Top 5 Fantasy Breakout Candidates | Quarterbacks
Now that we can see a clearer picture of where some guys are and what young quarterbacks will have some new weapons, it’s the perfect time to predict which guys could be major breakout fantasy options in 2011.
We’ll hit up the top five breakout candidates at each major fantasy position, and we start the process with the quarterbacks:
1. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
I like to call Stafford the new “Mr. Glass”, as he’s taken the place of Matt Schaub as the league’s most fragile quarterback. While he’s missed a ton of action through his first two seasons (18 games), Stafford still offers a cannon arm and the talent to make good use of his excellent weapons. He simply needs to stay healthy, and he could easily transform into a capable QB1 in fantasy football in 2011.
2. Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)
Bradford is very close to being at the top of this list, but considering his top receiving option is currently Mike Sims-Walker and not Calvin Johnson, he takes the second spot. Still, Bradford’s solid rookie season (3,000+ passing yards and 18 touchdowns) offers a ton of optimism for his second year. He appeared poised and controlled for much of the season, and did some solid, consistent damage with fairly average weapons. Now with slightly better toys to play with and operating out of an explosive Josh McDaniels offense, the sky is the limit.
3. Kevin Kolb (Arizona Cardinals)
Kolb has flashed brilliance in his seven career starts, but he’s also flashed poor decision-making and inconsistency. While his flaws are a concern, fantasy owners considering drafting him at least now know for sure that he’ll be starting in 2011. And with a huge contract with over $20 million guaranteed, it’s a safe bet he’ll be given every opportunity to continue starting, even if he falters out of the gate.
With his contract in place, Kolb also has a full, firm backing from his organization and coaching staff for the first time in his career, and will also go to work with superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at his disposal. Kolb is a major breakout candidate as a full-time starter with an elite weapon. He’ll stick inside our top-20 quarterback rankings at the minimum, with a shot to move up with good preseason play.
4. Mark Sanchez (New York Jets)
Sanchez has performed well under remarkable high-pressure situations in New York, and has done his part in getting the Jets to two straight AFC title games to start his career. He may not have reached elite fantasy status yet, but he still has proven to be a competent quarterback.
The odds are still against him to truly breakout in 2011, simply because the Jets are run-heavy and defensive-oriented. However, with Santonio Holmes back and Plaxico Burress in town, there’s a chance Sanchez could take the next step. And if the Jets are serious about returning to the AFC title game for the third year in a row, he’ll probably have to.
5. Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos)
I love Tebow as a fantasy quarterback. Unfortunately, the Kyle Orton to Miami trade rumors haven’t produced any results, and Tebow is still a back-up. His upside is likely somewhat limited in a John Fox-led system, regardless, but his ability to change games with both his arm and his legs gives him more value than the average young quarterback.
If Orton falters, gets hurt, or gets traded, Tebow should climb into our top-20 due to his athleticism and intrigue.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Campbell, Tarvaris Jackson, Colt McCoy, Cam Newton