Fantasy Football 2010: Foster, Nicks, Or Hillis? Top 15 Breakout Fantasy Players

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst INovember 8, 2010

Fantasy Football 2010: Foster, Nicks, Or Hillis? Top 15 Breakout Fantasy Players

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    Every year in the NFL provides great stories and players who come out of nowhere (except to the fans of their team) and shock the world as one of the more dominant players in football.

    Fantasy Football players every year predict sleepers, take guys five rounds early, place their eggs in baskets that they think will take them to the championship of their leagues.

    Whether is was Ray Rice or Thomas Jones last year, or countless players in years past, there has always been someone to take over the fantasy ranks with dominant performances each week.

    This year has been no different, and with that here are the 15 candidates for NFL Breakout Player of the Year.

    (Three players on this list are in the top 4 of fantasy producing running backs! Talk about a crazy fantasy season)

15. Terrell Owens

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    Some people may have expected some good things out of T.O., but they can't have expected him to produce like he has so far this season.

    Chad OchoCinco has been drawing coverage off of his fellow reality TV star and Owens has been making his owners happy.

    Most of Owens' points come from a 222 yard, one touchdown performance against Cleveland, but he is still the fifth best fantasy wide receiver thus far with 629 yards and five touchdowns.

    Yahoo Preseason Rank: 93

    Actual Rank: 34 (5)


    *Actual rank is the rank among all players, the rank in parenthesis is the positional rank.

14. LaDainian Tomlinson

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    LaDainian Tomlinson has resurrected his career with the New York Jets, often times looking like the player we knew and loved when he was with San Diego.

    He is clearly 100 percent healthy again and looks like a rookie out there. Apparently the change of scenery is all he needed to become a top 10 fantasy running back again.

    People expected solid stats out of LT21 because of how much the Jets run the ball, but not many people thought he would take over the starting job.

    Shonn Green owners/drafters just shivered a little.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 118

    Actual rank: 18 (10)

13. Dustin Keller

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    Dustin Keller has become a favorite target of Mark Sanchez in the red zone and is the second best producing tight end behind the fantastic Antonio Gates.

    Keller played pretty well last year but wasn't expected to be a week to week starter, which is the case at this point. He has 447 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 153

    Actual rank: 45 (2)

12. Mike Tolbert

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    Mike Tolbert is having a Marion Barber type season for the San Diego Chargers. The featured goal line back has racked up seven touchdowns and with Ryan Matthews fumbling and injury problems occasionally gives you some high quality yardage.

    He has seven touchdowns on the season and despite splitting time with Darren Sproles is the 19th best fantasy running back.

    Ryan Matthews left their last game with an injury and Tolbert owners got real excited.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 267

    Actual rank: 35 (19)

11. Mike Williams (Tampa Bay)

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    Mike Williams may not have the flashy numbers that some of these other wide receivers do, but he has been a very consistent fantasy option this season, especially over the past few weeks.

    He is the 16th best fantasy wide receiver so far and was definitely not drafted by you unless you are a Tampa Bay homer.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 248

    Actual rank: 54 (16)

10. Josh Freeman

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    Josh Freeman has the 10th most fantasy points of all the quarterbacks and always seems to come up with some late game heroics to give the Bucs—and fantasy owners—a lift.

    With some big names like Matt Schaub and Donovan McNabb struggling to put up the type of points you expected from them, a guy like Freeman could be a nice alternative.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 242

    Actual rank: 29 (10)

9. Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    In just six games this season, Fitzpatrick has produced the ninth most points for fantasy quarterbacks for the entire year.

    I'll wait as you go add him to your roster...


    Ok welcome back.

    Fitzpatrick has averaged 250 yards per game with 13 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He has been a bright spot on the 0-8 Bills who almost got their first win against Chicago this weekend.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 263

    Actual Rank: 33 (9)

8. Steve Johnson

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    Johnson has been one of Fitzpatrick's favorite targets and until this weekend had scored a touchdown in 5 straight weeks.

    He made up for the zero touchdowns by exploding for 145 yards this weekend against Chicago.

    Steve Johnson is no longer just a fill in guy for bye weeks, he should be a starter at this point for your team.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 264

    Actual rank: 35 (7)

7. Michael Vick

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    Out of the ashes and in to the hearts of Eagle fan, Michael Vick has not only lifted the Eagles, but some fantasy owners lucky enough to grab him after Week 1.

    Expected to ride the pine all season, an injury allowed Vick to show how much he has matured as a passer.

    He has only played in five games due to a rib injury that took him out for three games, but in those games he has been magical.

    He has averaged over 200 passing yards and 54 rushing yards per game. In most formats rushing yards are worth more, so that added bonus is huge.

    He would be higher if it weren't for him missing basically three games and three quarters of action.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 261

    Actual rank: 58 (13)

6. Kyle Orton

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    Kyle Orton has made fantasy owners who took a chance on him very happy. On a team with absolutely no running game, Orton has flourished and is on pace for a 5000 yard season.

    With Knowshon Moreno coming back and Tim Tebow taking goal line carries he may see a drop off in the second half, but he is still a legit threat every week.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 136

    Actual rank: 12 (5)

5. Hakeem Nicks

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    There was some speculation before the season that Hakeem Nicks would supplant Steve Smith as Eli Manning's go-to guy. Boy were they right.

    Although rated highly before the season started, you probably got to wait until the 4-6 rounds of your draft to get Nicks, and he has emerged from the weekend as the No. 1 fantasy producing wide receiver.

    He leads the NFL with nine receiving touchdowns and has 100-yard games in four of his last five.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 50

    Actual rank: 13 (1)

4. Darren McFadden

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    This is another case of a guy getting a chance to prove himself with an injury to the team's starter. Michael Bush went out with an injury early on; Darren McFadden took over and hasn't looked back.

    McFadden is third among fantasy running backs in terms of points; he has 999 yards from scrimmage with six total touchdowns.

    You either drafted him very late or got him on free agency, either way you couldn't be happier as a McFadden owner.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 117

    Actual rank: 6 (3)

3. Brandon Lloyd

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    Brandon Lloyd has exploded with Denver after several disappointing seasons bouncing around the league. He is the No. 3 fantasy producing wide receiver after starting the season in the free agent wire in 99.9999 percent of leagues.

    On the season he has 878 yards and four touchdowns, not bad for a free agent pickup (both in fantasy and by Denver in real life).

    Yahoo preseason rank: 262

    Actual rank: 16 (3)

2. Peyton Hillis

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    Peyton Hillis started the season as the Cleveland Browns third string running back, but injuries to James Harrison and Montario Hardesty made the Browns realize how special Hillis is.

    Hillis carved up the Patriots for 184 yards and two touchdowns this weekend in the Browns' shocking victory over the league's presumed No. 1 team.

    How much of a genius does Mike Holmgren look like for getting the Broncos to add him to the trade for Brady Quinn?

    Yahoo Preseason rank: 256

    Actual rank: 8 (4)

1. Arian Foster

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    Arian Foster came in to this season as the Texans starting running back and most people believed he would be a very solid player for Houston.

    Nobody expected this.

    After this weekend, Foster took over the No. 1 spot in terms of fantasy production and leads the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns.

    In total, he has 1179 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.

    Hillis, McFadden, and Arian Foster are three of the league's top four fantasy producing running backs. That's why I love fantasy football.

    Yahoo preseason rank: 44 (it was much lower when you probably did your draft, Yahoo adjusted it just before the season started)

    Actual rank: 1