Both the Bengals and the Rams made some changes this offseason that will propel two breakout players in Joe Mixon and Tyler Higbee. The Bengals released Giovani Bernard who signed with Tampa Bay and the Rams released Gerald Everett who signed with rival Seattle Seahawks.
Let’s break down each player and why they will have breakout years.
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Two Breakout Players for 2021 Fantasy Football
Joe Mixon RB 16
Mixon was tarnished last season and missed the final 10 games of the season due to a foot injury that happened in week six against the Colts. Mixon did not require surgery, but his injury from last season has him at RB 16 behind D’Andre Swift and Josh Jacobs.
Jacobs lost most of his offensive line in free agency which will hurt the run game for the Raiders. The Lions lost both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. which can help Swift in fantasy, but they also signed former Green Bay running back Jamal Williams.
However, the Bengals released Bernard opening up a breakout year for Mixon. Though he might seem risky coming off an injury, he can be a steal dropping into the third round. Mixon’s ADP is at 25 which puts him in the middle of the third round.
The Bengals will have Joe Burrow back and also added Ja’Marr Chase alongside Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. The passing game will open up the run game for Mixon. Also, people may have forgotten Mixon ran for over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 2019. Mixon has the same potential to break out for those same numbers in 2021
Though he has only had a season-high of 8 touchdowns in 2018, his touchdown production will grow with the departure of goal-line threat Bernard. In 2018 Bernard snatched 3 touchdowns on only 211 yards rushing.
Be on the lookout for Mixon in the late third or fourth rounds who can break out as an RB 1 on a fantasy team this year.
The biggest offseason acquisition for the Rams was trading for Matthew Stafford. He will be the reason why Higbee will have a breakout year in 2021.
Higbee showed signs of being a top, not elite, tight end in fantasy when he went for 734 yards on 69 catches for three touchdowns in 2019. Last season he went for 521 yards on 44 catches with five touchdowns.
His touchdowns did go up last season, but his targets, yards, and receptions were all down from the year before. But, this breakout year will be different for two reasons.
One, Stafford is now in Los Angeles. Stafford has made a career of turning tight ends into breakout superstar fantasy players. In 2010 and 2011 tight end Brandon Pettigrew went over 700 yards receiving in back to back seasons. That was also sharing the field with Calvin Johnson.
Then, just last year in his second season TJ Hockenson went for 723 yards and six touchdowns in his first breakout fantasy season.
The second reason is Everett is now gone. Higbee will only have to share the field with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. As well as Cam Akers who is not much of a receiving back. The Rams did draft a tight end, Jacob Harris, in the fourth round who could see some playing time, but not enough to interrupt the production of Higbee.
Higbee is ranked as tight end 18 with an ADP around 147. We all know once Kelce, Kittle and Waller are gone the tight end pool gets shallow. But, instead of wasting a second-round pick on a tight end, Higbee will be a late tight end pick with breakout potential.
Keep an eye on both Higbee and Mixon to breakout in the 2021 fantasy season.
For more great analysis, check out Mick Ciallela’s full 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings.
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