Breakout Candidates! Which Third Year WR Will Carry His Team to the Title?

TimCorrespondent IJune 17, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Steve Breaston #15 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after a return against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Steelers won 27-23. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It is widely accepted that a receiver going into their third season is a major breakout candidate. A breakout season by someone at an important skill position can have a major impact on the season of your favorite team as well as your fantasy team. 

I have compiled a detailed list of third year receivers and will analyze the likely hood of breakout season. Let’s start with the obvious names.

Established Stars

These guys have already established themselves as players to lookout for:

Calvin Johnson, Det  

A first round pick and the first receiver off the board on draft day will likely be the first one off the board come time for you fantasy draft. He is an established superstar and a weekly fantasy starter despite his lack of a stable quarterback. Whether it is Dante or Matt starting, he has a chance to break more than a few long ones.

The sky is the limit for this guy!

Dwayne Bowe, KC

Another first round pick that quickly developed into a star. Bowe has already averaged over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns over his first two seasons. Things will be different this year though. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Bowe will no longer have Tony freeing up space for him, and he will be counted on to be the team’s top target. I don’t think that will be too much of a cause for concern though. He will have a more stable QB situation than he has ever had and a head coach that has shown a great deal of interest in the passing game. 

Bowe is worthy of a start every week.

Steve Breaston, Ari

After a surprise breakout season, this former fifth round pick, has put himself on the fantasy radar. Will he duplicate those numbers this year?  It is hard to say. A major reason for Breaston’s success was the injuries that Boldin suffered. 

Due to his physical style of play, Boldin may miss time this year, but he isn’t likely to miss an extended period due to a broken face. Breaston is a valuable fantasy option, but don’t expect him to match last year’s numbers.

Eight hundred yards and 6 touchdowns isn’t out of the question.

Those guys have already established themselves as major fantasy contributors.

From good to great.

The next three are likely to be drafted, but probably won’t be expected to start regularly:

Anthony Gonzalez, Ind

He is another first round pick who has shown play making ability. So far he has been solid, but not spectacular. This year may be the year for all that to change. He plays on a team with an explosive offence and one of the best QB’s in the game. 

This team may not be the scoring machine it was a few years ago, but they will score point and Gonzalez will be the clear cut number two option. Expect his numbers to up across the board.

Expect nine hundred yards and six TDs 1000 yards isn’t out of the question though.

Ted Ginn, Mia

I think he could be on the verge of a breakout year as well. He was solid last year with almost 800 yards and four TDs, but I think his numbers will improve this year. 

Before the draft he was looked at as a player that had a lot of potential, but was thought to need time to develop coming out of college. I agree. With two years under his belt and the hours upon hours in the weight room. He should now have the needed strength and experience to take that next step.

I expect his number to be about the same as Gonzalez.

Steve Smith, NYG

Yes, the other Steve Smith… His second season was a breakout season. He showed promise as one of the best third down performers in the league. If it wasn’t for the two proceeding downs, this guy would be a star.

What’s next? Hard to say, he will contribute and his numbers may rise, but I doubt he will become a 1000 receiver. The team wants to keep him in his current role despite the need for someone to step up at receiver. His numbers will increase without Burress, but he will not be a star.

A likely fantasy reserve, with over 600 yards and three TDs


The names you know are done, who will come out of nowhere and carry you to a championship?  Hard to say…  A lot of guys have shown potential, but it seems to me like it will come down to opportunities. Pay attention to camp battles and see who is going to get the most playing time.

Here are the sleepers in order of round drafted:

Robert Meachum, NO (Round 1)

A first round pick with lots of talent, but he has had a hard time seeing the field.  Aside from a couple long balls last year, he has been largely invisible. 

I expect him to be better, but I don’t see him as a huge breakout candidate.  He has the talent, but I am skeptical simply because I don’t think he will get a lot of playing time. The breakout year by Lance more will hold him back. If he can crack the top 3 on the depth chart his numbers will rise, but otherwise...

Look for 500-600 yards and four touchdowns.

Sidney Rice, Min (Round 2)

He was drafted as a second round pick and a lot of people thought he would break out last year, it didn’t happen and it won’t happen this year. 

Based on their draft, they obviously don’t have a lot of faith in him.  He will not break out, especially on a run first team.

Do not draft him!

Dwayne Jarret, Car (Round 2)

Another second round bust, I expect about the same from him as Sydney Rice. 

Don’t draft him.

Jason Hill, SF (Round 3)

Sorry about those couple snoozers.  This one could be good.  There aren’t a lot of reasons to like the San Fran passing game, but Hill is one of them.  At this point it is hard to guess his impact, simply because the depth chart is way up in the air.

San Fran seems to have four startable receivers.  Between Bruce, Crabtree, Morgan and Hill it will be a battle. The top two guys will have a fantasy impact, but it is hard to expect the others to do much.

Keep a close eye on this training camp if hill is a starter, consider him a late round pick with a chance to breakout.

James Jones, GB (Round 3)

I like this guy, but the problem is I like a few other guys on this team more.  His numbers actually dropped last year and I don’t see them going up drastically.

In my opinion, this is the best receiving corps in the league.  It is not s discredit to Jones, but I don’t think he can crack the starting lineup until Driver slows down.

Unless there is an injury or some drastic change, don’t expect a breakout year.

Mike Walker, Jax (Round 3)

This is where things start getting interesting.  I am a big fan of this kid, but so is the injury bug.  Pay attention to training camp.  The team isn’t deep at WR. I believe if he is healthy, he will start.

He is a big strong receiver and could easily have a bug year.  If he can become a full time starter and stay healthy he will have a big year.  If he cracks the starting line-up…

Expect 800 yards and five TDs as a solid No. 3 fantasy receiver.

Johnnie Lee Higgins, Oak (Round 3)

This is another player I really like.  Believe it or not, he was actually the leading WR for Oakland last year.  That truly isn’t saying much though.  I was looking at him a breakout candidate before the draft, but I think the draft actually hurt him.

I expected the raiders to draft a receiver, but I think he would be set up for a bigger year if the Raiders had drafted Crabtree.  Heyward-Bay is a speed guy, and so is Higgins, so I don’t know how they will fit together

The starting lineup coming out of training camp will be important, if Higgins starts and I think he will look for a solid season.

Expect 700 yards and four TDs.

David Clowney (Round 5) and Chansi Stukey (Round 7), NYJ

This is the most interesting camp battle of the summer to me.  Unless the Jets end up picking up a big WR (Burress or Marshall) the winner of this battle will be starting.  My money is on Stuckey.

Both guys showed flashes last year in the preseason and Stukey improved as the year went on.  Unfortunately Clowney was hurt for a good chunk of the year and that set him back.  I know there is uncertainty at the quarterback position, but expect the winner of this battle to perform well.

Look for 800 yards and four TDs.

Pay attention to these camp battle and give your self a leg up in your fantasy league.

If you are interested in a write up on Devin Hester, check this out:


He is going into his fourth season, but only his third as a receiver.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!