We search for breakout players every year, but what does the term “breakout player” really mean? Does Tyler Boyd count considering he finished outside the top-12 wide receivers? He was a breakout candidate, so where do we draw the line?
In this series, we’ll be talking about players drafted as WR3s or later who have WR1 potential, which would definitely classify as a breakout player. To get into the top-12 wide receivers, it often requires quite a few targets, as there’s been just three wide receivers who’ve finished top-12 with fewer than 120 targets over the last seven years. So, when looking for potential breakouts, you must find someone who has plenty of opportunity. Here’s my list of wide receivers being drafted outside the top-24 who present top-12 upside.
Mike Williams (LAC)
This would require quite a big increase in targets for Williams, but with Tyrell Williams out of town and a Melvin Gordon holdout looming, there looks to be a lot of targets up for grabs. Williams finished the No. 24 wide receiver last year on just 66 targets while playing fewer than 60 percent of snaps in seven different games. We look for the 120-target mark of opportunity, but if there’s someone who can score double-digit touchdowns in the 100-120-target territory, we have WR1 potential. His targets also come from Philip Rivers, one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Allen Robinson (CHI)
Coming off a torn ACL in year one with a new quarterback in a new system and Robinson saw 94 targets in 13 games. Over a full 16-game schedule, that would amount to 116 targets, or awfully close to our 120-target mark. Some will be concerned about Mitch Trubisky, but you cannot forget that Robinson finished as a top-six fantasy receiver with Blake Bortles under center, something nobody else can come close to saying. In the second season under Matt Nagy, the Bears should be expected to throw the ball a bit more and Robinson is healthy.
Alshon Jeffery (PHI)
He was another one who played an abbreviated season in 2018, finishing with 92 targets in 13 games. He still finished as the No. 26 wide receiver and that was despite playing some of those games with backup Nick Foles. In 29 games under Doug Pederson, Jeffery has averaged 7.3 targets per game, which is a 117-target pace. Adding DeSean Jackson to the offense will only help shift coverages away from Jeffery’s side of the field, something he hasn’t had the last two years. With Carson Wentz healthy, Jeffery has WR1 upside.
D.J. Moore (CAR)
This one would require a leap of faith that (a) Cam Newton‘s shoulder is okay and that (b) Moore becomes the go-to option in the offense. While there’s been plenty of hype surrounding Curtis Samuel, Moore is the prototype possession receiver on their team who could approach the 120-target mark we’re looking for. He only saw 82 last year but wasn’t a full-time player to start the year. Looking at the final seven weeks, he averaged 7.3 targets per game, which is the territory we’re looking for. He’s also a receiver who can create plenty of yardage after the catch, which could boost his efficiency.
Corey Davis (TEN)
Did you know Davis saw 35.8 percent of the Titans air yards last year? That ranked sixth in the NFL. The five receivers who were ahead of him are all being drafted as top-16 wide receivers. He saw 112 targets in 2018 even though the Titans threw the ball just 432 times. That amounts to a 25.9 percent target share, one of the highest marks in the league. So, while the Titans did add some options in the passing game this offseason, it’s also likely they pass quite a bit more often. Davis has 120 targets in his realm of possibilities.