10. Most Likely WR1/WR2 Newcomers

SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 16: Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers makes a reception under tight coverage during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Seahawks 26-23. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

In 2018, we saw 11 wide receivers drop out of the top 24 in PPR rankings. Five of the players that replaced them were returning members of the top 24 club. Six of them, Robert Woods (WR11), Tyler Lockett (WR16), Tyler Boyd (WR17), Kenny Golladay (WR21), Calvin Ridley (WR22) and Adam Humphries (WR24) found themselves in the top 24 for the first time.

Similar to running backs, which had almost the same turnover in their top 12, only one rookie made it on the list. In this article, I am going to give my predictions on which veteran wide receivers are the most likely to join the WR1/WR2 ranks for the first time in their careers.

2018 PPR WR2 Threshold: 188.7 Points

9. Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins

MIAMI, FL – OCTOBER 14: Albert Wilson #15 of the Miami Dolphins carries a pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

2018: 7 Games, 35 Targets, 26 Receptions, 391 Receiving Yards, 4 TD’s, 96.8 Fantasy Points

Hear me out. I know this is a rough way to start out the article, but bad teams that trail almost all the time, have to throw the ball.

While it was only 35 targets, Albert Wilson was one of only 3 players (Tyler Lockett + one to be named later) to average over 2.7 fantasy points per target. He was on his way to breaking out before being injured in the 2nd quarter of the Dolphins week 7 game.

After only receiving 11 targets in the first 3 weeks, he received 24 over the next 3.5 games, one of which was a 9 target, 6 catch, 155 yard, 2 TD performance in week 6 against the Chicago Bears.

Going into 2019, it feels like Wilson has the perfect setup to breakout. He can be used in the short to intermediate game, something Josh Rosen will desperately need. He can also be used as a deep threat, which is something that Ryan Fitzpatrick loves.

8. Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 23: Wide receiver Curtis Samuel #10 of the Carolina Panthers carries the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during a NFL game at Bank of America Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

2018: 13 Games, 65 Targets, 39 Receptions, 494 Receiving Yards, 5 TD’s, 136.8 Fantasy Points

I think that Samuel’s ability in the short game benefits him this season. With Cam already struggling down field and coming into 2019 off of an injury, I think the short game is going to a big part of the Panthers plan.

In 2018, after not seeing more than 4 targets in his first 6 games, he saw 4 or more in all but one of his final 7. Four of those games he had 7 or more and in 3 of the games, he had at least 70 yards receiving.

He is a player that is dangerous with the ball in his hand. Only five players with more targets averaged better than his 2.1 fantasy points per target. Those players were Tyler Lockett, a player to be named later, Tyreek Hill, Calvin Ridley, and Michael Thomas.

If he can average 75% of the targets that he averaged for the final five games of 2018, he should find himself inside the top 24.

7. Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 06: Cre’von LeBlanc #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles defends against Anthony Miller #17 of the Chicago Bears in the second quarter of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Soldier Field on January 06, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

2018: 15 Games, 54 Targets, 33 Receptions, 423 Receiving Yards, 7 TD’s, 120.2 Fantasy Points

My love for Anthony Miller aside, his rookie season was actually more impressive than the numbers would show. As mentioned in this great Pro Football Focus article, Anthony Miller was one of only eight wide receivers in the NFL to excel at separating from defensive backs (60% of the time), yards after the catch (avg. of 5.24) and contested catch percentage (62.5%).

What makes this more impressive, is that he played through a dislocated shoulder, which made it hard for him to high point the ball. Even with that injury and Trubisky missing him on about 5-6 wide open plays (25ish% of their missed targets), Miller was still 10th out of the 67 wide receivers that I profiled on points per target, at 2.23.

But, I know most of the people that know me will call this a homer pick, so I will let this video explain it all.

6. Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 23: Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after a catch against the Chicago Bears during their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

2018: 12 Games, 45 Targets, 27 Receptions, 467 Receiving Yards, 5 TD’s, 103.5 Fantasy Points

Pettis didn’t get a lot of action in his rookie year, but that looks to change going into his sophomore season. Word has already been circulating that the 49ers fully expect him to be their #1 WR and that means a lot.

We have to expect the 49ers offense to stabilize a bit in year two under Kyle Shanahan, especially with the return of Jimmy Garoppolo. If Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin can contribute even a little, it will help pull some coverage off of Pettis and allow for more volume.

If Dante is anywhere close to as efficient as he was last year, his 2.3 points per target was 7th best, doubling his targets to 90 might do the trick.

5. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 18: Wide receiver Chris Godwin #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers carries the ball as he is defended by cornerback Curtis Riley #35 of the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 18, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants won 38-35. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

2018: 16 Games, 95 Targets, 59 Receptions, 842 Receiving Yards, 7 TD’s, 185.2 Fantasy Points

Godwin fell just short of the top 24 a year ago, coming in at WR27. His teammate, Adam Humphries was WR24 and he left for the Tennessee Titans, which vacates 105 targets. DeSean Jackson and his 74 targets also left. This opens up a lot of targets for the Buccaneers new slot man to take a share of.

He will need those targets to get into the top 24. While he is not bad in regards to points per target, he does sit outside the top 30. All of the guys that live in this area thrive on volume. If he sticks around the 100 target range, he will likely see himself just missing the cut.

4. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – DECEMBER 30: D.J. Moore #12 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball during the first half against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 30, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2018: 16 Games, 82 Targets, 55 Receptions, 788 Receiving Yards, 2 TD’s, 157 Fantasy Points

D.J. was a WR3 in his rookie season despite only catching 2 TD’s. One thing I am certain of, is that if he plays 16 games in 2019, he will more than double that.

For Moore to get inside the top 24, he will just need more volume. I am not sure that he will have another 172 yards rushing in 2019, but with Devin Funchess leaving 79 targets on the table, I fully expect at least a 25% increase in targets. If Carolina is smart, they will also try to limit the beating on both Christian McCaffery and Cam Newton, leading to more red zone looks as well.

If that plays out, Moore will likely find himself as a top 24 WR in his second season.

3. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

CARSON, CA – NOVEMBER 18: Wide receiver Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers makes a catch in front of defensive back Tramaine Brock #22 of the Denver Broncos for a first down in the second quarter at StubHub Center on November 18, 2018 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

2018: 16 Games, 66 Targets, 43 Receptions, 664 Receiving Yards, 10 TD’s, 180.2 Fantasy Points

Mike Williams was WR32 last year after he made some great improvements in his sophomore season. While he had a limited role during his rookie year, he only caught 47.8% of his targets for a measly 4.1 yards per target. In 2018 those numbers jumped to 65.2% and 10.1 yards per target. That is a huge spike in efficiency that I do think will regress some in 2019, but he is the “Player to be Named Later” that I mentioned earlier.

Williams was 3rd out of all WR’s with a whopping 2.73 fantasy points per target, behind only Tyler Lockett and Albert Wilson, and Wilson had 31 less targets.

If Williams can get between 80-90 targets, with a similar TD count, he could be a serious threat for top 15 overall.

2. Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 6: Corey Davis #84 of the Tennessee Titans runs downfield with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at Nissan Stadium on December 6, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

2018: 16 Games, 112 Targets, 65 Receptions, 891 Receiving Yards, 4 TD’s, 183.6 Fantasy Points

Davis was WR28 in 2018 and had arguably the worst QB play out of all the WR’s on this list. While I fully expect Tennessee to be a run first offense, I also expect a slight increase in targets for CD, as the addition of Adam Humphries and a more experienced Taywan Taylor, will help pull some coverage.

This is a top five NFL pick that is going into the proverbial 3rd year breakout season and I expect nothing less than that to happen. Davis should easily be in the 8 TD range and with even a slight uptick in volume, plus better QB efficiency, he should see 80 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving.

A season like that would put him firmly inside the top 18 and could potentially see him near the WR1 ranks if the Titans offense improves and he gets a substantial (+30 targets) boost in volume.

1. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOVEMBER 4: Cooper Kupp #18 of the Los Angeles Rams runs the ball after catching a pass during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 4, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Rams 45-35. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

2018: 8 Games, 55 Targets, 40 Receptions, 566 Receiving Yards, 6 TD’s, 135.1 Fantasy Points

In 2017 Cooper Kupp just barely missed finishing as a WR2 and he was only a rookie. Then, he stepped it up a notch in 2018 starting off the season as WR4 overall through the leagues first 5 weeks, with 21 fantasy points per game, or 105.1 total.

Then, in week 6, after only 1 target, Kupp went down and wouldn’t play again until week 9. In his return, he reeled in 5 passes for 89 yards and a TD. Despite playing almost 2 full games less than everyone ahead of him, he still ranked as WR18 going into week 10.

That is when disaster struck. Kupp would tear his ACL and be done for the rest of the season. The Rams have taken it slow with him since, but all indications point to him being ready for the regular season. If that is the case, I believe he is a solid bet for WR2 status and I wouldn’t rule him out as a potential WR1.

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