16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC

Hello Heat Seekers, welcome to episode 78 of Sully’s 2 Cents Dynasty Fantasy Football podcast. I am your host Rob Sullivan. A couple of seasons ago I wrote a weekly 32 fantasy thoughts article that touched on each NFL team’s previous week.  Those articles were quite enjoyable to put together and also rather time consuming.  Since adding this podcast to my portfolio and increasing my content in general for the website, 32 thoughts articles fell by the wayside. 

Last week I brought you the 16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 – NFC, and today, I give you the 16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020, from the AFC.   

Since my last podcast, RotoHeat’s own Brad Menendez dropped the RotoHeat consensus top 10 Breakout RB’s over on YouTube.  As usual Brad did a stellar job, and the debate on whether a rookie can be a breakout was born.  So if you listened to episode 77, you would know that I do believe that rookies can be breakouts. 

Sponsored By:

Michael Thomas rookie season 2016; 92 catches 1137 yards and 9 TD’S, WR9 finish. He finished as the WR8 in ’17 and ’18 and was the WR1 overall in 2019.  Where is his breakout? Does wide receiver need to finish in the top 8 to be considered a breakout?

Russell Wilson was QB11 in his rookie year.  He has been a QB1 in all 8 seasons of his career his lowest finish was his QB11 finish in his rookie year.

Saquon Barkley in his 2018 rookie season ran for 1307 yards added 721 more thru the air and scored 15 touchdowns.  He had over 1400 total yards and 8 scores in year 2 on basically one leg more a good portion of it.  Are we still waiting on Saquon to break out or was his sophomore season in which his total yardage decreased by 587 and his TD total declined by 7 from his rookie season his breakout year.

Its not the norm, but a rookie season can be and has been a breakout season.  So with that in mind you’ll find some rookies here.  I’m cool if y’all don’t agree. After all, not agreeing is one of the greatest single components of fantasy football. 

Baltimore Ravens – RB J.K. Dobbins

Selecting my dynasty breakout for the Ravens was tough, there are lots of potentials, Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and even Nick Boyle who almost got the nod here.

In the end I went with Ohio State rookie JK Dobbins. Now I fully expect this to not look that great in the early going, I do however feel that my mid-season the backfield in Baltimore is going to be his.  This offense will morph itself into whatever type of offense OC Greg Roman feels it needs to in order to win.  We saw it with Roman in Sf and Colin Kaepernick, last season with Lamar Jackson and we will see it this year with JK Dobbins. 

Mark Ingram isn’t going to fall off a cliff here and he will still be heavily involved especially early in the season.  I see Dobbins in the lower end RB2 conversation at seasons end and into 2021 and beyond he’s a top 12 talent.

Buffalo Bills – TE Dawson Knox

Knox was a 3rd round selection 96th overall in 2019.  He played 18 games at Ole Miss and had 39 grabs for 605 yards.  Interestingly enough he never scored a college touchdown.  In his rookie season a year ago Knox saw 50 targets hauled in 28 of them for 388 yards and 2 TD’s. 

He finished 2019 as TE33 with 79.7 PPR points in 15 games.

Knox isn’t a TE that I project exploding in 2020, but I do see his numbers increasing.  He was .75 PPR points a game away from being in the top 24 at TE, and I see him increasing his output by 1-1.5 points per game in 2020.  If Knox can accomplish that he will land in and around 100 PPR points which will be in the top 24 and make him a relevant fantasy asset especially in leagues with a TE premium scoring setting.

Cincinnati Bengals – QB Joe Burrow

Burrow seems like the logical choice here.  Could have gone with Tee Higgins but I decide to roll with the first overall selection in this year’s draft.  Coming off a National Championship season in which he threw for 5671 yards and 60 touchdowns, Burrow looks pro ready. 

His weapons on offense are legit with Joe Mixon out of the backfield, AJ Green, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd in three WR sets. Burrow likely isn’t a top 12 QB in his rookie season but I don’t think he will be far from it.

Cleveland Browns – QB Baker Mayfield

The QB that was supposed to break out last year was Baker Mayfield.  Not only did he not breakout, he regressed significantly.  People that hate on Baker forget how bad of a coach Freddie Kitchens really was.  The Browns have significantly upgraded their coaching staff, have a plethora of weapons on offense and that was before they added Austin Hooper and OBJ got healthy. 

Baker is top 12 bound in 2020, mark it down!

16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC
DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 29: Quarterback Drew Lock #3 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High on December 29, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 16-15. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) 16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC

Denver Broncos- QB Drew Lock

The Kansas City Chiefs are the gold standard of offense in not just the AFC West but the NFL as a whole. Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock said he thinks his team is capable of the same offensive fireworks as their AFC West rivals.

There’s plenty of firepower at Lock’s disposal. Fresh off a breakout 2019 season, Courtland Sutton has a new running mate in rookie Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos have an athletic tight end in 2019 first-rounder Noah Fant. And after adding Melvin Gordon to a backfield that includes Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, Denver has maybe the deepest backfield stable in the league.

The stage is set for Lock to do more than just build on his 4-1 finish to the 2019 season. It’s set for him to guide the Broncos to postseason contention and become a star in the making under center.

Houston Texans – WR Will Fuller

Speaking of interesting off seasons, The Houston Texans have had themselves an interesting one.

Fans of the Texans have had some time now to talk themselves into the idea that swapping out DeAndre Hopkins for Brandin Cooks wasn’t a massive downgrade. And that David Johnson will stay healthy and capture his superstar form from a few years ago in Arizona.

While they’re at it, here’s another one. Cooks isn’t going to lead the Texans in receiving yards in 2020—Will Fuller is. Health is always a major caveat for Fuller—he’s missed at least five games in three of four NFL seasons. But his talent and ability to burn defenses vertically is undeniable. So is his chemistry with Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

This abbreviated offseason isn’t going to afford Cooks and Watson much time to get to know each other. Fuller is going to be Watson’s go-to-guy—a go-to guy who just so happens to also be in a contract year.

Cooks is not going to make the fans forget about Hopkins in 2020.  A healthy Fuller won’t either but he could at least give the fans a reason to watch.

Indianapolis Colts: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

The Indianapolis Colts made a number of big changes on offense this year. There’s a new quarterback in town in Philip Rivers. Indy also used a pair of picks early on Day 2 to add to the weapons at Rivers’ disposal.

Both of those rookies have breakout potential. Jonathan Taylor was one of the most productive running backs in college football history. But there’s a capable pro ahead of Taylor on the depth chart (at least for now) in Marlon Mack and a solid pass-catching back in Nyheim Hines. With the limited offseason program, It may take a while for Taylor to assert himself.

Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has a clearer path to making an early dent. Head coach Frank Reich said he sees Pittman serving as the team’s “X” receiver from the get-go. Having T.Y. Hilton to draw coverage away from him certainly won’t hurt. And as the team’s new quarterback, Rivers has no pre-existing relationships with the veteran wideouts on the roster.

Pittman has a realistic chance to be the No. 1 rookie receiver in the NFL in 2020.

Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Laviska Shenault

Colorado wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. was selected with the 42nd overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He might not be the most well-known receiver among this year’s class. But make no mistake—when healthy he’s one of the best.  Shenault caught 56 passes for 764 yards and four touchdowns, in 11 games.  IN 2018 he had 86 catches for 1011 yards in 9 games.

Shenault has the ability to line up anywhere on the filed and with his size and speed can be a beat for the Jags.  If he can stay on the filed he’s going to slide in comfortably as the WR2 in that offense and make his owners very happy.

16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC
BATON ROUGE, LA – SEPTEMBER 22: Clyde Edwards-Helaire #22 of the LSU Tigers celebrates a touchdown during the first half against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium on September 22, 2018 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) 16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC

Kansas City Chiefs: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

It’s not that hard to imagine just about any young skill-position player for the Kansas City Chiefs enjoying a breakout season. When Patrick Mahomes is running the show, you’re already halfway home.

Wide receiver Mecole Hardman deserves some consideration after he averaged over 20 yards a catch with six scores in 2019—especially since the Chiefs reportedly want to get Hardman more involved in the offense in 2020.

But I’m going with rookie first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

It’s not a matter of talent, although Edwards-Helaire has plenty. The 5’7″ 207-pounder topped 1,400 yards on the ground in 2019 and set an LSU record for a running back with 55 catches.

No, this is about fit. Edwards-Helaire’s skill set including that ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is tailor-made for what the Chiefs like to do on offense.

Kansas City didn’t spend first round draft capital on Edwards-Helaire and make him the first running back selected so he could watch from the sidelines.

If a non-quarterback is going to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, then Edwards-Helaire has to be the front-runner.

Las Vegas Raiders: WR Hunter Renfrow

The Las Vegas Raiders made a significant investment in the wide receiver position in the 2020 NFL draft—general manager Mike Mayock spent a first-round pick on Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III and used a third-round pick on South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards.

However, it’s one of the team’s holdovers who will emerge as Derek Carr’s go-to target at the position in 2020.

Hunter Renfrow already experienced a mini-breakout of sorts a year ago for the Raiders. No wide receiver on the Raiders roster received more targets than Renfrow’s 71 in 2019, and the fifth-round pick topped 100 receiving yards with a touchdown in each of his last two games.

With Ruggs keeping defenses honest down the field and tight end Darren Waller drawing the majority of attention underneath, there will be no shortage of opportunities for Renfrow to do damage from the slot.

Renfrow has already shown he can take advantage of those opportunities. If he can stay healthy, he should sail past 1,000 receiving yards in 2020.

Los Angeles Chargers: Joshua Kelley

The logical choice for the Chargers is Mike Williams but I am fresh off an article in which I project him for another mediocre season.  I might not be right, but I can at least be consistent.  I don’t think Justin Herbert will play enough to qualify so; I’m going with a bit of dark horse in Joshua Kelley.

Kelly slides into the Melvin Gordon role and he has a Melvin Gordon skill set.  Solid rusher and has hands to catch the ball out of the backfield.  As much as I love Austin Ekeler he isn’t a three down back and I see Ekeler regressing in conjunction to Kelley having a breakout-ish  season. 

Miami Dolphins:  WR Preston Williams

The UDFA out of Tennessee was on his way to a breakout rookie season that was derailed by a torn ACL in week 8.  32 catches 428 yards and 3 touchdowns, Williams was just getting warmed up at the time of the injury. At the time of his Injury he was WR 37 with 90.8 PPR points

In 2020 regardless of the man under center for the Dolphins, Williams will be a primary target, cool the Devante Parker hype and finish in the top 36 WR.

16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC
FOXBOROUGH, MA – SEPTEMBER 22: Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots throws during the fourth quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images) 16 Dynasty Breakouts for 2020 AFC

New England Patriots: QB Jarrett Stidham

I had to pick someone off the Patriots.  Sony Michel and N’Keal Harry made the shortlist but I’m rolling with the QB here.

For the first time since 2000, the Patriots will have a new quarterback taking things over under center in Foxborough.

Stidham, who will turn 24 years old in August, broke into the NFL during the 2019 NFL Draft after he was drafted by New England in the fourth round coming out of Auburn. As the backup to Tom Brady in 2019, Stidham appeared in a total of three games during the year while going 2-for-4 with 14 yards passing and one interception. The main reason I am going with Stidham is Bill Belichick is as stubborn as they come, and he is hell bent on this kid being his QB. 

The hoodie will put Stidham in good situation after bad and ask him to be a game manager, Michel, Harry, Julian Edelman and James White provide enough weapons for Stidham to be a to a top 20 QB.

New York Jets: QB Sam Darnold

The 2019 season started in disastrous fashion for both the New York Jets and quarterback Sam Darnold—by the time Darnold recovered from the mono that cost him a month, New York’s season was already effectively over.

There’s definitely room to grow. “Throughout the back half of the season, I thought Darnold improved on a lot of things. He was more consistent and was appeared to be more comfortable in the offense.

 During the Jets’ 6-2 run to close out the 2019 season, Darnold had 13 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. And the Jets took major steps to upgrade both the offensive line around Darnold and the weapons around him in the offseason.  Darold’s in the best position to succeed since being drafted third overall in 2018.  Now he just has to take advantage of it.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Diontae Johnson

In his rookie season in 2019 with the Steelers, Johnson finished with 59 receptions for 680 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He was WR39 with 163.1 PPR points. What makes the rookie’s production all that more impressive was that he accomplished this with the some of the worst quarterback play in the league in 2019:

Ben Roethlisberger –He threw for 276 yards in a loss to the New England Patriots in Week One, but an elbow injury in the second week of the season ended his season.

Mason Rudolph –Rudolph’s numbers weren’t great, with only 1,765 passing yards, 13 passing touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.

Devlin Hodges –His numbers made Rudolph’s look decent in comparison with only 1,063 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.

Between the three quarterbacks, the Steelers were the 31st best passing attack in football in 2019.

Johnson showed above average separation skills as a rookie, led the Steelers in broken tackles and had only 6 drops all season. Heading into 2020 in a once again pass heavy offense with Juju Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Eric Ebron at his side, Johnson should see man coverage all season long. I expect JuJu to bounce back in 2020, and I also expect Johnson to take the next step. If Big Ben can stay on the field I like Johnson to flirt with some mid-to-low WR2 numbers.

Tennessee Titans: TE Jonnu Smith

In his third season with the Titans, Smith put up career numbers across the board, hauling in 35 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns. While those numbers don’t exactly scream “Pro Bowl tight end,” it’s clear that he took a major step forward in 2020. Now that the Titans have moved on from Delanie Walker, Smith is the new starting tight end, and he’s been working with Tannehill in a one-on-one setting this offseason to prepare.

Smith figures to be one of Tannehill’s top targets next season, and he has proven that he possesses both the versatility of a receiver and the ability to be a home-run hitter. Like many other players, Smith struggled when Marcus Mariota was under center, but his play improved in a big way once Tannehill was handed the starting job.

Smith has TE20, TE33, and TE 20 finishes in 2017, 18 and 19 respectively.  In weeks 1-7 with Mariota in 2019 Smith was TE41, in the remainder of the season with Tannehill Smith was TE13.

2020 is Jonnu time.

Well that’s going to do it for this episode. 

If you have yet to subscribe to Sully’s 2 Cents Dynasty Fantasy Football Podcast you can do so by searching for it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podbean, Spotify and Google Play.  Leaving a rating and review of the pod cast is greatly appreciated if you like and greatly appreciated that you don’t if you don’t.

In addition, you can find me on twitter @RotoHeatSully, in the RotoHeat Dynasty Fantasy Football Community on Facebook and I am @Sully in our Discord chat as well.

I’ll be back with episode 79 next Friday.

Stay safe, and healthy Heat Seekers. 

Take care.