Written by: Noah Davis
Description: With the 2018 NFL season just around the corner, these five-star players appear to be real threats to bust out in a big way.
The dog days of summer are almost over. That’s soon to be the case for NFL fans, at least.
That dreaded “dead period” in the pro football season dries up in late July, when players start reporting to training camp and gearing up for a month full of preseason action.
Before you know it, the NFL regular season will be back and arguably the greatest sport on earth will be back on television sets.
With the excitement building, fans may want to consider which young players could be on the verge of huge breakout seasons.
One reason for doing so, of course, is some of the best football betting sites allow you to wager on player stats and team win totals.
Until these players officially bust out, their teams may not be held in very high regard or some may think they’ll put up pedestrian numbers.
On the contrary, they appear to be realistic threats to make some serious noise in 2018. Here’s my favorite five:
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes was recently compared to Brett Favre, so depending who you are, you may not be sure how to feel.
I can tell you that he has a rocket arm and nice athleticism, though, and that the Chiefs liked him enough to trade Alex Smith away this offseason.
That move has dropped Kansas City’s odds to win the AFC West again, but if Mahomes can exceed expectations, the Chiefs could be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL in 2018.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Just how well McCaffrey does may impact the success the Panthers have this year, too.
The Stanford product was very good as a receiver out of the backfield as a rookie but left something to be desired as an inside runner.
The good news is we know the talent is there. McCaffrey carried a full load in college and was one of the best running backs in the nation, while his carrying picked up as the 2017 progressed.
McCaffrey even bulked up this offseason, while incoming offensive coordinator Norv Turner has suggested the Panthers will “feed” their star rusher. If McCaffrey responds well, he could end up having a massive second season.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Possibly even more interesting is McKinnon, who was arguably hidden in Minnesota for the past four years.
Always a freak athlete with elite versatility, McKinnon heads to the Bay Area and may finally be ready to blow up.
Scheme and role meet high level talent here, as McKinnon has the athleticism and speed to be legit NFL star.
In head coach Kyle Shanahan’s running back-friendly system, McKinnon’s elite physical traits could finally see him break out this year.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
Parker is another guy who has flashed nice physical ability but has yet to truly piece it all together.
I’m not exactly sure he can be blamed for his slow development, however, especially when the 2017 season was virtually lost due to the presence of Jay Cutler.
Despite not really having a reliable quarterback under center and also fending off numerous injuries, Parker hauled in 55+ catches for the second year in a row.
Now that star quarterback Ryan Tannehill is back, it’s arguable Parker’s size, ball skills and solid overall athleticism will finally allow him to churn out huge numbers.
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
One more guy NFL fans should have their eyes on is Bolts’ wide receiver, Mike Williams.
The Clemson product was buried in L.A.’s depth chart due to injuries and inconsistency as a rookie, but his talent is off the charts.
Sheer ability could see Williams climb the ladder in 2018, while the loss of stud tight end Hunter Henry for the year (torn ACL) creates a need for size in L.A.’s passing attack as well.
Whether Williams stretches the field or dominates the red-zone, he should be a frequently targeted weapon for Philip Rivers if the Chargers have plans of making the playoffs.
There are undoubtedly more NFL breakout candidates for 2018, but these five may be the best.
More importantly, these players may be the key for their respective teams as they look to make a deep playoff run.
Of this group, it’s arguable nobody will have a bigger potential impact than Mahomes, however.
Mahomes takes over where veteran passer Alex Smith left off and if he’s the real deal, it’s possible Kansas City morphs from mild playoff threats to serious Super Bowl contenders.
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