The term breakout can have more than enough several meanings for people. We will break it down for what these guys do for their team, for what reason and how they will do it. The players mentioned all have had some semblance of success in the NFL so far and have done some damage – but we are looking at their potential and what they will likely do this year on the field. For this article – we will be defining breakout as who is going to take their game to the next level.
So here we go
5. Austin Hooper, 6-4; 250lbs
I don’t need to tell you that Austin Hooper can catch the ball when he is open, and he can throw a block for the RBs on early downs. Baker Mayfield will enjoy having a good TE to hit, and there will be plenty of balls to go around in a Cleveland offense that had no fears moving the ball through the air.
Austin stands at 6-4- which is a great size, and he has a lot of mass, he is very strong. Hooper is also very athletic for his size, he can move around on the field with ease and grace. 2019 was a little bit of a breakout year for him, as he racked up 75 catches, 787 receiving YDs with 6 TDs, which is a pretty good season – then, you have to think about the Falcons team itself and how terrible they were. He will be getting targets, will be helpful in run blocking, and very much appreciated in Cleveland.
4. Noah Fant, 6-4; 250lbs
Noah is a guy with great vision and ability to get yards, once the ball has been snagged. Fant was really good in his rookie year, with 40 receptions and 562 YDs – which confirms he is a great athlete.
The Broncos need to replace some receiving production from last season, with Emmanuel Sanders leaving the team. That means there are 44 targets for 367 YDs and 2 TDs that can be redistributed. Fant can fill in for some yards, as his ability in the open field has been evident in his 16 games played – and his skills have been shown repeatedly. He led the Broncos in YAC with 388 – ahead of their WR1, Courtland Sutton and Royce Freeman. The smooth TE can catch the ball, and move the chains as good as any TE in the league. He is a rugged receiver in just about every situation he gets put in.
Fant has some real gifts that cannot be looked over – he has some real speed for a man who stands 6-4 and weighs 250lbs
He is going to be a beast when it comes to what we should expect. I fully think he will grab a much higher target share in the Denver offense and he should exceed all his numbers in a big way in 2020. He is going to be even better with Drew Lock as their unquestioned QB1.
3. Tyler Higbee, 6-6; 255lbs
Tyler Higbee produced dynamically in his 4th season – as he got 89 targets – as he averaged 5.9 targets / game. Higbee doesn’t fly all over the field with blazing speed – but he can still make defenders worry about giving him more than a 4 yard hook, he also doesn’t lose much momentum when needing to stop for the easy catch. He has great hands, catching 77.5% of his passes last season, even better than his 70.6% from 2018.
Tyler Higbee has a smooth chemistry with Jared Goff – and the Rams strong offense is going to keep putting up points, and with Brandin Cooks leaving for Houston, and pass catching RB, Todd Gurley going to Atlanta – Higbee should get even more looks. There should not be a problem in LA, they should be able to adjust for them with Sean McVay making it work. Tyler Higbee has been rock solid in his 4 year career, and he has stayed healthy – which is exciting for LA fans. He has the chance to be a monster contributor this season for the Rams.
2. Darren Waller, 6-6; 258lbs
Las Vegas Raiders
It’s ridiculous how imposing Darren Waller became in 2019 – with 1145 YDs and 90 catches. He hauled in 76.9% of his passes and averaged 12.7 YPC – which is pretty daunting by any standards. Waller is a former 6th rd pick who has the skill set of a wide receiver. He struggled in his first 3 seasons, then just flipped the switch.
He was the Raiders best pass catcher during last season in 2019 – and became a favorite of 29 year QB, Derek Carr quickly, grabbing 117 targets, 53 first downs, and 14 plays of 20 YDs or more. As 23% of Carr’s passing attempts went to the TE.
He was the true recieving leader on the team, hands down. The Raiders are going to need him – to stay competitive for the year. Waller should be the team’s savior, as they dont have anyone else who is going to steal from his ability on the field.
Speed burner, WR Henry Ruggs will excite and make some big plays – but the heart of the passing game – will remain to be Waller. I am fully confident to say he will be a 1,000 YD receiver, again – with ease.
1. Mike Gesicki, 6-6; 250lbs
Mike Gesicki had a gritty 2nd season, topping 570 YDs and 5 TDs, and he ended up 3rd among TEs in passing routes.
Gesicki was much more productive in his 2nd season, after a slipshod 22 catch, 202 YD rookie campaign. His TDs went from 0 to 5 – as his 11 end zone targets were tied for most among TEs – and was 8th in the entire NFL. That is pretty astonishing, especially for a guy, that many were tossing aside.
I’m a huge fan of Gesicki this season – he took a big leap forward in 2019, and is going to get even better this year. He only started 5 games in 2019 – I feel that if he actually started all 16 games, his numbers would be greatly affected as well. Playing only 65% of offensive snaps, when stars like Zach Ertz and George Kittle are on the field for around 78% of the team’s offensive snaps. Get him on the field at their rate, his production will increase.
He was also surprisingly productive with the old vet, Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing the ball – and that with having a crummy offensive line. And with that inferior QB play – yet still put up numbers like he did. Along with drafting QB Tua Tagovailoa in the draft – whether you agree or not – I think Tagovailoa will be on the field sooner than later. And we all know a rookie QBs best friend is a good TE.
Gesicki checks that box as well.
With Tagovailoa, a new OC in Chan Gailey, and more on field snaps – Mike Gesicki could be in line for a 900 – 950 YD season.
Which would be about a 41% improvement from his receiving numbers in 2019 – I don’t see anything standing in his way.
There is no safer player as a breakout TE to look at, than Mike Gesicki – he is ranked tops on my list at VegasTopDogs.