The 2021 Fantasy Football season may be over, but it’s not too early to explore some IDP fantasy football players who are projected to break out in 2022. There are a few things that I look for when trying to identify breakout fantasy players. Youth, talent, and an increased role. Second year players with high draft capital usually experience an increase in playing time and production. These players have had a year to adjust to the NFL, and their teams feel more confident playing them in major roles. A player that fits this model is Cleveland Browns Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. A player that fits this model is Washington Football Team Linebacker Jamin Davis. This series was written in 2022 by Brandon Jackson, he is no longer contributing to Gridiron Ratings but should be considered the credited analyst for this piece.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Owusu-Koramoah came out of college as a Linebacker/Safety hybrid. He became a starter in his last two seasons at The University of Notre Dame and won the Butkus Award in his senior season in 2020. While at Notre Dame, Owusu-Koramoah was known as a speedy Linebacker who excelled in coverage and delivered ferocious tackles.
Owusu-Koramoah was initially eased into the starting lineup to begin his rookie season. He played mostly on special teams and on nickel packages during the first 4 weeks of the season. Owusu-Koramoah began to receive full-time snaps as the starting Weakside Linebacker in weeks 5 and 6. He experienced a minor setback after an ankle injury sidelined him from weeks 7 through 9. Owusu-Koramoah returned to a full-time role in weeks 12 through 18 to finish out his rookie season. His most productive fantasy week came in week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens. He recorded 13 combined tackles and 0.5 sacks finishing as the fantasy LB8 in standard leagues. Overall, Owusu-Koramoah performed adequately in his rookie season. He finished the season with 76 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 pass deflections while playing on 65% of the Browns defensive snaps.
By the numbers
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah may not have made a huge impact for IDP fantasy football gamers in 2021, but he did have a major impact on the Browns defense. It’s notable that the Browns improved their coverage on TE’s this season finishing 12th best in production given up to the position. This past season marked the first season since 2014 that the Browns weren’t in the bottom 5 in production given up to the TE, according to data from Fantasy Football Outsiders. In fact, advanced metrics show that Owusu-Koramoah performed at an elite level while in coverage this past season. Owusu-Koramoah only allowed a completion on 63% of targets thrown his way. Additionally, QB’s had only a 70.2% rating when targeting him in coverage, per Pro Football Reference.
Owusu-Koramoah did struggle in some areas as a rookie. He must improve his tackling in year 2 after posting a 17.4% missed tackle rate as a rookie. On a positive note, his tackling issues could be attributed to his mid-season ankle injury. It’s notable that Owusu-Koramoah graded out as a top 5 Linebacker during the first half of his rookie season according to Pro Football Focus. However, after returning from injury his PFF grade went way down during the 2nd half of the season.
Several of the Browns beat reporters appear to be enthused by the upside of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. During her Orange and Brown Podcast, Browns beat reporter Ashley Bastock advised that Owusu-Koramoah deserved consideration for Rookie DPOY for his performance during the 1st half of the season. Pat Opperman from Browns Nation listed him as one of his breakout players and a DPOY candidate going into next season. And finally, Browns beat reporter Scott Patsko raved about Owusu-Koramoah having an untapped ceiling. Patsko noted that Owusu-Koramoah led Browns Linebackers in blitzes this past season and helped the team improve on their pressure rate, which was an issue in previous seasons. Taking all of these reports into account, it appears that Owusu-Koramoah could be on the verge of a massive breakout season in 2022.
IDP fantasy football managers should be excited about rostering Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah next season. He’ll be going into his 2nd season looking to solidify himself as a key member of the Browns defense, along with Pro Bowlers Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward. His elite athleticism and versatility give him the upside to be one of the best Linebackers in the league. He’ll likely deliver more big plays in his 2nd season as a day 1 starter and the team’s every down Linebacker. With his upside for sacks and interceptions, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ascends into the tier 1 of fantasy Linebackers next season. Don’t forget about this breakout player in your IDP fantasy football drafts.