In this first edition of 2024 Fantasy Football Breakouts, I would like to settle one of the great questions of our times: Yes, a rookie can be a breakout. If you define it like I do, a career-best season from a player who is a must-start player in Fantasy, they fit. If you define it the way Adam Aizer does, "sleepers win you weeks, breakouts win you leagues," rookies still qualify. And by both of those measures, I expect Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers to qualify in 2024.

Harrison topped 1,200 yards receiving each of the past two seasons at Ohio State and scored 14 touchdowns in both years. His pedigree, both in terms of his NFL father and participation at what may be the new WRU, is unmatched. We've been excited about seeing him the NFL for three years (at least). He won't have to wait long to hear his name called at the 2024 NFL Draft with strong odds that he will be a top five pick. These types of prospects rarely miss, and I would expect he will have a Round 3 ADP by August. I would also expect he will justify it.

Nabers profile may not be quite as bulletproof, but his upside may be even higher. Last year he caught 89 passes for 1,569 yards and and 14 touchowns at LSU. He won't even turn 21 years old until July 28 and his athletic testing showed exactly the athleticism you see on tape, particularly the 4.4-speed. We expect Nabers to be a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft, and it's possible he gets selected before Harrison. If that happens, don't be surprised if they're both top 40 picks in PPR redraft leagues. If they land in Arizona and Los Angeles, they might be top-12 wide receivers as well.

Here are eight more breakouts for 2024, with both my 2024 projections and projected upside for them:

C.J. Stroud

Stroud was a perfect example of a rookie breakout in 2023. Stroud averaged 21.5 FPPG and finished the season as QB9 per game, ahead of Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, and many other QBs who were drafted before him. He led the NFL in both passing yards per game (273.9) and interception rate (1.0%) on his way to rightfully being named Offensive Rookie of the Year. And yes, he can be even better.

Some of that comes from the addition of Stefon Diggs. With Diggs, Tank Dell, and Nico Collins Stroud may just have the best receiving corps in the NFL. Those weapons, and his development, should also lead to an increase over last year's 33 pass attempts per game. As of early April I have Stroud projected as QB7, with 4,808 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns. His upside, if Diggs bounces back and the coaching staff goes pass-heavy, is a 5,000-yard season with 40 total touchdowns. Yes, if everything goes right, he could be QB1 in Fantasy Football.

Anthony Richardson

Can I just recycle all the things I wrote last year about why I loved Richardson? Elite athleticism, innovative offensive coach who helped Jalen Hurts produce his best season, 1,000-yard rushing upside, it's not hard to make the case for Richardson. But I was even more impressed with his pocket presence the few games he played in 2023. He is not going to take sacks like some of the young QBs we've seen struggle early in their career. With another offseason under Steichen, Richardson could have one of those Fantasy-breaking seasons in 2024.

As of now, Richardson projects as QB9 for me, with 3,649 yards and 21 touchdowns through the air and 617 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. But I do feel like that rushing production is closer to his floor than his ceiling if he plays 17 games. The ceiling for Richardson is a 3,500/1,000 season with 40 total touchdowns. 

Breece Hall

Wait. Breece Hall finished RB2 last year. How can he break out? Call it a technicality, but he finished RB7 per game in 2023, with 290.5 PPR Fantasy points. I have him projected for 327 PPR Fantasy points in 2024, and as the most likely running back not named Christian McCaffrey to finish the year as RB1.

The reasons for optimism are obvious. Second year off the ACL injury, improved offensive line, Aaron Rodgers back at QB. In fact, it would be more surprising if he doesn't improve on last year's volume (299 last year), efficiency (5.3 yards per touch) and touchdowns. There is a legitimate argument that Hall deserves to be the No. 2 overall pick. I project him for 1,789 total yards, 69 catches, and 12 total touchdowns. If he stays healthy I would bet on the over on all three.

Bijan Robinson

Like Hall, Robinson had a fantastic offseason in terms of surroundings. New Head Coach Raheem Morris talked about building the offense around Robinson and Drake London, Zac Robinson was hired off Sean McVay's staff to run that offense, and the Falcons got a major upgrade at quarterback when they signed Kirk Cousins. I would argue Robinson is also unlikely to lose as much short yardage work as he did last year. 

All of this adds up to a projection for Robinson of 1,828 yards from scrimmage, 11 touchdowns, and 68 catches. In other words, not far behind Hall. Despite averaging just 14.5 PPR Fantasy points per game in 2023, Robinson is a cinch to be drafted in Round 1 and like Hall he has the upside to finish as the most valuable player in Fantasy.

James Cook

James Cook finished last year as RB19 averaging 13.7 PPR FPPG. That average ballooned to 16.3 in his final six games of the season, which are the six games that Joe Brady served as interim offensive coordinator. Brady has the job full-time now so it's worth looking at the striking difference between Cook before Brady and after.

From Week 1 through Week 11 Cook averaged 12.5 rush attempts and 2.9 targets per game. There were five games in that stretch where he played 35 offensive plays or fewer. In the eight games (including the playoffs) Brady was calling plays, Cook averaged 17 rush attempts and 2.9 targets per game. He had a combined 44 touches in the team's two playoff games.

While the Bills will add at least one more running back before the start of the season, it's notable it hasn't been a priority yet. Assuming the Bills don't draft a back on Day 2, Cook looks set up to be one of the few true feature backs on a team that figures to be more run-heavy than they have been in recent years. I have Cook projected for 1,644 yards from scrimmage, 50 catches, and eight touchdowns next year. That's enough to put him at RB7 in my projections, which makes him worthy of a pick in Round 2 of Fantasy drafts.

Zamir White

White is the most likely guy from this list to get knocked off by a Day 2 draft pick. As of right now his top competition is Alexander Mattison and I expect he'll win that match. If anything, my projection of 1,493 total yards and seven touchdowns might be a bit light for White, because I do expect the Raiders to add someone. Still, this could be a great spot with Antonio Pierce building a fierce defense and Luke Getsy drawing up a run-heavy game script. White could be a must-start running back based on volume alone, just like he was the last month of 2024 when he averaged 23 touches and 114 yards per game.

Garrett Wilson

I don't think we need to spend much time here right? All those arguments for Breece Hall's surroundings should be even better for Wilson. As long as Rodgers is Rodgers, Wilson feels like a cinch to be a top-12 WR. I have him projected for 92 catches, 1,117 yards, and seven touchdowns. That is factoring in some of the concern I have about whether Rodgers can fully return to form at his age. Those numbers will be way too low if Rodgers does. Wilson could absolutely be in the conversation with Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, and CeeDee Lamb by mid-season under the best circumstances.

George Pickens

Like Wilson, Pickens gets a quarterback upgrade in either Russell Wilson or Justin Fields. Like White, Pickens has a sample from last year that gets you excited. In four games without Diontae Johnson last year, Pickens averaged 89 yards per game. Johnson, of course, is in Carolina now, which leaves Pickens as the clear WR1 in Pittsburgh. I project him for 73 catches, 1,169 yards and seven touchdowns in 2023. But I'm also factoring some risk that Wilson and Fields both struggle more than I expect. It's quite possible Pickens scores double-digit touchdowns if Wilson keeps the job all year.