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NFL fantasy football: 10 breakout players to target


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Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons: For a while there, it looked like Jackson -- one of the last decade's only true every-down backs -- would miss out on playing meaningful games in an otherwise borderline Hall of Fame career. Now that he's with a legit contender in Atlanta, he'll trump Michael Turner's solid output and make the Falcons' already devastating offense even more devastating-er.

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David Wilson, RB, New York Giants: With Ahmad Bradshaw gone, expect the 2012 first-rounder to build on those flashes we saw last season. His ability to catch the ball means he doesn't have to leave the field on third down, which makes his value to you all the greater.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams: For the first time in his short career, former Rookie of the Year Bradford will have multiple pass-catching options when he drops back -- and with Steven Jackson gone, he'll be dropping back as much as any QB in the NFL. By season's end, he'll either have lived up to the optimism expressed here, or the Rams will be looking for a new QB.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears: It's a longstanding supposition that the cannon-armed Cutler is capable of putting up big passing numbers if his o-line protects him. At long last, the Bears brass acknowledged that fact this off-season. Look for Cutler to take off with his collectively under-rated receiving corps.

Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens: With Anquan Boldin now catching passes for the team the Ravens beat last February, the spotlight shines even brighter on the talented Smith. With emerging TEs Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson attracting attention in the middle of the field, Smith will have some room to roam.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: It didn't get any attention at all, but the 2012 rookie class had some good QBs in it. Luck was one of them. In fact, he may be the best of 'em. And by the end of 2013, his numbers will say he's one of the very best in fantasy football.

A third-year wideout, Torrey Smith will be asked to do more with Anquan Boldin no longer in the Ravens offense.
A third-year wideout, Torrey Smith will be asked to do more with Anquan Boldin no longer in the Ravens offense. (Tom DiPace/Associated Press)

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: Even if Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson don't produce big numbers, they'll at least combine to provide enough outside-the-hash distraction to free up Christian Ponder's most dependable target.

Phil Dawson, K, San Francisco 49ers: After toiling for many moons in too many meaningless games in Cleveland, Dawson now gets to shine in one of the NFL's primetime offenses. And unlike some dome kickers, the grass field at Candlestick won't intimidate a guy used to booting the ball under damp and/or cold conditions.

Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns: Against just the Browns' division foes, Richardson has six tough matchups looming. Then again, he was productive enough against those teams last year, and that was before alleged offensive wizard Norv Turner arrived. Look for the talented and rugged sophomore to bully his way into the top five at the RB position this year.

Follow Dave on Twitter @Dameshek.