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Fantasy Football Breakouts: Awesemo’s Top Three Breakout Players 2020

Dave Loughran

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Geoff Ulrich dives in to Awesemo's 2020 fantasy football breakouts at the Tight End Position based on his fantasy football rankings.

Everyone is always clamoring for the best sleeper, breakout and busts picks. We here at Awesemo are here to give the people what they want. And like Derek from Step Brothers so eloquently said, “You know what really gets my d!*k hard, Bobby? Helping my friends.” We’re going to dive into some of 2020’s fantasy football breakouts that you can bank on to be top performers for your team this year.


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Awesemo’s Fantasy Football Breakouts: Top Three Breakout Players

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)

Higbee went on a tear over his final five games of the 2019 season, registering 522 yards and two scores on 43 receptions and 56 targets. Higbee racked up four straight 100-yard games between weeks 13 and 16 (he finished with 84 yards and a touchdown in week 17), and saw double-digit targets in four consecutive games to close out the year. Over that five-game span, no tight end scored as many fantasy points as Higbee (107.2), whose target share skyrocketed to 25%.

Gerald Everett was sidelined for a few games during this stretch, but even when Everett returned, Higbee remained dominant. Actually, Higbee was averaging 49% of snaps to Everrett’s 65% through the Rams’ first nine games, but that changed in weeks 11 and 12 when Higbee played 73% of snaps with Everrett playing only 28% before his injury.

Even more striking was Higbee’s involvement in the red zone; Jared Goff targeted him a jaw-dropping 14 times inside the 20-yard line over his final six games, which would’ve ranked fifth among all tight ends in red zone targets for the season. Higbee’s 19 red zone targets on the year ranked first at his position.

Goff attempted a league-high 626 passes last season, and could be positioned for similar passing volume in 2020. The Rams aren’t likely to have a dominant run game, as they went from having the best run-blocking offensive line in football in 2018 to finishing 26th in 2019 (PFF). Moreover, Brandin Cooks is no longer in Los Angeles, and the Rams have yet to find a comparable replacement.

I’m usually opposed to drafting mid-tier tight ends, but Higbee is an exception. He doesn’t have a history of long-term fantasy production but proved more than capable of shouldering a big load in the offense over the final third of the 2019 season. He scored only three touchdowns all year but was targeted a position-high 19 times in the red zone and nine times inside the 10. Only five players in total saw more red zone targets than Higbee overall. Given L.A.’s suspect run blocking and high-volume passing accompanied by Higbee’s breakout over the final third of the year, it’s hard not to love his 78 ADP in best ball drafts. Higbee’s Breakout Score ranks first among all players heading into 2020. Higbee is currently the #1 player on Awesemo’s fantasy football breakouts list.

T.Y. Hilton (WR – IND)

People love to label players as “injury-prone” after one or two seasons where their absence was extended for more than just a couple games. Hilton, who has missed eight games in total over his last two years, has inaccurately been described as such. What these people often forget to mention, whether it’s intentional or otherwise, is that Hilton played 94 of a possible 96 games through his first six seasons in the NFL. He’s the furthest thing from an injury-prone player, if such a player even exists.

Hilton had a very disappointing 2019 season, finishing as WR57 after averaging only 50 yards and 6.9 targets across 10 games played. His 16-game season pace was 72 catches for 801 yards and eight touchdowns, which would’ve been good for a WR25 finish — not great but not dismal, either.

Hilton’s 23% target share was his highest since 2016, but Jacoby Brissett was wildly inaccurate on deep balls and unwilling to throw them most of the time. Philip Rivers deep ball was hardly better in 2019, but he is far more eager to let it fly as evidenced by him clocking the fourth-most pass attempts of 20-plus yards on the year. Rivers threw a league-high nine interceptions on deep balls, but at least he’s willing to throw them. And despite all of his warts, Rivers still racked up 4,615 passing yards and helping his top receiver Keenan Allen to a WR6 finish. Mike Williams was the WR39 with 1,000-plus yards despite seeing only 90 targets, and Austin Ekeler was the RB4. Let’s not forget Hunter Henry either, who across only 12 games posted a TE9 finish and was pacing 73 catches 869 yards and 6.7 touchdowns (TE6).

Ultimately, Rivers isn’t the same quarterback he once was; the veteran signal-caller made too many mistakes last season and cost the Chargers some games. He didn’t hold back his skill players enough to keep three of them from finishing top 10 at their positions, though.

Hilton has very little competition for targets in Indianapolis with the way things currently stand. Sure, Parris Campbell is being touted as a breakout candidate and Michael Pittman Jr. is a rookie with potential, but Hilton should be Rivers’ go-to option in the passing game.

Hilton isn’t just a deep-ball threat; he is dangerous from anywhere on the field thanks to a combination of speed and crisp and consistent route-running. If Keenan Allen could earn a 25% target share in Los Angeles where Rivers had a bevvy of offensive weapons to choose from, I don’t see any reason why Hilton can’t average the same on a less stacked team. With a fifth-round ADP, Hilton could easily break out (again) for an impressive bounce-back campaign. Hilton is currently the #2 player on Awesemo’s fantasy football breakouts list.


More Fantasy Football Breakouts


Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)

Gallup might not even be the top receiver on his own team, but the talented young pass catcher presents exceptional value at his ADP (74). I highlighted Amari Cooper as a potential letdown for 2020 in my Fantasy Football Busts article, not because he shouldn’t have another strong statistical season but because there are several other receivers being drafted at a similar ADP that make more sense. Cooper’s ADP of 29 is an easy one to avoid, especially considering we can get a key piece of the Cowboys passing game in the seventh round. That’s where Gallup comes into play. 

The third-year receiver out of Colorado State was wildly impressive in his second NFL campaign, tallying 1,107 yards and six touchdowns in only 14 games. He closed the year out in spectacular fashion too, recording 98-plus yards in three of his last four starts and hauling in a trio of touchdowns in Week 17.

Despite playing second fiddle to Cooper on the depth chart, Gallup had a higher target share (21%) than Cooper (20%) and a higher market share of air yards (28% to 26%) (AirYards.com). Their average depth of target was nearly identical, and Gallup out-produced Cooper 333-to-278 in yards after catch despite playing two fewer games (Cooper did leave one game early, though). Gallup was also on the field more than Cooper, averaging 85.4 percent of snaps per game to Cooper’s 80.8. That said, Cooper ran nearly six more routes than Gallup per game in 2019.

None of this is to say Gallup is the better receiver than Cooper, but it’s very clearly suggesting they shouldn’t be nearly 50 picks apart. Even in the red zone both receivers were comparably used (Cooper: 9, Gallup: 8). And unlike Cooper, Gallup hasn’t disappeared nearly as often; Gallup was targeted fewer than six times only twice in 14 games last season, while Cooper saw five or fewer targets on six different occasions.

To be fair, Cooper has been known to have the higher ceiling, but he also comes with a startlingly low floor and has struggled to beat some of the better corners in the league. Is that worth drafting him in the third round when you could land Gallup in the seventh? I don’t think so. 

First-round rookie CeeDee Lamb should make an immediate impact, but he isn’t likely to surpass Randall Cobb’s production from 2019. Cobb finished with 828 yards and three scores on 55 receptions and 83 targets last year, and Lamb has a receiving yards prop of only 700.5 (DK Sportsbook). This is a perfect spot to take the value with Gallup and laugh all the way to the bank. His 16-game pace was 244 PPR points — Cooper finished with 246.5. Gallup is currently the #3 player on Awesemo’s fantasy football breakouts list.


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Dave "Loughy" Loughran has been a fixture in the daily fantasy community since not long after its inception, quitting his career as a Drug and Alcohol therapist to become a full-time DFS analyst, player and media personality in 2014. Loughy is the host of "Awesemo Radio" on SiriusXM Fantasy, qualified for the 2016 DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship, and was featured in the Washington Post and other publications for his success as a player. You can find him on Twitter at @Loughy_D where he'll likely be ranting about the miserable life of a Philadelphia sports fan, using "fella" in almost every tweet, or via email at support@awesemo.com.

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