2017 Fantasy Football: Scout Fantasy's Breakout Player of the Year

It's the moment you have all been waiting for. Scout Fantasy is ready to declare this running back being drafted in the eighth round as our 2017 Breakout Player of the Year!

In mid-June, Adam Ronis came out with his “Beat Lisa Ann” Fantasy Football Draft Breakdown. In case you missed it, click here to read his thoughts and analysis.

Midway through the article, Ronis wrote something very interesting, which may have gone under the radar if you weren’t paying attention.

“My target for round nine was Redskins rookie running back Samaje Perine, but he went four picks before my turn. I think Perine is this year's Jordan Howard and winds up the starting running back.”

https://twitter.com/ScottFantasy/status/874711343294763008

We saw this statement and decided to dive in the trenches on this to see if this is the biggest Fantasy declaration of June, this early in draft season. That’s why we asked our experts what they thought of this statement and they each chimed in. Due to the relative agreement among our staff, Washington Redskins RB Samaje Perine is our 2017 Breakout Player of the Year! With this 2017 Breakout Player, we can confidently point to his name because even as a rookie, it's his time to shine. 1,000 yards in his first NFL season seems to be well within reach. “Coming soon to a championship-winning Fantasy Football team near you!”

But before we hear what our experts have to say, let's all get on the same page on how to say this rookie's last name!

Pronunciation: Pee-Rine

What Are The Winning Experts Saying?

Adam Ronis


Achievements: Six Years Hosting SiriusXM Fantasy Radio
Multiple Wins in High-Stakes Leagues
Most points in 2014 Scout Online Championship
FSTA Award Winner for Best Fantasy Sports Radio Program in 2015

Fantasy Football is about talent, but opportunity is key. Perine may enter the season behind Robert Kelley, but I expect Perine to emerge as the main back. It was a similar situation last year in Chicago, as rookie Jordan Howard passed Jeremy Langford on the depth chart. It took an injury to Langford, but Howard seized the opportunity and rushed for 1,313 yards. Perine is built to handle a big workload and is a powerful runner who will have success at the goal line. Perine is more talented than Kelley and this is an offense you want a piece of.  - Adam Ronis, Senior Fantasy Expert

Dr. Roto


Achievements: FSWA 2011 Newcomer of the Year
Beat out entire field of 500+ players in his Beat Dr. Roto contest in 2014
Four-Time Online Championship League Winner
Two-time winner of SiriusXM Expert Host Fantasy Football league
Multiple high-stakes leagues wins (including several top ten overall finishes)
From: Fort Meyers, FL

There goes Ronis ruining my sleeper again! Can't this guy just be quiet till after Vegas?! Well, now that it's out there, I LOVE Perine. Anyone who is buying the R. Kelley has lost weight and will still be our starter line has failed "Coachspeak 101." The Redskins don't want everyone to know what I already know--Perine is a beast and will be the lead back by Week 3 at the latest. There will be early comparisons to LeGarrette Blount which is fair, but I think Perine has way more upside than Blount. Remember, he didn't have to catch passes at Oklahoma because they had Joe Mixon and some pretty good WRs. At Perine's peak, I can see him adding 30-40 catches a year to his rushing total. Most importantly, Perine gives the Redskins something they have always enjoyed in a strong and powerful goal line RB. Remember Gerald Riggs? Perine might actually run harder. So, at his worst, he's Gerald Riggs. At average, he is LeGarrette Blount, and at best he might be a Jordan Howard. No matter the comparison, this kid can play. - Dr. Roto, Senior Fantasy Expert

Scott Atkins


Achievements: Founder & President of the Fantasy Players Association
SiriusXM Fantasy Radio Host
Top 50 World Ranked Season-Long & DFS Player
Nightly NBA DFS Expert & Teacher
Multiple 5 Figure NFL cashes in DFS & High Stakes Season-Long tournaments
DraftKings 2014 Atlantis King of the Beach Qualifier winner ($70,000 value)
From: Indiana

Perine is the strongest back in this year's class and it's not even close. He walks into an excellent situation in Washington where has an opportunity to start right out of the gate. This kid has big-time TD potential. He averaged 15 receptions per season in college but don’t be surprised if that number increases in the NFL. Click here to see Scott's Dynasty Football Rankings! - Scott Atkins, Vice President of Scout Fantasy

USA TODAY Sports

Shawn Childs


Achievements: 2014 #2 DFS Most Accurate
Over $250,000 Career Earnings
3 Top 25 Overall Finishes
From: Cape Cod, MA

http://www.scout.com/player/162596-samaje-perine?s=532

Over three seasons at Oklahoma, Perine rushed for 4,122 yards on 685 carries with 51 TDs. His was most successful in his freshman year (1,821 combined yards with 21 TDs and 15 catches) because he was forced to split touches with Mixon over the last two years. Perine runs in a similar way as Maurice Jones-Drew where he breaks and sheds tackles at the first and second levels of the defense with an uncanny feel to keep his balance. His best success will come from power while showing sneaky separation speed at the linebacker level when tacklers are trying to get a hand on him. His top gear is well below the top RBs in the league. I don’t think he’ll be dead in the water in the passing game. He caught 40 passes for 321 yards and two TDs in his college career. Most scouts don’t believe in his value on the outside, but I see a player that will win many one-on-one battles in the open field due to his ability to beat up his opponents. His ability to score and short yardage value will help this offense score in the red zone. His game has a much higher bar than Kelley and he will win the starting job from jump street. For now, he's a LeGarrette Blount with a chance to carve out a value piece of this offense. Possible 250 touches for 1,100+ yards with double digit TDs. - Shawn Childs, Senior Fantasy Expert

Matt Brandon


Achievements:Placed 8th in 2016 FantasyPros Rankings Contest
Managing Editor of Scout Fantasy
Multiple Wins in season-long and DFS
From: New York

I’m not a Rob Kelley fan and it’s not because Big Blue runs through my veins. You never let fandom get in the way of Fantasy Football. I don’t like Kelley because he’s very slow considering the position he plays (the guy ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2016) and despite his increased role as the season went on, he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry over his final six games. Putting aside the speed factor, especially since Perine is only a smidgen faster, Kelley simply doesn’t pass my eye test. I don't think he has the vision to be an every-down running back and he most definitely does not have the hands to catch passes out of the backfield. I saw way too many drops last season to support him as the team's RB1. Reports have surfaced that Kelley has slimmed down but I don’t think that’s going to help him. He’s not suddenly going to be an agile, elusive speedster. Washington knows this, which is why they selected Samaje Perine in this year’s NFL Draft. If they were comfortable with the 1-2 punch of Kelley and Matt Jones, Perine would be on another team’s roster. Although Perine is also a power-back similarly to Kelley, the difference in talent is significant. The rookie is much better at breaking tackles and an absolute beast inside the five yard-line. Perine simply pulverizes defenders once he gets to the second and third level of the defense. Admittedly, it will be more difficult for him to truck NFL players, but I have a feeling we'll see a few HUGE plows through the the line of scrimmage. Kelley may begin the season as the starter but I can promise you that barring injury, Perine will finish the season as the go-to option on first and second down, with Chris Thompson helping out on passing downs. That being said, Perine isn't Kelley. He actually has hands and can catch the football so it's possible that the rookie develops into a three-down back. - Matt Brandon, Managing Editor


ADP (Average Draft Position)

If you are drafting today, you would have to reach for Washington's rookie running back according to our ADP (Average Draft Position). At this point in the early draft season, Perine is being selected as the 33rd running back off the board, after names such as Doug Martin, Theo RiddickC.J. Prosise and other pass catching backs.

Back on May 17th, Perine's ADP was 105 but it climbed 20 spots to 85 within two weeks, where it leveled out. Keep up with Perine's ADP by clicking here.

As we get closer to the regular season in late August, Perine will move up the draft board and become a fifth or sixth round pick. He'll be selected among the likes of Danny Woodhead, C.J. Anderson and Mike Gillislee.

Perine could even outperform his future draft status, as we expect him to finish as a Top-15 RB in Fantasy Football! That being said, we conservatively project a 60-40 split with Rob Kelley. 

Schedule

We looked at all the factors and the one thing going against Perine is his difficult schedule. In fact, the Washington Redskins have the fifth-most difficult schedule against rushing defenses according to Scout Fantasy's Strength of Schedule tool. This is something Perine will definitely have to contend with but we believe he we will persevere. He's got many other elements that will help him succeed in his debut Fantasy Football season. 

Pass Catching

According to the Washington Post

As for his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, Gruden was asked about that recently in an interview with ESPN 980.

“You know he’s got good hands” Said Gruden. “I wouldn’t say he’s a natural hands catcher that we’re going to separate against linebackers and send him on choice routes and option routes. But he can catch flat routes, screen passes. He’s very effective in the screen game. That’s really all you need to do.”

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield rarely checked the ball down to the running back in the flat, but when he did, Perine looked comfortable.

Offensive Line

Pass protection was a plus last year, and the Redskins averaged 4.5 yards per rush, so the next step is improvement rushing the ball in the red zone. I expect this offensive line to finish in the top 25 percent of the league. If you want to read more about the Washington Redskins and every relevant Fantasy player on the team, click here to read our Team Outlook.

NFL.com declared Washington has one of the best starting fives among offensive lines in the NFL today.

Not only did the Redskins set franchise single-season records in total net yards (6,454) and average yards per game (403.4) in 2016, they’ve allowed just 50 sacks the past two years. And all five starters on the offensive line remain under contract this year.

But He's a Rookie, Can He Help Protect The Quarterback

Scout's Washington Redskins publisher from Breaking Burgundy Ben Standig wrote:

Moreover, you might want to just consider Perine the gift that keeps on giving, he is also well recognized as a solid pass protector, which is usually a college running back's biggest adjustment to the NFL. 

Fair enough, but what about Matt Jones?

Washington Redskins publisher from Breaking Burgundy Ben Standig wrote:

There have already been reported rumors that the Burgundy and Gold were shopping Jones, but Gruden has a good enough poker face to not give any hints.

Final Projection

We believe Perine's floor is something around 185 carries and 29 receptions for a combined 1,076 yards and 9 touchdowns (8 rushing and 1 receiving). This equates to 190 Fantasy points. Remember, this is our conservative projection. We believe he will outperform those numbers. He has the potential to completely steal Kelley's job and rush 250 times for 1,100 yards with double-digit touchdowns. 

So there you have it... Samaje Perine is Scout Fantasy's Breakout Player of the Year!



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