The fantasy football breakout player. They are always overlooked on draft day, sometimes starting the season as free agents. They surprise us. They can often win championships. And they always shake things up for next year’s draft. Here are 2010’s top 10 fantasy football breakout players.
All statistics current as of 12/7/2010
10. Brandon Pettigrew: 60 catches, 590 yards receiving, 3 TD
Pettigrew is “all growns up.” In 2010, he will more than double his receptions from last year and likely his yardage totals, too. Of course, this is the Lions, so his touchdown totals leave something to be desired. But in 2011, a healthy Matthew Stafford could make Pettigrew a top-flight tight end.
9. Sam Bradford: 2,653 yards passing, 17 TD
Technically, rookies “breakout” just by starting. But when you’re on pace to almost match Peyton Manning’s rookie totals of 3,739 passing yards and 26 TD’s … that’s more than a blip on the fantasy football radar. Bradford should continue to develop into a top-tier quarterback, and he’ll be a value pick on draft day 2011.
8. BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 699 yards rushing, 64 yards receiving, 11 total TD
The Law Firm didn’t take long to show that he could be a featured back in a Tom Brady offense. Therein lies the rub. While BenJarvus had a breakout year, his draft status in 2011 will be hampered by the Patriots prolific passing attack (kind of like the Colts). However, he still makes an excellent #2 back, as he’s in the red zone often.
7. Dwayne Bowe: 58 catches, 885 yards receiving, 14 TD
The only reason Bowe isn’t higher on this list is because of a previous season with 86 catches and 7 touchdowns, limiting his “breakout” status. That being said, 14 touchdowns plants Bowe firmly on this list and elevates his status going into 2011 as “elite.”
6. Darren McFadden: 870 yards rushing, 351 yards receiving, 7 total TD
Run DMC would be higher on this list if not for a couple of minor injuries – something to consider on draft day in 2011. Regardless, McFadden has finally proven that he is capable of being an owner’s #1 fantasy football running back or one of the best #2 backs in the game.
5. Kyle Orton: 3,486 yards passing, 20 TD
Old Neck Beard got a shave and magically found some accuracy in 2010. Orton has gone just one week without a touchdown pass and 10 weeks over 200 yards – including monster games of 476 yards, 369 yards and 347 yards. It’s hard to imagine Orton won’t start in 2011, but keep an eye on the Broncos’ off-season moves.
4. Brandon Lloyd: 60 catches, 1,153 yards receiving, 9 TD
Brandon Lloyd has his first 1,000-yard season, and the most catches and touchdowns in his career – by week 12. In other words, Lloyd has a career year in the making and becomes a 2010 fantasy football darling. It’s an amazing year, to be sure, but I see many teams drafting him too high next year.
3. Steve Johnson: 61 catches, 832 yards receiving, 9 TD
Seriously, who even knew this guy existed until after the first few weeks of the season? Johnson’s previous career high was 10 catches for 102 yards – in an entire season. Now, he’s every owner’s crowning free-agent achievement and a guaranteed middle-round draft pick in 2011.
2. Peyton Hillis: 962 yards rushing, 436 yards receiving, 13 total TD
After being let off the leash in week three, Peyton Hillis showed what he could do in a starter’s role and helped end Josh McDaniels’ Broncos career. Hillis has gone just two weeks without scoring a touchdown. For those in PPR leagues, he’s had 8 weeks with at least 4 catches. It wouldn’t be absurd to see him as a first-round pick in 2011. However, beware of the Browns.
1. Arian Foster: 1,230 yards rushing, 479 yards receiving, 15 total TD
Arian Foster’s year defines “breakout.” He doubled last year’s total yardage by week two and after week one had already matched his 2009 touchdown total. By week 14 he’s had six games rushing for more than 100 yards, and six games with more than one touchdown. Could Arian Foster be 2011’s #1 fantasy football draft pick? I can’t think of one reason why not.
If you liked this article, check out 2010’s Biggest Fantasy Football Busts!