Forecasting Fantasy Football's Breakout Stars at Each Position for 2013
Unless you're one of those kooks that plays in a fantasy football league that holds its championship game in Week 17 (which this year isn't going to be a huge deal) then the fantasy season has concluded and a champion has been crowned.
However, there's still football to be played this year, which leaves many fantasy junkies jonesing for a fix.
One way to slake that thirst is to begin preparing for next year, trying to identify players that could be set for the sort of breakout season next year that running back Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins enjoyed this season.
Here's a handful of top candidates, because as they say, fantasy championships are won in the offseason.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has led his team to the playoffs in his rookie season, and in all honesty the youngster appears to have gotten an early start on his 2013 breakout.
Wilson ranks a so-so 15th among fantasy quarterbacks in 2012, but he heated up considerably as the season wore on, ranking fifth at his position in fantasy points per game since Week 8.
This surge has coincided with the Seahawks' win streak, and with postseason experience under his belt and another offseason in which to develop, Wilson should be set to make the leap to weekly fantasy starter in 2013.
Never mind the added upside that his mobility affords. Icing on the proverbial cake.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
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The New York Giants selected running back David Wilson of Virginia Tech with the last pick of the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and from what we saw of Wilson this season that's a pick the Giants will be glad they made.
Early-season ball-control issues landed Wilson in head coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse, but injuries to fellow tailbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown forced Wilson into a more prominent role on offense.
Wilson responded, averaging over five yards a carry and scoring four touchdowns while displaying a great deal of explosiveness in the return game.
Granted, Wilson is going to have to improve his pass-blocking, but it's worth bearing in mind if he can carve out more carries for himself in 2013 that Wilson led all of college football in yards after contact in 2011.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins
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The Washington Redskins have given their fans plenty to look forward to with their late season push for the playoffs, and there's a lot to like about this team from a fantasy perspective as well.
Rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris both came from nowhere to post top 10 fantasy seasons in 2012, but it's a player that spent much of this year hurt who could be set for an even bigger 2013.
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who joined the team via free agency before the season, was sidelined for a good portion of the season with a foot injury, but when the fifth-year pro was on the field he made his presence felt.
Garcon ranked among the top 20 fantasy wideouts in points per game and is riding a five-game streak of double-digit fantasy points. With another offseason with which to improve his rapport with Griffin, Garcon possesses WR1 upside that will probably come with a WR2 price tag.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
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There's likely no position where it's harder to peg "breakout" candidates than at the tight end spot, as evidenced by the fact that this year's surprise tight end, Brandon Myers of the Oakland Raiders, wasn't drafted in the vast majority of fantasy football leagues.
With that said many pundits (myself included) had second-year pro Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings pegged as a potential breakout entering the season, and relatively speaking Rudolph didn't disappoint.
Rudolph's nine touchdown catches ranks second at the position this year, and while his reception (51) and yardage (473) totals aren't overly impressive that's more the result of poor quarterback play than anything.
All indications are that the Vikings aren't ready to give up on Christian Ponder under center, and so long as Ponder is able to improve in the offseason Rudolph should be able to build on this year's 11th-place fantasy finish in 2013.