Second Year Wide Receivers Primed for Breakout Seasons
It’s hard to get excited about any of the second-year wide receivers outside of Amari Cooper. The majority of the 2015 receiver class are on “bust alert” after their first seasons. The wide receiver that had probably the best season, outside of Cooper, of course, was Jamison Crowder, but the Redskins took another WR in this years draft (Josh Doctson) and he may cut into Crowder’s playing time, limiting his fantasy value.
The following list is four receivers that are in the best situation to succeed this year, and while all of them will be late round draft picks, all four have the potential to have great fantasy seasons and should be on your radar.
Green-Beckham had only 32 receptions for 549 yards and four TDs in his rookie season. That’s the bad news. The good news? He had 16 of those receptions for 306 yards and 2 TDs over his final five games. To say it another way, he had over half of his total production for the season in only five games.
Now, those five games weren’t ground-breaking production by any means, but it does give us hope that he can be an impact player in 2016. He will be competing for playing time with Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, and Justin Hunter, not exactly the best trio of receivers. DBC could easily work himself into a large role with a good showing in camp and preseason. He will be one to watch come August.
Lockett bust onto the scene as an impact special teams player for the Seahawks, but managed to work himself into a large role in the offense as the season progressed. He ended the season with a respectable 51 receptions for 664 yards and six TDs. Lockett will begin the season as the ‘Hawks No. 3 receiver, but could push fellow WR Jermaine Kearse for the No. 2 spot eventually.
Lockett is an exciting player, and the ‘Hawks will look to get him the ball anyway the can, using screens, short slants, and even handing him the ball on end-arounds on occasion. If you play in a league that gets points for return yardage he will even more valuable.
The only downside to Lockett is the run-first nature of the Seahawks, and while they are an extremely efficient offense they are far from explosive, which could limit his upside.
With Charles Johnson, Mike Wallace, Jarius Wright and Greg Jennings all on the Vikings roster in 2015, Diggs wasn’t even supposed to see the field much as a rookie. The Vikings are sure glad he did as he ended the season with 52 receptions for 720 yards and four TDs despite not seeing the field until Week 4. He had a particularly good stretch of games from Week 4-8 (4 games) in which he averaged just over 6 receptions and 104 yards per game while also hauling in two TDs.
A lot will be made of 2016 rookie WR Laquon Treadwell, and rightfully so, but Diggs will go into the season as the No. 1 receiver and already has Teddy Bridgewater‘s trust. So while Treadwell may get all the publicity, it could be Diggs getting all the fantasy points.
Having not played a single snap last year, I almost left White off this list since he is technically still a rookie, but I added him simply because he might have the highest ceiling of all the guys on this list. Jay Cutler is not a great NFL QB but he has shown in the past that he can support two fantasy stud wide receivers. In 2014 he helped Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery form one of the best fantasy WR duos in the NFL that year. The QBs for the other three guys on this list cannot say that. Even Russell Wilson, who is easily the best QB of the four guys, has not had that type of fantasy success with his WR corps.
If White and Alshon Jeffery can both stay healthy this year, Cutler could have another top WR duo in 2016. White has been compared to both Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins in terms of size and speed, and he excelled at “50/50” balls in college — something Cutler is quite good at throwing. The Bears defense is not expected to make a huge improvement over last year, which could force Cutler to chuck the ball all over the field in “catch up mode”, and that bodes well for White’s fantasy outlook.