Top 10 Fantasy Producing 3rd-Year Wide Receivers for 2014
Throughout the course of NFL history, a number of wide receivers have recorded their first big statistical campaign in their third NFL season. In the past few recent seasons we’ve had some great breakout third year performances from some top fantasy producers such as Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
In 2013, a few of the listed receivers below really set themselves up for success heading into their third years as they were able to capitalize on extra playing time and targets. Guys like Alshon Jeffery, Michael Floyd and Marvin Jones are already penciled in as their teams No.2 receiver across from top fantasy producers and could very easily take advantage of man-t0-man coverage and excel in production. Kendall Wright expected to be the Titans No.1 receiver in 2014 and is hoping to build off last seasons 94 reception, 1,079 yard performance with hopes of increasing his touchdown production higher then just 2.
So, which wideouts are most likely to follow this trend in 2014? Here are our Top 10 receivers entering their third season.
Top 3rd-Year Wide Receivers for 2014
1. Alshon Jeffery (9) Chicago Bears : Jeffery actually led the Bears in receiving yards with 1,421 and scored 7 times. It’s a lot to live up to as he heads into his 3rd-year. One red flag worth considering: Jeffery’s averages were better in 6 games with Buccaneers new quarterback Josh McCown (39 receptions for 648 yards/16.6 per catch and 4 touchdowns) than they were in 10 games with Jay Cutler (50 receptions for 773 yards/15.5 per catch and 3 touchdowns). Maybe ease expectations a bit and consider Jeffery a very solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver worth a late 3rd-round pick in PPR leagues and a 4th-round choice in standard formats.
2. Kendall Wright (9) Tennessee Titans : Wright broke through the 1,000-yard mark and finished the season with 1,079 yards on 94 receptions but just two touchdowns. We really like the upside this youngster has. In 16 games in 2013, Wright produced 5-plus receptions in 12 along with 13 games with at least 50-plus yards. We want to see him get more involved inside the red zone to increase his touchdown production. He is a solid No.3 option with a ton of upside for better production then his draft position would say. Wright has developed into the Titans’ and quarterback Jake Locker’s clear No. 1 receiver, but his upside is capped a bit by the lack of end-zone visits. Wright is a dynamic slot receiver that excels post-catch with the ability to play the inside and be moved outside.
3. Michael Floyd (4) Arizona Cardinals : Floyd has the chance to be a third-year breakout receiver this season. Floyd did well in 2013 with 65 catches for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns, and he posted 9 games with at least 8 standard Fantasy points, including 4 games with double digits. But there’s still room to grow, especially if you listen to coach Bruce Arians, who said this off-season he could see Floyd making more big plays. This entire offense has the chance to improve as Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd continue to grasp Arians’ system, and the passing game was at its best toward the end of the year, including Floyd scoring 9 or more standard Fantasy points in 5 of his final 8 games. We like Floyd as a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and he’s worth drafting in Round 6 in the majority of leagues.
4. Marvin Jones (4) Cincinnati Bengals : After catching 51 of a mere 80 targets last season, and scoring 10 touchdowns, Marvin Jones emerged as the best receiver on the Bengals not named A.J. Green. That should continue to be the case in 2014 as Jones has lots of room to develop and more playing time to pick up additional stats. After all, he improved on every possible stat in 2013 and could potentially get close to 1,000 yards in 2014 (though we doubt he gets close to 10 touchdowns again). Consider Jones a very good Fantasy reserve receiver in typical leagues and a low-end No.3 fantasy wide receiver option. He is expected to be the No.2 option for quarterback Andy Dalton and could see a ton of targets going up against man-to-man coverage.
5. Rueben Randle (8) New York Giants : The Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round of the NFL Draft, and he should be considered the No. 2 receiver behind Victor Cruz. Randle is still No. 3 on the depth chart and will see plenty of action in Ben McAdoo’s offense, and we hope he plays better than he did as a sophomore in 2013. He flashed his potential last season as the No. 3 receiver for the Giants with 41 catches for 611 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s entering his third year in the NFL, which is typically a breakout season for receivers, and Randle could be headed in that direction. He had four games with double digits in standard Fantasy points in 2013, but from Week 5-11 he had at least 8 standard Fantasy points over a 5-game span. We hope that player shows up each week, but the addition of Beckham will be challenging.
6. Rod Streater (5) Oakland Raiders : Streater is entering his third season in the NFL, and hopefully that leads to a breakout campaign. He is trending in the right direction with increases in catches, yards and touchdowns from his rookie year to his second season, so hopefully the breakout comes now. Streater had 60 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, and he gets a quarterback upgrade this year with Matt Schaub as the new starter. But Streater could lose some targets and playing time with the addition of James Jones. We like Streater as a No. 4 Fantasy receiver, and he’s worth drafting with a late-round pick. The Raiders don’t have a dynamic receiving corps with Jones, Streater and Denarius Moore as the Top 3 guys, but hopefully Schaub can rely on Streater enough to help make him useful as a bye-week or injury replacement in most leagues.
7. Jarrett Boykin (9) Green Bay Packers : Given an opportunity last season Jarrett Boykin posted 49 catches for 681 yards and three scores. Thought it should have provided enough to prove to the coaches that he could work as the team’s third receiver, the Packers drafted not one, not two, but three wideouts who will compete for playing time including one who might be a better fit for the outside receiver role than Boykin. Expect a battle for playing time in training camp, one that Boykin is not promised to win. The only two receivers set in stone thus far are Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Whoever wins the No.3 job will have a great opportunity at solid production catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.
8. T.Y Hilton (10) Indianapolis Colts : The third-year Colts speedster had the potential to be a 1,000-yard receiver in 2013 but didn’t get a lot of opportunities early last year and was too heavily guarded once Reggie Wayne got hurt in the middle of last year. Now the Colts will bring back Wayne and have added Hakeem Nicks, moves that should free up Hilton to see time as a big-play deep threat and not a possession-type wideout. That’s a blessing and a curse: Hilton should thrive in that role but his opportunities could be limited because Wayne and Nicks could hog targets. Don’t mistake last season as a breakout year because he had 1,000 yards receiving, he had two games with touchdowns and another two games with over 100 yards. Consistency was a problem for him then and will probably remain a problem now. Don’t draft Hilton unless it means he’ll be your No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and don’t reach for him.
9. Jermaine Kearse (4) Seattle Seahawks : Kearse could be asked to play a prominent role this season as the No. 3 or 4 receiver for the Seahawks. Percy Harvin and potentially Sidney Rice or Doug Baldwin are ahead of Kearse on the depth chart, but both are injury prone. Should one or both miss time then Kearse’s value will rise, and he’s entering his third season in the NFL. He had 22 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns in 2013, but he should improve on that production this year. And if he’s the No. 3 receiver or higher than he could easily have a breakout campaign.
10. Chris Givens (4) St. Louis Rams : Givens has to hope the third-year receiver theory applies to him because he’s in need of a breakout campaign. Givens has struggled through two years with a combined 76 catches for 1,267 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t score in 2013 even though he played on 77.5 percent of the offensive snaps, saying an ankle injury bothered him most of the year. Whatever it was, he needs to improve and getting back a healthy Sam Bradford (ACL) will help. Givens isn’t really much more then a down the field speedster though he has some upside with Bradford’s ability to air it out.
Honorable mentions go to : Josh Gordon Cle (Facing 8-16 game suspension), Nick Toon NO, Cole Beasley Dal, Brian Quick STL, Ryan Broyles Det, Mohamed Sanu Cin, Jarius Wright Min, Andre Holmes Oak, Stephen Hill NYJ, Justin Blackmon Jac (Indefinite Ban)