Making Sense of Early Season Breakouts

Every year we see several new players breakout. Often these breakouts occur within the first few weeks. These breakouts, whether temporary or permanent, can cause massive value swings that can be taken advantage of by savvy owners. If you correctly sell high on a temporary breakout you may capture a substantial profit. On the other hand, if a player’s breakout is legitimate this may be your last chance to buy before your league-mates catch on.

So which early season breakouts from the first two weeks of 2018 are for real? Lets take a look.

Pat Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

Mahomes has suddenly become a household name with an absurd 10 passing touchdowns through 2 weeks. Just like with Deshaun Watson last season this ridiculous pace is not remotely sustainable. But that doesn’t mean Mahomes isn’t for real. He has all the physical talent in the world and his early playing time has shown that his mental processing is at absolute worst good enough.

He plays for an offensive guru in Andy Reid who will continue to make Mahomes job easier as he develops, and he gets to hand off to Kareem Hunt and throw to Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Tyreek Hill. Mahomes likely has the best QB situation in the league and I don’t see that changing any time soon. My biggest concern with Mahomes is that I don’t want to pay up for a QB in a 1 QB league and even though I expect Mahomes to be a star for a while, his production and hype will be hard to improve upon from here.

  • Conclusion: For Real

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers

Does it even count as a dynasty relevant breakout when you’re 35? Either way, Fitzpatrick isn’t worth much outside of 2 QB leagues despite back to back 400 yard 4 TD games to open the season. For starters, it remains to be seen if Fitzpatrick will even keep his job once Jameis Winston returns from suspension. But even if he does, we’ve seen this routine with Fitzpatrick before. He becomes a starter and thrives for a few weeks before eventually reverting to the backup quality QB he is. He does have impressive weapons in Tampa Bay and it’s certainly a fun story, but it’s not a long-lasting one. He still shouldn’t be valued as a top 25 dynasty QB.

  • Conclusion: Not For Real

James Conner, RB, Steelers

I have to admit to having overlooked Conner in my leagues. I always just assumed LeVeon Bell would end his holdout, leave in the offseason, and Pittsburgh would replace him with somebody not currently on the roster. That’s starting to look like a very stupid assumption on my part. Like DeAngelo Williams before him, Conner has been thriving as Bell’s replacement. Through 2 games he’s averaging 125 scrimmage yards, 5 catches and more than a touchdown per game. At this point, even if Bell returns at some point this season, Conner should get a shot at the highly valuable starting RB spot in Pittsburgh next season.

  • Conclusion: For Real

Phillip Lindsay, RB, Broncos

Lindsay earned some talk as a potential 3rd down back for Denver this preseason, but through 2 weeks Lindsay has had a much more 3 down role than expected. He has had 15 and 14 carries in the first 2 games this year and seems to be more entrenched than fellow rookie Royce Freeman for now. With his pass catching ability, Lindsay should be able to stick around as a cheap ppr option even if he loses the early down work. That said, Lindsay’s versatility and size remind me of Dion Lewis, and Lewis has shown he can succeed in multiple roles over the span of several seasons. Even though Lindsay probably wont ever be a true feature back he is more than just a satellite back.

  • Conclusion: Mostly For Real

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs

Hill certainly isn’t a breakout in the same way the other players on this list are, but his value did see a jump after scoring 3 touchdowns in week 1. Anybody concerned he couldn’t maintain his production with a young QB and Sammy Watkins in town should feel comforted by what we’ve seen so far. Tyreek is simply a special player, both with and without the ball in his hands. He seems to earn criticism as a gimmick player and poor route runner, but that’s simply unfair.

His dominance with speed and the Chiefs willingness to give him the ball in unique ways doesn’t mean he can’t also succeed in a more traditional role. And even if it did – who cares? Hill is well on his way to his third straight season of excellent fantasy production and is now attached to a young star quarterback. Hill has a legitimate case as a top 10 dynasty asset and now may be your last chance to buy before his owners treat him as such.

  • Conclusion: For Real

Will Dissly, TE, Seahawks

Dissly came out of nowhere to have 100 yards and a touchdown in week 1, another touchdown last week, and he is linked to an elite QB in Russell Wilson, but I’m skeptical. Dissly doesn’t have the athleticism to dominate like the elite NFL tight ends and he only caught 25 passes in 4 years at Washington. Wilson and a weak group of TEs should keep him usable in a pinch this year, but if anybody’s willing to offer a TE1 price I’d sell.

  • Conclusion: Not For Real


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Eric Braun

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I grew up a die hard Washington Redskins and Penn State football fan and began playing fantasy football in 2007. I've been addicted and learning as much as I can about my favorite hobby ever since.