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10 NFL Players Having Breakout Fantasy Years (And 10 Stars Who Have Disappointed)

Stress is put on thousands of football fans during the season, not only from their favorite team, but from their fantasy team. When August hits, friends gather around (or log in) and conduct a fantasy draft. Money is put in as fans put together what they believe will be the team to help them win the jackpot. But, things don’t always go according to plan.

Players age, players get hurt and many other variables effect how players are in fantasy. And depending on if a league is PPR or not, may depend on the success of a player. But as for all of this information goes, we’re running with PPR information. PPR leagues are points per reception, and have become a fan favorite due to the amount of points that can be scored, and not having to rely solely on touchdowns to win.

What isn’t so simple, is believing in all of your players. Things happen, which could affect the way players perform, especially on an individual basis. What can really be a bummer, is drafting someone high just for them to get hurt. There’s so many different scenarios that can really hurt a fan’s chance of winning their fantasy football league.

We are going to break down which players have been breakout stars in fantasy leagues, and which have been disappointing. Sometimes, players just perform at a high level or struggle when it comes to fantasy, but it doesn’t make them a bad player. Get ready to make some adjustments to your team, as we look at the best and worst of PPR leagues.

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20 Breakout: Tyler Lockett - Seattle Seahawks (WR)

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

With Paul Richardson signing with the Redskins, Tyler Lockett has really become the top wide receiver in Seattle. So far this season, Lockett has yet to put up less than 10 points. His high was 19.4 against a very good Rams defense.

Lockett went from an average receiver, to becoming a consistent one.

Lockett is a great flex option for those looking for consistency on their team. You can almost fully depend that he will help give you at least 10 points a week, considering the lack of other talented wide outs on the team. Plus, for many leagues, he’s probably not that valuable.

19 Disappointed: Royce Freeman - Denver Broncos (RB)

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Running backs are a dime a dozen in fantasy, especially considering there are very few good fantasy running backs. Many fantasy players drafted Royce Freeman, because of the hype that the team gave him over the offseason. His ability to also catch the football out of the backfield made him an intriguing pick.

This season, Freeman has been quite the disappointment. He scored over 10 points only twice, and that was for 12 points. With Philip Lindsay really emerging as the starter, Freeman has seen less and less carries over the last few weeks. At this point in the season, Freeman has no trade value.

18 Breakout: Kenny Golladay - Detroit Lions (WR)

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody would have expected the Lions 2017 third round pick into a star receiver in fantasy. Kenny Golladay has put up 10 points in every game so far, this season. He has also put up at least 15 points in four out of five games.

So many weapons are on the Lions, which made it a risk to go after Golladay. But for most leagues, Golladay was not drafted. Every team had an opportunity to grab in on waivers, but decided to pass on the evolving no. 1 receiver. Golladay has the talent to send Golden Tate out of town come free agency.

17 Disappointed: Jordan Reed - Washington Redskins (TE)

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Two seasons ago, Jordan Reed looked like he could be one of the best tight ends in the league. In 2018, he definitely doesn’t look like one of the best fantasy tight ends. He has his moments that are worth hanging on to considering the position, but he’s far from consistent.

It doesn’t help that Alex Smith has been all over the place this season.

His best game came on opening day against the Cardinals, when he caught a touchdown pass and scored 14.8 points. Besides that, he hasn’t been very productive. If you have him on your team, keep him, as there's still time for him to find chemistry with Smith.

16 Breakout: Austin Hooper - Atlanta Falcons (TE)

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On the other hand, there is another tight end who’s been really good. Austin Hooper may be on waivers for your league, or was just picked up within the past week or two. Many fantasy players probably picked up Hooper following Week 2, when he put up 16.9 points against the Panthers. He didn’t see as much action the following two weeks, which may have deterred some players from going after him.

Week five and six were big weeks for Hooper, as he scored 16.7 points against the Steelers and 22.1 against the Buccaneers. In both of those games, he caught nine passes, showing Matt Ryan is beginning to trust him more.

15 Disappointed: Dion Lewis - Tennessee Titans (RB)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Experienced fantasy players know that adding Derrick Henry to their fantasy team is a huge mistake. That is why a lot of them drafted Dion Lewis. Lewis saw a lot of action in New England, both getting a solid amount of carries, and a lot of targets through the air. So far, things haven’t necessarily worked out in Tennessee.

For the past month, Lewis’s workload has gone down. He’s only rushed for over 50 yards twice this season, and caught for over 50 yards twice as well. That is one thing with former Patriots players; you can’t trust they will put up big fantasy numbers on a new team.

14 Breakout: Robert Woods - Los Angeles Rams (WR)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Rams receiver corps was good, but nobody really looked that highly of them. Now, they look like the best trio in the NFL.

Robert Woods has been one of the receivers to take a leap from last season, as he’s almost caught for as many yards as 2017, not even halfway through the season.

Woods has scored at least 15 points every week for the past month, two of which he scored over 20. Woods is catching for an insane amount of receiving yards, having several 100 yard games, with likely more to come. Woods would have come as a late draft pick, but is playing like an early pick.

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13 Disappointed: Kenyan Drake - Miami Dolphins (RB)

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Once Jay Ajayi was traded to the Eagles, the running back hype in Miami shifted to Kenyan Drake, but, he definitely hasn’t lived up to it. In fact, he nearly cost the Dolphins a game, as he fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line in overtime against the Bears back in Week 6.

Drake was an appealing choice within the first few rounds, being a running back that can contribute in the passing game. So far, he’s been very inconsistent. He had two games where he scored over 15 points, and the rest were under 10. Unfortunately, Drake is more of a matchup running back, than a true starter.

12 Breakout: Melvin Gordon - Los Angeles Chargers (RB)

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe this will be the season Melvin Gordon gets the respect he deserves. Rarely, do you ever hear analysts compare Gordon to some of the top running backs in the league, but this season, he’s playing like them.

He's on pace for well over 1,000 yards this season and could possibly hit total touchdowns.

There have been three times this season where Gordon has scored over 25 points, and only once where he’s scored less than 10 points. Gordon was a steal for those who picked him. Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott and Le'Veon Bell were commonly drafted before him, but Gordon is definitely a name to keep watching for the rest of the season.

11 Disappointed: LeSean McCoy - Buffalo Bills (RB)

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Fantasy owners are praying that LeSean McCoy gets traded. For years, McCoy has been one of the best backs in the league. But right now, he can’t control what’s going on in Buffalo. The Bills have been so bad on all sides of the ball, and just can’t move the football. With the lack of talent, it really sets up McCoy for failure.

McCoy has been dealing with some injuries which have kept his snap count low. On top of that, with no threat of a passing game in Buffalo, teams are stacking the box to stop McCoy. He’s worth keeping on the roster in hopes of him picking it up, but it might be worth playing matchups with him until that offense looks serviceable.

10 Breakout: James Conner - Pittsburgh Steelers (RB)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell stated that he would be at practice before opening day of the season. Well, that didn't happen. Bell won’t make an appearance in Pittsburgh until the team’s bye week. But while Bell has been gone, James Conner has been balling out.

When Bell decided not to show up, Conner became a popular pickup considering nobody probably knew about him before this season. Conner has lit up the scoreboard this year, crossing the 30 point threshold several weeks. Conner was a great pick up on waivers, and may see more action if Bell does indeed eventually get traded before the trade deadline.

9 Disappointed: Larry Fitzgerald - Arizona Cardinals (WR)

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Larry Fitzgerald may be the most disappointing player in fantasy football this season. The future Hall of Famer has only scored over 10 points once, on opening day with Sam Bradford under center. In four of seven games, Fitzgerald caught less than four passes.

It’s so tough because he has so much talent that you don’t want to let him go, but he’s been worse than your average player on waivers.

Some fans were smart, and traded Fitzgerald early in the season. Others are stuck with the veteran on their roster, but are scared to actually drop him, with the possibility of him eventually clicking with Josh Rosen.

8 Breakout: Tyler Boyd - Cincinnati Bengals (WR)

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Two years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Tyler Boyd out of Pittsburgh. Boyd had a great rookie season, but took a step back in 2017 due to missing some games. But now back in 2018, Boyd has been an absolute star.

Boyd is seeing a lot of throws come his way from Andy Dalton, which is helping both players improve. Four times this season, Boyd has made at least six catches. Twice, he’s caught for over 100 yards. That’s three games with over 20 points. And the best part is, Boyd was just on waivers for most leagues just a few weeks ago.

7 Disappointed: Amari Cooper - Oakland Raiders (WR)

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
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How can you trust Amari Cooper as a starting receiver, if you can’t trust the Raiders offense has a whole? There have been weeks where the Raiders look like a legitimate offense, and other weeks where they look like a complete disaster. And that may be part of why the Raiders are rumored to be shopping Cooper for a first-round pick.

Cooper has had a few 100-yard games this season, but there have been other times when he's completely invisible. He and Derek Carr just can't seem to capture that magical chemistry they had a couple of years ago. Playing Cooper on a weekly basis is very risky.

6 Breakout: Eric Ebron - Indianapolis Colts (TE)

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Eric Ebron was on waivers a few weeks ago for many. Now, he may be the best tight end in fantasy football.

Andrew Luck has clearly made Ebron a favorite in the passing game, as he’s on pace for over 10 touchdowns on the season.

It’s a great sign for fantasy owners, considering this is a tight end who has the ability to score 30 points.

He may be the only tight end to do that besides Travis Kelce.

Ebron should continue to put up big numbers, even when T.Y. Hilton is back. Luck trusts Ebron, especially when they get into the red zone.

5 Disappointed: Marvin Jones Jr. - Detroit Lions (WR)

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Last season, Marvin Jones Jr. became the top target for the Detroit Lions. Now, things are changing back to normal, with Golden Tate being the top receiver, and with Kenny Golladay getting a lot of action, Jones is on pace to post less than half of the 1,131 yards he put up last season.

Jones Jr. has only put up over 10 points twice, catching a touchdown pass in both games. That is not a good sign for fantasy owners, giving doubt he puts up many points if he doesn’t score. With the trade deadline approaching, a lot of fantasy owners will likely try to trade him.

4 Breakout: Patrick Mahomes - Kansas City Chiefs (QB)

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With quarterbacks, they’re never that valuable in PPR, because there’s so many of them that put up similar numbers. Patrick Mahomes, is unlike the rest. Mahomes has really taken over the league, and become the most exciting quarterback in the NFL. As far as the fantasy world, he’s been a set starter no matter the matchup, every week.

No matter where he’s playing or who it’s against, you can pretty much assume he’s going to ball out. Even if he throws a couple of interceptions, the yards and the touchdowns just keep on coming. Right now, Mahomes is the most valuable quarterback in fantasy football.

3 Disappointed: Odell Beckham Jr. - New York Giants (WR)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Unlike most disappointments on this list, Odell Beckham Jr. has had some really good games. Against the Panthers, he scored 31.4 points. The problem is, he’s been really inconsistent. Three times this season he’s scored under 15 points, two of which were against struggling secondaries. Many are wondering whether OBJ has been the problem, but a lot of those struggles are on Eli Manning and the Giants' porous offensive line.

The bottom line is, there are high expectations for Beckham Jr. and he’s just not living up to them.

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but fantasy owners don’t care about that. They want to see their star receiver put up more points.

2 Breakout: Saquon Barkley - New York Giants (RB)

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

One New York Giant that has been incredible, is Saquon Barkley. Not that anybody expected much less, but he’s been great on the field, and in fantasy leagues. Unlike most running backs, Barkley is just built to break through many tackles, and make it difficult to be brought down on first contact.

Saquon has been so good, that many fantasy owners are changing their team name to nicknames revolving him. Every single game this season, Barkley has scored at least 20 points, including a game against the Eagles where he scored 37.9 points. Barkley may have been the best pick of the year in fantasy drafts.

1 Disappointed: Antonio Brown - Pittsburgh Steelers (WR)

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Another wide player who has been good, but maybe not good enough, is Antonio Brown. If this was another player that we are talking about, we would say this is a breakout player. But considering that many fantasy leagues have players that selected Antonio Brown in the first round of the draft, he hasn’t showed up like people would expect.

Three times throughout the season, Brown scored less than 20 points. With Juju Smith-Schuster playing lights out, it has taken away some of the targets from Brown. Brown’s a consistent wide receiver, who just wasn’t worth a first round pick this season.

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