Top 10 Fantasy Producing 2nd-Year Wide Receivers in 2014
We almost had 30 wide receivers hit the 1,000-plus yard plateau in 2013. Young receivers have the ability to step up and produce for their teams as well as for their fantasy owners. Quarterbacks continue to utilize the speed and skills of the young receivers coming into the league. Heading into 2014 there are quite a few young receivers expected to step up into bigger roles with the hopes of better production.
Now, another year older, another year wiser, it should allow the talent to mature and continue to grow into weekly fantasy and team producers. Heading into their 2nd NFL seasons the “Sophomore Slump” is always something to consider when drafting any 2nd-year receiver but there is a whole lot of talent listed below worth taking a gamble on!
Top 2nd-Year Wide Receivers
1. Keenan Allen (10) San Diego Chargers : Allen was named Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America after bursting onto the scene with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. Allen and owners can expect a bit tougher second season but we can expect to see him get drafted as a Top 15 Wide Receiver in 2014. Not only will the focus of quarterback Philip Rivers be on Allen but teams are expected to play their No.1 defensive backs up against Allen. As a rookie, Allen still matched up against a few top corners and was able to take advantage. His size 6’2″ 211lbs gives corners some challenges as he has great body control with the ability to locate and bring the ball in over his shoulder down field. Allen was huge in the final 5 weeks of the season and really allowed to have a reliable option at receiver. From week 12 thru week 16, Allen was able to produce 100-plus yards OR at least 1 touchdown while including 2 multiple touchdown games.
2. Terrance Williams (11) Dallas Cowboys : The Cowboys’ release of receiver Miles Austin opens the door for rookie receiver Terrance Williams to enter the starting lineup. Coaches were pleased with Williams’ production and development last season as he was able to produce 44 receptions for 736 yards and 5 touchdowns. We’ve had hopes that the Cowboys could solidify that No.2 wide receiver spot and I truly believe that Williams will do so very well. Williams is well worth taking the gamble on as a No.3 fantasy wide receiver this year. Hold onto him, it could take a few games for him to get going although, the Cowboys No.2 receiver has had solid games in opening weeks over the past three seasons Miles Austin in 2011 with 5 receptions for 90 yards and 1 touchdown against the Jets, Kevin Ogletree in 2012 with 8 receptions for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns against the division rival New York Giants and Miles Austin again in 2013 with 10rec for 72 yards in 2013 to open the season against the New York Giants.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson (10) Minnesota Vikings : Count on Patterson to get drafted as one of the preseason’s most trendy breakout candidates. That’s after he finished last season with 15 receptions for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns over his final 4 games. He finished his rookie season with 45 receptions for 469 yards and 4 touchdowns while adding production in the run game as well with 12 carries for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns. Patterson has a size/speed combo that is rare, and while he’s not the prototypical receiver you’ll find in new playcaller Norv Turner’s offense, there’s a pretty good shot he’ll play a ton and see a lot of targets. It’s aggressive but we see Patterson as a solid No.3 fantasy receiver with a ton of upside.
4. Kenny Stills (6) New Orleans Saints : We really expect a breakout season from Kenny Stills but no one needs it more than Drew Brees. With Lance Moore now in Pittsburgh and Darren Sproles with the Eagles and Marques Colston slowing down, Stills is vital to the success of the passing game in New Orleans. He wasn’t a consistent stat producer last season, delivering four games with 10-plus points and 11 with four points or fewer. To put it simply, he only helped Fantasy owners when he was able to score, he never had enough work to get by on his receptions and yardage alone. That has to change, and according to many observers in New Orleans it will, even with the addition of rookie Brandin Cooks. Stills will be given the opportunity to play more often, run new routes and be a bigger contributor for the Saints. That puts him in the breakout category, making him a borderline No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver worth a gamble between Rounds 8 and 10.
5. Markus Wheaton (12) Pittsburgh Steelers : Unfortunate broken fingers kept Markus Wheaton from seeing a lot of playing time as a rookie last season, a problem the Steelers hope isn’t a factor in 2014. That’s because they need to speedy Wheaton to move into the starting lineup following the departure of Emmanuel Sanders to the Broncos. Wheaton was an excellent college receiver but didn’t have it carry over into last year when he caught just 6 passes for 64 yards. Expect to have a good idea on what to expect from Wheaton during the preseason, if he can hold off rookie Martavis Bryant and make some eye-opening plays like Antonio Brown did back when he was a youngster then Wheaton could make Fantasy owners happy. For now he’s very much worth a late-round gamble.
6. Tavon Austin (4) St. Louis Rams : Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said this off-season that he didn’t use receiver Tavon Austin enough as a rookie in 2013. He plans to correct that problem this year and we hope he follows through. Austin has plenty of potential with his speed and play making ability plus the Rams have a need for a dynamic receiver. But he was inconsistent as a rookie with just 40 receptions for 418 yards and 4 touchdowns along with 9 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown. He had 3 games with 15-plus Fantasy points last year but also had 10 games with 5 points or less. We’d take a cautious but optimistic approach with Austin this year as a No. 4 Fantasy receiver with upside. He still has the chance to play like Percy Harvin with the ability to produce 1,000-plus total yards and a handful of touchdowns, and he could turn into a solid bye-week or injury replacement. He is worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues, with his value slightly higher in formats that reward points for returns.
7. DeAndre Hopkins (10) Houston Texans : The big question is, who will be throwing passes to wide receivers Andre Johnson and Hopkins? It appears that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is the heavy frontrunner, but it’s hardly a given that he will outplay Case Keenum in training camp and preseason action. 2014 NFL Supplemental 4th-round Draft pick Tom Savage is a long-term developmental project. Hopkins had 52 receptions for 802 yards and 2 touchdowns as a rookie. Hopkins started off 2013 strong, producing 60-plus yards in each of his first 3 games including a 7 reception for 117 yard 1 touchdown performance. We can expect Hopkins to increase his totals from last year, with Johnson skipping team OTA’s and workouts, I expect Hopkins to get a early bump in targets and work which could be a great surprise for fantasy owners. I like Hopkins as a late-round No.3 fantasy wide receiver or a solid No.4 receiver worth a gamble in rounds 8 thru 10.
8. Aaron Dobson (10) New England Patriots : Dobson is expected to open the season as the starter for the Patriots opposite Julian Edelman, but he has to prove he’s healthy first after foot surgery in March. As a rookie in 2013, Dobson had 37 catches for 519 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had 3 games with double digits in Fantasy points and 3 games with double digits in targets. Dobson has a lot of potential as the top outside threat for New England, and he’s a nice sleeper coming into the year. Keep an eye on his health, and if he’s ready for training camp as expected then take a late-round flier on him. Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have more upside than Dobson, but he might be worth drafting ahead of Danny Amendola based on his role as a starter and ability to make plays down the field.
9. Justin Hunter (9) Tennessee Titans : Titans receiver Justin Hunter has added an impressive 15 pounds of mass this off-season so he can better hold up on the field. But that’s not all he’s done, Hunter has been raising his own expectations after playing without a firm grasp of the offense last year. He was able to produce just 18 receptions in his rookie season, 4 of those receptions went for a touchdown. Hunter admitted he was “playing catch-up the whole way” after missing OTAs last spring after getting hurt. But with his first season in the rear view, Titans GM Ruston Webster believes the best is yet to come. Hunter is the No.2 across from Kendall Wright who continues to be a solid option for quarterback Jake Locker, Hunter is worth drafting with a late-round pick in the majority of all leagues as a No.4 fantasy wide receiver.
10. Robert Woods (9) Buffalo Bills : Woods is hoping to improve on his rookie campaign in 2013 with a bigger impact this year. Woods had 40 catches for 587 yards and 3 touchdowns last year and finished with two games with double digits in Fantasy points. He is going to be working hard to remain a starter with the Bills drafting rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins and trading for receiver Mike Williams, but Woods needs to improve his production to stay on the field. Fantasy owners in re-draft leagues should avoid drafting Woods, but he is someone to monitor. If he starts off the season playing well then add him off waivers. Owners in dynasty leagues should consider drafting Woods with a late-round pick.
Honorable mentions go to :
Kenbrell Thompkins (10) New England – 32 receptions for 466 yards and 4 touchdowns
Ace Sanders (11) Jacksonville Jaguars – 51 receptions for 484 yards and 1 touchdown
Marlon Brown (11) Baltimore Ravens – 49 receptions for 524 yards and 7 touchdowns
Da’Rick Rogers (10) Indianapolis Colts – 14 reception for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns (5 games)
Marquise Goodwin (9) Buffalo Bills – 17 receptions for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns