Fantasy Football: Biggest Leaps: Players That Flashed in the Last Year(s)

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Last year countless players made huge strides in the National Football League. However, while there were quite a few highly ranked and touted young players that impressed, there were also a fair number of disappointments. Today, though, let’s cover off some of the best young up-and-comers across the board. Whether you’re playing fantasy football, daily fantasy sports, or are just a fan – here’s a few guys to keep your eye on for years to come.

Quarterback – #10 Justin Herbert – Los Angeles Chargers

You could argue selecting the league’s 2020 offensive rookie of the year may not be the sexiest “breakout” pick at QB. Absolutely nobody saw this one coming though. People thought Justin Herbert might be alright, but not one person thought he’d be this good this soon. Herbert outperformed his draft counterparts by a landslide and even with one fewer game than most under his belt, he still set rookie records in passing touchdowns (31) and completions (396).

He’s now part of a young LA nucleus that revamped their offensive line this past offseason. Watch for the Chargers and young Justin Herbert to steal headlines for years to come. The Kansas City Chiefs are certainly no longer alone in the battle for supremacy in the AFC West.

Wide Receiver – #18 Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons

Taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Alabama, Ridley was destined for big things. He came into a Matt Ryan run offense that had just had their Super Bowl dreams dashed by New England and were looking to rebound. What Ridley found was the back seat of the wideout corps. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu dominated the targets with Devonta Freeman sucking up a ton of work out of the backfield as well.

Ridley broke out in 2020 though, seeing 143 targets (50 more than the year before) for his first 1,000-yard season – 1,374 to be exact. Ridley averaged a whopping 15.3 yards per catch last year and with the departure of Julio Jones this past offseason has absolutely taken over in ATL. At just 26-years old, Ridley will be a big name in this league for a long time.

Running Back – #37 Myles Gaskin – Miami Dolphins

If you know your college football you may have already heard the name Myles Gaskin through the years. He set rushing records for the University of Washington and helped lead the club to a 2016 Peach Bowl appearance. Selected in the seventh round of the 2019 draft, the expectation was pretty low on Gaskin, but he’s impressed at every turn with the fish.

Last year he broke out starting seven of the ten games he saw in an injury-plagued season. He still managed to muster up 584 yards on the ground though with another 388 through the air. He also added five total touchdowns to his resume in 2020 as well. Gaskin is a dual threat back and has become very popular on the fantasy scene due to his PPR value. He’s a great back to keep an eye on and is very exciting to watch in the open field.

Tight End – #85 Robert Tonyan – Green Bay Packers

Now 27-years old, not a lot of people put too much faith in Tonyan coming off the practice squad last year. Due to some early injuries in Green Bay, however, Bobby got some looks and he sure made the most of them. He eclipsed his career total of 177 receiving yards and posted 586 on 52 completions in 2020 alone. He also added 11 touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers MVP award-winning season.

Tonyan established himself as the starter for the Packers midway through the year with an 88.1% catch percentage along with a three-touchdown performance against the Falcons. As long as Rodgers is throwing him the ball, it’s safe to say we should watch for big things from the Packer tight end.

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Ryan Sullivan

Expert on Hockey

Ryan has worked as a sports writer for the past decade and sports journalism for almost 15 years. He has worked in television, radio, print, digital, and podcasting since 2006. He is also the former co-host of the NFL Weekly Pick 'Em and Best Bets Podcast along with the Prop Drop on WSN.com.