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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
Texans' Brian Cushing has had three offseason surgeries
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3:15 pm ET) Texans LB Brian Cushing has had three surgeries since the end of the season. 

In a public appearance on Saturday, Cushing told the Houston Chronicle's John McClain that he's had surgery on his broken right wrist as well as arthroscopic procedures on his left knee and left ankle. 

"It’s not uncommon for stuff like that to happen," he said of the two arthroscopic surgeries. "It’s just little things here and there, the residual effects of two major surgeries and injuries, the wear and tear of playing throughout the season. There were still some things bothering me a little bit. Just went in there and had real good success in both areas."

Cushing has a cast on his wrist. “It’s coming along real well,” he said. “I’m going to start working out a little bit. From a pain standpoint, there’s really nothing going on there. I’m real happy about that. I’m real happy to get the cast off and start doing some physical therapy on it, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore."


Report: 49ers to release wide receiver Steve Johnson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) The 49ers are expected to release wide receiver Steve Johnson, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington D.C.

The move will reportedly save the team $5.5 million in cap space. Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.


Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Report: Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be on the way out of Cleveland
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) With the signing of Josh McCown Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer could be looking elsewhere for employment. Coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer to inform him the team was signing McCown and Hoyer appears ready to move on, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Hoyer played in 14 games for the Browns in 2014, throwing for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He lost his starting position to Johnny Manziel in Week 15, but was forced back into action after Manziel suffered a season-ending injury.


Quarterback Josh McCown agrees to terms with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has agreed to terms with the Browns on a contract, according to his agent Mike McCartney. The team later confirmed the report. The deal is reportedly set to have McCown on the Browns for three seasons and is worth $15 million, according to NFL.com.

McCown, who will turn 36 before the season begins, previously visited with the Bills before signing with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014 with the Buccaneers.


Jets WR Percy Harvin will not accept pay cut
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Jets receiver Percy Harvin will not agree to a reduction in his 2015 salary, reports CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Harvin is slated to earn $10.5 million this season, something the Jets cannot afford. Teams around the league are interested signing Harvin to a short-term deal. With his expensive contract, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed to find a suitor interested in trading Harvin. 

The Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick during the 2014 season. 


Report: Colts' Wayne undergoes triceps surgery, mulling retirement
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery Friday to repair his injured triceps, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne, 36, is beginning rehab for the injury and is reportedly considering retirement, according to Rapoport.

Wayne played in 15 regular season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.


Dolphins WR Mike Wallace interested in return to Steelers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though the Dolphins are shopping Mike Wallace to prospective suitors, there is one team that is of interest to the speedy receiver. 

According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Wallace has interest in potentially returning to the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers would have to decide if they'd be willing to take on a contract that's going to have a $12.1 million cap figure for 2015. 

Wallace has underperformed in relation to the five-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2013 season. He's failed to reach 1,000 yards with the Dolphins in either season after recording that mark twice with the Steelers in his first four NFL seasons. 


 
 
 
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