When we’re looking at potential break out seasons, that word is really what it’s about; potential. For some reasons, some way beyond the player’s control, they’ve not delivered big fantasy football seasons as of yet. But the stars have aligned for some guys this year to put up some big numbers with their current teams.
If I have an honorable mention to this list it’s Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Tom Wilkinson already put together a great list of reasons why Bradford should be on your radar. People and pundits that are critical of Bradford’s play in St. Louis simply never watched the games. There were times, especially in 2013, where he was the only thing working on the team. He was heading for a 34 touchdown season before he got hurt. He was the Rams’ main consistent scoring weapon and averaged over two touchdown passes a game, and that was before they got the running game together. So don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Bradford.
Now on to the list.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
2014: 226 carries, 964 yards, nine touchdowns, 29 catches, 145 yards receiving
The Saints made re-signing Ingram a priority this offseason, never letting him hit the free agent market for a reason. By sending every other running back that took his potential carries and catches away via trades, cuts or free agency, Ingram is due for a big season simply because he’s the only guy they have to tote the rock.
New Orleans have done all they could to waste Ingram on their roster since drafting him in the first round back in 2011 and it seems they’ve finally figured that out. Combined with the players they’ve traded away or let go in the passing game, the Saints will be leaning more on their rushing attack this season and Drew Brees and a young wide receiver corps will benefit from an improved play-action game.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
2014: 67 catches, 872 yards, eight touchdowns
Matthews was one of the steals of the draft last season when the Eagles took him in the second round. It’s crazy that he dropped that far, considering he’s one of the best wide receivers in SEC history and lined up every week for four seasons against future NFL defensive backs. The only thing surprising about Matthews’ rookie year is that he didn’t put up Odell Beckham Jr-style numbers. I blame the number of games Mark Sanchez started for that, but a healthy Bradford not only makes him a break out, but elevates Matthews too. He’ll catch 100 passes this year and double-digit touchdowns.
Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams
2014: 179 carries, 765 yards, four touchdowns, 16 catches, 148 yards receiving, one touchdown
If you drafted Zac Stacy early last season then Tre Mason was likely your worst enemy as he overtook the Rams’ presumptive starter four games into the season. Mason proved himself a tremendous weapon for the Rams as a rookie, with his time only hampered by trying to pick up the nuances of the passing game. This year, with Nick Foles at quarterback and a new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti calling the plays, Mason should be an all-purpose weapon and, barring injury, should produce the Rams’ first 1,000 yard rusher since Steven Jackson.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Atlanta Falcons
2014: 14 catches, 109 yards, two touchdowns
Tamme all but disappeared as a weapon in the passing game as Julius Thomas emerged in Denver over the last three seasons, but signing with the Falcons was brilliant. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan leaned on a Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez in all his best seasons and while Tamme isn’t in Gonzalez’s league, he’ll be the best option Ryan has had since Gonzalez retired. Before Thomas took his job completely in Denver, Tamme caught 52 passes for 555 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. I’m looking at 80 catches, for around 900 yards and 10 touchdowns in Atlanta this season.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
2014: 175 carries, 809 yards, three touchdowns, 25 catches, 181 yards receiving, one touchdown.
Stewart’s situation last year was similar to Inrgams. There just weren’t enough footballs to go around in the Carolina backfield. Now, with DeAngelo Williams out of the picture Stewart will get the lion’s share of the carries and since he averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season, there’s no reason to think he won’t put up some huge numbers as the primary back this season.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
2014: 63 catches, 931 yards, three touchdowns
Stills had a great second season in the league for New Orleans last year so it was a surprise to see them ship him to Miami, even if it was for linebacker Daniel Ellerbe. With the Dolphins trading Mike Wallace to the Jets, Stills instantly becomes their best weapon on the outside in the passing game and he should get lots of one-on-one opportunities with the acquisition of Jordan Cameron at tight end sucking in the safeties in coverage. In his two seasons in the league, Stills has averaged 16.5 yards per catch and should absolutely blow up in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s passing offense.
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