Trends: Third-Year Breakout WRs for 2008

01/27/2008 1:05 am by in Fantasy Football Articles




Looking for 2009 Third-Year Breakouts?





Smitty

Almost every fantasy owner has heard of the Third-Year Breakout WR Theory. If you haven’t, the theory basically suggests that a wide receiver’s third NFL season is often his breakout season. Whatever the reason, whether it be the need for experience, or time to battle through injury, this theory often holds true, as a few third-year receivers almost always emerge each and every season. Let’s take a look at last year’s 3rd-year breakouts in order of how they finished.

Reflecting: 2007 Third-Year WRs

2007 Stats

GP
Rec
Yrds
TDs
1. Braylon Edwards (CLE)
16
80
1,289
16
2. Roddy White (ATL)
16
83
1,202
6
3. Reggie Brown (PHI)
16
61
780
4
4. Roydell Williams (TEN)
16
55
719
4
5. Vincent Jackson (SD)
16
41
623
3
6. Nate Washington (PIT)
16
29
450
5
7. D.J. Hackett (SEA)
6
32
384
3
8. Chris Henry (CIN)
8
21
343
2
9. Matt Jones (JAC)
12
24
317
4

Last year, Braylon Edwards turned in one of the best third-year WR seasons that we’ve seen in years, exploding for 80 catches, 1,289 receiving yards and 16TDs. That is phenomenal. Roddy White also had a strong breakout campaign last year, grabbing 83 balls for 1,202 receiving yards and 6 scores. Past that, this group in ’07 truly disappointed. What do I expect out of all these players above entering their 4th NFL seasons?

Well, I obviously expect Edwards and White to continue their stellar efforts heading into ’08, but also keep an eye on D.J. Hackett in Seattle and Vincent Jackson in San Diego. Hackett fought some injuries in 2007, so his breakout season may be one year delayed… and with Deion Branch possibly out for all of 2008 with a late ACL injury, Hackett is primed to excel in his 4th season as a pro.

Vincent Jackson let more than a few fantasy owners down last year, but he has the talent and size to succeed at the NFL level. Having all that talent around him in San Diego doesn’t hurt either, so don’t give up on Jackson in dynasty/keeper leagues and target him late in your 2008 redraft leagues — He still may have something to prove.

And then there was Chris HenryHenry could have a surprisingly solid 2008 fantasy season, but he will have to stay out of trouble.

2008 Third-Year WRs

First off, this year’s group of third-year breakout WRs is kind of a unique group, as three of them exploded prematurely in just their sophomore seasons. Those three were:

2007 Stats

GP
Rec
Yrds
TDs
1. Marques Colston (NO)
16
98
1,202
11
2. Brandon Marshall (DEN)
16
102
1,325
7
3. Greg Jennings (GB)
13
53
920
12

So, obviously when we take a look at this year’s group of breakouts, we have to include Colston, Jennings and Marshall, for they fit the mold, but all three are clearly already well on their way to elite… What we’re really looking for are the other possible outliers that will pull away from mediocrity to possibly join Colston, Jennings and Marshall in that elite class. Here is how I rank all the 3rd-year guys, and my #2 ranked guy might surprise you.

Smitty’s 2008 Third-Year Breakout WRs
  1. Marques Colston (NO)
  2. Santonio Holmes (PIT)
  3. Greg Jennings (GB)
  4. Brandon Marshall (DEN)
  5. Lance Moore (NO)
  6. Ben Obomanu (SEA)
  7. Jeff Webb (KC)
  8. Sinorice Moss (NYG)
  9. Jason Avant (PHI)
  10. Demetrius Williams (BAL)
  11. Derek Hagan (MIA)
  12. Maurice Stovall (TB)
  13. Brad Smith (NYJ)
  14. Chad Jackson (NE)
  15. Travis Wilson (CLE)
  16. Bennie Brazell (CIN)

Santonio Holmes is my favorite “on-the-rise” wide receiver entering 2008 — He fits the third-year breakout mold like no other, and with Hines Ward entering his 11th NFL season, the Bruce-to-Holt-like transition appears to be in motion. Ward, who recently had off-season knee surgery, will probably still be a 50-60 reception guy, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Holmes finished inside the top 10 wide receivers at year’s end. His impressive sophomore campaign, where he caught 52 passes for 942 yards and 8TDs, could very easily translate into a 12TD-type season with 70 catches for 1,300+ receiving yards.

As for the rest of the potential third-year breakouts… again, obviously Colston, Jennings and Marshall have top 10-12WR upside next year, but who else has a shot at being a third-year breakout WR besides Colston, Jennings, Marshall and Holmes?

A few of you FFX Forum Users are already high on WR Ben Obomanu over in Seattle. With Deion Branch (ACL) questionable to return at all in 2008, Obomanu will probably be forced to step up and deliver. His 2007 fantasy resume is almost non-existent, as he caught just 12 regular-season passes last year, but the guy looked pretty good in Seattle’s Divisional Playoff Round loss, catching four passes for 63 yards (and getting a number of targets). Look, I’m not saying he is a lock to excel, but he has a shot and is in a good situation. Keep an eye on him for the moment, that’s all I’m saying.

Lance Moore and Jeff Webb also have some solid potential heading into their third NFL seasons. After Obomanu, Moore looks to be the most breakout-ready of the remaining group from just watching him play, and with a solid passing attack behind him, he is definitely one to watch. Jason Avant has decent upside in larger leagues and same goes for Sinorice Moss. Past that, it is anyone’s guess, but I’d bet that we will get a better feel for this entire group as we near August. Be sure to get on the official thread for this article and chat about this topic!

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