Breakout Candidates: Which Sophomore Wide Receivers Could Emerge In 2012?

We are all already expecting big things this season from second year receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones.  Titus Young has gotten a lot of attention, and rightfully so, as he is in an enviable situation across from Calvin Johnson in Detroit.  What about the rest of the sophomore receivers? Who is going to breakout a year before their “magical” third season?

Let’s take a look at a few options:

Torrey Smith – Baltimore Ravens
Smith may be the epitome of a big play receiver, at least he was in 2011 anyways.

Can we all remember his Week 3 performance, when he went for 5 catches, 152 yards and 3 TD? He is always going to have that type of potential, but he clearly hadn’t completely figured it out last year. Take Week 4, for instance, when he was targeted 6 times yet managed just 1 reception for 1 yard.

Before you say he is just just going to be targeted a handful of times and ultimately be nothing more than a big play threat, keep in mind that he was targeted at least 7 times in each of the Ravens final four games in 2011 (and 8 of the final 10). That’s a lot of chances for a player who is simply a “big play” guy, wouldn’t you say?

The fact is that he has the potential to be a whole lot more than just a deep threat. With an actual preseason to work with Joe Flacco, I would expect much better consistency this season and a very good year all around.  He’s a WR3, at worst, in all formats with the potential to be much more than that.

Greg Little – Cleveland Browns
Was it rookie inconsistency or poor quarterback play that led to his up and down rookie campaign? Unfortunately we can’t be sure the latter has been fixed, but Trent Richardson (assuming he’s healthy) should provide a better rushing attack which, in turn, will open up some passing opportunities.

Little was targeted 120 times last year, leading to 61 catches, 709 yards and 2 TD. Now the clear top receiver on the team and a full preseason to adjust, I would expect an increase across the board.

The biggest improvement should come in the TD department. While you would think Richardson would be the main factor in the red zone, improved experience should lead to Little taking a few more to the house. I would say that 6-7 would be realistic, making him a solid depth WR for your team.

Denarius Moore – Oakland Raiders
What can we say that hasn’t already be said? While I think Darrius Heyward-Bey will be the top receiver in Oakland, Moore should be a another significant benefactor from a full season of Carson Palmer.

He posted over 90 yards in three of the final four games of the year and, while I wouldn’t expect quite that much production, he easily could average 60-70 yards per game while scoring 7+ TD.

Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers
While it may be as a fourth receiver, he should get the chance to overtake Donald Driver. In most offenses your fourth wide receiver holds no fantasy appeal, but this is Green Bay. If he wins the job he should be on the field enough to potentially make waves. If he moves up the depth chart any further he becomes a must own.

Jon Baldwin – Kansas City Chiefs
He made news for the wrong reasons in his rookie year, including a locker room fight with Thomas Jones that led to an injury and missed time. Couple that with the lockout and it shouldn’t be surprising that he scuffled. While the Chiefs will be a run first attack Baldwin should start opposite Dwayne Bowe, which will give him an opportunity. There are definitely others I like more than him, however, but he does have some potential.  He may be your classic third year breakout, however.

Bust Alert
Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks
While he had decent numbers last season, I would expect him to be third on the depth chart this year, behind Golden Tate and Sidney Rice (barring any injuries) and potentially fourth depending what happens with Terrell Owens. In an offense that will run through Marshawn Lynch, that means little value.

Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings:

Sleeper Spotlight: Why Mohamed Sanu May Make An Impact In Cincinnati
Third Year Receiver Breakout Candidates: Demaryius Thomas, Danario Alexander & Emmanuel Sanders

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