2010 Fantasy Football Breakout Candidates

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm ET

One or two breakout guys can turn a hopeful fantasy season into a Can't-Wait-Til-Sunday type of season where the second guessing is kept to an absolute minimum. For those who where fortunate enough to see the potential in guys like Ray Rice and Vernon Davis, 2009 was a very good year. Here's who we're looking at to have coming out parties in 2010.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB Steelers

Rashard Mendenhall

Santonio Holmes is gone and Big Ben has his own troubles leaving Rashard Mendenhall as the most attractive option in that Pittsburgh offense. This is a young man who put up respectable numbers last year and has so much upside going into 2010 that he's worth a late first-round pick and will most likely be gone before the end of the 2nd round in all leagues. The Steelers get a strong option in the backfield and you get a fantasy workhorse.

Shonn Greene, RB Jets

Greene was a superstar in the postseason for the Jets last year and we expect that to continue. Even with LaDainian Tomlinson now in the mix, Shonn Greene can be looked upon as a genuine fantasy starter. The Jets continue to get better both offensively and defensively. If Rex Ryan opts to give Greene 300 or so carries, expect some brilliant fantasy production.

LeSean McCoy, RB Eagles

For years, Brian Westbrook was the equivalent of gold in PPR-format leagues. The sun may have set on Westbrook's career in Philadelphia but that gives rise to a new dawn and LeSean McCoy. We're tempering our expectations so we're not quite ready to compare the two just yet, but McCoy has the talent and the potential to see a substantial boost in his 2010 fantasy value.

DeSean Jackson, WR Eagles

DeSean Jackson

You'd think that with the departure of Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson's potential would plummet. That's not the case because there's less uncertainty surrounding Kevin Kolb. When Kolb filled in last year, Jackson saw 2 scores and 250 yards in those 2 games. Jackson-owners saw both extremes last year in terms of weekly production, but if his numbers are averaged out, he's the top WR. Combine his raw talent with another year of maturity and DeSean Jackson can make 2010 his year.

Ryan Mathews, RB Chargers

There is so much speculation surrounding the Charger's #1 pick. Several industry experts are calling Mathews the Offensive Rookie of the Year and the season hasn't even begun yet. He's currently ranked #17 among running backs on the FantasyFootballNerd.com's Draft Rankings list and could very well claim that ROY honor. Coach Norv Turner has indicated that Mathews could very well see close to 300 touches this season which tells us that Darren Sproles shouldn't impact Mathews's fantasy potential. His 276 attempts last year resulted in 1,808 yards for a fantastic 6.5 yards per carry average. His 19 scores last season just added to the excitement. He most likely won't see that same 6.5 yards/carry once he reaches the NFL, but he should still see 1,000+ yards this year.

Jermichael Finley, TE Packers

Jermichael Finley

As a Packer fan, I'm thrilled to put Finley on this list. He matured quite a bit last year and the final seven games of the season saw him grab 38 receptions for 416 yards and four touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers should end the year as a Top 5 fantasy QB which bodes well for Finley who appears to have created a great rapport with his QB. Jermichael Finley is currently ranked #5 among TE's on the FantasyFootballNerd.com's Draft Rankings list and it's quite likely he'll end the season at the same spot. We're expecting big things from Finley in 2010.

Remember, it only takes 1 or 2 breakout players to take you to the fantasy postseason. Don't reach for these guys but if they're available, be ready to grab them.

Are we missing a sure-fire breakout candidate? Let us know and we'll share it!

Join the Discussion

Sniff CommentedMay 30, 2010 11:00 am

I completely agree on DeSean Jackson, Ryan Mathews and Jermichael Finley. However, though the potential is there, you have to wait and see what role Jonathan Dwyer, LT, and Mike Bell are going to have, especially goal line work, to determine the true breakout potential of Mendenhall, Greene, and McCoy (though still could be in PPR leagues even without red zone work)

adeehr CommentedJun 7, 2010 11:00 am

Interesting picks there Nerd. I don't know if I agree with all your picks, but I do agree on at least McCoy and Greene.

I don't consider Jackson a breakout candidate since he was the number 6 overall fantasy receiver last year, according to Fleaflicker. He's more of a guy who could slip, not because of the Kolb, but because defenses won't leave an extra guy up to watch for McNabb running and can slide another guy back as a defender in pass defense. Sure Jackson can out run everyone, but if a guy is playing center field he can't be out run. So I figure about the same stats as last year, with maybe a slight tail off. I really don't see him competing in a big jump with the likes of Fitz and Wayne at the top.

Matthews is a tough call, he could be number 1 in that offense, but look how the number 1 fared, even if he was aging. Marty ball isn't played in SD anymore, and that offense is now geared for the passing game. I could see him, with possibly close to 800 to 1200 total yards if he's given 250 touches. Be cautious here.

Mendenhall is an enigma to me. I am not sure what to make of them. I've had him in the past and he spent some time on the IR and did nothing for me. At Illinois he looked like a world beater, but at times in the NFL he looks lost running into the teeth of the defense. Last year he finally was showing something to me, but now with Big Ben out for a while, his production should be limited as defenses will key on him instead of the passing game. But after Ben is back that production should kick in. The nice thing is if you can get him a little later then his expected production he should pay dividense the second half of the season...if healthy.

Finley, lazy, not wanting to work out, freak of an athlete. Reminds me of former packer Bubba Franks, and his career turned out fantastic...oh wait. I hope Finley can get past all this crap he's going through, admitting it has helped in the public's eye, but we'll see if it turns to hard work on the practice field. I'm not going to reach to get him as a breakout candidate, but there's reason to think he could be like you said, in the number 5 spot, or even higher.

Just some of my thoughts on the guys you mentioned. I have a few other guys I'll be keeping an eye out for this fall. Maybe I'll have to come up with my own list for you Nerd. :) Or maybe not!

Cousyman CommentedJul 23, 2010 11:00 am

C.J. Spiller could be the surprise rookie of the season! Hopefully, Buffalo's coaches will have to overcome the inertia created by the lack of imagination that has rendered talented athletes like that of T.O. and Marshawn Lynch into 67th and 49th rankings on your cheatsheet.

Thanks for providing a great site for the FF nuts like me.

Nerd CommentedJul 23, 2010 11:00 am

I think it depends on how they choose to use Spiller. It would be nice to see him in the endzone. I hear you on the coaches - Buffalo was a hard one to figure out last year.

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