2020 NFL Predictions: 2nd-Year Players Set to Become Breakout Fantasy Stars

Martin FennContributor IIIAugust 18, 2020

Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs runs with the ball past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon (37) and Calais Campbell (93) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

The key to any fantasy football title is often sorting through the noise to find the NFL's true breakout stars.

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb offered plenty of promise in his rookie season and followed it up by nearly winning the rushing title in his sophomore campaign.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore did not exactly benefit from strong quarterback play in his second season, but he still managed 87 receptions for 1,175 yards.

While New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley didn't live up to his own rookie numbers, he still managed nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage despite an ankle injury that hampered him throughout the year.

Second-year players always provide intrigue. Sometimes, guys like Chubb simply need more exposure in a full-time role, something Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders figures to see this year. Others should benefit from better team health or weaponry at the skill positions or under center.

Here are a few second-year players who could become fantasy football stars in 2020.


RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders   

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Josh Jacobs has arguably already emerged as one of the best pure rushers in football.

The 22-year-old rushed for 1,150 yards on 4.8 yards per carry last season, and he also ranked fifth in the NFL in average yards after contact, per Pro Football Reference.

At the same time, Jacobs missed three games last year, and he also played fewer than half of the team's offensive snaps. Moreover, he is currently being drafted as RB13, per Fantasy Pros. His explosiveness gives him tremendous upside, particularly if he can stay healthy.

The Alabama product can be shifty, but he also has a downhill style and willingness to take opposing tacklers head-on as he churns out extra yards. He was still able to score points for owners last season despite failing to score a touchdown after Week 10.

For those worried about Jacobs' presence in the Raiders' passing game, general manager Mike Mayock said in February the team needed to find ways to integrate him through the air. 

The Raiders are hoping to be a dark-horse contender in the AFC West this year, and asserting Jacobs as a game-breaker figures to play a vital role in their ability to compete.


TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos   

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Broncos general manager John Elway gambled by drafting Noah Fant in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft, but the former Iowa standout showed tremendous potential in his rookie season.

The 22-year-old had 40 receptions for 562 yards and three touchdowns, but that is only part of the story. He had a penchant for explosiveness, averaging 14.1 yards per reception and hauling in a 75-yard touchdown reception in Week 9.

Denver's upgrades at the wide receiver position should also spread the field for Fant.

Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton can make plays down the field. Additionally, second-round draft pick K.J. Hamler can burn defenders across the middle and take the ball to the house at any given moment.

Much of Fant's value will be determined by the progression of quarterback Drew Lock, but considering he is currently TE13, he has exceptional upside. If the production matches, he could be in line for a big year as part of a promising offense.


WR Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts   

Wade Payne/Associated Press

Parris Campbell is not going to jump off most fantasy boards early after playing just seven games in his rookie season.

But the Colts have a new man under center, and quarterback Philip Rivers' tendency to key in on slot receivers bodes very well for the 23-year-old as he looks to rebound.

Indianapolis selected Michael Pittman Jr. to pair with T.Y. Hilton out wide, but the slot is mostly unsettled. However, Chester Rogers' departure suggests Campbell will have the chance to get most of his snaps in the slot.

Campbell has plus speed, and he also averaged 5.3 yards after the catch per reception last season, per Pro Football Reference

The Colts are going to need more reliability from their receiving corps. More durable versions of Hilton and Campbell would help, and the Ohio State product could be a breakout star if he can stay on the field.


All stats obtained via Pro Football Reference and all fantasy information via Fantasy Pros, unless otherwise noted.