Every year, there are players that drastically outperform their average draft position. Generally, it takes place with “breakouts” – who see a substantial increase in their scoring from one year to the next. Wide receivers most frequently break out in Year 2 but third (like Tyler Boyd) and fourth year breakouts (like Tyler Lockett) also happen.
Consistently owners overvalue rookie players while undervaluing second-year players. We call it “rookie derangement syndrome”. Here are the four breakout wide receivers that I can’t get enough of in drafts.
Admittedly, I didn’t like Calvin Ridley a lot as a prospect. Regardless of his athletic testing, he produced impressively in college and did so at an early age. Ridley was also an early declare, which is significant.
As a rookie, he was fantastic – topping 200 PPR points and averaging over 8 yards per target. Here’s a list of rookie wide receivers since 2000, to top 200 PPR fantasy points while averaging over 8 yards per target.
It’s a list that includes many of the league’s best wide receivers and Ridley’s teammate Julio Jones. It’s no surprise that Ridley has some very good comparable players.
Blair Andrews demonstrates that rookie year efficiency has been a very positive sign for receivers as it leads to both an increase in volume and a continuation of efficiency.
Ridley is being drafted below his rookie year finish (WR20) and could be this year’s JuJu Smith-Schuster.
As a prospect, Chris Godwin checks all the boxes. An exceptional athlete who dominated at Penn State from an early age.
In his rookie year, Godwin was excellent topping 500 receiving yards while averaging 9.5 yards per target.
Last season Godwin just missed hitting the 200 PPR point threshold, but it was only for a lack of volume. Again, Godwin was extremely efficient averaging 8.9 yards per target while catching seven touchdowns on just 95 targets.
He finished as WR25 but has the potential for much more with the departures of Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson.Bruce Arians just said that Godwin will “never come off the field”. Still just 23 years old, Godwin is younger than rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Godwin’s real breakout will take place this season.
DJ Moore is a prospect that checks every box. He’s an excellent athlete – 89th percentile speed, 94th percentile burst score, and 92nd percentile SPARQ-x score. Moore also dominated at Maryland, starting as a true freshman. The Panthers clearly revered Moore, using a first-round pick to select him.
Moore’s domination continued as a rookie. At 9.67 adjusted yards per attempt, Moore is Cam Newton’s most efficient target ever. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and led all wide receivers in yards after the catch per reception. Out of wide receivers, Moore forced the third-most missed tackles and was second in rushing yards.
If the overall picture isn’t compelling enough for you, remember that 21-year-old wide receivers who caught at least 3.0 receptions per game and played at least 10 games have historically seen a huge jump in production in Year 2.
Entering the NFL, Christian Kirk was a very good prospect in terms of production. He dominated in college, topping 1,000 yards as a true freshman.
Due to an awful offense, Kirk couldn’t dominate as a rookie – but he had some jaw-dropping stats. While he was healthy, Kirk was targeted on 19.3 percent of the Cardinals pass attempts but had 32.1 percent of their receiving yards and 25 percent of their touchdowns.
The Cardinals averaged 5.1 yards per pass attempt. When Kirk was targeted, the Cardinals gained an average of 8.7 yards.
He even edged DJ Moore in PPR points per game. Per our friends at Player Profiler, Stefon Diggs is the most comparable receiver to Kirk and the two had eerily similar rookie years.
The Cardinals are likely to see a significant improvement on offense with new coach Kliff Kingsbury. Kirk remains arguably the best way to buy a piece of the Cardinals offense.