look for Fant to have a breakout season, like we saw from Darren Waller and Mark Andrews last season.
Jace Sternberger, GB
A starting receiving option for Aaron Rodgers is a good position to find yourself in. With Jimmy Graham in Chicago and Marcedes Lewis mostly used as a blocking TE, Jace Sternberger slides into that starting spot.
Sternberger is the best athlete that the Packers have had at TE since Jermichael Finley (one of Rodgers’ favorite targets). The early reports are that Sternberger will be used as a slot receiving TE, which Rodgers seems to value, as players like Randall Cobb have made names for themselves out of the slot. Sternberger didn’t record a catch in the regular season last year, due to missing time with injury, but caught a touchdown against Seattle in the playoffs.
The Packers have turned into a run-first offense, but with Rodgers at quarterback, the ball will be thrown more often than not in Green Bay. Sternberger has great athleticism and good route running ability. He may make the biggest jump this season, in comparison to last season, of all of the players on this list. Sternberger could end up in the same conversation as Jonnu Smith and Noah Fant this season, finishing as a top-15 TE.