I’m currently sitting here in the 25th round of a Superflex Empire League (just drafted Blake Jarwin), that is in its inaugural season. I have been the commissioner of this league since 2011. We have always been a redraft league, and this year we changed it up and jumped into the dynasty world for the first time. So far it has been a blast.
As you may or may not know I first started playing dynasty in 2016. Mark Charbonneau a member of the Dynasty RedZone Fantasy Football Community invited me into his Empire League and the rest is history. In addition, Mark is also responsible for letting know about the RedZone 96 leagues and this community. Basically, Mark is the reason I am here and that I have the privilege to write for DynastyRedZone.com. If you like my articles look him up and say thanks if you don’t look him up and blame him!
Mark is a member of this league I am currently drafting, as well as three others from our community; Cory Garbolinsky, Travis Friesen, and Travis Giavedoni. I know there are some in the community that wants DRZ to be your little secret. Gain information and knowledge that you can use to your benefit in your leagues, that you will have all to yourself. During this draft, I have found the opposite to be true. Drafting with other community members that visit DynastyRedZone.com, read the Facebook posts, and participate in the polls, has increased the knowledge of the owners. The quality of the picks in the league has been great and I anticipate there will some serious parity. This will strengthen this league and keep the owners engaged. As the commissioner of this league, I appreciate this as the owners will be less likely to abandon their teams. So, my challenge to you all, share in our community and share the community itself. Your dynasty knowledge will increase and your leagues will be stronger and healthier as a result.
Well enough of me, my league, and my rants let’s look at some WR breakout candidates for 2018.
Rookie drafts of recent memory have proven to deliver the RB as the position most likely to make an immediate impact on your dynasty roster. When comparing the WR, the common belief is that the third season is a make it or break it time for those receivers.
The WR tends to take longer to adapt to the system and gain the confidence of his QB. The third season is targeted as a breakout season. There are clearly exceptions to this as there have been some great WR talents in their first few seasons. The 2014 WR draft class showed us the exception, not the norm. I have taken some 3rd year WR and tiered their breakout potential.
Tier One – Have Already Arrived
Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
Micheal Thomas has arrived. He is a WR1 and should be drafted as such in start-up drafts in all formats. In his first two seasons, he has averaged WR1 numbers. There have been 244 WR drafted from 2012017, and Thomas is just the third WR to average WR1 for his career. The other two you may have heard of, Antonio Brown & Julio Jones. Thomas will not break out in 2018, but he will have a great opportunity to break into the top 5 WR. Thomas finished as WR6 last season and I see no reason barring injury that he cannot at the minimum maintain that position.
Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill is the steal of the 2015 NFL draft. Drafted in the 5th round, Tyreek has delivered WR2 numbers in his first two seasons in Kansas City. Blessed with blazing speed, Tyreek has a chance to make something happen each and every time he gets his hands on the ball. Similar to Michael Thomas, Tyreek has arrived. I wouldn’t label Hill as a potential breakout, I would list him in that must own in all formats type of WR. I am interested to see what the transition to Patrick Mahomes and the addition of Sammy Watkins does to the Chiefs and Tyreek Hill’s 2018 fantasy production. I am anticipating that Hill continues to deliver as a WR2 with low WR1 upside.
Tier 2 – 2018 – Breakout Time
Robby Anderson – New York Jets
Anderson joined the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent out of Temple in 2016. Over the course of his two seasons, Anderson has averaged 157.5 fantasy points. He reached WR2 status with his 200-point 2017 campaign. Anderson is poised to only get better. There is some uncertainty at the QB position in New York, and more importantly to me, there is uncertainty with Anderson himself. Robby Anderson is talented, he is head and shoulders above anyone else on the Jets depth chart and will only get better if, and only if he can clean up his off-field behavior. I do believe that Anderson is looking at a potential suspension. If the NFL does not discipline Anderson, I feel he will have his best season to date in 2018. I hope Anderson takes care of his issues, or it’s possible the only breakout he will need to worry about is from prison.
Geronimo Allison – Green Bay Packers
Being a part of an Aaron Rodgers led offense is a really good thing. I mentioned in my NFC North edition of the Buy, Sell, Take the Flyer series, that Geronimo Allison is a WR to buy. Allison was an undrafted free agent out of Illinois, and he is about to get his shot in this offense. Allison likely the WR3 behind Devante Adams and Randel Cobb, has high WR3, low WR2 upside this year. Allison is only 24 years old and will soon pass Randel Cobb on the Packers depth chart. Geronimo is my number 1 breakout candidate for 2018.
Josh Doctson – Washington Redskins
Doctson, the Redskins first round pick in 2016 has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far. Limited to two games in 2016, he has averaged 64.2 points over his two years. Josh Doctson I feel is a prime breakout candidate in 2018. His target share in the Skins offense last year started to take off in week 10. Doctson averaged 6 targets a game from week 10-16 with a season-high 13 in the final game of 2017. He will need to work on his catch percentage to break out as he caught on average 2.8 of those targets from week 10-16. There are changes coming to the Washington offense in 2018, and I feel that Josh Doctson will be a part of the positive more so that the negative in Washington this upcoming season. Doctson is an excellent buy candidate for your dynasty roster.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants
I am a big fan of Sterling Shepard. The New York Giants made Shepard their second-round selection in 2016, and he delivered a WR2 rookie season. 2017 was an up and down year for the Shepard as he delivered as a WR4 during an injury-filled campaign. There were flashes last season as the entire offense except for Evan Engram collapsed around him. New Head Coach Pat Shurmur has shown in the past that he targets the slot in his offense. Both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs benefitted greatly in Minnesota. Shepard will see plenty of targets this season as the Giants will not be an easy team to defend. OBJ is back, and Engram and Saquon Barkley will help Shepard avoid the blanket coverage he saw a year ago. I’m not sure that Shepard breaks out this season I see it more as a breaking back out. Sterling Shepard will bounce back this year and delivers a strong WR2 season.
Will Fuller – Houston Texans
Drafted in the 21st overall out of Notre Dame in the 2016 draft, Fuller has seen injuries and inconsistent QB play prevent him from having already arrived. Fuller missed two games in his rookie season and was forced to deal with Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage in the games in which he suited up for. He managed to post WR6 numbers in 2016 finishing the season with 122 fantasy points. During the 2017 campaign, he missed an additional 6 games and was forced to finish the season dealing with subpar QB play again after Deshawn Watson went down in practice week 9. He finished his season as a WR6 for the second consecutive year. Fuller had a mid-season break out of sorts in weeks 4-8 last season. Fuller had 13 catches on 22 targets for 279 yards and a ridiculous 7 TD’s. This dude caught 13 passes and 7 were for scores. Fuller will not and cannot maintain a 53% score rate per reception, however, I do see his receiving yards elevating to a level that enables him to break comfortably into the high-end WR3, low-end WR2 area.
Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals
Tyler Boyd is my dark horse back end of startup drafts BFF this season. Boyd the 2nd round selection in 2016 out of Pittsburgh has struggled to find his way in the Cincinnati Bengal offense to date. He has a decent 2016 campaign posting 54/603/1. He struggled to 22/225/2 in 2017 in 10 games. I am high on Boyd this season. The Bengals have addressed their offensive line issues from a year ago and with the often-injured Tyler Eifert at TE, I see a scenario where Boyd is a monster target machine in the slot. Tyler Boyd is a breakout candidate for me this season in a big bad way!
Tier 3 – If The Stars Align
Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns
The first WR off the board in the 2016 NFL draft was Corey Coleman. Cleveland selected the Baylor product with the 15th overall selection. To date, Coleman has not provided the Browns with a positive return on that investment. Coleman has battled injury and drops over the course of his first two seasons. The Browns have gone thru some significant changes for the better on offense this offseason. They traded for a legit quarterback and drafted another, Josh Gordon is back and Jarvis Landry in now in town. David Njoku has been added since they drafted Coleman in 2016 and Nick Chubb, Carlos Hyde and, Duke Johnson make us a pretty impressive backfield. There may be a breakout coming for Coleman, but as long as he is a member of the Cleveland Browns, I don’t see it happening. He will need some injuries to key members of the Browns offense or a change of scenery in order to get there.
Chester Rogers – Indianapolis Colts
Roger an undrafted free agent signed by the Colts has been quiet over the course of his first two seasons. The WR group is crowded in Indy, and this is the year for Rogers to step up or he might find himself on the outside looking in come 2019. Having a healthy Andrew Luck under center will help all the Colts WR, and Rogers currently listed as WR3 in that offense will get a great chance to break out this year. I see Rogers elevating his production into the WR4 range this year. He will get better but not sure I would label it a breakout.
Malcolm Mitchell – New England Patriots
Mitchell was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of Georgia. Mitchell proved to be a nice complimentary piece to the Patriots in 2016 posting 32/401/4. Mitchell looked great in the Super Bowl that season with 6 catches on 7 targets for 70 yards. He was a player that looked to be ready to take the next step in 2017. Injuries, however, have slowed Mitchell. He suffered a torn ACL in college in 2013 and was injured in training camp in 2016. Mitchel lost the entire 2017 season due to a knee injury. It’s uncertain at this point of the offseason as to where he is at health-wise but if he can return to the lineup he has a great opportunity to break out. The Patriots are without Julian Edelman the first 4 weeks this season and if Mitchell can get that knee right and get on the field he has a legit chance to be in the WR3 conversation with upside.
Laquon Treadwell – Minnesota Vikings
As a lifelong Vikings fan, this one hits home. Treadwell was a first-round selection out of Ole Miss by Minnesota. He came into the 2016 draft as a comparable to DeAndre Hopkins. Since that draft, Treadwell has basically done nothing and looks like a bust. This is the make it or break it year for Laquon. He enters training camp listed as the WR3 in Minnesota and likely will never have a better opportunity to step up. If Treadwell can adapt to this new offense he has a chance. He never seemed to be able to understand what Norv Turner or Pat Shurmur’s offenses were asked of him. He has great hands and will win the majority of 50/50 balls thrown his way. He was a good route runner in college and can’t seem to translate that to the NFL game. He is reportedly displaying great chemistry with Kirk Cousins thus far this offseason which is a positive. Minnesota is a team that I see as being run heavy. The Vikings have two WR that are clearly their 1-2 punch in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. If the Vikings stay healthy, I see Treadwell disappointing for a third straight and likely final season in Minnesota. I wouldn’t give up on him, I would continue to stash him. This player could be something with a change of scenery.
Braxton Miller – Houston Texans
The Ohio State QB turned WR was selected by Houston in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL draft. Braxton Miller has struggled to stay healthy and in the Texans lineup. As a result, he has been inconsistent over the course of his two seasons, averaging 36.1 fantasy points/year. This season there are reports that recently drafted Keke Coutee could replace Miller in the slot. I cannot see a situation in Houston this year that would enable Miller to have a break-out season without injuries to key members of the offense.
Tajae Sharpe- Tennessee Titans
Tajae Sharpe, the 5th round selection out of Massachusetts, had a respectable rookie campaign, posting a 41/522/2 line. Sharpe missed all of last season with a foot injury. He’s back to compete for a spot behind WR Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, and Taywan Taylor. Early reports have Taywan Taylor pushing ahead of Miller on the depth chart. I would anticipate that the passing game is a little too crowded for Tajae this season to qualify as a breakout candidate. If there are some injuries and Sharpe gets his shot, the potential is there, however.
Tier 4 – Nothing To See Here
Roger Lewis – New York Giants
Roger Lewis the undrafted free agent signing out of Bowling Green is buried on the New York Giants depth chart. Lewis got a shot last season after the Giants offense imploded with injuries. He appeared in 14 games for the Giants and posted 36/416/2. Given a great opportunity last season he failed to deliver. In fairness, there wasn’t much of anyone delivering for the Giants last season. Lewis will have a supporting role in the Giants offense in 2018, and he will need significant injuries to occur again for there to be any chance of a break out season.
Demarcus Robinson – Kansas City Chiefs
Demarcus Robinson was a player that I have had my eye on ever since he had a big second half in the Chiefs Wildcard loss to the Tennessee Titans. After losing Travis Kelce to a concussion Robinson collected 4 catches on 4 targets for 57 yards and a TD. Albert Wilson left KC as a free agent which was good news for Robinson, Sammy Watkins arrived via free agency which is bad news for Robinson. Robinson likely finds himself behind Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley (if healthy). The road to breakout is very crowded for Demarcus and as a result, I do not see a third-year breakout in his future.
Jakeem Grant – Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins selected Grant in the 6th round, 3 rounds after selecting Leoonte Carroo in the 3rd round of the 2016 entry draft. Grant’s work on special teams likely keeps him on the roster, but he will not be a relevant part of this offense and thus should not be rostered in typically PPR scoring leagues.
Chris Moore – Baltimore Ravens
Chris Moore the Ravens 4th round selection in 2016, has averaged 39.7 points across his first two seasons. A roster bubble player a year ago survived and got some playing time after Breshad Perriman suffered a concussion. This offseason the Ravens brought in Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown. This would indicate how they feel as an organization about Moore. Likely a roster bubble player again this season, the breakout is not in the cards.
Leonte Carroo – Miami Dolphins
Dolphins third-year WR Leonte Carroo is believed to be competing for a roster spot this summer. Carroo was the 86th overall pick in the 2016 draft and has caught 10 balls for 98 yards and one score on 18 targets in two years. DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant are ahead of Carroo on the depth chart. Miami would have to keep six WR for Carroo to make it. The breakout will not materialize in Miami. Carroo is a player that should find work elsewhere. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, Carroo is another example of Miami’s inability to develop their wideouts.