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5 Breakout WRs Who Won’t Break Out
A couple of weeks ago, I presented the 8 Breakout WRs You Must Own in 2014. Locating breakout wide receivers may be the single most important aspect of fantasy football, but it’s probably almost as valuable to avoid paying for breakouts that don’t occur. In past years I’ve focused on collegiate Dominator Rating and Height-Adjusted Speed Score to locate red flag players.  I’m expanding the search a little bit this season after further research bolstered the thesis underlying what I consider the Holy Grail characteristics at WR.
Games Dominated will be added to DR. The Fantasy Douche has found games dominated to be a significant variable when investigating why breakout age is the skeleton key. Freak Score, a metric which helps predict the all-important touchdown production, will replace HaSS. A slightly greater emphasis will be placed on age. I’ll also refer to the tremendous work done by the Intersect looking at what a player’s rookie season can tell us about his future prospects.
I should also point out that just because I’ll be avoiding these players in drafts, I’m not rooting against them in real life. I hope I’m wrong and that they go on to great careers. 

1. Cordarrelle Patterson

Dominator Rating Games Dominated Freak Score Age
17 1 72 23.8

I was very discouraged by Patterson’s resume when he was drafted in the first round last season. In order to make sure I didn’t let those biases overwhelm my 2014 judgment, I forced myself to investigate and present the best possible argument for Patterson. It’s certainly possible he enjoys a breakout campaign. The buzz surrounding him is again universally positive–ebullient bordering on euphoric–and that’s removed the last sliver of hope that he might represent excess value on draft day.

At his current ADP, it’s much more likely Patterson puts a giant hole in your roster. Patterson’s rookie season was just like his single campaign at Tennessee. He generated one highlight play after another without a lot of true stat sheet stuffing. He didn’t hit the marks James Todd has found indicative of future success. It’s also worth considering the possibility that Patterson’s athleticism is mildly overblown. Much like arbitrary superstar Sammy Watkins, Patterson is being drafted as though he possesses measurables in the tier of Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, and Demaryius Thomas. He does not.

2. Markus Wheaton

Dominator Rating Games Dominated Freak Score Age
36 9 46 23.9

Wheaton found his name frequently mentioned in the same sentence with Mike Wallace when he joined the Steelers. This unfair comparison ignores the gulf in athleticism between the two players and sets the second-year player up with unrealistic expectations. Wallace’s 4.28 40 generates a Freak Score of 72 and gives him a very different receiving profile. Wheaton was a very solid producer in college, but he’s more of a poor man’s Emmanuel Sanders (their respective college heat maps are below). Since that’s the role he’s inheriting, it makes some sense to pencil him in for that level of production. Even at a very palatable ADP, a low upside WR3/4 probably doesn’t make your team better.

Wheaton Sanders

3. Tavon Austin

Dominator Rating Games Dominated Freak Score Age
28 10 43 23.8

Last year I suggested Austin was more of a Dexter McCluster/Devin Hester hybrid than a candidate to be a starting NFL WR. It doesn’t cost as much to draft Austin this year, but that’s because we have further reason to doubt his NFL prospects. He could still develop into a lighter version of Randall Cobb or Percy Harvin, but there are a lot of superior fantasy prospects in his area of the draft.

For Rams fans in the audience, St. Louis does have the No. 1 post-hype super sleeper.

4. Terrance Williams

Dominator Rating Games Dominated Freak Score Age
38 2 57 25.3

While Williams posted ridiculous numbers as a senior at Baylor, he was far older than his opponents. To help put his production in context, he’s nearly a year and a half older than Stephen Hill and Rueben Randle. There is potential upside. If you ignore age, his rookie year bodes well for his future prospects, and the indomitable Davis Mattek makes a trenchant and convincing argument for prioritizing Williams in your drafts.

In the end, Williams’ career trajectory and middling Freak Score warrant caution. He’s in a great situation to put up solid No. 2 stats in Dallas, just don’t expect a true breakout into the Top 20.

5. Marvin Jones

Dominator Rating Games Dominated Freak Score Age
22 6 57 24.8

Overshadowed by Keenan Allen at Cal, Jones is suddenly very trendy due to an excellent 2013 campaign where he appeared criminally underutilized by the since departed Jay Gruden. Matthew A. Berry makes a good case for a further breakout in 2014, but Jones could just as easily settle in as the fourth option in the passing game behind A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and Gio Bernard. His metrics paint him as a role player, and rumors out of Cincinnati suggest the offense may not be prolific enough to make that fantasy viable.

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy

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