There are sleepers to consider, rookies to watch, and potential busts, but then there are breakout players who redefine themselves after a poor season or a lost one. The five players below are just a few of those who are ready to go to that ‘next step’ towards making a major impact in the 2013-2014 season.
1. Steven Jackson-RB-Falcons- Here’s a bold prediction right off the bat; we think that Jackson could have his best year in the NFL statistically and surely will meet or exceed his 2009 numbers. Main reason? He won’t be staring at eight in the box in Atlanta, not with their varied offensive threats. Jackson is coming off his eighth consecutive 1,000 yard season but his biggest breakout numbers will come in receptions (Jackson has averaged 45 a year) and in touchdowns where he should reach double-digits as compared to his average of 5 over the past three seasons. There is no reason, besides injury of course, why the 30 year old 6′ 1″ 236 lb tailback shouldn’t see as many red zone opportunities as Michael Turner did last year (51). The fact that Matt Ryan threw 103 passes to his top three backs last season won’t hurt either.
2. David Wilson-RB-Giants– Veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw left via free-agency telling us that the Giants had no qualms in letting him do so because of their confidence in their 2012 first-round draft pick, David Wilson. They saw an explosive sampling of his abilities during the last four games of the season when Wilson rushed for 247 yards while averaging a whopping 5.7 yards per carry. The risk here, however, is Wilson’s propensity toward fumbling which could see him realize a lesser workload as coach Tom Coughlin has little patience for dropped balls. Wilson is poised to have a breakout year if he can keep the pigskin off the turf.
3. Sam Bradford-QB-Rams– Coming off a rebound season last year, the Rams offense greatly improved through the draft with the acquisitions of two speedsters; Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. They will join Chris Givens now entering his second season, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. No doubt that Bradford will miss reliable Danny Amendola, but with this group, together with big tight end Jared Cook and TE Lance Kendricks, Bradford now has a serviceable arsenal of receivers at his disposal which we feel will garner the former Rookie of the Year 4,000 yards and 25 TD passes this season, a breakout year to be sure!
4. Mohamed Sanu-WR-Bengals– Sanu is a receiver who will more than likely be overlooked in many leagues this season as a broken foot took him out of a wild three-game span last November in which Sanu logged 11 receptions and four touchdowns. The Bengals were hoping that he would be the perfect compliment to A.J. Green when they drafted him in the third round in the 2012 draft and now that he is completely healthy, this adept route runner will be there for the taking in the latter rounds and could prove a tremendous asset in deeper leagues.
5. Randy Bullock-K-Texans- This former fifth round pick spent his rookie year on injured reserve with a torn groin. Prior to being selected in the draft, Bullock won the Lou Groza Award in 2011 as college football’s top kicker. Now that last year’s kicker Shayne Graham is in Cleveland, Bullock should post huge numbers kicking for a powerful Texans offense which helped Graham reach a team record 138 points last season.