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NFL fantasy football: 10 breakout players to target

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Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers: When Niners coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go with Kaepernick over Alex Smith as his No. 1 quarterback last season, I absolutely swooned over him. His combination of passing and running skills make him a lethal weapon on the field, and a surefire No. 1 quarterback in fantasy football leagues. As Baltimore Ravens lineman Terrell Suggs said about him after the Super Bowl, Kaepernick "is the truth." He has top-five upside this season.

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Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Luck finished ninth in fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2012, but he wasn't at all consistent. In fact, he failed to score at least 16 fantasy points in seven of his 16 starts. I think that percentage will improve in 2013, as Luck is an intelligent and accurate signal-caller who now has one full season of NFL experience under his belt. He's a virtual lock to become a fantasy superstar and could be a top-five quarterback in 2013.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: I admit it - I am a little worried about Bush now that he's back playing on turf - he didn't do so well in the health department on the fake stuff during his time in New Orleans. However, it's hard to look past the sort of statistical upside he holds in a system that fits his skill set to a tee. If he can avoid the trainer's room, Bush could easily catch 70 or more passes - remember, the Lions offense has thrown the ball more than any other in the last two years. In a best-case scenario, he will emerge as a top-10 running back in PPR leagues.

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets: Ivory is in a position to make the biggest fantasy impact of his career. A bruising runner who averaged over five yards a carry while in New Orleans, he's now a lock to start and see a major workload in the Big Apple. In fact, a season with 250-300 carries, 1,000-plus yards and eight to 10 total touchdowns is not unrealistic. Don't be surprised to see Ivory come off the board in one of the first five rounds. Target him as a nice No. 2 running back.

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: Richardson was a member of my "Fantasy Man Crush" list last season, and he promptly went out and posted solid rookie totals. That was just the tip of the iceberg for this fantasy monster, though, as the Browns' offensive centerpiece is a great bet to improve on his yardage totals while also finding the end zone 10-12 times. Richardson could easily be a top-five fantasy runner this season, making him worth a first-round selection.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: Spiller made an impact for fantasy leaguers in 2012, posting career-best totals across the board despite starting just nine games. The Clemson product will be in a position to improve on those totals this season, as he'll see more touches out of the backfield under new coach Doug Marrone. Like Richardson, Spiller has the tools to finish among the five best running backs in fantasy land. He won't make it out of the first 10-12 overall picks in 2013.

Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots: There might not be a wide receiver in the NFL who landed in a better spot to thrive this offseason than Amendola. Now set up to play the role of Wes Welker, who had 100-plus catches in all but one of his seasons in New England, Amendola's draft stock has never been higher. While he has been prone to injuries in recent seasons, the Texas Tech product has breakout player written all over him. He could be a true No. 1 wideout in PPR formats.

Andrew Luck has the upside to become a legit top-five fantasy quarterback this season and beyond.
Andrew Luck has the upside to become a legit top-five fantasy quarterback this season and beyond. (Paul Spinelli/Associated Press)

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: The top option in the Steelers pass attack after the offseason departure of Mike Wallace, Brown is in a great position to emerge into a strong fantasy option. In fact, I'm expecting him to post career highs across the board - that means 70-plus receptions, better than 1,150 yards and somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to nine touchdowns. Just now entering the prime of his career at the age of 25, Brown could be a real draft bargain.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: With Greg Jennings now a member of the Minnesota Vikings and superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers slinging him the football, Cobb is in line to reach the next level of fantasy stardom this season. In fact, I have Cobb ranked in the top 10 at his position for the 2013 campaign. Don't be surprised to see the upstart receiver out of Kentucky come off the board in the second or third round of drafts as a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy wideout.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: This might be the biggest risk-reward breakout candidate on the list, but there's a lot to like about Nicks heading into this season. For one, he's back at 100 percent health. The North Carolina product is also in a contract year, which means he'll be even more motivated to produce at a high level in an effort to cash in at the end of the 2013 campaign. Being that he'll be taken as a No. 2 fantasy wideout, Nicks could turn into a major steal in drafts.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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