Every week in Three Breakout Players we highlight a few players on the verge of earth-shattering fantasy football breakouts. Or, less ambitiously, we discuss players set up to exceed production expectations at low ownership. With the season reaching its mid-point and six teams on bye, we dig deep to highlight some truly under-the-radar players with a real chance to raise their profile this coming week.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders RB: $4,100 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
With the suspension of starting running back Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders will turn the backfield over to their pair of sophomore running backs with similar talent profiles. Once Lynch was ejected against the Chiefs in Week 7 the Raiders called upon DeAndre Washington. Although he and Jalen Richard finished with near-identical snap totals and rushing lines, Oakland coaches trusted Washington to punch in a four-yard touchdown. With Richard a valued member of the special teams unit, the Raiders could look to keep him in his current role. Recall when previous incumbent Latavius Murray missed time in 2016, Washington assumed lead back duties.
Washington is cut from the mold of the satellite back-plus, delivering the full spectrum of running back skills. With sub-4.50 speed and an 11.23 (61st percentile) Agility Score, Washington at 5’8″ and 204 pounds offers the high-BMI sturdiness to pound away between the tackles. Beyond traditional primary back duties, Washington is a slick receiver out of the backfield. As a key cog in the Texas Tech Air Raid offense, he commanded a 9.7 percent (68th percentile) target share and secured an astounding 124 receptions during his college career.
While Washington’s 26.5 percent (62nd) Opportunity Share in 2017 is underwhelming, he is a dynamic playmaker. As a rookie in 2016, he was fifth among qualified NFL running backs with his 8.1 percent Breakaway Run Rate. He also excels in short yardage situations, evidenced by a 6.3 yards per carry against stacked fronts last season and 5.0 yards per carry against stacked fronts this season.
This week, Oakland travels to Buffalo as -3.0 underdogs to face the Bills and their fourth-ranked run defense. With an increased role and potential featured-back touch floor, Washington is an attractive option in guaranteed prize pools.
Laquon Treadwell, Vikings WR: $3,300 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
After a disappointing rookie season, Laquon Treadwell seems to have found his role in the Vikings offense. Locked in as the third receiver behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen, Treadwell is playing on the outside in three-wide receiver sets. With Diggs out of the lineup this past week, Treadwell saw his highest snap share of the season, running the second-most routes (29) among Vikings receivers.
Entering Mississippi as the No. 1 high school wide receiver recruit, Treadwell challenged Donte Moncrief early to become the team’s featured wide receiver. Treadwell led the team in receptions and was second to Moncrief in receiving yards and touchdowns, achieving a 19.2 (85th percentile) Breakout Age. After suffering a gruesome ankle injury as a sophomore, Treadwell returned his junior season and posted 82 receptions, 1,153 yards, and 11 touchdowns. While lacking elite athleticism, evidenced by a 96.4 (22nd percentile) SPARQ-x Score, Treadwell wins against lesser defenders with his 6’2″ and 221-pound frame à la Kelvin Benjamin and Anquan Boldin.
The Vikings are -9.0 favorites this week against the Browns in London. With the bye on the horizon for Minnesota in Week 9, Treadwell’s snaps and routes should continue to trend upward if Diggs sits out to ensure a full recuperation. Although the Browns did not surrender a touchdown last week against the Titans, they are more susceptible to the pass than the run, ranking second against the rush in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average but only 26th against the pass. If Diggs is inactive, Treadwell will offer the highest ceiling of the sub-$3,500 wide receivers on DraftKings.
Tanner Gentry, Bears WR: $3,100 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel
Tanner Gentry was an explosive college mega-producer at Wyoming, averaging over 18 yards per reception as a junior and senior. In 2016, Gentry led the Mountain West Conference in receiving yards (1,326) and receiving touchdowns (14), achieving a 44.8 percent (89th percentile) College Dominator Rating. Although not an athletic marvel, Gentry is relatively explosive, evidenced by a 126.1 (76th percentile) Burst Score. At 6’1″ and 208 pounds, Gentry looks like what you’d get if you put Cole Beasley (great burst) and Cooper Kupp (college dominance) into a particle acceleration chamber to create the most explosive and prolific small-school receiver of all time.
Starting out the season on the practice squad, Gentry has worked his way into the starting lineup for the Bears. In fact, he leads the team’s receivers in snaps and routes run the last two weeks. While all that running inevitably improved Gentry’s cardiovascular fitness, he is averaging one target per game as the Bears call the fewest pass plays per game in the NFL. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky attempted just 23 passes over the last two weeks, completing only three to wide receivers.
This week, though, the Bears head to New Orleans, where opponents average over 35 pass attempts per game. A -9.0 underdog, the Bears will have to take the training wheels off of Trubisky to keep this game competitive. With a chance to be fed targets, Gentry is a tournament-only option projected at less than one percent ownership in the Models.
Good luck this week, and be sure to visit our suite of Tools to research more breakout candidates.