2024 Fantasy Football: Dave’s early breakout picks include Garrett Wilson, Isiah Pacheco, Dalton Kincaid, more

If I think a player has a shot to post a career-year, then in my mind he’s a breakout. Pretty simple to follow.

And breakouts aren’t limited to guys you’ve never heard of. They can be guys you’ve definitely heard of, maybe even been disappointed by in the past. Or maybe even a player who has done well in the past but could be even better in the present. And yeah, many are obvious.

I’m writing about them now not just to look cool when they break out in a few months, but to also provide you a longer list now so you can prepare for your home leagues. Without question this list will shrink as teams continue to tinker with rosters, news comes out about some of these guys or their teammates, and training camp injuries take place. Knowing them now will help you be ready to draft them later.

Stat to know: In the seven games and played at least 60% of snaps each, Stroud averaged an outrageous 27.8 Fantasy points per game. But in his final six of the regular and postseason without Dell, Stroud’s Fantasy point average cratered to 14. Of course, not much of this even matters now that his receiving corps has been upgraded with .

What to expect: Clearly, the are building around Stroud. He averaged 32.5 pass attempts per game last year and could exceed that this year with an amped receiving corps and healthy offensive line. The hype is real for Stroud to finish as a top-five Fantasy quarterback.

I’d draft him: Top 60 in all formats.

Stat to know: Unquestioned target leader for the over the past two seasons with 9.9 in 2023 and 8.7 in 2022. The next-highest player over both seasons was at 5.6 per game.

Stat to know Part II: Of the 168 targets Wilson saw from everyone but last year, 38 (roughly 22.6%) were deemed uncatchable. That’s high but not totally out of hand. Also, of the 35 wideouts with at least 100 targets last year, Wilson was 23rd in Average Depth of Target with 10.16, a by-product of catching passes from inferior quarterbacks.

What to expect: Wilson has all the makings of an elite NFL receiver who has already garnered huge target volume through his first two seasons. Marrying him with a really accurate veteran quarterback, even an old one, should accelerate his efficiency and pop his touchdown production (he’s scored seven times through two years).

I’d draft him: Top 12 in PPR, top 15 in non-PPR.

Stat to know: Averaged 14.5 PPR points on 8.6 targets per game in 2023, but inexplicably had five games with six or fewer targets, dragging his numbers down. In his other 11 games he had at least seven-plus targets in each, averaging 17.1 PPR points per game. Also, sadly, four of those five games with low target volume by Olave were wins by 10-plus points.

What to expect: New Orleans didn’t add much to its offense; first-round tackle is the biggest change. has proven to be one of the more accurate and aggressive passers when he’s not pressured, so if that O-line steps up it should help Olave see a lot of big-time throws. In his third season, there’s a good chance Olave puts it all together.

I’d draft him: Top 20 in PPR, top 25 in non-PPR.

Stat to know: averaged 10-plus targets per game to in 2020 and 2022, 9.6 targets per game to in eight games without Hopkins in 2022, and even leaned on to the tune of 8.3 targets per game in 2023. He clearly has a tendency to lean on a primary target, which Harrison himself has been.

Stat to know Part II: Harrison averaged over 16 yards per catch and 14 touchdowns in each of his past two seasons at Ohio State, each with very different quarterbacks (, a stud, in 2022; embattled quarterback Kyle McCord in 2023).

What to expect: Normally it is dangerous to project a heavy target volume for a rookie receiver, but Harrison checks the boxes as a fully-skilled talent who wins with elite-level route-running and athleticism. In the last decade, 11 rookie wideouts have averaged a minimum of eight targets per game with 7 of the 11 averaging at least 14 PPR points per. And it’s worth noting that four other rookie receivers in the last 10 years averaged at least 14 PPR points per game without getting to the eight target per game threshold. The odds are in Harrison’s favor for a splendid first season.

I’d draft him: Top 22 in PPR, top 24 in non-PPR.

Stat to know: London has averaged 6.9 targets per game in each of his first two seasons, seeing at least seven targets in 20 of 33 career games. Over the past four seasons, any wide receiver seeing at least seven targets from has notched 15 or more PPR points 71% of the time, an outrageous rate.

Stat to know Part II: Through two seasons London has had an uncatchable target rate of 22.5%. Cousins over his past four seasons has had an off-target rate of 8.2% with no single season worse than 8.7%.

What to expect: We’ve only seen catch NFL passes from , and . Cousins is a step-up in class, and at least one wide receiver has averaged at least 7.2 targets per game from Cousins in five of his past six seasons. London is easily the top wide receiver and pretty much the most attractive target in Atlanta, so a steady dose of volume that could be anywhere from 7 to 9 per game makes him a big-time candidate for a career year. That wouldn’t take that much — a 75-950-5 stat line would do the trick, but he’s capable of so much more.

I’d draft him: Top 30 in all formats.

Stat to know: Of the 252 targets McLaurin saw in 2022 and 2023, 52 of them (20.6%) were deemed uncatchable. New rookie QB had a 10.1% off-target rate in 2023 and 11.6% in 2022. Not only should McLaurin see cleaner throws, but he should continue to keep up the seven-plus target per game pace he’s enjoyed each of the past four years.

What to expect: The Commanders have reportedly planned on being run-focused with the idea that their backs and defense can keep them in games, but it’ll be tough to rein in a thrower as good as Daniels. There’s no way Washington throws as much as it did last year but they should be more efficient with Daniels, who can throw as well on the run as he can from the pocket. Because McLaurin’s career highs aren’t TOO steep (87 catches, 1,191 yards, seven scores), there’s a chance of a minor breakout in his sixth season.

I’d draft him: Right around 60th overall in all formats.

Stat to know: Reed averaged 17.4 PPR points per game in his final eight regular-season games on a diet of 6.25 touches per game (nine rushes, 41 catches). Scoring seven times in eight games (two rushing) helped push the number. It didn’t help Reed that he was limited in many of these games, playing 60% or fewer of the snaps in five of the eight.

Stat to know Part II: For the season, Reed was first or tied for first among his WR teammates in total touches per game, targets per game and catches per game. He was second among WRs in tackles avoided (9.4%) and Yards After Catch per reception (5.2), but he was fourth in yards per catch (12.4) and fifth in Average Depth of Target (10.3). 

What to expect: In the two seasons since ‘ departure from Green Bay, no Packers player has had more than 100 targets. Of course, only one receiver since 2022 has played all 17 games (). The hunch is that the Packers will continue to spread the wealth offensively, but they don’t have a receiver as versatile as Reed, who could be molded into a larger role to resemble .

I’d draft him: Top 60-ish in PPR, top 70 in non-PPR.

Stat to know: Pacheco had 15-plus touches in 15 games including the postseason and notched at least 15 PPR points in 10 of them.

What to expect: Because the ‘ offseason moves were focused on improving the receiving corps, Pacheco stands to benefit greatly as the lead rusher in an offense that has some newfound speed on the outside. That should push the safeties back on a regular basis. If Pacheco improves his vision and patience, he can really ratchet up his efficiency against lighter boxes from week to week and post a career-high in total yards while flirting with double-digit touchdowns.

I’d draft him: Top 20 in all formats.

Stat to know: In the ‘ last four games of 2023, White hit per-game averages of 23.3 touches, 4.7 yards per rush and 15.2 PPR points per game. The Raiders went 3-1 with a pair of blowout wins. Since then the team moved on from veteran and has added only and seventh-round pick to its running back room. It suggests the coaches are cool with White continuing to pace the team on the ground.

What to expect: White might never be a passing-downs option for the Raiders — all of the 11 third-down snaps he played in those final four games were either third and short or QB kneel-downs. But it’s unlikely Mattison or anyone else currently on the Las Vegas roster will significantly displace White. He has the makings of a weekly Fantasy starter, especially in leagues where catches don’t count for too much. 

I’d draft him: Right around 60th overall in all formats.

Stat to know: Stefon Diggs saw at least 150 targets in each of his past four seasons with the including 160 targets in 2023. Kincaid was second on the team with 91 targets in 16 games last season. Without a clear replacement for Diggs in the Bills lineup, it’s easy to buy into Kincaid getting good target volume.

What to expect: Kincaid is a size/speed matchup option for the Bills, one of a few unique-bodied pass-catchers they have on the roster. He averaged 5.7 targets per game under Joe Brady’s playcalling in 2023, though that includes a couple of games where he saw a boost in work with sidelined. Any improvement in his game, or even just an improvement in targets, could lead to a stellar statistical season.

I’d draft him: Top 60 in all formats.