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Fantasy Football Second-Year Breakouts for 2022

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As the 2022 fantasy season begins to approach, much of our attention is on dynasty rookie drafts. But the fantasy community has a bad habit of only looking at what’s new. We agonized over our evaluations of last year’s rookie class, and now that there’s a new crop of rookies to analyze, we’ve moved on.

 

So today, let’s look back on last year’s class and pick out the players whose breakouts are still to come. This class saw a few Year One breakouts — guys like Ja’Marr Chase and Najee Harris. Both players had top-12 positional finishes. But there are plenty of other rookies from 2021 who still have room to be the big-time fantasy producers many expected a year ago.

(FTN’s Tyler Loechner revisits last year’s rookie class from every angle.)

Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos 

A potential Javonte Williams breakout is far from under the radar. But I am here to reassure you that it is coming. Last year while splitting carries with Melvin Gordon he finished as the PPR RB26 in PPG with 12.1. He looked explosive, powerful and showed great vision. Coming into 2022 he is “the Guy” in Denver. This is huge, as Williams and Gordon combined for 406 carries, 1,821 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, good for 400 PPR points. Obviously, we cannot expect that from Williams, but hitting 300-350 PPR points is well in reach for this sophomore back. 

Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons 

It would be easy to say Kyle Pitts already arrived. After all, he had 1,000 yards as a rookie, only the second tight end to do so (first since Mike Ditka in 1961). However, for fantasy purposes, he came up shorter than we’d like. Because he only scored a single touchdown, he only averaged 10.4 PPR points per game, 12th among tight ends. With a touch more luck and a new-look offense around him that almost has to feature Pitts heavily, he should start to see these touchdown numbers increase. With that, he will push right into the top three tight ends in fantasy football and become much more consistent for his fantasy managers. 

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

As the first player taken in the 2021 draft, many expected Trevor Lawrence to be the Jaguars’ savior right away. However, Year One was very rough for him. Of course, the issues in Jacksonville went far beyond the quarterback. From the coaching staff to the talent he was surrounded with, it was kind of a mess for the ex-Clemson signal caller. Heading into 2022 with a new regime and playmakers added in free agency, we should expect a big jump from Lawrence. If things get turned in the right direction for Lawrence in 2022, he has the ceiling to be a fantasy QB1.

Elijah Moore, WR, New York Jets 

As a training camp darling. many hoped for a huge Year One out of this Ole Miss product. However, that was not the case, as Elijah Moore finished as the WR35 in PPG, averaging 12.6 PPR points. Throughout the season he dealt with injuries, which held him back. Along with playing aside a rookie quarterback who had his struggles early on as well. We did see Moore flash midseason with two weeks of at least 20 PPR points (he was one of the biggest after-the-bye gainers a year ago). As we look toward 2022, we can expect a healthy Moore along with an improved Jets team. This could lead to a huge 2022 for him — finishing as a top-20 wide receiver is not out of the realm of possibility. 

Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens 

This former Golden Gopher had high expectations placed on him after the Ravens selected him in the first round last year. Those expectations were never achieved, but there are brighter skies on the horizon for him. A major thing working against him in 2021 was injuries, not only to Rashod Bateman himself but to the whole Ravens team. Now with a healthy Lamar Jackson at quarterback and a stable of talented running backs, the Ravens offense should be much more productive in 2022. In Bateman’s 12 games, he saw 68 targets, including six or more targets in seven different games. As a large part of what the Ravens want to do moving forward, there should be more opportunity for him. In large part due to this pass-heavy Ravens offense they keep mentioning, we should see Bateman explode in 2022.

 

Deeper breakout candidates 

Amari Rodgers, WR, Green Bay Packers

Although the players listed above have some of the highest potential to break out in 2022, there are a few more who could. One of these players is Amari Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Although he was not used much in his rookie season, the recent departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling open a huge door for him. Opportunity alone can make him a quasi-breakout.

Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans

Fellow sophomore wide receiver Nico Collins is also on breakout watch. The Texans have a glaring hole at the wide receiver position, which will give Collins plenty of opportunities. Due in part to a lack of touchdowns last year, he struggled to produce a large amount of fantasy points. The worry here is who will be the Day One quarterback, and how productive the overall offense can be. Another Texans player to watch for is Brevin Jordan, a highly athletic tight end who flashed later in the year. 

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