Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2016

Fantasy: 10 breakout candidates to target in your draft (Updated)

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Get ready for your season with theScore’s 2016 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

Every fantasy owner wants to discover the star player no one saw coming. It gives you bragging rights over the competition and puts you in position to make a run at the title.

With only a few weeks left until the season, let’s take a look at this year’s breakout candidates.

Average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator and based on 12-team leagues with standard scoring.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers


Looking for a late-round quarterback with the potential to finish the year as a top-five player at the position? Your search should start and end with Winston, whose ceiling is sky high after a rookie season in which the former real-world No. 1 draft pick showed increased mastery at his position as the season wore on despite a lack of help from the supporting cast (Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed time with injury, and Mike Evans led the league in drops). Winston will get more help this year, which should set him up nicely for his ascension. At this time next year, we could talk about Winston as one of fantasy football’s elite passers.

Star Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: Early 12th round

Duke Johnson, RB, Browns


It doesn’t take an enigma machine to decode the messages coming out of Browns camp this spring: The new coaches love Johnson and plan to make him a featured piece – perhaps the featured piece – of an offense that could be surprisingly dangerous. Johnson flashed three-down potential as a rookie, but his fantasy production was capped by the mess that was the Johnny Manziel-era Browns. With a major upgrade in the coaching staff, and the possibility of a revived Robert Griffin III threatening defenses with his legs, Johnson could have ample opportunities to carve up defenses behind what remains a very good offensive line.

Star Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: Early 7th round

Matt Jones, RB, Redskins


Jones looked the part of a No. 1 RB during the preseason last year, but when the games counted he was held back by a fumbling problem and the presence of veteran Alfred Morris. The latter left in free agency and Jones spent the offseason working on his ball security. With little competition on the roster outside of passing specialist Chris Thompson, Washington has put all its faith in Jones. The team is being cautious and holding Jones out for the rest of the preseason after he suffered an AC joint sprain, but he’s expected to be ready for Week 1. As long as he holds onto the ball, both the Redskins and fantasy owners will be rewarded.

Star Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: Early 6th round

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions


Abdullah enters 2016 as a post-hype breakout candidate. He was unable to build off his stellar preseason as a rookie last August, but there are reasons to return to the well this year. The Lions offense showed improvement once Jim Bob Cooter took over as coordinator midway through the season and Abdullah’s yards per carry rose to 4.6 during that time. The offensive line should be upgraded, with first-rounder Taylor Decker moving in at left tackle. In the wake of Calvin Johnson’s retirement, Detroit will be in search of playmakers and few players offer Abdullah’s game-breaking ability.

Star Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: Late 7th round

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts


Moncrief was well on his way to a breakout season in 2015 before injuries sent Andrew Luck to the sidelines. The 22-year-old has the size and skill to be a No. 1 receiver and showcased his talents by scoring a touchdown in five of the seven games Luck appeared in. T.Y. Hilton will remain Luck’s top option, but there will be plenty of targets to go around in Indy, which will allow Moncrief to settle in as a WR2 in fantasy. An offseason turf toe operation has helped keep his ADP in check, so enjoy that value while you can get it, this will be the last year you see Moncrief’s name this low on fantasy draft boards.

Star Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: Mid 5th round

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks


The most explosive wide receiver in football is Antonio Brown. The second-most explosive could be Seahawks sophomore Lockett, who as a rookie often looked like he was running with rockets on his shoes. Lockett must add more polish as a receiver, but Seahawks coaches have confirmed he is a big part of their offensive plans. They need him to be. Marshawn Lynch is no longer the centerpiece of this offense. Russell Wilson should hit a career high in passing attempts and plenty of those will be thrown Lockett’s way.

Star Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: Early 7th round

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions


Jones is hoping an expanded role on a new team will lead to a breakout campaign, as he attempts to fill the void left by Calvin Johnson in Detroit. No one is expecting Megatron-like production from the former Bengal, but the Lions have talked Jones up as a potential No. 1 wideout. Jones doesn’t need to be Matt Stafford’s first read in order to be a fantasy star. With the abundance of targets in Detroit’s offense, both Jones and Golden Tate can be quality fantasy starters, with Jones excelling as a weapon near the red zone.

Star Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: Mid 7th round

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins


Never fully healthy as a rookie, Parker still showed why the Dolphins believe he has gamebreaker potential by averaging 19 yards per reception on 26 catches. Parker finished the season strong, averaging 95 yards receiving over his final three games and is a threat to pick up right where he left off in new head coach Adam Gase’s scheme. Worried about Jarvis Landry vacuuming up targets? Remember: Gase’s offense made both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders fantasy superstars.

Star Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: Early 8th round

Coby Fleener, TE, Saints


Ben Watson proved that even a mediocre talent can approach fantasy stardom as Drew Brees’ preferred tight end. Fleener is more than “just another guy,” even if he seemed to get lost in the shuffle far too often with the Colts. The Saints paid Fleener a lot of money to be a facsimile of what Jimmy Graham once was. While that may be a tad optimistic, double-digit touchdowns and top-five tight end value are absolutely within reach.

Star Potential: ★★★★★
ADP: Mid 7th round

Zach Miller, TE, Bears


Miller is flying well below the radar after missing the first two weeks of the preseason with a concussion. Now back at practice, Miller will settle into his new role as the Bears’ starting tight end. Filling in for Martellus Bennett last season, Miller impressed, including a three-game stretch late in the year where he averaged six catches and 70 yards per game. The 31-year-old is older than most breakout candidates, but even in a small sample size he was able to find the end zone five times during the second half of 2015.

Star Potential: ★★★★☆
ADP: Early 15th round



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