Year Two Fantasy Breakout Candidates

by Aditya Fuldeore · Draft Strategy

Rookies with high expectations can often fail to meet them in their first year and drop in fantasy value. However, some of these players come back to produce well in their second year, outperforming ADP. Guys that improve in second-year production, both for real and fantasy football, like Diontae Johnson, David Montgomery, and Michael Pittman, provide a boost to fantasy players at their second-year values. This does not include guys like Kyle Pitts who had a solid season and is already valued highly at his position. Identifying year two breakout candidates with improvements in opportunity or situation with breakout potential can give you a leg up on your competition come fantasy football season.

Rashod Bateman

As Baltimore’s new WR1, Rashod Bateman is an obvious choice for this list. Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins‘ departures leave behind 194 targets. Bateman is the only remaining Baltimore wide receiver seeing a target share over 10-percent last season.

Rashod Bateman Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Bateman began his rookie year injured and hardly played with Lamar Jackson, leading to 515 receiving yards and 8.6 (No. 53) fantasy points per game in 12 games. Now, he will be the No. 2 receiving option behind Mark Andrews heading into the season. Bateman was used as a possession receiver, constantly gaining first downs, and boasting a 63.6-percent (No. 5 among qualifying receivers) Contested Catch Rate. His 82nd-percentile arm length will continue to help him be a consistent target for Jackson on the outside. Now the Ravens’ WR1, expect Bateman to see an increase from a 15.8-percent (No. 61) target share to a target share in the 20s, and his red zone opportunities will come with that volume. Bateman’s Underdog ADP stands in early 60s now, with inconsistent receivers like Courtland Sutton and Gabriel Davis going before him. Snag him before his ADP skyrockets.

Zach Wilson

The Jets are easy to fade, but they have added enough to ponder a Zach Wilson breakout this upcoming season. As a rookie last season, Wilson played in 13 games, averaging 12.5 (No. 30) fantasy points per game with just nine touchdowns to 11 interceptions.

Zach Wilson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

While Wilson’s numbers don’t paint the most positive picture, he has arm strength and quickness. His advanced metrics show a 7.8 (No. 12) accuracy rating, and an 8.0 (No. 1) accuracy rating vs man coverage. Wilson was particularly skilled on deep balls, with a 6.7 (No. 5) deep ball accuracy rating and a 67.4-percent (No. 7) deep ball catchable pass rate. However, he was plagued by drops from his receivers, with 41 (No. 3) dropped passes. Adding Garrett Wilson will help complete more of those deep targets. C.J. Uzomah and Breece Hall will also help with shallower targets and give Wilson a better supporting cast for gaining chunk yardage, converting red zone opportunities. Wilson’s running abilities will also add to his fantasy value as he had 11 (No. 13) red zone carries and 14.2 (No. 21) rush yards per game last season.

Wilson is currently being drafted after fellow sophomore quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, but he has a better supporting cast and the deep ball ability to break his current ADP.

Nico Collins

The Texans don’t exactly scream for fantasy relevancy outside of Brandin Cooks. However, Nico Collins is currently the No. 2 outside receiver in Houston’s offense after seeing 61 targets and averaging 6.0 (No. 76) fantasy points per game in 14 games last season.

Nico Collins Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Collins is big, coming in at 6-4, 215-pounds. He has 97th-percentile arm length and 95th-percentile Catch Radius which gives him a length advantage over most corners. Collins’ Catch Rate last season was only 54.1-percent (No. 92), but a contributing factor to that was the 6.6 (No. 87) Target Accuracy he received from his quarterbacks. Davis Mills projects to be Houston’s starter, and most of Collins’ best games came with Mills under center. Rookie John Metchie will join the team, but he does not threaten Collins’ role as Metchie projects to play out of the slot, while Collins will play outside. Houston has a new head coach and offensive coordinator, and while the Texans will be down more often than not, it will lead to more opportunities for Collins. He won’t be ignored in the red zone for long as one of the biggest and lengthiest targets on the team.

Collins is currently being drafted outside the top 200 in Underdog ADP behind receivers likely to see less opportunity or possessing inferior measurables like Kendrick Bourne and K.J. Osborn. Pick him up before he breaks out and smashes his ADP.

Honorable Mention: Josh Palmer

Josh Palmer Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

If the Chargers did not re-sign Mike Williams, Josh Palmer would be a top choice for this list. However, Palmer is still the WR3 on his team and likely the No. 4 receiving option for Justin Herbert. Palmer achieved a 100-percent (No. 1) Contested Catch Rate on eight contested targets last season. However, he averaged just 8.7 yards (No. 72) of average target distance. For now, he is a low-volume possession receiver who needs more opportunity to break out. High Chargers pass-volume or a key injury ahead of Palmer would give him the chance to smash his ADP, but for now an Underdog ADP in the 160s is accurate value.