Every year in the NFL, players from all positions have breakout years that tell the world they are among the best at their position in football. Every breakout year matters for every type of player, but in dynasty, the focus is on skill players like a wide receiver, tight end, linebacker, safety, and so on. When dynasty breakout seasons occur, it could win dynasty players their league if they correctly acquired the player before the season started. You got a lot of value by buying a player before they breakout, like James Conner or Dalton Schultz. Getting the right dynasty breakout players before or very early in the season can change how your entire season goes. Here are some names to keep in mind for the AFC East.
Isaiah McKenzie, WR BUF
The Bills let Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley leave the team in the off-season. They still have Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Isaiah McKenzie, plus they signed Jamison Crowder. As you likely know, any wide receiver that starts with Josh Allen at quarterback is fantasy relevant. While an easy breakout pick for the Bills would be Davis. It seemed wise to pick an even deeper name. McKenzie is on track to make the starting lineup as the team’s slot receiver, with Crowder serving as depth. This would be big news for Isaiah and his dynasty value.
The 27-year-old didn’t play much last year despite appearing in 15 games. He had 26 targets, 20 receptions, and 178 yards with a touchdown. He added another touchdown and 47 yards rushing on nine attempts. During Cole’s three-year period in the Bills slot, he averaged 108 targets, 77 receptions, 813 yards, and over three touchdowns. I see no reason why McKenzie can’t start to approach these numbers this year if he can play full-time in the slot. Add in the fact he likely sees some rushes, and that makes him more valuable than the current WR5/6 price he can be had for.
McKenzie proved he could start after last year’s game against the Patriots when he caught 11 passes for 125 yards. In training camp, Isaiah has taken the bull by the horns and ran away with the slot job. He’s making highlight plays in camp and showing a real connection with Josh Allen. Buy for a third-round pick. Pay that price and get yourself a player with unlimited future value. In case you’re curious, my projections in PPR for Isaiah McKenzie are 73 targets, 48 receptions, seven rushes for 40 yards, and four touchdowns which is good for over nine PPG.
Chase Edmonds, RB MIA
This is a huge year for the RB1 of the Dolphins, Edmonds (26). He will get a long-term shot as the RB1 for a team. He was a great pass-catching back with the Cardinals, who would show off his rushing ability in spot starts. That’s changing after he signed a two-year deal with Miami in free agency. He was the first running back signed, so new head coach Mike McDaniels clearly has a plan for Chase.
Chase had a career year in 2021 (12 games) with 592 yards on 116 rushes (5.1 ypc), two touchdowns, 43 receptions on 53 targets, and 311 receiving yards. I see him surpassing all those numbers and becoming a late-end RB2 in 2022. Edmonds’ in a “committee.” Sony Michel is a fine back and the biggest threat. Who knows if Raheem Mostert can stay healthy? Everyone has seen what Myles Gaskin can do. There’s no real threat to Edmonds.
In 2021, he finished top-10 in yards-per-rushing (5.1), accrued 341 yards after contact, and posted career-highs in 10-plus yard rushes (19) and missed tackles (16). If we extrapolate Edmonds’ 2021 stats to a full season, he would’ve had 839 yards on 164 attempts, three touchdowns, 75 targets, and 61 receptions for 440 yards. Those are high-end RB2 numbers. Edmonds is priced as a late-RB3 or a second-round pick. Buy him now before his value grows a ton. In the 49ers-similar system, Edmonds will explode with more outside zone rushes which he excels at.
Ultimately, my projections for Edmonds are that he rushes for 838 yards, four touchdowns, 60 targets with 47 receptions, and 355 yards for four touchdowns over 16 games. This equals a 13.3 PPR ppg average. Fully expect a dynasty breakout year for Edmonds.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB NEP
Stevenson is getting unrelenting hype for the 2022 season, and I’m piling on. With James White retiring, I see Stevenson immediately taking over the White role in the Patriots’ offense. The difference between White and Rhamondre is that the latter is a great rusher too. In Stevenson’s second year, the former fourth-round pick is on pace to smash out the gates in 2022. He’s a dynasty breakout favorite among analysts.
In 2021, Stevenson struggled with blocking protections which led him to be benched. When he did play, he made the most of it with 606 yards on 133 rushes for five touchdowns and 14 receptions on 18 targets for 123 yards. This was in 12 games too. With an expanded role behind a stronger quarterback and offensive line, you can see why it’s likely that he breaks out. The Patriots want to rush more this year which only helps Stevenson.
Bill Belichek isn’t one for praising his players a ton in public. He keeps mentioning how improved Stevenson is, showing that he’s grown. He is on pace for an RB2 season or high-end RB3. This is a dynasty breakout as Damien Harris is likely gone after this year, leaving the RB1 role for Stevenson. Buy him for an early second before it’s too late. He is too good not to play. My projections for Stevenson this year are that he rushes 163 times for 780 yards, seven touchdowns, 56 targets, 44 receptions, 363 yards, and two touchdowns over 16 games. This equates to a 13.1 PPR ppg average. Expect a dynasty breakout year from Stevenson.
Zach Wilson, QB NYJ
Yes, Wilson did get hurt in the preseason playing in Week 1. Not sure why the Jets thought it wise to have him play, but that’s the risk they run by throwing him out on the field. The good news is that Wilson’s year isn’t over, nor is there a chance of him breaking out. He has a bone bruise and a partially torn meniscus. He might still return for Week 1 though surely the Jets will not rush him back. According to our injury specialist, Joel Verzosa, the likely answer is that Wilson is back in Week 2 since this injury is way better than a fully-torn meniscus since he can start rehab immediately compared to being non-weight bearing. The big worry is how much the bone bruise affects him as that has a varied healing time. It’s all about pain management.
So, why would Wilson break out after an injury-plagued rookie year in 2021? In his rookie year, he finished as the QB30 after starting 13 games. He threw for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, eleven interceptions, and rushed for 185 yards and four touchdowns. Wilson was injured in Week 7. He returned in Week 12. After his return, he played much better.
From Week 12 to 16, Wilson threw 1,079 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions, and 139 rushing yards with four touchdowns. He had a rating of 76.2. Wilson had the game slow down for him. Plus, this coincided with the breakout of rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore who returns in 2022.
The Jets have invested in their offensive line to keep Wilson upright. TThey’vespent multiple picks on improving his weapons, such as drafting wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall. Combine them with returning players Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Braxton Berrios, and Michael Carter, and this makes a good offense. The JJets’defense will be vastly improved, so no more playing from behind by multiple scores. Wilson can be a quarterback and focus on the offense rather than trying to throw deep constantly to score points.
Wilson is only 23. He has plenty of time to mature and grow into an elite or good quarterback. The first step was surrounding him with talent. Entering a second year of the same system, the Jets are finally doing the right thing in developing a quarterback. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wilson finish as a top-24 quarterback this year. Your chance to buy him slowly declines as his price will only rise. My projections for him if he plays 16 games are that he hits 20 ppg in 6-pt touchdown leagues. He will get four rushing touchdowns, over 200 rushing yards, and over 3,800 passing yards with at least 24 touchdowns. Believe in Wilson; he has the talent and the right coaching.
Do you want to become the best dynasty player you can be? Be sure to use my promo code “Dart” for 15% OFF your subscription to Dynasty Nerds! It makes it only three dollars or so! Connect with me on Twitter @DarthDbacks. I love to talk football, baseball, movies, shows, Star Wars, Marvel, and interact with the fantasy football community. For more articles of mine, click here.
As always, May the Force be with You…