With the NFL regular season approaching, each team eyes potential breakout players ahead of the 2021 season. Here, we discuss which talented players have the potential to take their game to the level for fantasy owners:
New England Patriots: Jakobi Meyers, Wide Receiver
Meyers is bound for a breakout season as a volume receiver for the Patriots, which could make him a top waiver priority in the early stages of the new season. While he didn’t score any touchdowns in 2020, Meyers did finish with five or more targets in each of his last six games. On three occasions, he was targeted 10 or more times. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and N’Keal Harry round out the rest of the receiving core, but Meyers could be poised for the best fantasy season.
Buffalo Bills: Gabriel Davis, Wide Receiver
Davis had some production last year as the WR4 on the Bills depth chart. He may need to climb his way up the ranks again, as the team signed signed Emmanuel Sanders in free agency to replace John Brown. Davis could be a top waiver wire target if Buffalo has any future injuries on the offensive end. Last season, Davis totaled 35 receptions, 599 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns. He finished as WR56 in 2020 and is only owned in 6.5% of leagues.
Miami Dolphins: Mike Gesicki, Tight End
Gesicki is only going to get more production with Tua Tagovailoa likely looking at him as a security blanket. He also offers help in the deeper passing game with his contested catch ability. Gesicki could have a shot at being an elite tight end this upcoming season. Gesicki finished as TE7 in 2020 and we could see him make the leap into the top five this year. Miami also has the second-best fantasy SOS (Strength of Schedule) at the tight end position.
New York Jets: Denzel Mims, Wide Receiver
Mims didn’t get much usage in 2020, but his upside with new quarterback Zach Wilson is hard to ignore. Mims thrives on the outside routes, so he could be in line for a lot of volume this season. The Jets also have the seventh-best fantasy SOS at the wide receiver position this season. With an ADP (Average Draft Position) of #247, Mims has the potential to be a top waiver priority early on in the fantasy season.
Baltimore Ravens: Rashod Bateman, Wide Receiver
Bateman is a rookie who can make an immediate impact for the Ravens, as they seek out their primary receiver. Bateman current has an ADP of #153, which makes him a 13th round selection. Currently dealing with an injury, Bateman received surgery and should be back on the field in September. In redraft leagues, he could slip due to health concerns. In his last full college season, Bateman totaled 1,219 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris, Running Back
Harris will be the three-down back in Pittsburgh. There are the questions about the offensive line and whether Harris can produce as a volume option, but he could be an instant superstar. Harris is usually taken towards the late stages of the second round with an ADP of #16. The Steelers also have the seventh-best fantasy SOS in the league, which will benefit the rookie.
Cincinnati Bengals: Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver
Higgins had a strong rookie campaign. While the Bengals did add Ja’Marr Chase in the NFL Draft and still have Tyler Boyd on their depth chart, it could open up matters for Boyd. He finished last season as WR28 as a rookie and is owned in almost 90% of leagues. As an upcoming FLEX option, Higgins has tremendous upside as a WR3/4 on fantasy rosters.
Cleveland Browns: Anthony Schwartz, Wide Receiver
Schwartz was a third round pick for the Browns in the NFL Draft, so they must plan to utilize him. He can be a deep threat for Cleveland with a 40-time of 4.25 seconds; the top time among rookies. He will be an early contender for waiver wire considerations, especially if Odell Beckham Jr or Jarvis Landry can’t stay healthy. Schwartz ended his 2020 campaign at Auburn with 54 receptions, 636 yards, and three touchdowns.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Etienne, Running Back
Etienne should thrive with the Jaguars after being paired with his college QB in Trevor Lawrence. He joins a backfield that includes James Robinson. The duo could compare to the likes of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt if developed properly. Etienne rocks an ADP of #66 in most leagues and is drafted between the sixth-to-eighth round.
Houston Texans Brevin Jordan Tight End
Brevin is a player to watch out for on the waiver wire and could be a low-risk, high reward fantasy asset. As the most talented tight end on the Texans depth chart, his value could increase over time. Assuming Deshaun Watson does not start for Houston in 2021, Jordan could be viewed as the safety valve for Tyrod Taylor. Last season with Miami, Jordan ended with receptions, 576 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts: Michael Pittman Jr, Wide Receiver
Pittman has a chance to take over as the top receiver in the Colts offense this season. Indianapolis has the ninth-best fantasy SOS in the league, ultimately benefiting Pittman as a fantasy asset. He could be on track for roughly 10 targets per game in select matchups, benefiting fantasy owners in PPR-based leagues.
Tennessee Titans: Anthony Firkser, Tight End
With Jonnu Smith gone, Firkser is now the top tight end on Tennessee’s depth chart. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has leaned on Firkser in the past, and with red zone targets on the table, he should be able to fill that void. In eight games last season, Tannehill targeted Smith on five or more occasions. With Firkser potentially filling the role, he could be a name to watch in fantasy realms.
Las Vegas Raiders: Bryan Edwards Jr, Wide Receiver
Edwards is primed for a breakout season, as the primary receiver position is up for grabs in Las Vegas. He has the physical traits to be successful, and will be a waiver option in most leagues. Last season, Edwards finished with only 11 receptions, 193 receiving yards, and one touchdown.
Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver
Jeudy is a player we saw flashes of promise from last season, but there were some inconsistencies. He should be able to build off his rookie season and become a primary option for Denver. Jeudy ended his rookie campaign with 52 receptions, 856 yards, and three touchdowns.
Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire Kansas City Chiefs
Edwards-Helaire was not used correctly for most of the season last year, as his touches dwindled over time. The Chiefs have the 14th-best fantasy SOS for running backs this season, so with more touches, Edwards-Helaire has a shot of being a top 10 fantasy back. In the two games that Edwards-Helaire was given at least 25 carries, he went over 130 rushing yards in each game.
Los Angeles Chargers: Josh Palmer, Wide Receiver
Palmer was a third round selection this year for Los Angeles and is doing well in training camp. He could go under the radar in this offense behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, ultimately leaving Palmer in the waiver wire picture. He ended his last season at Tennessee with 33 catches for 475 yards and four touchdowns.
New York Giants: Darius Slayton, Wide Receiver
Slayton showed flashes in 2019, but struggled last season with the lack of red zone targets. With a receiving core, he may be able to sneak under the radar with defenses focusing on Kenny Golladay among others. Slayton is currently at an ADP of #179, which is considered nothing more than a bench piece at this time.
Dallas Cowboys: Ceedee Lamb, Wide Receiver
One could argue Lamb broke out in 2020, but there is still a higher ceiling with Dak Prescott under center for a full season. Amari Cooper is dealing with early injuries, which could result in Lamb slide into the primary role. He ended last season as WR22 and was targeted five or more times in each time he played in. At an ADP of #38, Lamb has the potential to generate numbers as a high-end WR2 or low-end WR1 in most leagues.
Washington Football Team: Curtis Samuel, Wide Receiver
Samuel has shown his versatility in the past and had a productive 2020 season. Still, he could reach new heights this season as the unofficial WR2 for Washington. His utilization in the offense is beneficial in both the running and receiving game, making Samuel an appealing option in fantasy. Washington has the 13th-best fantasy SOS for wide receivers this season, making Samuel a potential FLEX play in select matchups.
Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, Tight End
Goedert is not the clear-cut TE1 for the Eagles and has Jalen Hurts throwing him the ball, who will be looking for a security blanket. The ceiling of Goedert could result in TE5 production across the 2021 season for fantasy owners. As the TE20 last season, this would be a massive jump. Goedert is currently being drafted as the TE7-9 in fantasy drafts in the mix with the likes of Noah Fant and Mike Gesicki.
Chicago Bears Darnell Mooney Wide Receiver
Mooney is on the verge of a breakout season from Chicago after a productive 2020 rookie campaign. His ability to catch deep balls is only part of his upside. Finishing as WR50 last season, Mooney is only being owned in 52.8% of leagues. He could find his way onto the waiver wire, but Mooney is one of the best late-round flyers available in fantasy leagues.
Green Bay Packers: A.J. Dillon, Running Back
Dillon now slides into the RB2 slot for the Packers depth chart. With the departure of Jamaal Williams, Dillon is emerging as one of fantasy football’s most important handcuffs. He didn’t have too much playing time until a late-season game against the Tennessee Titans, where he shined with 25.9 fantasy points.
Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift, Running Back
Swift is now the primary back in Detroit after the departure of Adrian Peterson and will have Jamaal Williams backing him up. Swift ended his rookie campaign with 114 rushes for 521 yards and eight touchdowns along with 46 catches for 357 yards and an additional two touchdowns. Swift finished as RB17 last season and is owned in 97.1% of leagues. He is currently dealing with a groin injury.
Minnesota Vikings: Irv Smith Jr, Tight End
Smith now has his shot as a TE1 in the Vikings offense. He has the potential to break out, as we have seen flashes of that last season when given the opportunity. Last season, Smith finished with 30 receptions for 365 yards and five touchdowns.
New Orleans Saints: Adam Trautman, Tight End
The stock of Trautman has risen since the Michael Thomas injury, as he sits as the TE1 on the Saints depth chart. He should receive more targets if Thomas misses an extended period of time. The Saints also have the sixth-best fantasy SOS, which means Trautman could find increased value in the upcoming campaign.
Atlanta Falcons: Russell Gage, Wide Receiver
With the Falcons trading Julio Jones, Gage moves up the depth chart. Expect a heavier workload for him, as he is coming off a solid season. If he remains consistent, Gage is considered a potential FLEX play. Atlanta has the 11th-best fantasy SOS at the wide receiver position.
Carolina Panthers: Terrace Marshall, Wide Receiver
Marshall was a steal for the Panthers in the second round of the NFL Draft, who lost Curtis Samuel this offseason. There are 77 catches on the table from Samuel, therefore Marshall is bound to get some targets. The Panthers have the fourth-best fantasy SOS at the wide receiver position. He is found in the waiver wire in various redraft leagues, but could be a name to watch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, Tight End
Most of Tampa Bay’s starters are established, but Howard comes in behind Rob Gronkowski on the depth chart. When healthy, Howard will benefit from the play of Tom Brady in two tight end formations. This season, the Buccaneers have the fourth-best fantasy SOS for tight ends.
Seattle Seahawks: Gerald Everett, Tight End
Everett lands in a favorable spot in Seattle as a probable TE1 with Russell Wilson throwing the ball. He is projected as late-round pick with an ADP of #173 and is only being owned in 4.2% of leagues. Everett finished last season with 41 receptions for 417 receiving yards and one touchdown with the Los Angeles Rams.
Arizona Cardinals: Chase Edmonds, Running Back
Even with James Conner to contend with in the backfield, Edmonds is primed for a productive fantasy season. Edmonds has upside as not only a rusher but in the receiving game as well. Arizona is ranked fifth amongst all teams in fantasy SOS this year for running backs, so Edmonds dual-threat ability should be on full display.
Los Angeles Rams: Darrell Henderson, Running Back
With the unfortunate injury to Cam Akers, this is a no-brainer selection. Henderson should be the primary back in Los Angeles and was fairly productive last year. He finished last season in the top 25 for fantasy purposes among running backs. The Rams also rank first in fantasy SOS for running backs.
San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver
Regardless of who is under center, Aiyuk is in for a big season. He is an explosive playmaker who is bound to break out as the primary receiver for the 49ers. The team rank first in fantasy SOS for wide receivers this year. Aiyuk finished his rookie campaign with 60 catches for 748 yards and five touchdowns. Aiyuk hold an ADP of #69 which could make him a potential FLEX starter on a weekly basis.