2019 NFL Predictions: 2nd-Year Players Set to Become Breakout Fantasy Stars

Jake RillAnalyst IAugust 13, 2019

Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice (29) runs a drill during the NFL football training camp in Richmond, Va., Friday, July 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

Everybody is excited to watch this year's class of NFL rookies. But how about the sophomores?

Not just the ones who immediately made an impact in 2018, such as Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield. There are also second-year players who may not have made a huge splash, but they may have just needed time to adjust to the NFL.

That's why there could be some breakout players from last year who will be fun to watch this season and who could perhaps make an impact for some fantasy football teams.

Here are three second-year players to keep an eye on during fantasy drafts and on the field this season.

Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins

Guice didn't have a chance to make an impact last year because he missed the entire season with a torn ACL, which he suffered during the Redskins' preseason opener a year ago.

But the second-round pick is back in action this training camp, and he's joined a talented Washington backfield that also features veteran Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. There should be plenty of carries to go around as the Redskins will start either rookie Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum or Colt McCoy at quarterback this season, which could lead to a run-heavy offense.

The former LSU standout didn't play in Washington's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns, but he's excited to be back this training camp and working toward playing this regular season.

"My speed, I got it back. My blitz pickup, it never left. My vision is still the same," Guice said, according to Ben Krimmel of 106.7 The Fan. "It's just all a matter of me actually getting back out there physically and doing it."

If the Redskins split carries between their running backs, Guice should still have a solid season. But, if 34-year-old Peterson can't repeat his production from a year ago, then Guice could get even more carries and have a breakout campaign.

Because of that, Guice should be a high-reward running back in fantasy leagues this year.


Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The 49ers ranked 22nd in passing offense last season, but that was partially because quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played only three games due to injury. Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard combined to start the other 13 games under center.

Despite that, Pettis had some solid moments, totaling 467 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 12 games. He had some big performances late in the regular season, most notably when he hauled in five passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2.

Although Pettis finished strong, he's still battling for a starting spot during training camp, according to NBC Sports' Matt Maiocco.

"I wanted him to compete," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "We're trying to see who our starting receivers are, and I wanted to get him a chance to get out there. Dante has a lot of room to grow. He can still get a lot better. So can a lot of the other guys."

The second-round pick will likely earn one of the starting spots, and with Garoppolo back at quarterback, the duo could be a big part of San Francisco's offense. Pettis should be getting plenty of targets, so feel comfortable drafting him in fantasy leagues this season.


Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

The second-round pick played all 16 games during his rookie season and had nine starts. He had 704 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Yet, it's easy to envision him doing even more this year.

Last year, Sutton was consistent for most of the season, catching a pass in all of the Broncos' games and totaling 45 or more yards in exactly half of them. That was with Case Keenum at quarterback, and Denver will have another solid veteran quarterback starting this season in former Super Bowl champion Joe Flacco.

Even though Sutton is only 23, he's ready to be the top playmaker for the Broncos offense.

"Just assuming that No. 1 role, you can't go into a game and have one or two catches—you have to be That Guy, every day," Sutton said, according to the Denver Post's Ryan O'Halloran. "I accept that role."

Denver should have a solid offense, and Sutton will likely play a major role in that. As for fantasy owners, plenty of targets will be going to Sutton, and he should easily deliver on many of them.