by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We are always on the lookout for the next next breakout player, the one we are going to target off the waiver wire. While it’s not always easy to find, there are definitely a few players that are worth watching this week to see if they can show early signs of an emergence. Who are they? Let’s take a look:
Marlon Mack – Running Back – Indianapolis Colts
No one is going to argue against the Arizona defense, and they held the Detroit running backs to 51 yards on 22 carries in Week 1, but they also gave up passing plays to both backs:
- Theo Riddick – 6 receptions (7 targets) for 27 yards and 1 TD
- Ameer Abdullah – 3 receptions (4 targets) for 11 yards
It’s interesting that Mack split carries with Gore in Week 1 (10 carries apiece) and both were also targeted once. While Mack isn’t necessarily known as a pass catcher, he did have 3 receptions for 31 yards in the preseason and could play a role as a check down option given the questionable quarterback play.
Considering Gore’s age and the usage in Week 1, Mack has the potential to be a true breakout candidate and this could be his springboard.
Andre Ellington – Running Back – Arizona Cardinals
All of the focus has been on Indianapolis’ inept offense in Week 1, but it’s not like their defense played well as they allowed Jared Goff and company to score 46 points. One of the underrated part of the offense was Todd Gurley in the passing game, as he converted 5 of 6 targets for 56 yards. With David Johnson out Ellington is expected to assume the pass catching duties out of the backfield, a role that he is more than capable of thriving in. He had 2 receptions (on 3 targets) for 35 yards in Week 1 and could easily match or exceed Gurley’s performance. With John Brown also already ruled out, the opportunities for Ellington to catch footballs could grow that much more. He’s a big risk, but there’s huge reward potential.
Markus Wheaton – Wide Receivers – Chicago Bears
Obviously we don’t know much about the Tampa Bay defense quite yet, as they didn’t play in Week 1, but this is clearly based on potential opportunity and little else. The Bears have lost their top two receivers to injury, leaving a gaping hole at the top of the depth chart. While the running backs (Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen) are going to garner most of the attention, despite Howard being banged up now, the Bears need to throw the ball to someone on the outside. Wheaton, who missed Week 1 with a broken finger, offers the most upside of the group.
While he was limited to 3 games last season, he’s not far removed from picking up 749 yards and 5 TD (2015) or exceeding 50 receptions (53 in 2014). Obviously he doesn’t have Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the football, but he also doesn’t have the competition for targets either.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 2 rankings: