Fantasy outlook: Last season's breakout stars

Posted Aug. 03, 2011 @ 9:47 a.m.
Posted By Alex Mayster

After a few seasons in the NFL, fans begin to develop a fairly accurate understanding of what type of numbers a certain player will put up in a given season. Fantasy owners begin to sort these players into categories; depending on some to carry their team while others might be on the roster only to fill in during a bye week. But every season there's a group of players who jump off the charts. These players are drafted late — or sometimes not at all — and can provide a huge boost for any owner. As the calendar year turns, owners are once again forced to make a decision on these players. Some turn out to be one-year wonders, while others go on to match their spectacular seasons on a yearly basis. With that in mind, Pro Football Weekly takes a look at five breakout players from last season who might or might not repeat their career seasons in 2011.

Peyton Hillis

Catching many off guard, the "Madden NFL 12" cover boy picked up more than 1,600 yards from scrimmage last season. Hillis is a serious threat both on the ground and in the passing game and was one of the few dangerous weapons on the Browns' offense in 2010. But he'll have more competition this season with RB Montario Hardesty rebounding from a knee injury and the addition of ex-Packer Brandon Jackson, and he could get less carries.

Stevie Johnson

The Bills' wideout came from out of nowhere last season to record 1,073 receiving yards and grab 10 touchdown passes. Johnson, who had only 112 total receiving yards entering the season, had three games with 100-plus receiving yards and 11 catches for 20 yards or more. Without many changes to the offense in Buffalo, "The Joker" might have a chance to truly establish himself as a top NFL receiver.

Marcedes Lewis

Lewis' 10 touchdown catches last season were more than he had in his entire four-year career prior to 2010. The 6-foot-6 tight end emerged as a serious red-zone threat and earned the trust of QB David Garrard. But the Jags spent a first-round pick on QB Blaine Gabbert in the draft, and the former Missouri star might not look to Lewis quite as often if he gets inserted into the starting lineup.

Brandon Lloyd

In his eighth NFL season, Lloyd set numerous career-highs and led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards after recording just 860 yards in his previous four seasons combined. The athletic Lloyd was a true difference maker on a struggling Broncos offense and an exceptionally dangerous threat deep down the field. But with a changing of the guard in Denver, and questions at the quarterback position, Lloyd might have a tough time living up to last year's standards.

Michael Vick

Vick set career highs in touchdown passes, passing yards and completion percentage, all in just 12 starts. In his first season seeing serious action since his release from prison, Vick looked better than ever as a passer and still rushed for 676 yards on the ground. The question is, will Michael Vick Version 2.0 be around forever, or will the proficient passer fade as time goes by?