Fantasy: Breakout candidates to target in 2024 (2024)

With the NFL draft behind us and most notable free agents signed, it's time to identify this season's fantasy breakout candidates.

Anthony Richardson, Colts

Fantasy: Breakout candidates to target in 2024 (1)

Richardson is one of the most obvious breakout candidates I've ever highlighted following a promising but injury-shortened rookie season.

The 2023 fourth overall pick immediately put defenses on their heels thanks to his dual-threat prowess, posting rushing totals of 40, 35, and 56 yards in his first three games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5. Richardson also scored four touchdowns on the ground during that span.

The sample size is dangerously small, but Richardson finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in the only two games where he played the majority of the snaps. While we can't expect him to maintain that pace over an entire season, it's a sign of his ceiling.

The Colts' front office has also done an excellent job surrounding its young quarterback with talent. Top wideout Michael Pittman Jr. is coming off a career year, second-rounder Adonai Mitchell will give Indy an explosive element downfield, and the trio of Jonathan Taylor, Josh Downs, and Jelani Woods enters the season healthy.

Head coach and play-caller Shane Steichen has proven himself as an offensive mind who's willing to mold his system around his players. And the success he had with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia bodes well for Richardson's development.

Steichen's fondness for running a quick offense is another positive when considering Richardson's fantasy outlook. Indy led the league in neutral situation pace of play and no-huddle rate in 2023, according to FTN Fantasy. So if Richardson can stay off injured reserve, there'll be plenty of scoring opportunities in this attack.

Though his ADP at the end of the fifth round is pricey, he has a legitimate path to being a top-five fantasy passer with an outside shot to challenge the likes of Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts for the top spot.

2024 projection: 3,687 passing yards, 23 TDs, 10 INTs
641 rushing yards, 8 TD, 7 FUMs

Other breakout QB candidates:

  • Caleb Williams, Bears - Very few rookie quarterbacks have Williams' superstar profile. Even fewer get a loaded supporting cast to work with in Year 1. General manager Ryan Poles has provided Williams with talent and depth at every skill position, starting with an outstanding receiving corps of DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, and Rome Odunze. The Bears also have the easiest fantasy QB schedule in 2024, so we could see Williams post top-12 stats in his debut campaign.
  • Jayden Daniels, Commanders - This year's second overall pick might not have the same impressive collection of pass-catchers as Williams, but his rushing upside will put him in the fantasy QB1 conversation right away. Daniels ran for 2,019 yards and 21 touchdowns over his last two seasons at LSU and will instantly become one of the NFL's most prolific running quarterbacks. However, don't let that overshadow his accuracy as a passer, which was evident in college and has been on display in OTAs. Commanders offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury helped Kyler Murray put up top-12 fantasy numbers on a per-game basis in all four seasons they were together, and he could have similar results with Daniels.

De'Von Achane, Dolphins

Fantasy: Breakout candidates to target in 2024 (2)

Achane was a revelation during his rookie season in Miami, delivering several game-breaking performances and helping to add a new element to the always-efficient Dolphins running game.

The 22-year-old was limited to 11 appearances due to injuries and fell just short of 1,000 scrimmage yards (997) despite only topping 20 touches in one contest.

While the year-end stats show Achane as the RB24, a quick click on the average fantasy points column reveals he was the fourth-highest-scoring back on a per-game basis.

It's not surprising given Achane's lightning-quick speed and big-play ability, which helped him register the fourth-most runs of 20-plus yards. However, it's a notable accomplishment for someone who had just 103 carries on the year.

Even with Raheem Mostert overcoming durability concerns in the last two campaigns, we can still question how much longer the veteran will hold up as he enters his age-32 season.

Achane will likely always share backfield duties with someone, but I'm projecting him to see an uptick in touches per game in 2024 if he stays healthy. That gives him a strong chance to be a top-12 fantasy back and a player you'll want in your lineup.

2024 projection: 171 carries, 959 rushing yards, 9 TDs, 3 FUMs
49 receptions, 356 receiving yards, 3 TDs

Other breakout RB candidates:

  • Jonathon Brooks, Panthers - Fantasy managers waiting on a Brooks breakout might have to be patient since he's returning from a torn ACL. The injury likely caused Brooks to fall from the late first round into the second, but he's capable of being a difference-making three-down back talent-wise. Brooks has the potential to be a strong fantasy starter in the second half of the season with Carolina's offense expected to take a step forward under new head coach Dave Canales.
  • Zamir White, Raiders - The Raiders did little to address their backfield after Josh Jacobs departed in free agency. Signing a disappointing Alexander Mattison and drafting Dylan Laube in the sixth round seem more like depth moves. That leaves White to pick up where he left off. White averaged 23 touches per game and finished as the RB13 in half-PPR leagues over the final month last season. The 24-year-old can easily be a top-20 fantasy performer at his position with that workload.
  • Zack Moss, Bengals - Moss turned a brief injury-related starting stint for the Colts into a full-time starting job with Cincinnati. He was the RB7 in fppg over the first eight weeks of the 2023 campaign, powered by multiple 100-yard games. Meanwhile, Joe Mixon's role as the Bengals' top ball carrier was a valuable one, allowing him to finish as the RB12 on the season. If Moss runs the way he did in Indy, top-24 fantasy production is well within reach in this offense.

Drake London, Falcons

Fantasy: Breakout candidates to target in 2024 (3)

London has dealt with some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL during his two years in the league.

He's ranked in the bottom eight among receivers in terms of catchable target rate. It's almost a miracle that he's been able to post stat lines of 72-866-4 and 69-905-2.

However, Kirk Cousins' arrival, combined with a new offensive coordinator in Zac Robinson, will breathe life into the Falcons' passing attack.

Even coming off a torn Achilles, Cousins will be a reliable veteran starter who can take advantage of Atlanta's talented weapons. The 35-year-old also ranks sixth among passers in adjusted completion percentage over the last two seasons. And even if Cousins misses time, the Falcons drafted first-rounder Michael Penix Jr. to round out their QB room.

The new offensive system is another bonus as Robinson comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, and the players have openly discussed the plan to throw the ball more.

London is about to be given a fresh start in a real professional offense, and a career year is guaranteed. We could even see him push for WR1 fantasy status in 2024.

2024 projection: 82 receptions, 1,137 receiving yards, 7 TDs

Other breakout WR candidates:

  • Marvin Harrison Jr., Cardinals - Arizona filled a huge hole in its offense with one of the best receiver prospects in a while. Harrison's profile features a top-tier skill set, the ability to produce with different college quarterbacks, and a Hall of Fame father. He'll get as many targets as he can handle with the Cardinals, which sets him up for a massive rookie campaign and a possible top-15 fantasy finish.
  • Malik Nabers, Giants - Nabers would've been the first receiver off the board in most drafts, but Harrison was just a hair ahead of him in this class. Don't let that distract you from Nabers' potential, which is just as vast. The LSU product brings game-breaking speed, outstanding quickness, and a fantasy ceiling that could lead to top-20 numbers this season. The Giants don't have much in the way of target competition after Saquon Barkley left and Darren Waller retired. Nabers will make up for the lack of reliable QB play in New York with an immense volume of targets.
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks - Despite suffering a broken wrist in August, JSN still posted double-digit fantasy points in 50% of his outings over the last 12 games. Now, Smith-Njigba has a full offseason to prepare and has impressed coaches with improved practice habits. The drumbeat of positive reports on JSN has been consistent, and with Lockett turning 32 later this year, a changing of the guard is about to occur. Get ready for him to emerge as a fantasy WR3 in 2024.

Dalton Kincaid, Bills

Fantasy: Breakout candidates to target in 2024 (4)

When searching for a fantasy tight end, we always preach the need to find a player who is a top-two target in their offense. Last year, every TE1 in PPR leagues fell into that category, as Andrew Cooper of Fantasy Alarm pointed out.

With Stefon Diggs traded away and no real receiver or running back positioned to take over as the top pass-catcher, Kincaid will almost certainly be a top-two weapon for the Bills and could even turn into Josh Allen's No. 1 option.

As a rookie, the first-rounder had a slow opening month before missing a game due to injury. But from Week 7 on, he was the TE11 in fppg with Diggs still in the mix. He ended the year with 73 catches, 673 yards, and two scores, which is a solid stat line for a rookie tight end.

Given the offseason changes in Buffalo and another year of development, Kincaid is poised to force his way into the top-five fantasy tight ends while becoming the Bills' version of Travis Kelce.

2024 projection: 83 receptions, 842 receiving yards, 7 TDs

Other breakout TE candidates:

  • Kyle Pitts, Falcons - Pitts might not qualify for the breakout column in most people's eyes after he eclipsed 1,000 yards as a rookie in 2021. But his fantasy finish was depressed that year by him only finding the end zone once. In the two years since, Pitts has dealt with injuries and the same bad QB play as Drake London, including the worst catchable target rate of any tight end over the last three seasons. However, the sun is about to shine on both players with Cousins under center, and it moves the ceiling on Pitts' range of outcomes back into the elite TE range.
  • Brock Bowers, Raiders - Bowers is a versatile offensive weapon, not just a tight end. And with Michael Mayer capable of handling more of the traditional tight end role, Bowers can be moved around the formation much like he was at Georgia. Bowers could be an outstanding fantasy asset, but his Year 1 outlook might be slightly capped while playing with Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers in an offense that projects to run the ball a lot. Consider him a low-end fantasy TE1 as a rookie, with the potential for more if the Raiders are creative with his usage.

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Fantasy: Breakout candidates to target in 2024 (2024)
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