Second-Year WR Review (2019 Fantasy Football)
Last year’s rookie class of wideouts proved an excellent one no matter how you slice it. The first-year pass-catchers displayed impressive talent, and there is certainly reason to believe the best days are still ahead for most of them. Now that they have a year of NFL experience, what can we expect in 2019 from the crop of second-year WRs? All players will be sorted into three tiers. Players will land in Tier 1 if they have a good shot at WR1 production, Tier 2 if they have a slight chance to finish as a WR1 but will likely be streamable, and Tier 3 if they have a slight chance to be streamable. Only the most relevant players were included in this article, and the whole 2018 WR draft class was not evaluated. Let’s get to it!
D.J. Moore (CAR)
Moore had a strong rookie season, going for 960 scrimmage yards and two TDs. While starting the final 10 games, he was the WR20 in PPR formats. With a year under his belt and Devin Funchess’ 79 targets vacated, expect Moore to have a solid sophomore season with WR2 upside.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB)
According to reports, MVS is the favorite to be the Packers No. 2 receiver behind Davante Adams this season. He finished 2018 with 581 receiving yards and two TDs in very limited action, and he tacked on a pair of 100-yard receiving efforts in the process. Aaron Rodgers had a down year in 2018 in terms of TDs (25), but he played most of the year hurt. Expect him to return to form in 2019, when the scoring opportunities will be plentiful. The number two role in a Rodgers-led offense has paid dividends for the likes of Randall Cobb in the past, and Valdes-Scantling looks like he’ll be the next fantasy beneficiary in Green Bay.
Calvin Ridley (ATL)
Ridley had a phenomenal rookie campaign with a 64-821-10 line in only five starts. He came out of the gates hot, going for a blazing 15-264-6 in Weeks 2-4. He cooled off significantly as the year went on, but he was highly impressive in his first NFL season. Expect him to take a step forward in 2019, giving him significant upside playing with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
Dante Pettis (SF)
Pettis is reportedly on tap to be the 49ers’ top WR this season after an impressive finish to 2018. He played his best football without Jimmy Garoppolo, but the quarterback’s return should have a positive impact on Pettis’ play. His best stretch of 2018 came in Weeks 12-14 when he went 12-255-4. Pettis’ upside is huge, and if he is indeed the number one option this season, fantasy owners can expect big things.
DaeSean Hamilton (DEN)
Of the Broncos’ rookie wideouts last season, Hamilton looked to have the most upside, even given a small sample size. Courtland Sutton underwhelmed tremendously as the season waned. Emmanuel Sanders is still rehabbing, and his status for the start of 2019 is very much in question. Hamilton has a good chance to snag the number one receiver role in Sanders’ absence and form a good rapport with new QB Joe Flacco. He went 25-182-2 over the final four weeks of the season, compared to 14-146-1 for Sutton.
Keke Coutee (HOU)
Coutee dealt with a litany of injuries last season, but when on the field, he was dynamite. Coutee grabbed a record 11 receptions in his NFL debut, and he finished with a 28-287-1 line in just six games. He also grabbed 11 balls in the Texans’ wild-card playoff loss to the Colts last postseason. Will Fuller projects as the number two receiver for now, but he’s played in just 17 games combined over the last two seasons, opening the door for Coutee’s role to grow in 2019.
Anthony Miller (CHI)
Miller had a great rookie season, hampered by a nagging shoulder injury at the end of the year. For the final four games, Miller totaled just three receptions for 24 scoreless yards while working through the injury. In nine games prior, he tallied a 26-374-5 line. He finished the year at 33-423-7, and with the further development of both he and Mitchell Trubisky, Miller could top his TD total and certainly improve his receiving yardage.
Christian Kirk (ARI)
It’s likely Larry Fitzgerald’s final season, and the proverbial passing of the torch should occur in 2019. Kirk will be the new number one in Arizona, and he’s already fitting in well with Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offensive scheme. As a rookie, Kirk went 43-590-3, but those numbers are sure to rise in his second season.
Antonio Callaway (CLE)
Callaway flashed his burning speed as a rookie, but drops and other miscues plagued him throughout the 2018 season. He’ll have less pressure and more open looks as a sophomore with Odell Beckham Jr. on the roster. Though playing behind Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Callaway has said openly that his goal is to go for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs in 2019. He struggled with drops (six) as a rookie, but Callaway possesses elite speed and athleticism and could be a bye-week fill-in option or flex play in the right matchup.
Courtland Sutton (DEN)
Sutton flat out flopped at the end of last season. Attrition took its toll on Denver and left him as the proverbial last man standing, but he didn’t do much with his opportunities. If Emmanuel Sanders misses time, it will be DaeSean Hamilton and Sutton as the top two receivers, giving both a great opportunity to succeed. Sutton’s final line of 42-704-4 was solid for a rookie, but he was outplayed, out-targeted, and outgained by Hamilton over the final quarter of the season. His performance seemed to diminish when he was the number one option in the receiving game, giving fantasy owners some cause for concern when selecting him in drafts this year.
Michael Gallup (DAL)
Gallup is tough to project this season. Amari Cooper is the clear number one in the offense, and the Cowboys just added slot man Randall Cobb. Ezekiel Elliott came on last year in the passing game, and Jason Witten is back for one more ride. It’s hard to envision Gallup as any more than the fourth option at best in the passing game. His 33-507-2 stat line showcased his downfield abilities as a deep-threat, and he’s focused on improving his rapport with Dak Prescott in that area this offseason. If he can work his way up to number two in the pecking order, his outlook is much more pleasant. For now, he’s relegated to Tier 3.
Trey Quinn (WAS)
Last year’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” Quinn could have some extra run this season with Jamison Crowder and Maurice Harris out the door and a paper thin group of receivers in the nation’s capital. Keep an eye on the slot man from SMU this season, especially in PPR formats.
Tre’Quan Smith (NO)
Smith displayed his big-play capabilities for Drew Brees and Co. last season, catching a 62-yard TD bomb to give Brees the most passing yards in NFL history. Smith struggled mightily with consistency and was a true boom-or-bust option as a rookie, totaling two 100-yard games and six games with no yards at all. The Saints didn’t add any WRs of note in the offseason, so Smith is theoretically the second receiver behind Michael Thomas. He’ll be out-targeted by both Thomas and Alvin Kamara, but if he can play evenly throughout the season, Smith has a chance for a sneaky good fantasy finish.
Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in the fantasy outlook of more second-year players, check out: