Fantasy Football: One Breakout Candidate From Every NFL Team
Everyone wants to get their hands on this season's breakout player. Landing the year's unexpected fantasy star can win you your league, but it's pretty hard to figure out just who that breakout stud is going to be.
As a rookie in 2014, Freeman was bad -- like, historically terrible. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Freeman's first season was one of the worst by a running back since 2000, the start of our database.
For those of you who are new to numberFire, NEP, in short, looks at each down-and-distance situation on a football field and shows how that player did versus expectation. A 7-yard pickup on 3rd-and-6 is more valuable than a 7-yard gain on 3rd-and-10, right? NEP accounts for that. You can read more about NEP in our glossary.
Back to Freeman. In 2014, there were 67 running backs who had at least 60 rushing attempts, and Freeman ranked 67th in Rushing NEP per carry. Dead last. It gets worse. His ugly 24.62% Success Rate -- the percentage of carries that led to NEP gains -- ranked 1,077th among 1,079 running backs with at least 50 carries in a season since 2000.
Then the Atlanta Falcons changed coaches for 2015, drafted Tevin Coleman in the third round and started Coleman in Week 1 -- so of course Freeman ended the 2015 campaign as fantasy's top-ranked running back.
Like I said, identifying breakout stars ain't easy, but that doesn't mean we can't make educated guesses, which is precisely what we're going to do here.
Let's roll through the league, taking a look at all 32 teams, with the goal of identifying each squad's top breakout candidate. These players will come in all shapes and sizes -- varying in age, position and relevance -- but each dude checks some boxes in terms of what we look for in possible breakout players. Some have sky-high ceilings with low floors while others are safer plays without quite as much upside.
Also, when possible, I'll aim to stay away from players who will need an injury or some other significant break to see any sort of meaningful volume. Instead, I want to look at guys who already have their foot in the door in terms of opportunity.
For the sake of clarity, we're focusing on 12-team, point-per-reception (PPR) leagues, and all average draft position (ADP) data will be pulled from Fantasy Football Calculator.
Here we go.