Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season is nearly upon us, which means people are frantically taking part in Fantasy Football drafts right now. Every single offseason, people compile lists of players that they believe are poised to have a breakout season. Finding players that are on track to have a breakout season tends to lead to success in Fantasy Football as the player could return loads of value compared to where they were going in drafts.
Entering the 2021 season, there is a slew of players — mainly at the running back and wide receiver positions — that could be in for a breakout season. Whether it be talent, the situation they are in, or other reasons, some players are just positioned better than others to produce gaudy numbers.
While you continue to conduct Fantasy Football drafts before the regular season begins, here are five breakout candidates for the 2021 campaign.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Early in the 2020 season, it seemed as if we’d get a monster season from rookie CeeDee Lamb in his debut season with the Dallas Cowboys. However, Dak Prescott would sustain a season-ending ankle injury, lowering the level of production that each wideout on the Cowboys saw for the rest of the season.
From Weeks 1-5 in 2020, Lamb was WR12 in half-PPR formats in Fantasy Football, showing that he already has a nice rapport with Prescott. Lamb fell short of a 1,000-yard season in 2020, but with Prescott back in 2021, I expect Lamb to show why he could still be the best wide receiver to come from the 2020 NFL Draft.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson has led the Baltimore Ravens in rushing in back-to-back seasons, eclipsing 1,000 yards in each season. Provided that, some people may be wary of selecting a running back on the Ravens as Jackson could continue leading the way on the ground.
That being said, J.K. Dobbins is in a prime position to break out for Baltimore in 2021. Baltimore’s offense is still centered around running the football often, and despite the presence of Gus Edwards, Dobbins should lead the team in attempts. Plus, if we could see slightly more work in the passing game for Dobbins, there’s a chance for Dobbins to finish near the top 10 at his position in Fantasy Football.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
When looking at the Detroit Lions, it’s hard to expect them to have a successful season in the win column. On the other hand, when it comes to Fantasy Football, there are a few players I want, but none more than D’Andre Swift. Swift is set to be a workhorse back for the Lions this season after splitting touches with Adrian Peterson in 2020.
What makes Swift such an intriguing target, even with Jamaal Williams as his backup, is that Detroit doesn’t have a definitive No. 1 wide receiver, which could lead to plenty of pass-down work for the second-year back. Also, Jared Goff isn’t an aggressive quarterback, so checking down to Swift is going to be a popular choice he makes this season.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Goff’s former team in the Los Angeles Rams acquired Matthew Stafford, leading many to believe they can compete for a Super Bowl. Upon getting Stafford, the expectations for Cam Akers to have a breakout season in his second year were rapidly growing. Sadly, Akers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury that will prevent him from having a chance to post a breakout season in 2021.
Instead of Akers, Darrell Henderson — who the Rams traded up to get in the 2019 NFL Draft — could be in store for a breakout season. Henderson has proven to be a capable dual-threat running back in his limited action. While some people may be hesitant to take Henderson with the Sony Michel trade taking place, Michel isn’t a running back that I’m concerned with as he’s been largely ineffective in recent seasons.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
There were a handful of rookie wide receivers from the 2020 NFL Draft that were expected to explode last season. Even though he didn’t have a historic season like Justin Jefferson, Jerry Jeudy still managed to show why he received so much buzz coming out of college. Jeudy is a pristine route runner that has no trouble creating separation. That could lead to success in Fantasy Football as whoever his quarterback is will take notice of his ability to get open.
The Denver Broncos announced that Teddy Bridgewater will be the starting signal-caller in Week 1. While Bridgewater isn’t a franchise quarterback, let’s not act like D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson weren’t effective in fantasy football in 2020 with Bridgewater throwing them the ball. Given how Moore and Anderson performed, we could see Courtland Sutton and Jeudy both have stellar seasons in 2021.