Fantasy Football Breakouts 2024: Terry McLaurin, Zack Moss, Jameson Williams Among Players To Target

Which players could be set to be fantasy football breakouts in 2024 and help give managers a shot to win their league this season?

Identifying players who could break out for fantasy football purposes can be a big part of winning your league. The majority of the players are already known commodities but have yet to reach the ceiling of their potential. If fantasy managers can identify which players will take the next step in any given season, they can find all-important draft-day value.

Ahead of the 2024 season, Pro Football Network’s fantasy analysts have run the numbers and picked their fantasy football breakouts for the upcoming season. Which players do our analysts believe could provide an impressive return on investment on their current ADP?

Which Players Could Be Set To Break Out in 2024?

While we set our benchmark for sleepers at an ADP of 120 or later, things are a little different with breakouts. The names of the players on this list will all be common knowledge to fantasy managers, but they are players who could outperform their current value.

In some ways, any “sleeper” is also a “breakout” candidate, but not all “breakout” candidates are “sleepers.” A player being drafted in the third round could be a breakout, but he is not a sleeper. Everyone knows he has legitimate fantasy value, but could he be about to show us a new side of him that changes our opinion of his value?

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders

For my two breakouts, I’m taking two different approaches. Terry McLaurin is the type of breakout I draft as many shares of as possible, while my secondary option will have an exposure cap — the difference being the range of outcomes.

What is the floor for McLaurin? He’s a version of Garrett Wilson, saying that we’ve seen him produce viable numbers (77+ catches and over 1,000 yards in four straight seasons) without much help under center yet have reason for hope in 2024.

That stat line isn’t the end of the world at the end of the fifth round. What if Jayden Daniels hits in a big way? Santana Moss caught eight touchdowns in Robert Griffin III’s rookie season, while Pierre Garçon averaged 75.5 receiving yards per game that season (removing two games on either end of an injury). Extend that pace … could McLaurin, as the clear-cut WR1 in this offense push for 1,300 yards with a career-high eight touchdowns?

That’s essentially the stat line that Brandon Aiyuk put forward last season, and if we get anything close to that, McLaurin is returning strong value on investment. I have him breaking into the strong WR2 conversation this season with an upside that isn’t reflected in his current ADP.

– Kyle Soppe, Fantasy Football Analyst

Zack Moss, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

When we think breakouts, we typically think of players in their second or third seasons. Zack Moss is entering his fifth. Yet, he is a true breakout candidate, never having put together a season better than last year’s 12.1 fantasy points per game.

Moss couldn’t ask for a better situation. He’s the lead running back for one of the league’s best offenses. The primary criticism of Moss is that he’s mostly just a guy. Here’s the thing, though: Last year, Joe Mixon was kind of just a guy. Mixon averaged 4.0 yards per carry, saw a 10.8% target share, and was outside the top 30-35 in most efficiency metrics. He averaged 15.7 points per game. Moss can do that.

If Moss doesn’t do anything more than he did last season but merely adds five touchdowns, he would average around 14 fantasy points per game, and I think his upside is even higher. Moss looks like one of the best values in fantasy drafts this season.

– Jason Katz, Fantasy Football Analyst

Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions

You can go the McLaurin route for your breakout, or you can throw caution to the wind and draft a player like Jameson Williams. His big-play skill set isn’t set to offer much of a weekly floor, but with his playing time taking off down the stretch last season, his quantity of opportunities is worth chasing in an offense we all trust.

The Lions play a largely unimpacted schedule when it comes to weather, and that’s not nothing for a burner like this. Detroit has two alpha target earners (Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta), making weekly value an uphill battle. But if his snap share from last winter is sustained this season, Williams is the type of player I’m flexing every week, understanding that with the valleys come a handful of week-winning performances.

READ MORE: Should You Give Up on WRs Who Disappoint as Rookies?

He scored twice with Detroit’s season on the line in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers last season and is averaging 15.8 yards per grab for his career. Jared Goff completed a career-high 407 passes last season (career-best 67.3% completion rate) and threw for over 4,400 yards for a fourth time.

Without the threat of rushing in his bag, Goff is going to have to continue to throw 35+ passes, and if a talent like Williams is running 25+ routes, I’ll happily take my chances at cost. There are few players around pick No. 100 with upside anything close to that of Detroit’s WR2.

– Kyle Soppe, Fantasy Football Analyst

Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens

The historic rookie season we got from Puka Nacua makes it easy to overlook just how encouraging Zay Flowers’ 77 receptions for 858 yards and five scores on 108 targets for a WR31 finish was in 2023. Yet, he is currently coming off the board as the WR33 heading into his second season with a reigning MVP in quarterback Lamar Jackson under center. That doesn’t make much sense to me at all.

Flowers had a 68-yard touchdown called back against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 and didn’t play in the season finale because the Baltimore Ravens had already locked up the home-field advantage by that point, which means these numbers could have been even better last year.

Flowers was among the league leaders at the WR position in manufactured touches, catching 23 screen passes last year — tied for third trailing behind just Tyreek Hill and Ja’Marr Chase — but still flashed the ability to win on the intermediate and third level of the football field in his rookie year.

The team let Odell Beckham Jr. walk this offseason and brought in an unpolished rookie from North Carolina, Devontez Walker, to contribute. Walker operates more as an outside vertical threat and shouldn’t threaten Flowers’ role in this offense.

Flowers showcased his formation versatility (29% of his snaps coming from the slot), separation ability (2.27 yards of separation per target, seventh among receivers), and YAC ability (5.1 yards after the catch per reception) in his rookie year. If he takes a big step in his second season, he will have a top-15 fantasy WR upside in 2024.

– Derek Tate, Fantasy Football Analyst

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Seattle Seahawks

I would stop short of saying Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a lock to break out. Of course, nothing is guaranteed. However, the stage is set for JSN to take a large step forward.

Historically, sophomore WRs have been a very good bet in fantasy. Smith-Njigba was largely held back by playing behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as a rookie. There is an argument to be made that he would’ve commanded more targets if he were better. However, asking Geno Smith to support three fantasy-relevant WRs is a lot.

JSN had one opportunity to play with one of Metcalf or Lockett out of the lineup. In that game, he caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Smith-Njigba flashed enough upside as a rookie for fantasy managers to be cautiously optimistic about a breakout. The best part is that it won’t cost that much to find out, with JSN going outside the top 40 wide receivers. At that price, I will bet on the top prospect from the 2023 class making a classic sophomore-year leap.

– Jason Katz, Fantasy Football Analyst

Ladd McConkey, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers purged over 300 targets, 220 receptions, and 2,300 receiving yards off of the roster with the departures of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Gerald Everett off of the roster from last season in Jim Harbaugh’s first offseason as head coach of the franchise.

This may be reason enough to believe in Ladd McConkey having a big rookie year in 2024, but it is more so how he fits into the current receiver room that makes me so optimistic about his short-term outlook.

KEEP READING: Fantasy Football Sleepers To Target in 2024

All that really stands in McConkey’s way from seeing an elite target share from star quarterback Justin Herbert is Quentin Johnston, Joshua Palmer, and Hayden Hurst. No offense to the other pass catchers on the roster, but McConkey is easily the best separator of this group and provides the most formation versatility of any of these perimeter playmakers.

McConkey has the short-area quickness and savvy deception ability with high-level stem IQ to create college-level separation operating either out of the slot or on the outside. This makes him a candidate to be Herbert’s go-to option because of his capacity to get open consistently for his quarterback with his route-running ability.

Combine this skill set with ample vertical speed (4.39-second time in the 40-yard dash) and excellent RAC skills (which make him a candidate to see manufactured touches in the screen game), and I’m having a hard time not seeing a path to 100+ targets in 2024.

– Derek Tate, Fantasy Football Analyst

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