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2019 Is a Banner Year for Third-Year Breakout WRs: Advanced Stats Identify 2 Strong Buys, 2 Holds, and 1 Sleeper

Shawn Siegele is known for Zero RB selections and WR breakout candidates. The breakouts fueled his overall title in the 2013 NFFC Primetime, and his 2018 breakout selections led to an 11th league title and top-15 finish. Today, he looks at the history of third-year WR breakouts, discusses the key indicators of fantasy success, and provides five options for your 2019 fantasy football drafts.

We focus on WR breakouts by class, because you’re looking for very different indicators depending on the candidate's experience. We've already discussed 3 Intriguing Late-Round Options for a Fifth-Year Breakout and 2 Solid Options and a Deep Sleeper for Fourth-Year Breakouts. Today, we move into the sexier range and highlight third-year receivers.

Takeaways From Part 1

This is Part 2 of our look at third-year WRs. In 8 Stats You Need to Know and Why 2019 Is Loaded With Candidates, we profiled receivers since 2000 and discussed the key elements of their resumes. These were three of the most important takeaways:

  • 21 players broke out, including eight former first-round picks.
  • Unlike the fourth-year WR breakouts -- a class which featured 10 members drafted outside the first 100 reality selections -- only two third-year breakouts emerged from outside the top-100 picks.
  • This cohort has heavily favored second- and third-round picks. Steve SmithEric Decker, and Davante Adams all went on to be stars, while Laveranues ColesChris Chambers, and Sidney Rice established themselves as strong options. Tyler Boyd will now look to continue this dominance.

The Candidates

Using the RotoViz Screener, we’ll pull up a list of the major players who have not broken out through two seasons.

What We're Looking For

While Year 2 is actually the peak season for WR breakouts, Year 3 still offers us plenty of value, especially when looking at second- and third-round draft picks. Year 3 is also the final year where collegiate production is still an indicator for NFL performance, and our advanced metrics give us a strong advantage in that area. Plus, we know that prior-year efficiency provides a huge boost to WRs as they attempt to make the leap. We can also use the Projection Machine and Range of Outcomes tools to gain insight into potential jumps.

The Candidates

Chris Godwin

The No. 84 pick from the 2017 NFL draft is one of the trendiest players in the NFL. He checks all the boxes we're looking for in a third-year breakout WR.

  • His draft profile fits as a former third-round pick.
  • Among our candidates, he finished second only to Mike Williams with 24.4 fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE) last year.
  • He's part of a Buccaneers WR corps that has room to run despite their lofty ADPs.
  • He was a solid college player who would have projected as borderline to succeed in the NFL.

Godwin's college comps were a mixed bag. His career and final season market share numbers were solid without ever reaching the levels that have historically translated to NFL success. The comps after his rookie season were equally mixed but included names like Allen Robinson and Sidney Rice.

To get a feel for his current comparables, we can pull up the Range of Outcomes tool.

These results are mildly disappointing, but the median projection of 10.0 offers a solid outcome. The most exciting comp is Hakeem Nicks, who made his jump in Year 2. However, Nicks would have been expected to emerge earlier due to his status as a first-round pick.

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