Fantasy football sleepers, busts and breakouts for 2016

The difference between winning and losing your league often comes down to a single decision on draft day. It could be taking a player whose production explodes, turning him into one of the elite players in the game. It could be selecting a player whom others slept on during the draft but far exceeded his preseason value. It could also be a player whom you intended to rely on but then flopped miserably.

To assist you in securing the best impact players and draft values -- while avoiding players who will wreck your roster -- the ESPN Fantasy Football staff offers its top sleepers, busts and breakouts as defined below:

Sleeper: A player who will far surpass his average draft position (ADP) in standard ESPN leagues for the 2016 season.
Bust: A player who is expected to be a solid starter in standard ESPN leagues but will fail to live up to those expectations this season.
Breakout: A player who will leap into or close to the upper echelon of players at his position for the first time because of a dramatic increase in production compared to his previous seasons (or in his rookie season).

Our panel is composed of these ESPN Fantasy writers and editors: Matthew Berry, Tom Carpenter, Mike Clay, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Ken Daube, Leo Howell, KC Joyner, Eric Karabell, Keith Lipscomb, Jim McCormick and Field Yates.

Each analyst named a sleeper and a bust for each of the major offensive positions, as well as one breakout candidate. You can find their picks in the charts below, and then analysis and insight on a selection of players in each category. There were also players who were on one analyst's sleeper list, and another's bust list. We highlight these "debates" in their own headers below, so that you can read both opinions and decide for yourself on which side you lie.


These are the players our panel believe will exceed their 2016 average draft position and provide value for those who take a chance on them.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Simply because of where Tannehill is ranked (20th), he qualifies as a legitimate sleeper candidate you can get in the late rounds or off of waivers, depending on league size/roster makeup. Remember, he finished ninth among QBs in 2014 without being remarkable, and he has two strong weapons that should make Tannehill a matchups play, at the very least, in many weeks. Jarvis Landry made a big jump as a sophomore, racking up 110 catches, and many are forecasting a breakout from yet another second-year wideout, DeVante Parker, who in a healthy full season will provide Tannehill with a big, dynamic downfield threat.

New head coach Adam Gase likes to create mismatches to put the QB in positive situations, so as long as the Dolphins' offensive line shows improvement and Tannehill is given more time to throw, it's quite possible he will return to the neighborhood of the top 10 at the position in 2016. -- Keith Lipscomb

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

Mike Mularkey coined a unique phrase this past winter for the Titans' 2016 offense: "exotic smashmouth." The smashmouth element is tied to the backfield tandem of workhorse veteran DeMarco Murray and bruising rookie Derrick Henry, and the exotic element could be satisfied by Mariota's rare rushing ability. Mularkey has promised an uptick in designed runs for the Oregon product, which not only would lighten the box for the backfield but would add significant fantasy value to a player who -- if we remove his limited work in Week 15 at New England -- finished 10th in fantasy points per game among signal-callers as a rookie. That's not a typo; Mariota produced 18.1 standard fantasy points per game while battling through injuries, a coaching change and a depleted receiving corps. I'll have tons of shares of Mariota at QB2 pricing this summer, while QB1 production is well within the outcome spectrum. -- Jim McCormick

Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Cleveland Browns

He'll be pitted head-to-head with Isaiah Crowell for the Browns' running back duties entering camp, and most fantasy owners will assume a result of more of the same: Crowell on first and second downs and Johnson on thirds. Still, Johnson's 2015 got off to a sluggish start because of a hamstring injury and then a concussion, but his final rushing numbers weren't all that far off from Crowell's despite that. Johnson was a three-down back in college at Miami, and the Browns presumably would like to see him take on more of the rushing chores in 2016, especially since new coach Hue Jackson is notoriously run-heavy on offense. At the very least, Johnson's prowess in the receiving game grants him an elevated weekly floor; at his best, he could be a 300-touch player, a tier reached by only four running backs in 2015. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots

A mere seven running backs finished with more than 160 points last season (10 points per game for backs that play a full season). That illuminates two points: it's hard to find running backs that consistently offer top-end talent and it's a position that is difficult to sustain the wear and tear that comes with playing running back. The limiting factor on Lewis is that he has had durability concerns in the past. But he's expected to be fully healthy entering the 2016 season and averaged more than 12 points in the six full games he played last season. If he stays healthy, 75 catches and 120 rushes is not totally out of reach. -- Field Yates

Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins

Someone has to run the ball for Kirk Cousins and the Washington offense, and Jones, who was inconsistent as a rookie, is clearly first in line, with seemingly little competition now that Alfred Morris is gone. Jones has the size and speed to handle regular duty and create big plays, and being in a pass-first offense could actually aid him. Sure, his 2015 stats were not glorious, as Jones wasn't impressive after contact and wasn't a major factor as a receiver, but that creates the buying opportunity now that he's healthy after offseason hip surgery. He can be a RB3. -- Eric Karabell

Torrey Smith. WR, San Francisco 49ers

The adage that fantasy owners have short memories might not be any more evident than with Smith, who is going in the 10th or 11th round in early mocks I have seen and more or less left for dead among fantasy analysts. Last year was brutal, no doubt, and his quarterback situation is not, shall we say, ideal. But at just 27 years old, Smith has averaged a touchdown for every 7.2 receptions during his career, which isn't surprising given his speed and red zone efficiency (he has converted 17 of 24 red zone catches -- 70 percent -- into scores). But can the 49ers get him the ball?

This is me saying they can and they will. I mean, who else are they throwing to there? Jerome Simpson? DiAndre Campbell? Exactly. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson each had one season as the top target in Chip Kelly's offense. Both set career highs in targets, yards and tied for career highs in touchdowns. (If Smith sets career highs in yards and touchdowns, he'd have at least 1,129 yards and 12 scores, which would have been tied for seventh best at WR last season). Despite a slow start and a season where everything went wrong, Jordan Matthews still finished as a top-20 WR last season and was WR9 from Weeks 9-17. Any DeAndre Hopkins owner will tell you that you don't necessarily need a good QB to be a fantasy stud, and while I am obviously not saying Smith is Hopkins, I am saying he'll be a much more complete WR as Chip Kelly's best (only?) weapon in the passing game and much more than the situational deep threat he was in Baltimore. In five years in the NFL, Smith has never missed a game and at his current ADP, he is an absolute steal. -- Matthew Berry

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

While Doug Baldwin racked up the monster numbers during the second half of last season, it was the emergence of Lockett as a receiving threat that coincided with the revival of the Seahawks' dominance. In his final seven games, Lockett averaged just less than six targets per game and was good for nearly 60 receiving yards per game in those contests. Lockett is the multithreat weapon that Pete Carroll envisioned when the team acquired Percy Harvin. Look for his role to expand significantly. -- Ken Daube

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

This is as much about opportunity as it is about Shepard's physical gifts. We'll start with the gifts, though, which feature impressive route-running ability and strong run-after-the-catch skills. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Shepard converted 13 first downs on third-down plays last season at Oklahoma. No other OU player had more than 10 catches on third down. Then, consider that the Giants led the NFL in snaps (862) and pass attempts (569) with three or more WRs on the field in 2015. Shepard will play a lot, and I have concerns about Victor Cruz returning to form, so I expect Shepard to a be solid No. 2 option for Eli Manning when the dust settles. Take a shot on him as a WR4 or WR5 in Ben McAdoo's system and hope he becomes at least a regular flex consideration. -- Keith Lipscomb

Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints

Stop me if you have heard this before: a tall, athletic tight end posting huge numbers under a Sean Peyton/Drew Brees offense. Fleener becomes the latest receiver to occupy that role and he is fully capable of doing everything and more than Ben Watson did last season. Many will point to Fleener's inability to effectively block as a negative, but ignore that rhetoric. Jimmy Graham is one of the worst blocking tight ends in the NFL and the Saints worked around that. Look for Fleener to finish in the top five at his position. -- Ken Daube

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

Pessimists have been calling Gates old for more than a few years, implying the end of production is coming. And yet, last season Gates, at 35, finished one standard point out of the top-10 among tight ends despite missing five games, four due to suspension. Perhaps he won't be the No. 2 tight end producer like 2014, but this remains a strong offense and Gates is a large reason why, especially near the goal line. Few view Gates as a top-10 tight end, but I view him as a starter in a 10-team format, and with a post-round 10 selection. -- Eric Karabell


Our panel didn't agree on every player, as some submitted certain players as sleepers, while others picked them as busts. Here are both sides of the argument on the four players that split our group.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bust: Bortles finished his second professional season with the fourth-most fantasy points at the position. Unfortunately, that's about where this success story ends. Bortles tossed a league-high 18 interceptions and completed 58.6 percent of his passes (which was actually lower than his rookie-season mark). Bortles' success was more about volume and being in the right place at the right time, as the Jaguars called pass 68 percent of the time (second-highest) and scored 88 percent of their offensive touchdowns through the air (third-highest). Defensive improvements combined with the addition of Chris Ivory all but guarantee more reliance on the run in 2016. Bortles is an obvious regression candidate and best-viewed as a QB2. -- Mike Clay

Sleeper: Why is his 2015 campaign almost universally seen as an anomaly? All Bortles did was rank fourth among quarterbacks in fantasy points (302), fifth in points on vertical passes (133 on aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield) and stretch vertical points (71 on attempts traveling 20 or more yards), and tied for seventh in rushing points (39). A portion of this had to do with Jacksonville leading the league in offensive drives when trailing on the scoreboard (126), something that likely won't occur as often given the Jaguars' defensive upgrades, but the Panthers, Cardinals and Patriots finished 1-2-3 in offensive drives when leading and that didn't stop their quarterbacks from ranking in the top five in fantasy points. -- K.C. Joyner

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Bust: Charles is 29 years old and battling back from his second ACL injury in the last five years. If those negatives aren't enough, consider that Kansas City has already seen what kind of rushing production they can get without Charles in their backfield. From Week 6 (the game following Charles' season-ending injury) to the end of the season, Kansas City ranked sixth in rushing yards (1,495), fourth in yards per rush (4.8), tied for second in rushing touchdowns (14), sixth in rush yards after first defensive contact (605) and fifth in rush yards before first defensive contact (890). Those numbers will give Andy Reid plenty of motivation to split the carries between Charles, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, and thus put a RB2/RB3 ceiling on Charles. -- K.C. Joyner

Sleeper: Yes, Charles has been hurt several times in his career. He has backups who performed well in his absence. But he's one of a handful of game-changing talents at running back and is someone I cannot afford to leave off my team if he's going to be drafted as an RB2. Over the last five years, only Thomas Rawls (in only 13 career games) has a better yards-per-carry average than Charles, and his yards per catch rank in the top 20 among backs. That's why reduced touches don't worry me. Kansas City can keep him fresh with 15 combined runs and catches per game and watch him go for 100 total yards and a touchdown on a regular basis, anyway. -- Leo Howell

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears

Sleeper: I'm done worrying about injuries that might happen during the preseason. I want to get the most talented team possible and deal with any injuries as they happen. Last season, if you consider only the games in which Jeffery played 50 or more offensive snaps, he was posting the fifth-best fantasy points-per-game average of all wideouts, which moves to fourth-best in PPR formats. Even if he'd only played 14 games, he'd have been the WR7 at his pace. He's saw the most targets per route run in the NFL, has a QB who loves throwing to him, and he's a 26-year-old athletic monster who could go for 1,500 yards and 10 scores in 14 healthy games. I'll take a chance on that with my second or third WR slot in an ESPN standard draft. -- Leo Howell

Bust: Wide receiver offers a lot of depth in 2016, so this isn't simply an indictment of Jeffery. He most certainly has the upside to finish where he ranks in our consensus file (11th), but there are just a few factors that have me ever so slightly concerned: he was banged up throughout 2015, the second time in four seasons where injuries have held him out of at least six games. Also, the Bears will have Kevin White on the field this season, which might (again, ever so slightly), eat into Jeffery's targets. Jeffery is an exceptional talent. Wide receiver just offers enough options this year for me to think some others might rise up the ranks ahead of him. -- Field Yates

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sleeper: ASJ being a sleeper is all about where he goes in your draft. Considering injuries have limited him to just 16 out of 32 games in two pro seasons, it's unlikely he will be taken as a TE1. Still, his upside remains. Vincent Jackson is on the downslope of his career, so there is a legitimate chance that Seferian-Jenkins could slide into the No. 2 pass-catching role for up-and-coming quarterback Jameis Winston. At 6-foot-5, 262-pounds, he is a legit red-zone target and already has proved capable of making long-yardage plays. He also should benefit from playing for Dirk Koetter, who has a solid history of making the most of his tight ends. That makes ASJ an intriguing TE2 wild card. -- Tom Carpenter

Bust: Sefarian-Jenkins checks a lot of the physical boxes (he's enormous and athletic, for starters), but I'm not buying 2016 as a breakout season for him. He has missed 16 of 32 games in his pro career, has had uneven production in the games that he has appeared in (23 of his 55 fantasy points last season came in Week 1), and I'm not convinced that fellow Bucs tight end Cameron Brate won't have an involved role again this season. -- Field Yates


Which players are destined to fall short of their draft day expectations? Our panel suggest you stay away from these players who are sure to disappoint.

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

The concern I have with Rivers is that he is in an odd spot as a quarterback who typically has been undervalued but may be overvalued this season after tossing career-highs in yardage (4,792) and passes (661) in 2015. I think he has intrigue as a later-round QB2 pick in two-QB leagues, but I expect he will be taken much earlier in drafts. If you are in a 12-team, one-QB system and don't target an elite quarterback, I wouldn't want to have my team depending on Rivers as my top option for the full season. His fantasy value will come down to where you secure him on draft day. -- Tom Carpenter

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Bridgewater was supposed to break out last season, but 22 other quarterbacks scored more fantasy points, and 25 tossed more touchdown passes. Unless you're a big runner, it's tough for QBs to help fantasy owners sans passing yards and scores. Sure, blame the lack of weapons, but drafting Laquon Treadwell and Moritz Bohringer, and sending Mike Wallace away doesn't seem enough. This is a run-oriented team led by a future Hall of Famer that controls the football and plays strong defense. Bridgewater has 28 touchdown passes in 30 career games, and adding several rookies probably won't alter the trend. -- Eric Karabell

Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders

Speaking with my sources around the Raiders, the word kept coming back the same: Oakland does not want Murray to be a workhorse back. They made a run at Doug Martin in free agency, and looking closer you can see why. His fantasy production was a result of volume (third in the NFL with 266 carries) and not efficiency (33rd in yards per carry.) He seemed to wear down as the game went on, averaging just 2.2 yards per carry in the fourth quarter last season, and scored five of his six rushing TDs on his first 10 carries of the game.

Want more? Of the 15 running backs with 200 or more carries last year, no one was stopped before gaining three yards more consistently than Murray (49.6 percent of the time, 132 of 266 carries). It wasn't just the games as he wore down as the season went on, either. Murray's yards per carry dropped from 4.8 in games 1-8 to 3.3 in games 9-16 (a 31.3 percent drop off). Less touches might make him more explosive, but it might also just make him less everything, because his value last year was volume. Oakland added DeAndre Washington in the draft, and expect him or someone else to take a chunk of the work away from Latavius. Either way, he's a flex play who is being drafted as a RB2. -- Matthew Berry

Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears

Where do I begin? On 375 rookie-season snaps, Langford was nothing short of dreadful. He averaged 2.9 yards per carry against defensive sets with fewer than five defensive backs. He averaged 1.1 yards after contact per attempt. He caught 54 percent of his targets. Per Pro Football Focus, he forced seven missed tackles on 148 carries. Langford ranked dead last at the position in each of those categories. Add into the equation a lack of explosive plays and poor blocking skills, and Langford ends up looking more like a candidate for a benching than he does a breakout. -- Mike Clay

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks

He had an excellent 2015, but I'm loath to pick the player with only seven NFL games' proven status with significant injury questions as training camp dawns. After Rawls fractured his left ankle in Week 14, the Seahawks spent the offseason refusing to make a Week 1 guarantee, plus selected three running backs in the draft, including a superior pass catcher in C.J. Prosise who should cut into Rawls' already modest contribution in that department. I might change my tune come August if Rawls' injury questions soften as we approach preseason games, but right now he's in a "must-handcuff" situation, a strategy I typically try to avoid, and I think he's too rich for my tastes as a second-round selection. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Bryant has a trio of major concerns. First, a broken foot -- which required multiple surgeries, including a pair of bone grafts -- for a wide receiver is nothing to be taken lightly. Second, the Cowboys should look to run more with Ezekiel Elliott in the fold, which may help Bryant in some regard but also should limit his workload and upside. Finally, Tony Romo is as fragile as they come at this stage of his career. One bad hit, and the Cowboys' passing attack goes in the tank again. That's an awful lot of risk to take with what probably will be a first-round pick -- especially considering the high-end depth available at wide receiver this season. -- Tom Carpenter

Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Maybe I'm too close to the situation as a critical Eagles fan (is there any other kind?), but I find it troubling that a player with such a rare blend of size and strength (ranks in the 75th percentile and up in height, weight, arm length, hand size and bench press among positional prospects since 1999, per MockDraftable) can't, or rather hasn't, been able to earn significant snaps as an outside receiver. Doug Pederson has intimated Matthews has struggled on the outside in offseason work so far, and is still best suited for the slot. To be fair, Matthews was 27th in fantasy points per game at the position last season and we've seen Marques Colston produce with a similar build from the slot. Meanwhile, Matthews' statistical success was found in Chip Kelly's receiver-friendly, snap-happy scheme. Now that Kelly went west and Andy Reid's conversely conservative West Coast system is back in South Philly, I believe Matthews' ceiling isn't much higher than his 2015 output. -- Jim McCormick

Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Once. That's the answer. Once in nine NFL seasons since 2007, during stints as the offensive coordinator in Arizona, head coach in Kansas City and offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, Todd Haley has had a tight end of his have more than five touchdowns. Once. Heath Miller in 2012 had 10 scores and over 800 yards. But that's an outlier. Over the last nine years, tight ends under Haley have averaged 54 catches for 561 yards and four touchdowns per year. Not one person. The entire position group.

Last year, Eric Ebron had 537 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games and was TE13. But there's no Martavis Bryant you say. OK, fine. In nine games the last two years with Ben Roethlisberger as the starting QB and without Bryant in the lineup, Miller had 38 catches on 51 targets for 378 yards and two TDs. Over the course of a 16-game season, that pace is 68 catches on 91 targets for 672 yards and four TDs. Or to put another way ... TE12, just behind Antonio Gates.

Yeah, but Ladarius Green is a lot better than Heath Miller, you scream. Or Tony Moeaki or Leonard Pope and any other tight end Todd Haley has even had. And that may very well be true. He certainly appears to be more athletic. But there's lot of fantasy graves littered with athletic looking tight ends that never actually had consistent fantasy production (cough Jared Cook cough). New team, new QB, new system, already hurt and you've got Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell there. I wouldn't be shocked if Green has a strong year, but at his current top eight asking price, he has to hit that to be worth it. Green will be like many TE2s this year; a few weeks that he crushes, and many when he disappears. That is fine for a TE2. Just not the top-8 guy like he's being drafted as. He's being drafted ahead of Gary Barnidge, Jimmy Graham and Zach Ertz. Really? -- Matthew Berry

Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Eifert was never going to score 13 touchdowns again in 2016, and then he got hurt during the offseason. There could not be more red flags for the Bengals' TE, yet he probably will still be drafted as a top-tier TE1. Eifert was a nice breakout player last year who had strong numbers for his position even without the touchdowns (52 catches for 615 yards), but he saw only 70 targets and is bound for touchdown regression. There's too much hype here to ever get a good return on your investment. -- Leo Howell


Who will join the ranks of the elite and help you win your league this season? Here are our expert picks for 2016's breakout stars.

Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins

I know, I know. I probably should have been the eight billionth person to write about DeVante Parker here. But while I like Parker as well, I chose Matt Jones. Partially it's about opportunity. Alfred Morris is gone, and passing-down specialist Chris Thompson is the only real current threat for playing time. We will see what August brings for Mack Brown and rookie Keith Marshall, but for now, this is going to be the Matt Jones show for an offense that was top 10 in points per game last year. I expect Washington's offense will once again be one of the higher scoring ones in the NFL and there's a lot of reason to think Jones will be a big part of that.

Last year, Washington had 61 rush attempts in the red zone (top 11 in the NFL). Jones and Morris combined for 48 of those. With Morris no longer there, it's fair to think Jones could flirt with 50 red zone rushing attempts this year. Only five running backs in the NFL had 50 or more red zone rushes last year, including the top four fantasy running backs (Devonta Freeman, Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson and DeAngelo Williams). I thought, just from the eye test, that Matt Jones looked last year like a potentially special player. Players that big shouldn't be that fast. He also struggled with staying healthy and ball security, so no doubt, the leash is short. But the gig is all his for now and it's worth noting that last year, in games in which he carried the ball more than 10 times, he averaged 11.9 fantasy points per game. Take that pace over a 16-game season and you're looking at 190 points -- or, the third-highest scoring RB in 2015 (Martin was RB3 with 187 points). Talented young running back on a high-scoring offense, with the job all to himself at an outside-the-top-20-at-his-position price? I'll draft that all day every day. -- Matthew Berry

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

As a Michigan man and lifelong Dallas Cowboys hater, I have every reason to wish for Elliott to flop, but you have to put emotions aside to win in fantasy. The bottom line is that he simply has too much going for him to not bust loose immediately as one of the top studs in the game. I know all too well how talented and durable Elliott is, and he is poised to be a three-down back behind an elite offensive line for a team that needs to run the ball a lot to keep Tony Romo healthy. He is clearly superior to DeMarco Murray, who led the league in rushing two years ago, and arguably has less risk than the likes of Adrian Peterson (31), Le'Veon Bell (knee) and Todd Gurley (horrible O-line). You can make a legitimate case for taking Elliott as the No. 1 running back. -- Tom Carpenter

I almost feel guilty selecting Ezekiel Elliott as a breakout candidate because it is so obvious. Elliott is the most well-rounded rookie running backs to enter the league since Adrian Peterson. He'll line up behind an offensive line that allowed Darren McFadden -- yes, Darren McFadden -- to finish with the fourth most rushing yards in the league last season. With Elliott being a near lock to be the every down back for the Dallas Cowboys, he's virtually guaranteed to reach 1,400 yards from scrimmage and eight or more touchdowns, metrics only achieved by Peterson and Devonta Freeman last year. -- Ken Daube

DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

During his two seasons as the offensive coordinator in Denver, Adam Gase helped produce four wide receivers with at least 87 receptions, 1,288 yards and nine touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery missed seven games during his only year with Gase, but his 2015 stats extrapolated to 96 receptions, 1,435 yards and 7.1 scores. Gase is now the head coach in Miami and is expected to place Parker in position for a massive target share. The team's 2015 first-round pick stands 6-foot-3, 218 pounds and sports 4.4 wheels. Parker ranked 20th in fantasy points among receivers after Week 11 last season and is well-positioned for a gigantic step forward in his second season. -- Mike Clay

Now fully healthy after dealing with a foot injury as a rookie, the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder who ran a 4.45 40 is poised to show why he'll be a No. 1 wideout sooner than later. Parker emerged late in 2015, following Rishard Matthews' season-ending injury, and totaled at least 63 receiving yards in five of the final six games, including a trio of touchdowns. I'm a believer that the transition from college to the pros is tough on receivers, so I fully expect Parker to break out as a sophomore, flashing the big-play potential that saw him average 19.0 yards per catch last season. A 1,100-yard, 7-TD season wouldn't surprise me. -- Keith Lipscomb

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mobile quarterbacks always possess the highest statistical floors at the position, making Winston a no-doubter No. 2 quarterback -- a viable backup in a standard league and a surefire starter in 2QB formats -- but this is more about his growth potential than the safety in his selection. He's in better shape entering this preseason than last, but more important, he spent the offseason working on improving his chemistry with Mike Evans, whose statistical fall in 2015 represents effectively the difference between Winston's status as a No. 2 fantasy option and a potential starter. Winston sure looks like a player on a mission entering 2016, and since I like to go the cheap route at quarterback, I'll certainly be targeting him as one of my two. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals

John Brown is a special athlete with strong wide receiver skills, and it's only a matter of time before he truly rises to the top of the Arizona receiving corps and becomes an annual WR1 selection. He improved in every statistical category in his second season, going over 1,000 yards and gaining more yards per reception. As he continues to see consistent snaps and overtakes his veteran teammates for opportunities, those numbers will only increase again. I won't argue if you think Michael Floyd is due for a breakout, as well, but I value Brown's versatility and ability to play in the slot, as well as his elite speed. -- Leo Howell

Carson Palmer led all NFL quarterbacks in passes that traveled at least 10 yards in the air last season and was fifth in QBR on such throws. John Brown averaged more fantasy points per game in 2015 than Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton, Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, to name a few peers sure to have higher ADPs this summer. This success was accomplished despite battling a lingering hamstring injury for the second half of the season. We already know Brown is lightning quick with sub-4.4 jets and delivers impressive YAC skills, elements Bruce Arians has celebrated and deployed with great success in the past. By next summer, after a big-play filled 2016, Brown will truly be ADP peers with the names above. -- Jim McCormick

Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins

New Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has indicated Ajayi is taking charge in the battle for Miami's top running back spot. That could be enough to vault Ajayi into breakout territory, but it's worth noting that Ajayi received good run blocking (roughly defined as the offense not allowing the defense to disrupt a rush attempt) on only 28.8 percent of his carries last season. For perspective, only two qualifying backs had a lower good blocking rate last season. Given Miami's offensive line upgrades, it's safe to say that Ajayi is very likely to combine a lot more carries with much better run blocking and potentially end up a low-end RB1 if all goes well. -- K.C. Joyner

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Rawls has already broken out, to some degree. He performed better than veteran Marshawn Lynch early in the season, then totaled more than 250 yards from scrimmage in Week 11. Now Rawls just needs to run well for 16 games. Despite being an undrafted free agent, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry and enters this season as the starter, presuming he recovers fully from a broken ankle. Seattle's offense provided Lynch with the tools to be an annual top-10 back, and Rawls should follow in those footsteps. -- Eric Karabell

Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans

Before you scream at me about how Lamar Miller finished sixth among running backs last season in scoring, I'll add this: he also had seven games last season with six or fewer fantasy points. Miller's season was tilted by three incredible outings in which he racked up 80 of his 173 points (46.2 percent). The issue with Miller from a fantasy perspective has rarely been about ability; it's been about opportunity. In his 61 career games, Miller has had just two -- yes, two -- games with 20 or more carries. In Houston, the expectation should be that 20 carries could be attainable in many weeks. So while Miller has already landed in the top six before, expect a far more balanced effort in Houston in 2016. -- Field Yates