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2013 Draft Prep: Breakouts, 2.0

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's time to take our second look at breakouts for 2013.

Guys who qualify for this distinction are those on the verge of becoming stars, superstars or, in the case of C.J. Spiller, the best running back in the NFL.

You can see who I listed in this space back in July before the start of training camp, and the players I still stand behind include Andrew Luck, Lamar Miller, David Wilson, Shane Vereen, Randall Cobb, Danny Amendola and Jared Cook.

This updated version is to give you 10 more players to consider on Draft Day. All of these guys have the potential to be amazing in 2013.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Adrian Peterson should be the first player drafted in all leagues. What he did in 2012, and what he should do again this season, warrants him being selected No. 1 overall. But if there's one player I had to pick who could challenge Peterson for the No. 1 running back spot it would be Spiller. He's that good. Spiller is going to be used "until he throws up," according to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Last year, when Spiller replaced Fred Jackson, he had just 207 carries and 43 catches with only nine starts, and he was No. 7 in Fantasy points in a standard league. If he gets just 300 total touches -- all six running backs in front of him in Fantasy points (Peterson, Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris and Ray Rice) all had more than 300 touches -- he could dominate. So for fun, give him 255 carries and 45 catches at his same averages. That would give him 2,012 total yards (1,530 rushing, 482 receiving), and his touchdowns could increase from eight to 10. I think he'll get more work than that, and I like him at No. 2 overall. This is going to be a big year for Spiller.
I'd take him ahead of: Jamaal Charles, Doug Martin, Marshawn Lynch

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: Murray was a bust last season when he was drafted in the first round and failed to produce because of a foot injury. When healthy, Murray was solid with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in five of the 10 games he played in and never having fewer than seven points. I'm counting on Murray playing at least 13 games this year, and he should finally live up to his potential. I'd gamble on Murray in the second round in standard leagues and early in the third round in PPR formats. It's always risky to gamble on injury-prone players, especially someone like Murray who has missed nine games in two seasons, but when talented guys do stay on the field they reward you in a big way. I'm counting on this being the year for Murray to do that.
I'd take him ahead of: Maurice Jones-Drew, Lamar Miller, David Wilson

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: Ingram comes into this season with likely his best chance to succeed, and he's not battling any nagging injuries. The Saints, with Sean Payton back calling plays, promise to give a little more emphasis to the run game, which would take pressure off their defense. Chris Ivory is gone, and Pierre Thomas (leg) has missed time during practice. Ingram showed some signs of life at the end of last season with double digits in Fantasy points in two of his final three games, and he closed the year with a touchdown in four of his final seven outings. We're not talking about a weekly starter with Ingram, but he could turn into a flex option. And the best part about him is you can draft him as your fourth running back in Round 9, which is great value given his upside.
I'd take him ahead of: DeAngelo Williams, Bernard Pierce, Bryce Brown

Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: The battle for the starting running back job in Denver is likely going to play out over the next couple of weeks, but it's hard to see Ball not being heavily involved. While Ronnie Hillman and even Knowshon Moreno should factor into the mix, Ball has the chance to lead the Broncos in rushing touchdowns with plenty of yards. He's struggled in the preseason and has played behind Hillman, but it's hard to gauge the performance for any of the running backs in Denver given their opponents through two games (San Francisco and Seattle). The good thing is the Broncos have a soft schedule, which should help Ball succeed, and he could be a vital cog late in games killing the clock. Based on his potential to score double digits in touchdowns, Ball could easily become a Top 20 Fantasy running back this year. But since he'll share time, especially early in the year with at least Hillman, he enters the season as a flex option (he also has to improve his pass protection). He's still someone I would buy into with a pick in Round 5 in standard leagues as a flex option based on his upside in an explosive offense.
I'd take him ahead of: Chris Ivory, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Mathews

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: When Garcon was healthy in 2012 he was among the best receivers in the NFL. He had four games with double digits in Fantasy points in the eight games he was close to 100 percent. But Garcon missed six outings and was limited in two others with a toe problem, which he now says is manageable. There's always the risk of a setback, but Garcon has the ability to be a Top 10 Fantasy option with the Redskins. He's shown flashes of greatness before during his tenure with the Colts, but he's never reached 1,000 receiving yards or had more than six touchdowns. I'm expecting him to eclipse both those marks and have a career season, and he's a Top 15 Fantasy receiver coming into the year. He's a great No. 2 receiver to target beginning in Round 4 or 5 in the majority of leagues.
I'd take him ahead of: Eric Decker, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Brown ascends to the No. 1 receiver spot in Pittsburgh with Mike Wallace gone, and the Steelers will need him to play at a high level, especially with Heath Miller (ACL) banged up. Last year, Wallace and Miller combined for 36 red-zone targets and came away with 16 touchdowns. Brown closed 2012 with four touchdowns in his final four games, and he had a career-high five scores. He has the the chance to see that number rise, especially with the expected increase from his 106 targets last year. He should get back to 1,000-plus receiving yards like he had in 2011, and he has the chance for 75-plus catches. Brown has the potential to be a Top 20 Fantasy receiver, but he's falling to Round 6 as the No. 25 receiver off the board based on Average Draft Position. I'd gamble on Brown in Round 5 based on his upside.
I'd take him ahead of: Cecil Shorts, Jordy Nelson, Mike Wallace

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Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: Smith has posted nearly identical stats for two seasons in row of about 50 catches, 850 yards and seven touchdowns, but this is the year for him to improve. It's his third year in the NFL, which is when receivers tend to break out, and he's a prime candidate with the Ravens missing Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Smith is aware of this based on a conversation we had this offseason. "I'm improving every day," Smith said. "It's all about consistency. I was saying the same thing last year. Being consistent in my technique. Being consistent with everything. I grew in that way. Now it's about being consistent on offense." Smith should be drafted as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but he could easily become a Top 20 option by the end of the year. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get well over 1,000 receiving yards with double digits in touchdowns given his potential and the need of playmakers in the passing game for the Ravens.
I'd take him ahead of: Jordy Nelson, Mike Wallace, Steve Johnson

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: It's hard to find a receiver having a better preseason than Hilton. Through two games he has five catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, but the troubling thing is the Colts continue to use him as the third receiver behind Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey. There's no way Hilton should be behind Heyward-Bey, and you can argue he has more upside than Wayne. He's being drafted as the No. 29 receiver, but Hilton could easily be a weekly starter in the majority of leagues. He was a surprise rookie with 50 catches for 861 yards and seven touchdowns, but he can easily eclipse 1,000 yards while maintaining a healthy amount of scores. He's a receiver to be excited about this year, and hopefully the Colts keep him on the field as much as possible. With an increase in targets -- he only had 91 as a rookie -- he could be a dominant force.
I'd take him ahead of: Tavon Austin, Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: Once upon a time Jackson was on the verge of being the next big thing for Fantasy owners. He had consecutive seasons of 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns, but then came the ill-fated 2011 campaign. Jackson had his money on his mind, and it impacted his play. He hasn't been the same since, but Jackson's value is pointing up again. The addition of new coach Chip Kelly and the subtraction of receiver Jeremy Maclin (ACL) make Jackson a high-upside No. 3 Fantasy option. Michael Vick has to throw to someone, and Jackson should lead the Eagles in targets. He has to stay healthy after being out the final five games last year, and he has to hope Vick can stay upright as well. But if Jackson and Vick master this Kelly offense and play the majority of the season, we could see Jackson finally live up to his immense potential this year.
I'd take him ahead of: Kenny Britt, Steve Johnson, Mike Wallace

Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks: Tate went into the offseason as the No. 3 receiver for the Seahawks behind Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, but come Week 1 he should be No. 1 on the depth chart. Harvin (hip) is out for majority of the year, and Rice (knee) should miss the entire preseason. It will fall on Tate to lead this passing game, and he's ready to dominate in a potential contract year. He had a third-year breakout type performance in 2012 with 45 catches for 688 yards and seven touchdowns -- which were all career highs -- but he should post better stats in 2013. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that Tate has the chance to make a leap into the upper echelon of receivers this year, and the opportunity is there to make that happen. He's a great No. 3 Fantasy receiver to target in Round 9, which is where he's going based on ADP.
I'd take him ahead of: Anquan Boldin, Miles Austin, Greg Jennings

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Player News
49ers shopping LaMichael James
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:06 pm ET) The 49ers are looking to trade running back LaMichael James in advance of next month's NFL Draft, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Meanwhile, James is aware of the trade rumors, apparently for a while now, since he tweeted Wednesday "when old news becomes new news" following the report.

James, a second-round pick in 2012, finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at running back this season. James served as the team's primary returner last year, but he wants a bigger role since he carried the ball just 12 times in 2013.


Joe Reitz stays with the Colts
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:11 pm ET) Offensive lineman Joe Reitz signed his restricted free agent tender offer on Thursday, giving him another year with the Colts. He started three games last season. 

Chris Johnson says arthritis reports 'not accurate'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:10 pm ET) On a conference call with New York media, new Jets running back Chris Johnson said the report that he had arthritis in his knee was "not accurate," adding that he was "pretty sure I wouldn't have passed the physical" if he did have it. 

Earlier Thursday ESPN reported the Jets had "some concerns" about his knee

Johnson is expected to serve as part of a one-two punch at running back with Chris Ivory for the Jets. 


Vikings sign Kurt Coleman
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:31 am ET) The Vikings signed safety Kurt Coleman on Thursday. He spent the past four seasons with the Eagles and has seven career interceptions.

Coleman will try to make the final roster in Minnesota as a reserve defensive back and play on special teams.


Dwayne Bowe pleads guilty to amended charges
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:54 am ET) Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty to amended charges relating to his Nov. 10 arrest for marijuana possession, the Kansas City Star reports. He paid $610 in fines and didn't get probation. It remains to be seen if he'll be subject to the NFL's substance abuse program. 

Report: Giants should consider dealing Ryan Nassib
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) Now that the Giants have signed Josh Freeman to a contract, does it mean that second-year quarterback Ryan Nassib will be off the roster soon? 

The Newark Star-Ledger believes the Giants should assess Nassib's value going into the draft considering the lack of great quarterback talent available. A team looking for a quarterback-of-the-future could make an offer. 

Nassib had 19 pass attempts during the preseason last August and wasn't active for a single regular-season game. 


Robert Griffin III looking like old self
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) A couple of members of the Redskins organization have started raving about how good quarterback Robert Griffin III looks this offseason, reports the Washington Post.

Receiver Santana Moss said via an ESPN podcast that Griffin "looks more comfortable because he don't have to worry about that brace. I think the brace was the big discomfort last year. You know, he’s a young guy with those fiery legs that want to do so much, and that brace probably gave him a little pinch in the behind because he couldn't do the things that he was normally accustomed to doing. You can already see, when we're out there in conditioning and stuff, he's running around, looking like the old Robert Griffin."

And former tight end Chris Cooley, currently one of the team's radio broadcasters, said "he's another person right now. I was like, 'you're running unbelievably well.' It was silly to watch. ... When you watch him run, you're like, 'You're a freak. You're seriously a freak.'"


Report: Jets have concerns over Chris Johnson's knees
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:33 am ET) Less than 24 hours after signing Chris Johnson to a two-year deal that might be worth as much as $9 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Jets have some concerns over the condition of his knee. Johnson apparently has some arthritis in it stemming from his torn meniscus in 2013 (which he played through). 

Johnson hasn't missed a game in five straight seasons. He's expected to form a one-two punch with Chris Ivory in the Jets' backfield this year. 


Brian Cushing says he's 100 percent
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:27 am ET) Posting a picture of himself with his son from a beach, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said via Twitter that he's been cleared for football. Cushing missed the last nine games of last season with a knee injury. 

"Quick Trip to Pensacola with my lead blocker, better believe I'm 100% #beachday #cleared #fivesixback," he wrote. 


Could Peyton Manning throw less in 2014?
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:23 am ET) Peyton Manning might be asked to throw less so "the offense can be more," ESPN speculated on Thursday. Manning threw 659 passes last season, completing 450 of them (68.3 pct.) for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The yardage and touchdowns are NFL records. 

The thought process behind Manning being asked to throw less is that it would accentuate the run game and give the offense (read: Manning) more of an opportunity to build confidence in the running backs, namely Montee Ball.

No one on the Broncos has come out and suggested Manning will throw less. He still passed 583 times in 2012, seventh-most that year. Expect Manning to still throw plenty in 2014.


 
 
 
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