by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends
It’s a pretty well known fantasy football axiom that it often takes two years in the NFL before a Wide Receivers is ready to break out. Past breakout WRs were Steve Smith and Braylon Edwards, among many others.
Let’s take a look at this year’s crop:
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs - Already has two solid season under his belt. Not a candidate.
Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals - Breaston broke out last year with a 1000 yard season. If he can somehow increase his TD total, he’ll have more value, but he’s already being drafted as a WR4 so it wouldn’t be a big time breakout. It would be more like Chad Ochocinco’s 3rd year breakout. That said, I don’t see a big jump in Breaston’s numbers.
David Clowney, New York Jets - Here’s our first real breakout candidate. He has good speed and the Jets aren’t exactly loaded at WR. If he can somehow crack the starting lineup, moving Chansi Stuckey to the slot, the potential for big plays is there. I wouldn’t recommend drafting him, but keep an eye on him.
Craig Davis, San Diego Chargers - The talent is there, but Davis can’t seem to stay healthy. Ironically, it would take an injury to Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers, or Malcom Floyd for Davis to make his mark, but stranger things have happened. Just remember his name in case one of the Charger WRs goes down.
Ted Ginn, Jr. - Ginn had 34 catches for 420 yards as a Rookie and 56 for 790 last year. He exploded for 175 yards in Week 8 against Buffalo so the big game potential is there. I expect Ginn, Jr. to crack the 1000 yard barrier this year making him a nice breakout candidate.
Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts - Gonzalez is another player who has played well, but could make the leap this year. He’s had a couple years to build a rapport with Peyton Manning, and now that he’s the clear cut #2 look for Gonzalez to put up big numbers as a solid WR2.
Johnnie Lee Higgins, Oakland Raiders - The Raiders aren’t very fantasy friendly for WRs, but Higgins had a nice second season as a return man, and could make the leap to become a decent fantasy backup WR this year.
Dwayne Jarrett, Carolina Panthers - Jarrett hasn’t done much to date (16 career receptions), but could take a step forward as the Panthers #3 WR this year. Muhsin Muhammad is not the long-term answer for Carolina so Jarrett will get a chance to prove his capable of being the #2 next year. I’d only take him as a WR5.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions - Megatron is a beast and one of the game’s best WRs.
Jacoby Jones, Houston Texans - It would take and injury to Andre Johnson or Kevin Walter for Jacoby to really make a splash. He has the physical tools, it’s the mental side that’s been holding him back. Don’t draft him, but keep an eye on him.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers - Jones took a big step back with Favre’s departure going from 47 catches for 676 yards to 20 for 274. With Jordy Nelson pushing for time, don’t expect Jones to make too big of splash in 2009.
Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints - Meachem was supposed to make a big leap last year, so perhaps everyone was a year off on him. He has the tools and the QB to make a major impact. It’s just a matter of whether he can get the opportunity. I’d consider drafting him as your WR5 or WR6.
Legedu Naanee, San Diego Chargers - Like Davis, Naane will only be valuable if Jackson, Chambers, or Floyd go down. Naanee is probably ahead of Davis at this point.
Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings – Rice is a big target that excels in the red zone. With Brett Favre’s tendency to let his WRs make plays, Rice could be in for a big jump this year. When healthy has has been able to beat Defensive Backs deep. He just never had a QB who could deliver the ball like Brett. I would take Rice as a backup WR.
Laurent Robinson, St. Louis Rams - Laurent is expected to start the first couple of weeks while Donnie Avery is out. If he impresses, he could hold onto the job as he is currently ahead of Keenan Burton in the battle for the Rams’ #2 WR. That said, I wouldn’t expect much from him as The Greatest Show on Turf is a distant memory.
Steve Smith, New York Giants - Smith made a jump from 8 receptions as a Rookie to 57 for 574 yards last year. He will slide into Amani Toomer’s role and his targets should increase even more. Though he isn’t much of a TD threat, he could catch as many as 80 passes this year making him a nice breakout candidate. His value increases in PPR leagues. Smith makes for a nice WR4.
Chansi Stuckey, New York Jets - Stuckey could be forced into slot duty if Clowney can move ahead of him on the depth chart. If he holds onto the #2 job he could have some fantasy value during the bye weeks.
Mike Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars - Troy Williamson has been taking advantage of Walker’s ankle injury. As long as he return soon, he should hold onto his starting role. Torry Holt is the only Jag WR worth drafting, but keep an eye on Walker if he gets on a roll. He had six catches for 107 yards against Pittsburgh last year, so the potential is there.
Make sure to check out our baseball site by clicking here.