AFC West Breakouts to Buy – @GNFF_Dynasty
DARREN WALLER – TE – OAKLAND RAIDERS
The former Baltimore Ravens practice squad receiver is now a tight end with some hype in Oakland. Jon Gruden and his coaching staff have been impressed so far and Jared Cook is now in New Orleans. Cook had 101 targets last season and those opportunities are now available for Waller. The 26-year-old prospect has prototypical size at 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds with 4.46 speed. His workout metrics are all 81st percentile and above as you can see below.
“Since the time he’s walked in here, he’s been one of the most impressive guys on our team. He learns fast. He is fast. He’s extremely talented. I think he’s going to be one of the best-kept secrets in the league. I really believe he’s got a future if he keeps working like he is.” – Jon Gruden, Raiders Head CoachThat’s high praise but what does Waller truly bring to the table? Let’s analyze the small sample size of film, broken down by the one and only Chucky.
Gruden says it himself with pride. He loves using multiple tight end sets. Waller is going to be on the field a lot and won’t be asked to be a primary blocker. That’s why the Raiders signed Luke Willson and drafted Foster Moreau. Gruden was confident enough in Waller’s athleticism to hand him a jet sweep. He’s a tight end. But not in Gruden’s eyes. He’s a hybrid weapon honestly, who can be thrown quick shallow crossers and seam routes. Watch him gallop down the field at Georgia Tech wide open. Derek Carr will definitely rely on a big and fast target down the middle like Waller. He reminds me of a young Jimmy Graham.
DAMIEN WILLIAMS – RB – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The former Miami Dolphin is lucky enough to be the starting running back on the most explosive offense in the league. Over the last seven games of the 2018 season, Williams averaged five yards per carry and racked up ten total touchdowns. If you project his stats in those seven games over a full season, it looks golden. He would have finished top-12 among RBs with 1,271 scrimmage yards and a league leading 23 touchdowns (14 rushing, 9 receiving). Don’t be concerned about veteran Carlos Hyde or rookie Darwin Thompson for this year. If he holds them off, he should be in prime position for a breakout season.
COURTLAND SUTTON – WR – DENVER BRONCOS
Courtland Sutton looks primed to breakout in 2019. With Emmanuel Sanders turning 32 and coming off a torn Achilles it is very likely that Sanders production will be diminished than in the past. Sutton perceivably is the WR1 for the Broncos this season and quietly put up quite the impressive rookie season. He joins an extremely impressive list of rookie WRs to have over eight yards per target in their rookie season.
32 of 38 players on this list recorded at least one WR2 season or better and 19 of 38 recorded at least one WR1 season in their career.
The average rookie on this list averaged 164 PPR points per game and we saw a pretty sizeable jump for these players in their second season. The average PPR scoring for the players in this cohort during their second season was 196 PPR points. 196 points puts a WR squarely in the WR2 conversation for the season.
Sutton profiles most similarly to Alshon Jefferyand they produced eerily similar numbers as rookies.
We saw Jeffery breakout all over the place in year two as he put up an absurd stat line of 89 receptions, 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns to finish as the WR8 for the season. While Sutton may not hit those numbers this season, it is clear that this is within his range of outcomes. With the opportunity, profile and his rookie year success, we should be optimistic about Courtland Sutton breaking out in 2019. With a re-draft ADP of 10.05, he is clearly an immense value with tons of upside as a bench stash.
HUNTER HENRY – TE – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Henry was “back” for the playoffs last year, and although he didn’t contribute, it’s good news for his ACL recovery. He will be 16 months removed from the initial injury when the season starts which gives should bode well for his health in 2019. Henry was a match-up nightmare for opponents in 2017, owning the ability to beat defenders on short crossers or deeper sideline patterns. His presence on the field opens up options for Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense.
Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates fueled a well oiled machine. Rivers loves throwing to his tight end. In 2016 he targeted the TE 26% of the time, followed by regression the last two years. If Henry is healthy, that number should be in the low to mid 20% range again. The departure of Tyrell Williams and Gates leaves 110 targets on the table. With Mike Williams likely to eat into some of that Henry will have to be efficient in the red zone.
Henry is only 24 and is expected to show up big this year. Don’t be surprised if he hits a stat line of 55/950/10 for the year.