Breakouts and Busts Through Week Four

John DiBari

With the football season lasting 16 weeks, I wanted to look at the fantasy landscape as we reached the quarter-pole. Which players have under- and over-performed thus far, and what can we expect from them the remainder of the season? I looked at DLF’s start-up ADP from August just before the NFL season kicked off and compared it to where players rank at their respective positions with four games under their belts. For obvious reasons, I’m not including injured players.

Without further ado, let’s see who are the biggest breakouts and busts thus far.



Tom Brady, QB TB (difference in ADP and current position rank:+19)

It’s hard for the arguable GOAT to breakout, but Brady was the 24th QB off the board in dynasty start-ups heading into the season. Yes, in dynasty, that is largely a result of his age as he was a top-ten quarterback in redraft leagues. Either way, he has thus far outperformed expectations, currently sitting at QB5 on the year through four weeks. He wants to play until he’s 45, and if Brady keeps this up, he’ll have no problem making it happen.

Gardner Minshew II, QB JAC (+17)

During draft season, it seemed like many pundits were all-aboard for the mustache mania in 2020. However, Minshew never saw his ADP rise, as he was the 26th signal-caller being drafted. Currently sitting at ninth among quarterbacks in points, Minshew is blowing that ADP out of the water. There is no reason to think Minshew can’t continue this all year long.

Honorable Mention:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA (undrafted, current QB8)


Daniel Jones, QB NYG (-18)

In his rookie campaign a year ago, Jones finished as QB23 in 13 games, and on a per-game basis, was a QB1. Expectations were high heading into his sophomore season, and was the tenth QB off the board. Through four weeks, Jones is 30th in points among quarterbacks, averaging an atrocious 12.07 points per game. Losing Saquon Barkley is a massive blow for this offense, so this may be a lost year for the Giants offensively, but Jones should bounce back in 2021.

Baker Mayfield, QB CLE (-13)

Right behind Jones, Mayfield was the 11th quarterback taken in dynasty start-ups this off-season. Currently 26th in quarterback scoring; so much more is/was/has been expected from the former first overall pick both in fantasy and real life. We’ve seen flashes from him that give some hope, but the writing might be on the wall for fantasy, and he’s never anything more than a middle-of-the-pack QB2.

Dishonorable Mention:

Deshaun Watson (-8), Carson Wentz (-6)

Running Back


James Robinson, RB JAC (undrafted, current RB6)

I’m kicking myself over this one. I consistently had Robinson ranked above most people in the industry, then when he went undrafted, I backed off and chickened out. Now, the 65th pick in rookie drafts, going entirely undrafted in start-ups, is sitting at RB6 on the season. It’s Robinson’s backfield going forward, and he looks really good. Maybe Ryquell Armstead gets a look when he returns, but Robinson looks like the real deal through four weeks.

Jerick McKinnon, RB SF (+50)

McKinnon has been on the fringe of dynasty rosters for a few years thanks to injuries, but Kyle Shanahan wanted him here, and we’re finally seeing what he had in mind. Going off the board as the 170th pick and the 62nd running back, McKinnon is currently an RB1. McKinnon flashed in a part-time role in the past, and dynasty owners couldn’t wait to see what he could do with a full workload. Well, it took three years, but here we are. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason this can’t continue.

Rex Burkhead, RB NE (+57)

Not a league-winner by any stretch of the imagination, but Burkhead has been a reliable RB3 through the opening quarter of the season. Considering he was the 84th running back taken and the 249th player overall, that’s a helluva return on investment. I can’t and won’t trust any Patriot running back. Burkhead might pop from time to time and is usable in best-ball formats, but there is no way you can roll him out with confidence over the remainder of the season.

Honorable Mention:

Kareem Hunt (+14), Antonio Gibson (+10), Myles Gaskin (undrafted, current RB34)


Kenyan Drake, RB ARI (-14)

Kenyan Drake, where art thou? Over the final eight games last year, after being acquired by Arizona, Drake exploded and was RB4 over that span. People were rightfully excited about him in 2020, and he was the 18th running back being drafted, typically within the first three rounds of drafts. So far, Drake is a borderline RB2-RB3, sitting at 32nd in points at the position. I thought last year was a fluke and wasn’t buying into the hype this year. I think he finishes the year in this range and his ADP just got a little out of control.

Todd Gurley, RB ATL (-14)

Very similar to Drake numbers-wise, Gurley was the 19th running back on draft day and is currently RB33. The difference was I bought into Gurley in Atlanta and thought he was a steal at that price. The Falcons are a mess, but The Falcons are middle of the pack regarding points scored, and Gurley has four scores in four games. He’s TD-dependent, but they should be able to move down the field and get into range for him to regularly get into the end zone for the rest of the season. I’d wait for a big game then try to trade him. Sadly, he’s looking like toast at only 26 years of age.

D’Andre Swift, RB DET (-20)

Much like Brady above, dynasty startup is an exercise in ageism. Swift was the 17th back off the board, but is now, points-wise, a high-end RB4, outside of the top 36 at the position. The Lions brought in the ghost of Adrian Peterson and, for some reason, are giving him 54 percent of the team’s carries. Swift’s usage in the passing game has saved him thus far, and he should be safe going forward once the Lions fire the horrific Matt Patricia, but it’s looking like 2020 isn’t going to be his year.

Dishonorable Mention:

Matt Breida (-16), Ke’ Shawn Vaughn (-18)

Wide Receiver


Robby Anderson, WR CAR (+58)

There are quite a few surprises in the top 12 at the position through four weeks, but Anderson is the biggest standout. Being drafted at the tail-end of the 13th round, as the 66th wide receiver taken, Anderson is rewarding owners as the WR8. I loved Anderson this year. He was reunited with his old college coach from Temple in Matt Rhule, and I thought he would be able to hit the ground running as the rest of the team adjusted to a new quarterback, head coach, and offensive coordinator. It also never hurts to kick the tires on any player in the first season away from Adam Gase. Will Anderson remain a WR1? Probably not, but he’s been able to amass WR2 numbers in the past, so I expect that to be the case in the future here as well.

Allen Lazard, WR GB (+41)

Coincidentally being taken just before Anderson as the 65th receiver off the board, Lazard is currently the 24th highest-scoring receiver. Unfortunately, Lazard underwent core-muscle surgery and will be out for at least a few weeks, but he’s still one of the bigger breakouts of the season at the quarter pole. When you look at the Packers’ depth chart, someone had to step up, and Lazard seemed to have the best rapport with Aaron Rodgers, so this shouldn’t have been a big shocker. Once he’s back on the field, with the Packers’ offense clicking, there’s no reason Lazard won’t continue to post WR2 numbers for the remainder of the year.

Tim Patrick, WR Denver Broncos (undrafted, current WR27)

When Courtland Sutton was lost for the year, Denver had many options in the passing game who could have stepped up. Surprisingly, third-year man Patrick has been the biggest beneficiary. Undrafted in dynasty start-ups, Patrick is WR27 on the year. He’s not going to post incredible numbers, but for a WR3 who was free following your draft, you’re going to have a hard time topping that return on investment. He’ll be buried on the depth chart in future years, but you can ride him out for 2020, especially with bye weeks making their way onto the schedule.

Honorable Mention:

Stefon Diggs (+24), Tyler Lockett (+20), Corey Davis (+27)


Christian Kirk, WR ARI (-54)

Kirk was the 37th receiver off the board in start-up drafts, and through four weeks, he is the WR91. Gross. With DeAndre Hopkins garnering an absurd 34-percent of the team’s targets, the rest of the receiving corps is fighting for scraps. Kirk is never going to see the volume necessary to ever realize the fantasy value owners were expecting.

N’Keal Harry, WR NE (-35)

Harry was the 38th receiver being drafted and is currently the 73rd receiver in scoring. The Patriots are now a run-heavy team, rushing on 53-percent of plays, mainly on the back of Cam Newton and his 35 carries. Harry seems to be a prime third-year breakout candidate. Unfortunately, he is in year two. The way this team is currently constructed, I can’t see Harry getting out of the WR5 range in 2020.

DJ Moore, WR CAR (-26)

With Robby Anderson being one of the biggest breakouts of the season, it seems to have come at the expense of Moore. Moore is one of the best buy-low targets in football right now, as he’ll eventually get his legs under him and start putting up the numbers fantasy owners have come to expect. Moore only has two fewer targets than Anderson, but he has ten fewer receptions and 161 fewer yards. He’ll be just fine.

Dishonorable Mention:

TY Hilton (-19), AJ Green (-29), Preston Williams (-26), Mike Williams (-49)

Tight End


Jonnu Smith, TE TEN (+9)

Coming into the season, Smith was my top pick to be the big breakout at the position in 2020, and so far so good. Even with Tennessee’s unexpected bye week in week four, Smith is the TE7 on the season, and on a per-game basis, he is TE3. Tennessee will never feature a heavy volume, high-scoring passing attack, which limits Smith’s upside, but he has shown the ability to thrive thus far, and I expect it to continue through the end of the season.

Jimmy Graham, TE CHI (+23)

Like a zombie clawing its way out of a grave to feast on the flesh of the living, Jimmy Graham is back! The soon to be 34-year old Graham is leading the Bears in receiving touchdowns and is second in targets and receptions. He seems to be an integral part of the offense and is once again a top-ten player at the position after being drafted as the 33rd tight end in start-ups. When involved, we’ve seen him post great numbers. I suspect this success is here to stay.

Dalton Schultz, TE DAL (undrafted, current TE5)

I didn’t include players who busted due to injury, but I am including Schultz, who is the beneficiary of an injury ahead of him. I highlighted Schultz earlier in the off-season as a player who could shine if given the opportunity, and here we are. Even with all of the weapons around him, Schultz has carved out a role in this offense and is thriving thus far. Will he maintain his TE5 status? No, there are probably too many mouths to feed. But given the option of opposing teams defending Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliot, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, or Dalton Schultz, it should create great matchups for Schultz for the rest of the year.

Honorable Mention:

Noah Fant (+5), Mo Alie-Cox (undrafted, current TE13)


Evan Engram, TE NYG (-17)

The fourth TE off of the board, going at the 6/7 turn, Engram has been nothing short of a disaster so far. Engram is currently TE21, and as part of the league’s lowest-scoring offense, there doesn’t look to be any room for optimism as the season continues. Sell him where possible.

Ian Thomas, TE CAR (-22)

With only nine targets through four games, Thomas is entirely off the fantasy radar. I had been patiently waiting for Thomas to get an opportunity once Greg Olsen moved on. Well, here we are, and it’s not pretty. Thomas was being drafted as TE18, but has found himself as the TE40 as a quarter of the season is in the books. It’s time to move on.

Rob Gronkowski, TE TB (-19)

Somehow, the Brady-Gronk hype fueled Gronk’s ADP up to TE17, which is mind-boggling. He’s done less than nothing so far and is the TE36. OJ Howard sustained a season-ending injury, which might open the door for Gronk to smash, but I don’t trust any tight ends in a Bruce Arians’ offense. Wait for a big week, and get something in return for him while you still can.

Dishonorable Mention:

Austin Hooper (-11), Jace Sternberger (-42), Chris Herndon IV (-17)

Through four weeks, one-quarter of the season, we’ve seen several players emerge as potentially the stars and league winners of the 2020 season. With all of the injuries this year, several players have already dashed their team’s hopes of fantasy championships, but a few of the above underperformers are doing the same. Several “busts” will bounce back and become second-half heroes while many of the “breakouts” are going to turn back into pumpkins as the season progresses. I’ll be revisiting this after week eight at the season’s halfway point and again after week 12 to prep for the fantasy playoffs, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

john dibari