Second Yr Gamers Able to Break Out (2021 Fantasy Soccer)
The 2020 NFL Draft class was littered with talented players, with the likes of Justin Herbert and Justin Jefferson standing out from the group of newbies. While Herbert and Jefferson are prepared for productive campaigns in their sophomore year, other players in their sophomore year deserve some attention also next season.
The situation of certain players in their sophomore year has changed slightly this off-season, which improves the potential of some players more than others. Given the current landscape that happened this off-season and the results we saw from them last year, these are some second year players ready to have a breakout season in 2021.
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JK Dobbins (RB – BAL)
Make no mistake, though in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens are finally getting help for Lamar Jackson in the reception department by taking Rashod Bateman. The Ravens are a race-oriented crime. Mark Ingram is no longer on the list, leaving all the workload to Jackson, JK Dobbins, and Gus Edwards.
Though Edwards deserves some touch, Dobbins will be the return, who has more leverage on both facets of the offense. In his rookie season with Baltimore, Dobbins ran 191 tracks compared to just 78 Edwards tracks. When it came to getting the ball in your hands, both Dobbins and Edwards were extremely effective. Both ended up in the top 7 in yards after contact per attempt.
But what makes Dobbins a perfect place to break out in 2021 is the volume he’ll get in the backfield alongside Jackson. The former horse chestnut should see more than the 134 stretches and 18 receptions he scored in 2020, setting him up for a massive second year on the Ravens. In weeks 13-17, Dobbins RB6 was in semi-PPR formats, which gave fans a glimpse of what to expect from him.
Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
Another return that ended its 2020 rookie season strong was Cam Akers of the Los Angeles Rams. Some people were surprised to see the Rams replace Todd Gurley with a number 52 rewind in the 2020 NFL Draft, especially after swapping for Darrell Henderson in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Akers started the 2020 season with an inconsistent role as Henderson, and Malcolm Brown made a splash in the background too. He also had a rib injury in his first year outside of Florida that resulted in him missing two games. After clearing the obstacles later in the season, Akers showed why the Rams raved about bringing him into the draft.
In addition to his impressive 171 yards in Week 14 against the New England Patriots, Akers was notable in the playoffs. Overall, Akers has collected in the two playoff games in Los Angeles 272 meters before the scrimmage and two touchdowns. It’s clear Akers is the lead in Sean McVay’s offensive, and the addition of Matthew Stafford only increases the likelihood that he will finish as one of the top running backs in fantasy football in 2021.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WHAT)
Whenever the Washington Football team picked Antonio Gibson in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, some wondered what his role would be like. Gibson would quickly earn his starting job in the backfield and flash a lot of potential for the future. The wide receiver turned running back would tie Jonathan Taylor – the No. 1 consensus in the second year in 2021 – for the fastest touchdowns among rookie rushers at 11.
One of the only things preventing Gibson from having an even better season was the laconic game that took center stage in Washington last season. Also, JD McKissic saw 110 goals compared to Gibson’s 44 passing goals, which limited his performance as a receiver. The addition of Curtis Samuel could have an impact on McKissic’s workload, which could actually be a good sign for Gibson.
Of course, with Ryan Fitzpatrick slated to be Washington’s first beacon for Washington in 2021, Gibson has put an obvious upgrade front and center. There is a possibility that Gibson will sneak into the top ten in the second half of the season if Washington continues to stand up for him as a contact in the backcourt. Washington has avoided voting backwards in the 2021 NFL draft, which only helps Gibson’s cause move forward.
CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL)
Jefferson dominated the headlines among rookie wideouts in 2020 due to his historic performance for the Minnesota Vikings. While Jefferson was fantastic, the season that CeeDee Lamb was having – even if Dak Prescott was injured earlier in the season – seems easily overlooked. Fortunately for the explosive passport catcher, Prescott will reinstate the offense in 2021.
As an example of how good Lamb did with Prescott to start his rookie season, Lamb was WR12 in half-PPR leagues in weeks 1 through 5 (before Prescott sustained an ankle injury at the end of the season), while Jefferson was in the same amount of time WR26 was. After Prescott’s absence, Lamb was forced to catch passes from Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and even Ben DiNucci.
Despite the quarterback situation he experienced in 2020, Lamb graduated as a WR20 in fantasy football with 74 receptions, 935 yards, and five touchdowns. The Dallas Cowboys showed last year that they can boast of a crime with three fanciful wide-angle receivers in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb. The return of Prescott should help Lamb put together a special second campaign as it shows that he should be the first recipient to be included in the 2020 NFL draft.
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Skyler Carlin is a well-known writer on FantasyPros. For more information from Skyler, see his archive and follow him @skyler_carlin.