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Breakout Stars of 2022 NFL Season

Six Weeks In, These Players Reaching New Heights

Earlier, we predicted the top breakout candidates for the 2022 NFL season. While some of them are proving us right, there are a few more players that we, and almost everyone else, did not see coming. These players have overachieved thus far and are due to have career years or, in the cases of rookies, significantly better numbers than the NFL betting odds predicted.

Let’s check the latest NFL picks, stats, injury reports, and NFL predictions. We’ve plenty of NFL expert picks for you to consider.

Breakout Stars of 2022 NFL Season
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NFL’s New and Renewed Stars?

  • QB Geno Smith

If you predicted Geno Smith to be a top-five quarterback in the NFL this season, we’d call you a liar or Nostradamus. The 32-year-old is into his ninth NFL season on his fourth team. The former second overall pick is enjoying his best season by far, leading the NFL in completion percentage (73.4) while being third in passer rating (108.1).

Smith has helped the Seattle Seahawks to a 3-3 start to the season, which is already halfway to their projected mark of 5½ wins. The offense is averaging the ninth-best points per game (24.3) and is second in net yards per drive (36.2). Now, Smith has climbed to second in Comeback Player of the Year odds on the sportsbook. If he can maintain this pace, he may just win it.

Take a Look at Other 2 Special Articles For This NFL Season

As far as breakout receivers, it’s hard to look past the New Orleans Saints rookie Chris Olave. The 22 year old from Ohio State leads his team in receiving stats and is one of only four 24-and-under receivers in the top 15 in receiving yards per game (77.8). But Olave is doing this with Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton as his quarterbacks. He is currently tied with Dameon Pierce for the Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) award.

  • RB Kenneth Walker III

Another rookie who could be in for a big season is the Seahawks’ Walker. He’s been nearly as much a catalyst for Seattle’s top-10 offense as Smith, and Rashaad Penny’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise for this NFC West outfit. Walker has rushed for 185 yards on 29 carries (6.4 yards-per-attempt) in his previous two games. At 25-1 to win OROY, Walker may be a shrewd bet online.

  • TE David Njoku

Breakout Stars of 2022 NFL Season
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

We don’t want to jinx the man, but it appears like Njoku is finally in for a breakout season. The gifted tight end has long been predicted to be a star at his position. Now at 26 and into his sixth NFL season, Njoku is averaging career-best averages in receptions (4.5), yards (57.8) and catch percentage (77.1) for the Cleveland Browns.

  • OL The Jaguars’ Run-Blocking

It’s tough to credit just one player for how effective the Jacksonville Jaguars have been in opening holes for its running game. Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley, and Brandon Scherff have been instrumental in the Jaguars’ potent rushing attack. Jacksonville has the ninth-most rushing yards and the 10th-best average thanks to their efforts.

  • S Talanoa Hufanga

With the San Francisco 49ers once again banged up, it’s a boon to have Hufanga step up in the secondary. The sophomore is turning into one of the best safeties in the NFL as he leads the team with two interceptions (one pick-six), is tied for second in tackles for loss (five), and is third in combined tackles (36). Hufanga’s improved play will help San Francisco stay afloat as they weather the injuries.

  • EDGE Dorance Armstrong Jr.

Lost in the Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence hype is Armstrong’s continued improvement as a playmaker on defense for the Dallas Cowboys. The 25-year-old is on pace to have career numbers in sacks (5.0), quarterback hits (seven), and forced fumbles (one). He’s also blocked a punt and has been arguably the second-best player in Dallas’s fourth-ranked scoring defense.

  • LB Devin Lloyd

Breakout Stars of 2022 NFL Season
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

The Jaguars’ defense is one of the more surprising units this season. The team got exposed by the Colts as it gave up 434 total yards and 34 points. But prior to this, Jacksonville has had a top-five defense. Rookie Devin Lloyd has been the leader of this unit, which is not surprising as NFL predictions have him as the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. It’s hard to argue with his stats: 56 combined tackles, two interceptions and six passes defended.

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