2014 brought perhaps the greatest collection of rookie WR seasons in NFL history. Keenan Allen was a fantasy stud in his debut back in 2013. T.Y. Hilton, Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon were all assets as rookies in 2012.
Randall Cobb, Cecil Shorts, Alshon Jeffery, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd and DeAndre Hopkins have all broken out as sophomores over the past 3 seasons.
So it’s fair to ask: Is the breakout 3rd-year WR even a thing anymore?
The answer: sorta.
The list of 3rd-year breakouts over the last 3 seasons is short:
But that’s a small window to look at. NumberFire.com went back to 2000 and found that WR value (in terms of Net Expected Points, or how much a player contributes to his team) peaks almost evenly in Years 2 and 3.
A separate study by Number Fire found that “elite” WRs -- defined as making at least 1 Pro Bowl and playing at least 6 seasons -- peak in their 3rd year. This is especially relevant to us because we’re trying to pinpoint the future “elite” WRs.
So it’s still worthwhile to scan the list of 3rd-year WRs and examine their chances of breaking out. (Besides, the majority of this year’s 2nd-year WRs already broke out.)
Here are 2015’s top 12 3rd-year WRs -- listed in order of PPR ranking -- and their breakout potential.