Identifying breakout candidates in the season will keep you ahead of the curve and provide value for your rosters. Upside and opportunity are what to look for in a player to have that leap into the next fantasy tier. Here are five players I like to breakout this season.
Charles Sims – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The running game in general leaves little to be desired in Tampa Bay, but Doug Martin has proved to be a subpar back outside of his rookie season and Charles Sims has an opportunity in front of him. Lovie Smith drafted the second year back and after starting last season on the PUP list, Sims will have something to prove this season. He may not be the prototypical every down back, but he should be a factor in the passing game and has the upside to rack up a few receptions and yards if he can get into open space and make a few players miss. Sims will have to improve in that area this season, as he managed less than two yards after contact in 2014. Charles Sims’ pass catching ability combined with Doug Martin’s inability to win the bell cow role make Sims a candidate for a breakout in 2015.
Derek Carr – QB, Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr’s rookie season was a pleasant surprise, considering he landed on a team with little promise. The Oakland Raiders selected Carr as the fourth quarterback off the board behind Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater. Derek Carr finished as the QB20 in 2014, better than his rookie counterparts drafted ahead of him. The Oakland Raiders spent money and acquired Michael Crabtree during free agency and drafted top rookie wide out Amari Cooper with the first pick, giving Carr a massive upgrade at the position. The addition of 6’4” rookie Clive Walford provides another potential toy for Carr to play with. Derek Carr must improve on his 21 to 12 touchdown to interception ratio from 2014, but the emergence of Latavius Murray paired with PPR gem Roy Helu, Jr. should relieve some of the pressure on Carr. The offensive upgrade in Oakland has the potential to boost Carr into the top 15 tier.
Kenny Stills – WR, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill is perceived as a downgrade from the great Drew Brees, but in reality he finished just 24 points shy of Drew Brees per ESPN’s scoring format as QB9. With Mike Wallace gone, Kenny Stills will be Tannehill’s deep threat and will compliment Jarvis Landry well in Miami’s passing game. If Tannehill can improve upon his deep passing skills, Stills, who averaged close to 15 yards per reception in 2014, can have a huge season. Kenny Stills has the ability to have a career year in 2015 and should go over 1,000 yards, as well as improve upon his three touchdown total from 2014. Stills put up a stat line of at least five receptions and sixty yards on eight separate occasions last season. If he can duplicate that and increase his touchdown production, Kenny Stills will see his breakout in 2015.
Virgil Green – TE, Denver Broncos
It is hard to be excited about a 5th year player with a career total of 23 receptions, 206 yards, and a lone touchdown, but Green is about as close to the definition of breakout candidate as you can get. Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme left the door open for a new dual combo in Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, but Green has the upside and massive 6’5” frame to push Daniels for targets, especially in the red zone where Peyton Manning targeted Julius Thomas numerous times. Gary Kubiak is notoriously tight end friendly and he brought with him his veteran tight end Owen Daniels who will compete with Green. Virgil Green and Owen Daniels may wind up in a committee, but I like Green to beat Daniels’ 48 receptions, 527 yards, and four touchdowns from 2014 and finish ahead of him in 2015.
Cole Beasley – WR, Dallas Cowboys
I know, the big guy just signed his big contract, so he is going to get all the targets, right? We need to be realistic and we need to recognize the connection Tony Romo developed with his little guy in the slot. The Cowboys noticed it enough to extend Cole Beasley, and he could be a huge factor for the Cowboys’ offense in 2015. It is no secret that Beasely out-targeted Dez Bryant over the final five games, including the playoffs, in 2014. The most impressive thing about Beasely is his ability to convert on third down, where he hauls in close to 80% of his targets. With no DeMarco Murray to go to on third and short, Beasley should reap the benefits. He’s not likely to give you a hundred yard game, but Beasley’s receptions add up, especially when he hits pay dirt. Cole Beasley can easily double his 2014 production of 37 receptions, 420 yards, and four touchdowns, and if he does he will have his breakout season.
Finding a breakout star comes with its risks, but the reward will be worth it. Finding value and cheap plays can build you a winning roster and earn you some money at the same time. When you are taking a shot on a player this season, consider these five breakout stars.