Fantasy Quarterback Breakouts: Is there a Deshaun Watson-type breakout lurking on the draft board in 2018? Probably not. But that won’t stop me from trying to point out a few quarterbacks who could emerge as fantasy studs this season.
Keep in mind: A break-out (in my mind) is a player who jumps into the next level and establishes himself as a fantasy stud moving forward. There are plenty of players who I think will outperform their ADP, but they will be written about in the articles about sleepers/value picks.
Also See: 2018 Fantasy Football Player Rankings
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Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
Last season’s sample size was small, but in what we saw from Garoppolo in five games was pretty impressive. He won all five games and averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game, despite only throwing for a total of seven touchdowns. He also averaged 308.4 passing yards per game and completed 67.1 percent of his passes. ProFootballFocus had him rated as the second best quarterback in the NFL over his 5-0 stretch.
Doubters will point to the quality of his available targets. Pierre Garcon is the top receiver on paper, but he’s 32 and missed half of last season with a neck injury. The good news is that Marquise Goodwin emerged as a favorite of Garoppolo’s during their time together. Goodwin has 29 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown during their five games together. There’s also high hopes this year around second-year tight end George Kittle, who combined with Brent Celek for 23 catches, 412 yards and three touchdowns. The addition of running back Jerick McKinnon should also help, as Coach Kyle Shanahan expects him to be involved in the passing game.
Patrick Mahomes, KC
The sample size is even smaller for Mahomes, who started just one game last season, throwing for 284 yards and an interception. But that hasn’t stopped the hype around Mahomes, who you’ll see on just about every breakout list you’ll read.
The Chiefs certainly have faith in Mahomes and his laser-rocket arm. They gave up the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft to acquire him, and still liked him enough to trade Alex Smith away this offseason. “He is one of the best players I’ve ever seen,” Chiefs GM Brett Veach said this offseason.
Much will depend on what side of the bed Andy Reid wakes up on regarding his offensive approach. He has been traditionally conservative as the Chiefs’ coach, but last season he let Smith off of his leash and it yielded excellent results. It’d be frustrating to see Reid play it conservative with weapons like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and new addition Sammy Watkins at his disposal.
Which one of these potential fantasy breakout quarterback candidates is more likely to actually break out?
— Sablich Brothers (@5thDownFantasy) August 1, 2018
Lamar Jackson, BAL — If there is a Deshaun Watson lurking this season, it may be Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner who the Ravens traded up to snag in the 2018 NFL draft. He’s a dynamic playmaker whose running ability gives him lots of future fantasy potential, and his arm isn’t too shabby either. It would take an injury to Joe Flacco (or an implosion, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility) for Jackson to make an impact this season, but if he does, he could be one of the guys nobody drafted this season who everyone will be drafting next.
Also Keep In Mind
Jameis Winston, TB — After a strong finish to 2017, averaging 317 yards per game and completing 67.2 percent of his passes over the final five games, and offseason moves to strengthen the offensive line and adding a quality rookie running back to the mix, things seemed to be coming together for Winston to take the next step. Then, he got suspended for three games. This will scare off most owners, but given how deep the quarterback position continues to be, see if you can snag him late and utilize him starting in Week 4 (keep in mind his bye in Week 5).