Show Navigation
Show Menu

Fantasy Football Breakouts 2024

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Wed, 22 May 2024 . 2:51 PM EDT
Drake London could be one of this year's biggest fantasy football breakouts. He leads our list of six players.

  

These 6 Guys Carry Season-Changing Potential

Drafting Rachaad White worked out pretty well last year … right?

You were able to grab our favorite 2023 breakout candidate in Round 6 – maybe even later. And if you did, you landed a guy who finished eighth among non-PPR RBs; fourth in PPR.

That’s the kind of pick that wins fantasy championships.

Ready to get a jump on the fantasy football breakouts for 2024?

       

Breakout QB: Jayden Daniels

Daniels has yet to play an NFL snap. So how can we already feel confident in tabbing him a fantasy football breakout?

Because Daniels’ college profile suggests he’ll be excellent in two areas that are key for QB fantasy production: Deep passing and running.

Deep-Ball Prowess Adds Upside

Daniels led all 125 qualifying FBS QBs with a huge 11.5 yards per pass attempt last year.

He was deadly throwing deep, completing 35 of 55 passes 20+ yards downfield for 1,347 yards, 22 TDs, and 0 INTs.

Daniels led the FBS in throws 20+ yards downfield in all of these categories:

  • Completion rate  
  • Yards per attempt  
  • TDs  
  • Passer rating
  • Pro Football Focus passing grade

An Elite Runner

Daniels also racked up 1,134 rushing yards with 10 TDs in his Heisman-winning 2023 campaign.

And if we remove the negative yardage from sacks taken, Daniels climbs to 1,250 rushing yards on 10.4 yards per carry. 

Explosive as any QB we’ve seen since at least Lamar Jackson, Daniels had eight runs of 15+ yards last year, including this 85-yard TD vs. Florida.

Washington a Nice Landing Spot

Daniels was the No. 2 overall pick of this year's draft and landed in a solid situation for immediate production.

The Commanders return WRs Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson; they added free-agent Austin Ekeler, who's still a capable pass-catching back; and they spent Day 2 picks on TE Ben Sinnott and WR Luke McCaffrey.

Daniels will also be working with a play-caller who has experience with young, mobile QBs. Kliff Kingsbury was Cardinals OC for QB Kyler Murray's rookie season, when he ranked 12th among QBs in fantasy points per game.

How High is the Fantasy Ceiling?

Daniels' rushing ability alone makes him a good bet for top-10 fantasy production, with upside well beyond that.

Of 31 QBs with 500+ rushing yards in a season over the last 10 years:

  • 20 (65%) finished top-10 in fantasy points
  • 14 (45%) finished top-5 in fantasy points
  • 11 (35%) finished top-3 in fantasy points

Bottom Line

With a lethal deep ball and elite rushing skills, Daniels has a clear path to QB1-level fantasy production as a rookie.

TIP

You can afford to take a risk-reward starter at QB, because it's easy to draft a backup. Most leagues will even find streaming options available on waivers during the season.


 

Breakout RB: Zamir White

White opened best ball draft season looking like a risky pick. That has evolved through a pair of free-agent moves that boosted his outlook.

First, Josh Jacobs left to sign a multi-year contract with the Packers. And then the Raiders added former Vikings RB Alexander Mattison.

Mattison averaged less than 4 yards per carry each of the past three years and fell below 6.5 yards per catch the past two years. His advanced metrics declined as well in his first starting turn.

White Can Build on Strong Finish

The Raiders turned interim HC Antonio Pierce into the full-time guy this offseason. He told us last season that he wants his team to run the ball. And Pierce backed that up by giving his lead RB 20+ carries in six of nine games after taking over.

That came despite only a slight bump in rushing rate …

McDaniels 2023 Raiders Pierce
8 Games 9
3-5 W-L 5-4
58 Plays/Gm 60.7
61.3%Pass%57.3%
38.7%Rush%42.7%

Pierce and staff also showed us they’re willing to let White lead. He averaged 21 carries and 24.3 opportunities over the final four weeks last season. That included 20+ carries in each of the final three games.

What Could Stop Him?

That might be the biggest factor working in White’s favor right now. Mattison’s a non-threatening addition.

Dylan Laube caught a ton of passes (171) for his college career. But he also didn't reach 100 carries in a season until his fifth year at FCS-level New Hampshire. And he arrived as just a sixth-round pick.

The open market? Not a whole lot left there at this point.

White Brings a Top-12 Ceiling at Low Cost

White ranked ninth among RBs in fantasy points across formats over his four weeks as starter last year. He did so despite scoring just 1 TD over that span – plus tying for just 22nd among RBs in receptions (9).

That’s far too small a sample from which to call him a potential RB1 this year. But you don’t have to bet on that. White has remained at a RB3 price tag in fantasy drafts.

Zamir White's ADP has settled into low-RB2 range. That's low enough to still keep him a fantasy football breakout candidate.

(Find trendlines for all drafted players on our best ball ADP page.)

Bottom Line

White is largely unproven but scored as a RB1 down the stretch last year. He faces underwhelming competition for the lead role this season. A price tag in Round 9 remains plenty reasonable, with upside beyond his starting point.


  

Breakout RB: Jonathon Brooks

Brooks headed toward the draft as the favorite to lead RBs off the board. He achieved that by a healthy margin.

The Panthers traded two fifth-round picks to the Colts just to move up six spots in Round 2 and secure Brooks -- 20 spots ahead of RB2 Trey Benson.

Good Situation for Opportunity

"He's got it all," new Panthers HC Dave Canales said after drafting Brooks. "He's a bigger back. He's got range. There's so much that he brings from a versatility standpoint."

Canales comes to Carolina after running the Tampa Bay offense that allowed Rachaad White to finish RB4 in PPR points -- even while ranking among the league's least-efficient runners (sixth-worst in rush yards over expected per attempt).

White benefited most from the Bucs lacking other options. Carolina's backfield isn't as bad as that team's. But Brooks' competition isn't scary:

  • Chuba Hubbard
  • Miles Sanders
  • Raheem Blackshear
  • Rashaad Penny

Plenty of Talent; One Big Question

Of course, this is about more than just a dearth of other options. Brooks averaged 6.2 yards per carry and 12.0 per catch for his college career.

After Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson left in 2023, Brooks emerged ahead of fellow backfield talent C.J. Baxter to lead the group in carries, catches, scoring, and yardage efficiency.

Brooks' season ended with an early November ACL tear, though. He'll need to prove he's all the way back from that. But the Panthers expect him to be ready for training camp.

Bottom Line

Brooks should immediately be the best back for a team that invested to land him. We probably won't know until the season starts how much weekly work he'll get. But he presents tantalizing upside from anywhere in RB3 range.


  

Breakout WR: Drake London

London tried to break out as a rookie in 2022. The guy ranked sixth among all wideouts in target share.

But playing for the run-heavy Falcons with limited QB Marcus Mariota capped his production. London …

  • Tied for just 22nd among WRs in targets
  • Tied for 26th in receptions
  • Ranked 28th in yards
  • And checked in 47th in PPR points per game.

Then it got even worse in 2023.

London Will Benefit from Arthur Smith’s Departure

Mariota wasn’t great, but London actually saw his rate of “catchable” targets fall in Year 2, from 70.9% to 66.4%. That change doesn’t equate to a lot of passes, but it’s a well-below-average rate and signals the poor quality of quarterbacking.

London also dipped to 28th among WRs in target share and finished outside the top 40 in fantasy scoring for the second straight year.

Fortunately, Atlanta dumped HC Arthur Smith and imported coaches from Sean McVay's Rams staff. That includes new OC Zac Robinson.

WRs coach Ike Hilliard didn't come from L.A. but did work under McVay in Washington (among other stops). In Atlanta, Hilliard quickly identified London as a player he's excited to work with.

Hilliard said he wants London to “dictate the coverage, make it easier for the quarterback to see what’s going on, command the ball when you get 1-on-1 attention, make plays, and be a legitimate factor on a week-to-week basis.”

Big-Time QB Upgrade

New QB Kirk Cousins led the league in adjusted completion rate for 2023, according to Pro Football Focus. His previous five Vikings seasons found Cousins ranking:

  • 12th
  • sixth
  • seventh (tied)
  • fourth
  • second

Cousins' 2023 ended prematurely with an Achilles' tendon tear. But the $100 million Atlanta guaranteed him on a multi-year deal says they expect the vet to be ready.

And eighth-overall pick Michael Penix Jr. should immediately be better than Mariota, Desmond Ridder, and Taylor Heinicke if he's forced into action.

Bottom Line

London's breakout potential isn't difficult to see. Unfortunately, that has pushed him all the way up to the beginning of Round 2 in Best Ball ADP. You'll have to pay up to get him.


 

Get ALL of our top picks -- plus MORE -- as a DS Insider

   

Breakout WR: Jayden Reed

Didn’t Reed already break out? … you might be thinking.

And sure, he ranked top-25 among WRs across fantasy formats as a second-round rookie. But that’s exactly what makes him a breakout candidate still in Year 2.

Packers held Jayden Reed Back in 2023

Reed played a significant role right away, but he also remained limited.

He ranked just third among Packers WRs in snap share across games played. Reed’s 56.1% trailed pretty significantly behind Romeo Doubs (77.1%) and Christian Watson (77%).

Reed’s 424 total routes ranked just 61st among all WRs, behind players such as Rashid Shaheed, Cooper Kupp (in five fewer games), and Robert Woods.

But Reed Won with Efficiency

The rookie led the team, however, in yards per route run and targets per route. Among 84 WRs who drew 50+ targets, he ranked a well-above-average 25th in YPRR. 

And among 105 WRs with 250+ routes, Reed’s 22.9% rate of targets per route checked in 23rd. The next Packers wideout was Dontayvion Wicks at No. 43, and he played even less than Reed.

Green Bay also handed Reed the ball 11 times, the first time a Packers WR has reached double-digit carries since HC Matt LaFleur arrived in 2019.

Expect Reed to Get More Time

Will Reed’s role grow in 2024? We can’t know that yet. Perhaps Green Bay keeps Doubs ahead of Reed in playing time. And perhaps a healthier Watson stays ahead as well.

But Reed arrived as an impressive prospect who delivered quickly at each of his college stops and then delivered quickly in the NFL.

He certainly profiles as a guy who should command more playing time in his second season.

Bottom Line

The crowded corps in Green Bay limits Reed’s projection, but his ceiling resides way above his spot in our WR rankings.


       

Breakout TE: Dalton Kincaid

The Bills let Gabe Davis walk in free agency. Then they sent Stefon Diggs to Houston. That removed Nos. 1 and 3 from their 2023 target rankings, accounting for 41.6% of QB Josh Allen's total attempts.

No. 2 on that list was Kincaid, who logged the fourth-most receptions ever for a rookie TE (73).

He did so despite a slower start on the target front while sharing the field with TE Dawson Knox. But the work picked up.

More Value After OC Switch

Kincaid drew 12.5% of Bills targets across six games shared with Knox to open the season. That jumped to 19.8% after Knox got hurt.

Even with Knox back over the final seven games, Kincaid still drew 17.7% of targets. He also saw his average target depth nearly double after the Bills switched from OC Ken Dorsey to Joe Brady.

Kincaid went from a 4.19 aDOT under Dorsey to 8.36 under Brady. His yards per catch climbed as well (8.7 to 10.1), but there's room for further growth if that trend continues.

Iffy Receiving Corps

After shedding last year's top two WRs, Buffalo imported Curtis Samuel, Mack Hollins, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and second-round rookie Keon Coleman.

None of those players is likely to seize a Diggs-type role. How the targets get divided will be the biggest question in Buffalo ... likely into the season.

But when you're just 24 and coming off a No. 2 ranking in that category ... you're in pretty good shape.

Bottom Line

The Bills got Kincaid involved quickly. Now they need him even more. You'll probably have to pay a top-5 price for him at the position, but the second-year TE brings top-3 PPR upside.


  

Why Should You Trust Our Picks?

Anyone can throw out a bunch of names and call them fantasy football breakouts.

Not everyone has proved themselves by leading the industry in multi-year rankings accuracy.

Draft Sharks has ... delivering the most accurate rankings on the Web for years.

As a DS Insider, you'll not only get all our top picks. You'll also get the industry's most powerful draft tool to help you know exactly when to target them.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

Draft using the best dynamic tool in the industry. Our fantasy player valuations (3D Values) change during your draft in response to...

  1. Exact league settings - direct sync
  2. Opponent and Team Needs
  3. Positional scarcity & available players
  4. Ceiling, injury risk, ADP, and more!

You need a dynamic cheat sheet that easily live-syncs with your draft board and adapts throughout your draft using 17 crucial indicators.

Get your Draft War Room Today
Compare Plans » Compare Plans »