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Sophomore Breakouts

Trey Lance: The 49ers made a bold selection last year when they selected Trey Lance with the 3rd overall pick in the NFL draft. Lance only started a year at North Dakota State and was taken over more experienced and well known players like Justin Fields from Ohio State and Mac Jones from Alabama. However, Lance was my favorite QB prospect in the 2021 draft. He is a legit freak athlete, who despite being raw, has an exceptional combination of arm strength and rushing ability - comparable to guys like Cam Newton and Josh Allen. After sitting behind Jimmy Garoppolo for a year, Lance is now going into his first season as the starting QB. While Lance’s long term ceiling is very high, just like Josh Allen he might not be an extremely efficient passer right away. However, Lance can be inefficient and still a great fantasy QB. Last Year, Jalen Hurts showed us the path that Lance can use for fantasy success. Hurts was not a very good passer (he ranked 31st in true completion percentage) but his rushing ability allowed him to finish as the QB9 in fantasy. Lance brings similar rushing potential as Hurts. In the two games he started last year he had 24 combined rushing attempts. In addition, San Fran has a top 5 offensive line, amazing weapons like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk, as well as one of the best offensive minds in football, Kyle Shanahan. This is the perfect situation for Lance to finish as a top 10 QB. Plus, imagine if Lance is better out the gate than expected and performs as an average or even above average passer. He has legitimate top 5 QB upside with a very safe floor.

Rhamondre Stevenson: Stevenson caught the attention of a lot of people last year when he was dominant in preseason games for the Patriots. Despite his obvious talent, he started the season as the Patriots backup running back behind Damien Harris and did not receive many touches on offense. However, from week 10 on the coaching staff couldn't keep Stevenson on the bench any longer and he averaged 13 carries per game to Harris's 10 carries per game when they both played. This year, Stevenson has reportedly slimmed down and is being used as the Patriots receiving back in training camp. In this receiving role last year, far less talented players, Brandon Bolden and James White, combined to have over 50 receptions. In addition, Damien Harris is on the last year of his contract and there have not been any negotiations to re-sign him. I could easily see the Patriots phase Harris out of the offense and let Stevenson take over the backfield. He will get more carries than last year and plenty of receiving work, leading to a top 25 RB finish.

Rashod Bateman: Bateman was selected by the Ravens with the 27th Pick in 2021 Draft, but would've gone much higher had he not sat out his final college season due to COVID-19. He was an elite producer in college, earning All-Big Ten honors and demanding a 98th percentile target share. As a prospect he was an elite route runner, who was compared to a faster version of Keenan Allen. Player Profiler, a website that analyzes players' athletic build and production, has Bateman’s closest comparable to Stefon Diggs. However, Bateman wasn't able to fully showcase his talent during his rookie season because he missed the first 5 games with an injury. Once he returned, he was only able to play a handful of games with a healthy Lamar Jackson. However, he was still productive catching 46 passes and boasting the 5th highest contested catch rate in the NFL. Now going into year two, Bateman and Lamar are both healthy and the Ravens showed their confidence in his ability to be an elite wide receiver by trading away former top receiver Marquise Brown. I'm confident that Bateman will thrive in his new increased role in one of the NFL’s better offenses, and finish as a top 25 fantasy receiver.

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