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    Fantasy Breakout Stars (08/07/14)

    John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
    By John Ewing
    2014 fantasy football sleepers, busts and breakout players.



    Fantasy season is upon us and owners are always looking for an edge in their drafts. With that in mind, over the next few days we will provide our picks for 2014 sleepers, busts and breakout players based on PredictionMachine.com's 2014 Fantasy Football Rankings.

    Here is how we define each:

    Sleeper: A player not being drafted as a fantasy starter, but should be.

    Bust: A player drafted as a fantasy starter, but will disappoint.

    Breakout Player: A player we project to finish in the top five at his position, but is not currently being drafted like a superstar.

    Note: Average draft position (ADP) is a composite of rankings from ESPN and Yahoo. Be sure to use the new Fantasy Football Draft Machine for an additional edge in all your drafts.

    Previously 2014 Fantasy Sleepers, 2014 Fantasy Busts, now Breakout Players

    Andrew Luck
    2014 projections: 4,438.7 passing yards, 28.8 TDs, 13.3 INTs
    2014 ADP: 6th quarterback, 41st overall
    2014 PredictionMachine.com rankings: 4th quarterback, 19th overall

    Luck was a top five fantasy quarterback last season but he isn't being drafted like that this year. We are projecting Luck to have career highs in passing yards and touchdowns. On top of that, Luck is a proven runner and we project him to rush for 493.0 yards (career high) and 5.3 rushing touchdowns. The Colts quarterback is a top five fantasy option with top three potential, that is currently going in the fourth round or later in drafts.

    Eddie Lacy
    2014 projections: 1,453.0 rushing yards, 239.1 receiving yards, 12.6 total TDs
    2014 ADP: 7th running back, 12th overall
    2014 PredictionMachine.com rankings: 5th running back, 5th overall

    Lacy has the potential to be the No. 1 fantasy running back this season (we project him to have less than two fewer fantasy points per game than LeSean McCoy, our No. 1 back), but he is being drafted outside the first round because he has only been productive for one season. Perhaps fantasy owners are gun-shy after being burned by Doug Martin last year. Whatever the reason, an opportunity has been provided for owners smart enough to look past the possibility of a sophomore slump.

    The 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year rushed for a Packers rookie record of 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns, with Aaron Rodgers missing seven games. We project Lacy to easily surpass his rushing total from 2013 with a full season from Rodgers.

    Andre Ellington
    2014 projections: 1,037.7 rushing yards, 410.9 receiving yards, 8.7 total TDs
    2014 ADP: 20th running back, 53rd overall
    2014 PredictionMachine.com rankings: 11th running back, 16th overall

    We were leading the “Free Andre Ellington” bandwagon last season. As a rookie, Ellington almost led the Cardinals in rushing despite having half as many carries as former starter Rashard Mendenhall. Last season, we projected that if Ellington were given the starting job halfway through the year he would have finished as a top three fantasy back over that stretch.

    Mendenhall is gone and Ellington is now the starter. All that is left is for Ellington to prove us correct. The second year player has even more value in a PPR league.

    Jordy Nelson
    2014 projections: 1,314.2 receiving yards, 9.8 TDs
    2014 ADP: 8th receiver, 28th overall
    2014 PredictionMachine.com rankings: 5th receiver, 24th overall

    Nelson is another player that will benefit greatly with a full season from Aaron Rodgers. Nelson scored 14.1 fantasy points per game with Rodgers as the starter and 6.6 per game in the other weeks (per ESPN Stats & Info). There isn't a lot of discrepancy between our rankings and where Nelson is being drafted but you could find yourself trying to decide between the likes of Nelson, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones or Alshon Jeffery, go with Nelson knowing you got a top five fantasy receiver.

    Kyle Rudolph
    2014 projections: 903.1 receiving yards, 6.0 TDs
    2014 ADP: 9th tight end, 113th overall
    2014 PredictionMachine.com rankings: 7th tight end, 61st overall

    A foot injury limited Rudolph's 2013 season, but look for the Vikings tight end to bounce back in a big way. The fourth year player has never topped 500 receiving yards in a season but we project him to almost double his career high. With a better quarterback situation and playing in Norv Turner's tight end friendly offense, look for Rudolph to break out this year in fantasy.


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