Five Fantasy Breakout Players for 2012

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Five Fantasy Breakout Players for 2012

The 2011 NFL season saw Victor Cruz salsa dance his way to the top of the wide receiver crowd and the San Francisco 49ers defense dominated, well let's face it, everyone. 2011 was a banner year for many NFL players, but 2012 promises to be even more explosive. The following is a list of the top 10 players I feel will have breakout seasons.

1. Jeremy Maclin @jmac_18, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Since being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles number 19 in the 2009 draft, Jeremy Maclin has seen mild success. Maclin had his best year in 2010 when he accumulated 70 receptions for 964 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Many fantasy owners hoped Maclin would continue his high level of play in 2011, but were disappointed when he turned in a very sub par performance. Now in 2012 and beyond, Maclin has to prove once and for all that he can be a consistent threat for an Eagles team that could be looking for a number one wide out. The Eagles announced earlier this week that they would be placing their franchise tag on DeSean Jackson @DeseanJackson10 if a long term deal could not be worked out. If Jackson is franchised, I could see him holding out for most of the season in frustration, which would be a golden opportunity for Maclin to display his abilities. Projected Stats: 1,400 total yards, 14 Touchdowns

2. Kevin Kolb @KevinKolb_4, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Call me crazy, which some will, but I see big things for Kolb in 2012. There is really only one reason for my assessment: Frank Reich. Frank Reich is the former quarterback coach for the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. Although Reich will be coaching the wide receivers in Arizona, there should be no doubt that he and current quarterback coach Mike McNulty will both work with Kolb to improve his skills. There is still some speculation that if the Indianapolis Colts release Peyton Manning, Arizona would be one of the teams interested in signing him. I think this would be a mistake. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks to play in the NFL, but Arizona gave up a lot to get Kolb and giving up on him this soon would be a mistake. Kolb just needs more time to develop, and with Reich in the coaching mix, he should do just that. Not to mention that he has one of the most dynamic wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald, to throw the ball to. Projected Stats: 3,000 yards, 25 Touchdowns, and 10 Interceptions

3. Darrius Heyward-Bey @theDHB85, WR, Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders pretty much shocked the NFL world in 2009 when they drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey number 6 overall. Since that fateful day, Heyward-Bay (who attended The ACC's University of Maryland) has been trying to prove that he was worth such a high draft pick; after 2 very unproductive seasons, his title of 2009 Draft Bust was all but assured... until now. In 2011, DHB was able to to quiet his critics by out producing his first 2 seasons by more 90%. His 64 catches, 975 and 4 touchdowns made him one of the most productive Oakland Raider wide receiver in recent years. In 2012 Heyward-Bey will have a full offseason and training camp to work on his timing with quarterback Carson Palmer, and he should be familiar with new Offensive Coordinator Gregg Knapp. Knapp served as Oakland's Offensive Coordinator in Heyward-Bey's 2009 rookie season. Heyward-Bey should warrant a mid-round pick in fantasy leagues serving as a WR3 at the beginning of the season, but finishing 2012 as a strong WR2 option. Stat Prediction: 1,250 total yards, 8 Touch Downs

4. Trent Richardson, RB, TBD

Can a rookie have a breakout season? Yes, they can. If you haven't heard of Trent Richardson, running back from Alabama, take a moment to go to YouTube and check him out. All finished? Now you know why he is on this list. Trent Richardson is by far the most electrifying running back to come out of college since former Oakland Raiders running back Bo Jackson. It isn't just Richardson' speed or the fact that he runs with a fierce anger, it is his ability to make defenders just flat out miss that makes him such a dynamic player. Not to mention his uncanny ability to hold onto the ball. Richardson only fumbled once in 614 carries while at Alabama. His side to side agility is paralleled by no one. His performance against Auburn University in 2011 shows what Richardson can do when entrusted as a lead back. With the 2012 NFL draft just around the corner, Richardson is more than likely going to be drafted in the first ten picks, and which ever team is lucky enough to draft him will not be disappointed for the next several years. Richardson should warrant a round 3 or 4 pick as a running back number 2. Stat Prediction: 1,500 total yards, 15 TD's

5. Ben Tate @BenTateRB, RB, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans are one of the most unfortunate teams in the NFL. The poor Texans are saddled with one of the most dangerous backfields in the NFL. The Texans finished second in the NFL in total rushing yard, but Ben Tate and Arian Foster @ArianFoster combined for the most rushing yards of any two running backs in the league. Ben Tate alone ran for 942 yards, caught another 98 yards, and totaled 4 touchdowns. 2012 can be a very dynamic year for Tate (who used 2011 to bounce back from a 2010 season ending knee injury). It was only a few years ago that the New York Giants had multiple 1,000 yard rushers (Derrick Ward rushed for 1,025 yards and Brandon Jacobs for 1,084 yards), and the Houston Texans can be the first team since then to have the same success in 2012. Tate should be drafted in round 4 or 5 and be considered real strong flex play in standard leagues, or RB2 in leagues with 12 teams or more. Projected Stats: 1,300 total yards, 8 TDs

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