In Part 1 of this study, I looked at when wideouts who were efficient studs in their rookie season become top-12 fantasy WRs. In Part 2, let’s look at which players to target in 2020 drafts that are ready to become league-winning assets.
Players To Target
Those are the guys in which you’ll want to target next year in hopes of a WR1 breakout. Year 2 wide receivers tied for the highest amount of breakouts into WR1 territory amongst all qualifying breakouts.
3rd Year Wide Receivers
Moore checks the boxes we are looking for in our next WR1. He was efficient in both his rookie and sophomore season in the NFL:
Knowing that 3rd-year receivers and 23 year-olds are among the most likely players to breakout into WR1 territory, this is a very strong indicator for Moore’s WR1 potential for 2020. If he were to “hit” next year and become a WR1, he would enter a very strong cohort for future WR1 success as the 23-year-olds and the players who weigh over 210 lbs are amongst the most stable and elite WR1s.
According to Dynasty ADP, he’s being drafted in the middle of the second round. If Moore is truly as good as we think he is, then this a value for a young WR who likely will be a first-round dynasty pick as early as next year.
Sutton also started off his career strong as he also checks the main boxes we are looking for. Here we see that he was efficient in both the seasons to start his career.
Sutton will be entering next season at age 25, which we saw yield the highest number of WR1 breakouts. In addition, Sutton is a 3rd-year player, which we saw tie for the highest amount of WR1 breakouts when sorted by season.
Like Moore, Sutton hits the threshold for weight and has a very high probability to become a consistent year-to-year WR1. Sutton should be a target in drafts next year and currently has a dynasty ADP of 25. While Sutton’s age rightfully bumps him down a half-round later than Moore, he also remains a buy due to his very strong profile.
Ridley has started off super strong to start his career as he has also been very efficient in each of his first two seasons.
While Ridley will be entering next season at age 26, he still fits in the type of player we are looking for when it comes to WR1 production. Due to his weight, it’s unlikely that he becomes a perennial WR1, but he absolutely has the profile to hit a WR1 season.
His dynasty ADP is much lower than Sutton and Moore, but Ridley is also a value even if he doesn’t have the youth or weight that we would ideally like.
If we look at all receivers since 2000 who had a combined 110 receptions, 1600 receiving yards, and 8.5 or higher YPT in their first two seasons, we get some very exciting historical comps for these players:
14 of the other 15 players had at least one WR1 season and hit at least two seasons over 200 PPR points (93%). DJ Moore, Courtland Sutton, and Calvin Ridley all made the list and should be targets not only in dynasty formats but in 2020 redraft leagues as well.
Kirk had an awesome rookie year in which he was efficient, but with an increase of volume in Year 2, his efficiency suffered.
Kirk will be entering his age 24 season next year and while he isn’t a high probability WR1 for 2020, he is someone who we should be looking to acquire in dynasty leagues – though his redraft expectations should be slightly lower.
This next season is going to be very important in determining Kirk’s ceiling. If he bounces back with an efficient campaign, then his odds of becoming a WR1 at some point become much stronger. Kirk battled injuries last year and considering he was an awesome prospect coming out, we should be giving him the benefit of the doubt.
4th Year Wide Receivers
Had I written this article last year, we would have seen names like Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin pop up as likely WR1 breakouts due to their efficient first and second seasons in the league. Even though they have already broken out as WR1s, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be targeting them in dynasty leagues.
As we saw in our age breakdown, players 23 and younger tend to have more WR1 seasons than the rest of the pack. This means Chris Godwin and Juju Smith-Schuster should be players we hyper-focus on in dynasty. In addition, Kupp and Golladay have shown nothing that would make us believe they aren’t capable of putting up more WR1 seasons. The difference with them is they will both be entering next season at age 27, so from a dynasty perspective, they aren’t as valuable as the other two because they’re likely to break down sooner. In re-draft leagues, Kupp and Golladay remain very strong targets for next season.
If there is a sneaky, under-the-radar target from this class, it could be Keelan Cole. He now has two efficient seasons under his belt.
He is entering his age 27 season and we have yet to see a player break out as a WR1 later than that after having an efficient season. Obviously he was targeted just 35 times last season and is fighting for a roster spot so he isn’t a player to target. Regardless, his profile fits what we’re looking for. Don’t go crazy in acquiring Keelan Cole, but if you do see him on dynasty waivers he is somebody to stash for the time being.
A Quick Note on 5th Year Wide Receivers
Looking back (outside of Michael Thomas), there weren’t any other efficient rookie WRs who have any sort of relevant NFL production. There is nobody entering Year 5 that would fit the profile of somebody who could emerge as a WR1 with the efficiency they showed their rookie year.
As we now have studied both efficient and inefficient rookies, we can see similarities in the WRs to break out as WR1s. At least one efficient season is a key similarity for the players who become WR1s, but if a player has two early in their career it makes their forecast even brighter.
If a WR hasn’t been efficient through their first three seasons in the league, then there’s a high probability that the player will never become a WR1. If you have an efficient rookie season you are more likely to break out earlier than if you didn’t have an efficient rookie season. Weight is also a key component to having sustained success as a WR1.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you learned as much as I did throughout this study. Using this information to help our process and really understand the probability of these receivers becoming stars will help us become more efficient in drafting and trading for players in both dynasty and redraft leagues.
If you haven’t checked out my other articles yet, then what are you doing? I’m just kidding, but if you enjoy actionable and in-depth information you can find the rest of them here. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @DaltonGuruFF where I tweet some new and cool information every day.
Thanks again and have an awesome day!