Fantasy Football: 2022 breakout candidates

Yahoo Fantasy expert Matt Harmon says managers looking for breakout stars in the 2022 NFL season should focus their attention on the second-year wide receiver class.

Video Transcript

MATT HARMON: I'm Matt Harmon from Yahoo Fantasy, here to give you three breakout candidates for this fantasy football season.


First up, talking about one of my guys. I think the most obvious breakout candidate in fantasy this year is Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman. Look, I know that there's some concern about the Ravens kind of going back to their run-heavy ways, not throwing the ball as much as they did last year. That might be valid.

But I think Bateman is just too good of a player to fail. I think he is a true number one wide receiver in the making. I know he didn't put up a ton of numbers last year. You got to remember, he was an injured rookie, missed a ton of time in training camp. And then really when he was like fully onboarded, Lamar Jackson started suffering injuries.

Now, those two guys, they're gonna overlap together. And I think this is gonna be huge for not just Bateman, but for the Ravens passing attack as a whole. The Ravens have not had a wide receiver like Rashod Bateman who can win off the line of scrimmage, get separation down the field, win after the catch, win on in-breaking, out-breaking routes. Like I said, a legit number one X receiver.

They haven't had a player like this, certainly not in the Lamar Jackson era. But they haven't even had this guy in like the last 10 years, in my opinion. With Hollywood Brown gone, I think Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews can now combine for over 50% of the team's total passing targets. And that is gonna be more than good enough for a player this talented to hit his ceiling this year.


Next up is another second-year wide receiver and it's New York Jets' Elijah Moore. Man, I want you to be focused on these second year receivers. This is such a good class. And this is typically where we see guys take that next step in fantasy. I think Elijah Moore is just so, so good at the game. He's a deep threat. He can win down the field.

People thought he might have just been like a slot receiver coming into the NFL. But we saw him last year win as an outside number one receiver. And he put up some monster weeks, admittedly with backup quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Mike White, those guys. Look, Zach Wilson is a question mark for Elijah Moore because Zach Wilson was not very good as a rookie.

But the Jets have done so much to beef up the infrastructure. They recommitted to their offensive line. They even added other skill position guys to make this offense more dangerous. They're making it really difficult for Zach Wilson to fail. So if Zach Wilson is even just average, I think Elijah Moore has the skillset of a guy who can be a league winner in the midrounds this year. I want you to take not one, but two of these second year receivers, whether it's Bateman, Moore, another one of the candidates as well. I want you to take them in every single league this year.


Last up, I'll go with a running back here. And I'll go, Tony Pollard. Look, I've been skeptical of Tony Pollard carving out a huge workload in the past because the team is financially and sort of like philosophically committed to Ezekiel Elliott. And I don't think that Zeke is a bad pick this year either because he should be a touchdown threat, he should get a ton of carries.

But I think the Tony Pollard actually can carve out a unique role this year. And the reason being, you just look at Dallas's pass-catching depth chart. They got Dalton Schultz on the franchise tag. They have CeeDee Lamb who I think is ready to take the next step. But with Michael Gallup banged up, this is gonna be a wide receiver corps with Jaylen Tolbert, James Washington, some unproven or rookie-level players.

There's room for Tony Pollard to actually carve out a really interesting role as a pass-catching back on this team. So I think that Pollard finally, finally has like some actual stand-alone value this year to be a breakout running back. But also we know has a tremendous ceiling if Ezekiel Elliott ever gets hurt, because he'd be the featured back on an offense that was number one in points scored last year. So I love to look at him as a potential midround back with a good mix of ceiling and floor this season.