AFC East

Draft Guide Exclusive – Breakout or Bust: A guide to navigating 3rd-year receivers – D. Glasser

By Daniel Glasser 

The third year in a player’s career is typically thought of as their potential breakout season. Throughout the NFL this has been true in many cases: Deandre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas, Davante Adams, etc. In numerous other cases, however, these “third-year breakouts” become complete and utter busts. It is a fine line to walk when drafting these types of players and a single decision can make or break your entire fantasy season.

Targeting third-year receivers has been a draft strategy used by many fantasy football players since the early 2000s – it is a reliable way to get good value for a later round pick. For the 2019-2020 fantasy season there are many options at third-year receivers and many of them have the ability to breakout this season … but will they? I will be taking a look at six different third-year receivers and discussing their outlook in-depth. Please note, I will be excluding players already established within the top 15-19 receivers from the 2018-2019 season since they are already solidified as “broken out.” 

Dede Westbrook

2017: 27 rec, 339 yd, 1 TD
2018: 66 rec, 717 yd, 5 TD

With new QB Nick Foles under center, going into the 2019-2020 season can only help Westbrook. Foles is a solid pocket passer who throws an accurate ball and likes to spread the rock around. My one flaw with Foles is that this will be his first season with the Jags and that always adds multiple unwanted variables. If Foles can integrate well into the Jags’ offensive scheme, Westbrook could be the biggest beneficiary from the offseason transaction.

The Jags have been a run-first team since drafting Leonard Fournette in 2017 draft, but with Nick Foles coming to town they look to have a more balanced offensive attack. The Jags’ receiving core is not the most frightening and with the number one role for a wide receiver still prime for the taking, Westbrook has the best chance to slide into the position. An improved offensive line should also prove helpful for Westbrook, giving him more time for his route to develop. 

Westbrook increased his catch percentage from his rookie season to year two (52.9% to 65.3%), and his snap percentage increased as well – he has developed into a solid slot receiver, spending over 70% of his snaps in the slot. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has an impressive track record of utilizing the slot receiver (Adam Thielen last season) and will reconnect with Foles.

Based on my projections, Westbrook has the potential to be a low-end WR1 this season with a solid floor of a low-end WR2, and at his ADP at around pick 100.

Chris Godwin

2017: 34 rec, 525 yd, 1 TD
2018: 59 rec, 842 yd, 7 TD

Jameis Winston has one year left to prove his worth in Tampa Bay, which could lead to either an impressive season from him or a 20+ interception season. If he can get his act together, then Chris Godwin will be able to flourish in an offense that has now lost two of their four starting receivers in Adam Humphries and Desean Jackson. 

The Bucs had a near nonexistent run game last season and that leads to a very pass-happy offense. Along with this, Mike Evans should receive a good amount of double teams which frees up Godwin and gives him more chances to touch the ball. Chris Godwin was able to stay pretty consistent with his catch rate from his rookie season to his second season (61.8% to 62.1%) and increased his snap percentage by over 20% and his target share increased by over 5%. Godwin was able to do this while competing with a very deep wide receiver core but now that the core has weakened, it opens up a lot of holes that Godwin can fill. 

My projection has Godwin having a ceiling of around high end WR2 at receiver and worst being a low-end WR2.

Kenny Golladay

2017: 28 rec, 477 yd, 3 TDs
2018: 70 rec, 1063 yd, 5 TDs

Matt Stafford had a down year last season with the new regime starting to take command. Even with Stafford’s struggles, Golladay was still able to show his abilities and have an impressive season. The Lions’ run game showed sparks with running back Kerryon Johnson, but was shot back to reality with Johnson’s injury. 

Their O-line has started to work its way back into relevant and if they can stay healthy, they should be able to stay in the top half of the league. The Lions’ offense is something that affects him in a near neutral manner. Golladay was able to maintain his catch percentage from his rookie season to his second (58.3% to 58.8%) and became an integral part of the Lions’ offense last season, clocking in an over 90% snap percentage. Golladay hauled in over 22% of Stafford’s targets and will look to improve upon these numbers this season.

With the loss of Golden Tate, Golladay is ready to become the real number one receiver in the motor city. My projections for Golladay give him a ceiling of mid-WR1 and a floor of high-end WR2.

Corey Davis

Davis is in an exciting offense in the sense that I can’t get a read on them – they are so inconsistent that you never know what you’re going to get. This all begins with the QB, Mariota: from weeks 10-14 his QBR was 125, 61.4, 147.7, 90.4, 75.3 –  this kind of inconsistent play completely throws off the offense and hurts Davis’s value. 

The rollercoaster of an offense continues with the run game. At around midway through last season, many fantasy owners were so fed up with Derrick Henry’s lack of production that he was dropped in many leagues, and just as everyone felt he was done… BAM, 99 yard TD and three straight games with a TD and over 80 yards rushing. 

The only consistent part of the Titans’ offense is their o-line, which has been a solid unit for a few seasons now. All of this put together makes me wary of Davis at his current ADP. Davis increased his catch percentage in his second year but still is below 60%, which is never good for a wide receiver. His snap % is a big plus for him though, going up 20.1% from year one to year two (74.4% to 94.5%). Davis hauled in over 25% of Mariota’s pass attempts last season and looks to make a more significant impact this season. He made a big leap into fantasy relevance this past season, and I see him staying around where he is currently mostly because of the inconsistency of the Titans’ offense. My projections have Davis having a ceiling of high end WR2 with a floor of a low-end WR2.

Mike Williams

2017: 11 rec, 95 yd, 0 TD
2018: 66 rec, 664 yd, 10 TD

Williams plays in a high-powered offense with Philip Rivers at the helm, and their firepower can only be a plus for Williams. Keenan Allen is the number one in LA and will stay in that role, but with the departure of Tyrell Williams, it opens up the door for more targets for Williams and increases his value. 

The run game is full of pass-catching backs with Melvin Gordon playing the bell cow role. In the red zone, Williams may lose some targets and possible TDs to Gordon, who has shown he can pound the rock into the endzone. 

The Chargers O-line was a bit iffy last season, but were able to add some possible starters in the draft and through free agency. Being able to play a full season last year allowed Williams to show his potential, and he did. He had a 65.2% catch percentage and almost doubled his snap percentage. Williams will benefit from the loss of Tyrell Williams and should see an increase in both snap percentage and target share.

My projections have Williams with a ceiling of high-end WR2 and a floor of a low-end WR2.

Zay Jones

2017: 27 rec, 339 yd, 1 TD
2018: 56 rec, 652 yd, 7 TD

The Bills’ offense has been nothing spectacular in the last couple of seasons, but it looks like it’s starting to take a turn for the better this season. Josh Allen showed flashes of something special last season, but needed time to develop his passing game – he has a cannon for an arm, but is one of the most inaccurate QBs in the league which hurts Zay Jones’s value.

The run game in Buffalo is starting to slow down as LeSean McCoy begins to age and this gives more opportunities for Jones in the passing game, but if new running back Devin Singletary starts to shine, it could take away some possible targets from Jones. 

The wide receiver core in Buffalo expanded this offseason and will hurt Jones’s value with the additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley. Jones had an abysmal catch percentage his rookie season at 36.5% but was able to get it up to around 55% his second season. He was on the field for over 90% of the snaps last season and received over 20% of the target share. It will be a more crowded core this season which makes me wary of Jones.

My projections have him at a ceiling of a mid WR2 and a floor of a high-end WR3.

 

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