By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24)
It has long been said that the third year tends to be when all of the stars align for NFL receivers and you begin to see them reach their ceiling. But, that may be shifting to year two. Many savvy fantasy owners are starting to note that wide receivers playing in their second season in the NFL have an even earlier chance to breakout these days. Those receivers may or may not make much of an impact in their rookie seasons but come their sophomore season, could explode and help carry a fantasy team to a championship. 2013 saw receivers Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon breakout in just their second season just to name a couple. Fantasy owners are expecting a new group of second year wideouts to make names for themselves and help carry their teams to glory in 2014.
Marlon Brown- Baltimore Ravens- Marlon Brown made a name for himself last season becoming a viable target in a weak passing game for the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. With defenses keying in on Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown took advantage of his opportunity and ran with it. Hauling in 49 receptions of the 81 thrown his way, Marlon Brown finished his rookie season with 524 yards and seven touchdowns in the 14 games he played. He originally took over for the injured Jacoby Jones and managed to stick around even after Jones returned. Along the way, Brown averaged almost seven fantasy points per game and the addition of Steve Smith may take away a few targets from Brown but Marlon Brown wasn't much of a deep threat anyway but more of a red zone target for Joe Flacco. Fantasy owners should be able to grab Brown late in drafts as he is poised to have a very good sophomore season in 2014.
Robert Woods- Buffalo Bills- In 14 games played in 2013, Robert Woods saw 86 targets and finished with 40 catches for 587 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged over 5.5 fantasy points per game and could have had better numbers if not for an injury that took him out of two games. Woods was starting to gel nicely with fellow rookie quarterback E.J Manuel until an injury derailed Manuel as well. If Manuel can improve just a little in his second year, and defenses game planning for rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods can improve on his rookie numbers and help fantasy owners who grab him a little later in their drafts.
Terrance Williams- Dallas Cowboys-The second year wideout for the Boys is in a great position to improve on his first year in the NFL. With defensive coordinators honing in on Dez Bryant, and the Cowboys defense looking like it may actually be worse than last season, the Cowboys will have to throw the ball a ton and Romo is going to have to look for other receivers besides Dez. This bodes well for now second year wideout Terrance Williams who finished his rookie campaign with 74 targets and 44 receptions for over 700 yards and five scores. He also averaged just under seven fantasy points per game and having almost a full season under his belt, should be a great addition to fantasy rosters in 2014.
Jarrett Boykin- Green Bay Packers- When Randall Cobb went down with an injury early in the season, Cobb owners were left scanning the waiver wire for receiver help. Little did they know they only had to look a little way down the Packers roster to find a very viable replacement. In the 12 games that Boykin played, he had 82 targets and 49 receptions to go with the 681 yards and three touchdowns. He also averaged over seven fantasy points per game and most of that was done without Aaron Rodgers. Fantasy owners should expect better numbers in his second season with a healthy Aaron Rodgers and James Jones in Oakland.
DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans- The only thing that possibly held back the rookie receiver in 2013 was the shoddy quarterback play. If the quarterback was even somewhat competent, Hopkins could have been a breakout receiver in his first year in the NFL. With a new head coach that likes to throw more than he likes to run, DeAndre Hopkins could very well be the stud wideout that he was projected to be when the Texans drafted him in 2013. He finished his rookie season seeing 93 targets and 52 catches for over 800 yards with two touchdowns. He averaged just under six fantasy points per game and fantasy owners should expect those numbers to increase in what is expected to be a pass heavy offense.
Da'Rick Rogers- Indianapolis Colts- 2013 saw a small sample size of what Da'Rick Rogers can do seeing how he only played in the final four games of the season. In the four games he did play, he saw 23 targets and hauled in 14 balls. He had almost 200 yards receiving with two touchdowns and averaged just under eight fantasy points per game. With the Colts expecting to throw the ball all over the field, Rogers could have more of a role going forward in his second season with the Colts.
Ace Sanders- Jacksonville Jaguars- Fantasy owners don't really have much of a reason to draft Ace Sanders based on his 2013 numbers. Sanders played in all but one game in his rookie season and only managed to average under four fantasy points per game but did see 85 targets and hauled in 51 of them for almost 500 yards and a touchdown. With a competent quarterback under center in 2014, Ace Sanders could be a secret weapon for fantasy owners in his second year in.
Cordarrelle Patterson- Minnesota Vikings- Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to make the most noise out of all the second year wideouts as far as fantasy owners are concerned. Some drafts have him going very early and fantasy owners are expecting Josh Gordon like leaps and bounds in 2014. The second year receiver played in all 16 games in his rookie year and managed to turn it up towards the end of the season. He finished with 78 targets and 45 receptions for 469 yards and four scores. He was also valuable in leagues where owners got points for return yards. Figuring to be a more integral part of the Vikings passing game in his second season, fantasy owners should expect quite the uptick in his 6.5 fantasy points per game.
Aaron Dobson- New England Patriots- The Patriots will need second year wideout Aaron Dobson to improve on his rookie numbers if they want to make a deep playoff run in 2014. An injury cut Dobson's rookie campaign a little short and allowed him to play in only 11 games where he had 74 targets with a very mediocre receiving corps. Dobson did manage to record over 500 yards through the air with four touchdowns and averaged almost seven fantasy points per game. Fantasy owners are expecting Aaron Dobson to take a step forward in his second season with the Patriots and become the deep threat the Patriots and Tom Brady desperately need.
Kenbrell Thompkins- New England Patriots- Another second year wideout for the Patriots, Kenbrell Thompkins is expected to take another step in the Patriots offense. He also played in 11 games like fellow rookie Aaron Dobson and recorded 32 receptions on 70 targets. Thompkins had slightly less yards than his teammate Aaron Dobson with 466 yards with the same amount of touchdowns. He also averaged almost the same amount of fantasy points per game with 6.4. Both second year receivers are expected to make the Patriots offense better in 2014.
Kenny Stills- New Orleans Saints- The second year wide receiver for Drew Brees is expected to take a major step forward in 2014. Playing in all 16 games for the Saints in his rookie season, Stills finished with 51 targets and 32 catches for 641 yards and five touchdowns. He also averaged just under six fantasy points per game and is expected to have an expanded role in his sophomore season.
Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles- Even though the second year tight end isn't technically a wide receiver, he is expected to play an even bigger role in his second season for the Eagles. He finished his rookie season with 56 targets hauling in 36 of them for 469 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged under five fantasy points per game and should see more balls thrown his way than fellow tight end Brent Celek making Zach Ertz a popular pick among fantasy owners waiting on a tight end in their drafts. Being a focal point in a Chip Kelly offense doesn't hurt either.
Markus Wheaton- Pittsburgh Steelers- In his second season with the Steelers, Markus Wheaton is expected to become more involved in the offense and compliment Antonio Brown now that Emmanuel Sanders is catching passes from Peyton Manning in Denver. The second year wideout didn't see much action in his rookie season where he only played in five games and saw 13 targets. In a pass first offense that Todd Haley likes to employ, fantasy owners can expect Markus Wheaton to improve on those numbers based upon being he needs to take the next step forward for the Steelers to make strides in the AFC.
Keenan Allen- San Diego Chargers- Coming off his rookie of the year 2013, Keenan Allen isn't the quintessential breakout star in his second season, but fantasy owners should expect for him to improve on the 105 targets and 71 receptions for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns he posted in 2013. He also averaged double digit fantasy points per game in only his first year in the NFL and with a full season under his belt, should have another productive fantasy season in his sophomore year.
Tavon Austin- St.Louis Rams- Was there a more disappointing rookie in 2013 than Tavon Austin? All the hype Jeff Fisher gave his rookie receiver heading into the 2013 season was for naught. Austin had a couple of games where he made fantasy owners think it was time for him to breakout but Austin just couldn't sustain the numbers on a consistent basis. He played in 13 games and saw 69 targets and caught 40 of them for over 400 yards with four touchdowns. He averaged just under seven fantasy points per game and is expected to have a bigger role in his second season but it still remains a question as to how the Rams actually intend to use him.
Justin Hunter- Tennessee Titans- The second year wideout for the Titans didn't post numbers that would make fantasy owners look twice at him heading into 2014 but Justin Hunter could become an important piece for the Titans and Jake Locker in 2014. With defenses having to watch Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter could reap the benefits of being a relatively unknown in his second year in. His rookie numbers saw him see only 42 targets in the 13 games he played and managed only 18 receptions for 354 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 4.6 fantasy points per game and with an expanded role in the offense in his second year, Justin Hunter could position himself as quite a sleeper in 2014.