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2020 Breakout Player of the Year: Must-Own Future First-Rounder

"Packed with power, speed and playmaking ability," is how SI Fantasy expert Shawn Childs describes this year's breakout player of the year.

This is an article from our Fantasy Football Breakout Player series. If you're a FullTime Fantasy subscriber, you can read this premium article here.

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In the game of fantasy football, a breakout player can come from all areas in the draft. The goal is to find the player or players that create massive edges in fantasy points.

In 2017, Todd Gurley drafted consistently in the second round in the high-stakes. In the previous season, he struggled to make plays while scoring 200.2 fantasy points in PPR leagues. Gurley finished as the top-scoring skill player (RB, WR, or TE) in 2017. He finished with 387.30 fantasy points with electric value in Week 15 (180 combined with four TDs and three catches) and Week 16 (276 combined yards with two TDs and ten catches). Every overall championship in 2017 had Todd Gurley on the roster.

The real breakout player in 2017 was Alvin Kamara. In the live drafts in Las Vegas, most sharp drafters took him in the ninth round in PPR leagues. Kamara ended up as third-highest scoring running back in PPR leagues (321.40 fantasy points) while finishing about 65 points behind Todd Gurley in scoring.

Many teams that season owned Gurley and Kamara, which created a decisive edge. That edge is where you win.

After three and a half months of football research, here is my 2020 breakout player of the year:

A.J. Brown, Titans WR

In 2018, I identified Brown as an overlooked player in the fantasy market. Here’s my preseason outlook for him last year when he was entering the league as a rookie:

Brown can’t match the speed of the top wide receivers in the 2019 draft class, but his game looks the most NFL ready. His movements with the ball in his hands seem to be uncanny, creating yards after the catch, which is somewhat surprising for his size (6’0” and 226 lbs.). He has the wheels to have success in the NFL (4.49 40 yards dash). His route running is advanced, helping his value at the goal line and the deep passing game.

Over the last two seasons at Ole Miss, he caught 160 passes for 2,572 yards and 17 TDs highlighted by his junior year (85/1320//6). He played with D.K. Metcalf in college.

Fantasy owners have been searching for the next impact 100-catch WR to replace the loss of Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, or Calvin Johnson. Brown fits the WR1 mold in his rookie season, but he landed on a team with a weak passing game. I’m excited about his upside, but I have to temper my expectations based on the WR structure and the expected passing opportunity in Tennessee. I’ll start his initial prediction with about 50 catches for 750 yards and a handful of TDs. If he hits the ground running, Brown will make the players around him better. He finished his rookie season with 52 catches for 1,051 yards and eight TDs on 84 targets.

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