Spotlight: Steve Breaston

posted by Will Grant on Jun 29th


Will Grant's thoughts

To many fantasy owners, drafting Steve Breaston this season seems like a no brainer. Over the last two years, Breaston has posted 195 targets, 132 receptions, 1,718 receiving yards and six TDs as the #3 receiver for the Cardinals. With Anquan Boldin now in Baltimore, Breaston moves up into the #2 slot. Boldin posted 254 targets, 174 receptions, 2,067 receiving yards and 16 TDs as the #2 man. Breaston is a lock to finish in the top 20 for fantasy WRs this year right?

However, it almost never works out that easily. Breaston may be the #2 WR for the Cardinals, but he will face stiff competition from third-year man Early Doucet and rookie Andre Roberts. Doucet came on strong at the end of 2009, posting 13 targets, 12 receptions, 148 receiving yards and three receiving TDS over the final three games of the season. In the playoffs Doucet had eight receptions for 68 yards compared with Breaston's four receptions for 52 yards. Andre Roberts came from a small school, but he has big up-side potential. He runs great routes and can make the tough catch when it is needed. His kick and punt return skills are top shelf as well, and he will certainly be on the field a lot for the Cardinals this season. Even if Breaston is the #2 guy when the season starts, Doucet and Roberts are going to be heavily involved in the offense.

The Arizona running game will also impact Breaston's up-side. The one-two punch of Tim Hightower and Chris Wells accounted for 2150 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns last year. The early reports out of the Arizona indicate that both Wells and Hightower look good, and that the Cardinals intended to become a more run-focused offense for 2010. Wells should end up with the majority of the groundwork this season, but Hightower will also be heavily involved in the offense due to his ability to catch the fall out of the backfield. This will result in few pass reception opportunities in general for all of the Arizona WR corps.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Breaston's numbers is the retirement of QB Kurt Warner. This season, the Cardinals will turn the offense over to Matt Leinart, and Derek Anderson. Leinart will begin the season as the starter, but he has never proven that he can carry the load. Anderson will probably see the field before the season is over, but he never showed a ton of skill when he was in Cleveland. Neither of these guys has Warner's pass accuracy or leadership skills, and this will only add to need to run the ball more. Larry Fitzgerald is a top shelf WR and no matter who is under center, Fitz is going to get the ball. If there is a reduction in the number of pass targets, Fitzgerald's numbers are the ones that will be impacted the least.

All of these factors point to a challenging year for Breaston this season.

Positives

  • Breaston posted solid fantasy numbers as the #3 WR on the team. With Anquan Boldin in Baltimore, Breaston moves into the #2 slot.
  • With Larry Fitzgerald on the other side of the field, Breaston will almost always be against single coverage on the weaker side of the defensive secondary.
  • Breaston has appeared in 47 games over the last three seasons. The next closest WR to him is Doucet with 16. That type of game-time experience is invaluable on a team that may have challenges at the QB position.

Negatives

  • Breaston faces strong competition from some young, talented WRS in Early Doucet and Andre Roberts. These guys are hungry for the ball and will push for playing time this season.
  • Leinart and Anderson are not as talented as Kurt Warner. The passing game will struggle this season and anyone not named Fitzgerald will see fewer opportunities.
  • Improvement at running back, combined with weaker QB skills, mean that the Cardinals will certainly run the ball more and check-down to their RBs this season.

Final thoughts

Breaston is what some fantasy owners like to call a 'sleeper' pick. He's a guy that they hope people are not thinking about during the draft and they expect that he will explode when he steps into Anquan Boldin's slot. Breaston certainly has the experience and has proven that he can put up solid numbers. The problem is that he is not a slam dunk this season. Weak QB play, combined with an improved running game, and stiff competition, mean that Breaston could easily post numbers like he did last season. Moving full time into the starting lineup will give Breaston's numbers a boost this season. However, he's more of a 3rd WR / backup option for your fantasy team than a guy you are going to be able to count on week after week. His current Average Draft position is WR33, 92nd overall. That's a fair assessment of his value, but be careful not to expect a huge upside from him at that point. Approach Breaston with caution this season.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Aardvarks said:

Breaston, to me, is one of the more fascinating mid-round picks of Fantasy 2010. He's one of those pure sleepers (not ESPN Magazine sleepers). Yes, Warner is gone. But all the more reason to keep an eye on Breaston. He could fall way too far in drafts.

A former 1,000-yard receiver who has never been a full-time starter, Breaston is now the Cardinals' flanker. Fitzgerald will draw doubles and brackets every Sunday. Breaston was nicked last year, but partially due to the beatings he took on punt returns. He's not returning punts this year. Leinart? I tend to lean toward glass half-full. Who knows. He should do fine.

Last January I saw Breaston snag 7-125-1 in that wild-card shootout and thought to myself, "Don't forget, Breaston can flat out play." I haven't forgotten.

Three more things: Arizona has 4 of 5 at home in weeks 12 thru 16. They only have one potential snow gig, at KC on Nov. 21. And finally, Breaston is playing on a 1-year RFA tender for $2.4m so he's chasing his one big NFL contract.

I will draft Breaston a round or two earlier than most.

Frogpond11 said:

The reports out of Cardinals camp seem to be really good for Leinart..but I've got to see it to believe it. The guy hasn't impressed me much when he's had to play the last couple of years.

Breaston should see quite a few single coverages though with Fitz being 8-teamed on the other side of the field.

Another thing to think about is Doucet though. I remember seeing Doucet when he was at LSU and he has put on LOADS of muscle since he's been in Arizona. He put up some darn good stats when he was filling in for Boldin at the end of last season too. So Doucet might end up with a bigger piece of the pie [this season]..it wouldn't surprise me.

haterade said:

Combine a rising Early Doucet and a falling QB and you get a worse outcome than last year IMO.

by_the_sea_wannabe said:

A floor of 75 catches with Doucet, Leinart, and more Wells is being way too generous.


Steve Breaston projections

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