It used to be a fairly standard acumen that wide receivers had three years to develop before being considered a draft bust. Nowadays owners become sour on a player if he doesn’t produce in his first season much less his second. Gradual development over a players first two years is a sign of mediocrity to many owners. These owners will likely sell you players primed for a breakout at a discounted price. The 2017 draft class offers several of these types of receivers. Everyone knows of the upper echelon receivers from this class who have already broken out to one degree or another such as C. Davis, C. Kupp, and K. Golladay. For this article I have chosen to write about five receivers who could be poised for a 3rd year breakout and yet can be had at a discounted price.
Drafted with the 5th pick in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft many in the dynasty community expected big things out of the 6’2 201 Lb East Carolina product. Buffalo was a team bereft of a true number 1 threat for its QB Tyrod Taylor and the record setting wr from ECU seemed to fit the bill. At the 2017 NFL Combine Zay Jones put on an impressive show with a 4.45 40 yard dash, 133.0 inch broad jump, 36.5 vertical jump. The splendid combine numbers were only part of the package. Before leaving college Jones managed to set the NCAA records for receptions in a season (158) and a career (399). Many saw his college production as a sign of a polished player who was poised to provide an instant impact in the NFL. Things have however come much slower for Zay.
We can see that Jones struggled in his rookie season with less than 500 yards and just a couple of touchdowns. Following an ugly offseason incident with his brother in a L.A. apartment building many thought his career would come to an ignominious end. However, somehow avoiding a suspension Jones managed to get his career back on track during his sophomore campaign. With the help of newly drafted 1st round QB Josh Allen the young Jones managed to more than double his numbers in every category. Yet throughout the season many still doubted his upside to the point where he was available on many waiver wires at the midway point of the season. If Jones can manage to again double his numbers in his 3rd season he would find himself as a dynamic wr2 for fantasy purposes and a valuable member of any dynasty squad. Due to his late season jump in production Jones will likely be the most expensive of the players I will discuss in this article. Despite this fact Jones will likely cost you no more than an early 2nd to late 1st round pick. At just 24 years old for the start of the upcoming season Jones presents a very intriguing buy with the hopes of a 3rd year breakout.
There are few players that have been seen as a bigger bust than John Ross. As a top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL draft much was expected of the University of Washington speedster. This young player literally was the star of the combine putting up a blistering 4.22 40 yard dash to go along with a respectable 133.0 inch broad jump and 37.0 inch vertical. With his amazing 40 time Ross broke the record held by combine legend Chris Johnson. It is safe to say that his rookie season was one of if not the worst ever by a 1st round wr. Ross literally scored his owners negative points after failing to make a single catch and fumbling his only carry of the season. Marred by injury his rookie season left nowhere to go but up for the talented speedster.
While Ross did not put up great numbers in his sophomore season there is some room for optimism. His 7 touchdowns on only 21 catches shows the type of playmaking skills Ross still possesses. With the addition of a young offensive mind such as Zac Taylor dynasty owners would have room for optimism. Ross has so disappointed his current owners it is quite likely you will be able to acquire the young speedster for a song and dance. Most owners will simply look to the breakout season of Tyler Boyd and the expected return of AJ Green for beneficiaries of a new fresh offensive mind. I for one would just as soon dive into the recycling bin and pull out Ross for pennies on the dollar he was drafted for just a few short years ago. Call me the trash man if you like but there is some honest truth in the statement that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Perhaps John Ross could be said treasure. I would not expect it to cost any more than a 3rd round pick and a player at the maximum and in many cases you will be able to acquire him for far less.
Of all the players on this list David Moore came into the NFL with the least amount of hype. Selected in the 7th round of the 2017 NFL draft it would have been hard to find anybody in the dynasty community who was excited about the East Central product landing in Seattle. The Pete Carroll run Seahawks have been known to run the ball and then run the ball some more. Outside of Doug Baldwin few targets had been able to sustain fantasy success in the Great North-West. On top of his late draft stock and questionable landing spot Moore failed to crack the game day roster. However, despite all the early troubles fast forward one season and much has changed for the young wr.
Throughout the course of his sophomore campaign, David Moore has shown solid playmaking ability and a knack for finding the end zone. The ole standby Doug Baldwin dealt with injury throughout the season and was supplanted by fellow WR Tyler Lockett as the top target for Russell Wilson. During the changing of the guard the young David Moore also found his way into the spotlight. With big games against L.A., Oakland, Detroit, and particularly Carolina he staked his claim to a more permanent role on the team going forward. Owners looking to take a shot on a young upside WR could do far worse than trading for David Moore. In all likelihood, it will not cost much to pry the young player from his current dynasty owner. Outside of the RB and QB, most do not seem to respect the fantasy prospects of players in Seattle. I would doubt it would cost more than a 3rd round pick and a throwaway player to buy Moore from most owners.
Dede Westbrook is unquestionably a talented wr. His talents allowed the young Oklahoma product to win the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top receiver in his final year of college along with a unanimous section as an All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year. Westbrook followed his college career with an impressive pro-day showing that emphasized his playmaking potential. However, domestic violence accusations from his past caused the talented player to slip to the 4th round of the 2017 NFL draft. Selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars he found himself buried on a roster which featured Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marquise Lee among others. This led to a lackluster rookie campaign from a numbers standpoint. Fast forward two years and the situation has changed in Duval County.
Westbrook much like Zay Jones doubled his output from his rookie year in nearly every category. His production actually led his team in every major statistical category. It is fair to wonder if he had the benefit of consistent quarterback play just how well Westbrook could have done. Going forward things are about to change in Jacksonville. It appears that the Blake Bortles era is coming to an end and a new signal caller will be wearing the teal and black next season. It seems a fair bet that with the current roster construction the Jaguars will look to add a veteran signal caller to possibly go with a highly drafted rookie QB. Jacksonville seems to be an ideal landing spot for one of the top Free Agent to be Quarterbacks such as Teddy Bridgewater or even a trade destination for players like Joe Flacco or Nick Foles. If Westbrook finds himself catching passes from a better QB it is quite possible we will see a classic 3rd year jump in production. Despite the promise he has shown the value of Westbrook is very depressed and he can likely be bought for a late 2nd round pick or less.
The final player we will cover is Curtis Samuel. Coming out of Ohio State many saw this dynamic athlete as a player without a true position. When Carolina selected him with the 8th pick of the 2nd round in the 2017 draft the WR position became his future. The 4.31 40 speed demon took some time to learn the nuances of the position playing behind the likes of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Were he on another team the young playmaker would likely have gotten some run out of the backfield but the Panther’s selection of Christian McCaffrey one round ahead of Samuel blocked him from such a role. Despite the uphill fight for playing time, towards the end of his rookie season Curtis made strides and began to take on a larger role. Sadly in his best game of the season in week 10 Samuel suffered a debilitating ankle injury where he suffered not only a broken bone but ligament damage. It was fair to wonder how his career would progress from this point forward for such a quick twitch athlete.
At the start of his sophomore campaign few knew what to expect from Samuel. Carolina had seemingly moved on by selecting DJ Moore out of Maryland in the 1st round of the 2018 draft. Defying many of the doubters who questioned his return from ligament damage the dynamic Samuel totaled over 500 total yards and 7 td’s displaying all the playmaking ability Carolina saw in him when they selected him. The conversion of the Carolina scheme from big tall outside receivers to smaller more dynamic options insured that there was still indeed a place for a player with Samuel’s skill set. Moving forward into his 3rd year the future seems bright for Curtis Samuel. He has another dynamic talent to play on the opposite side to keep Defenses honest as well as an All-World Rb to draw the attention of defenses to the backfield. Cam Newton will likely undergo offseason shoulder surgery and hopefully come back healthier and more capable of delivering shots down field further utilizing the long speed of his young playmaking weapons. Samuel is a polarizing player with some believing in his abilities and others preferring to steer clear. It would certainly not cost very much to acquire the services of this up and coming playmaker.
Conclusion: None of the players I have listed in this article will be seen by the dynasty community as must have players. None of them has put so much as a low-end wr2 season on film. However, as I have stated earlier it used to be a given that dynasty owners gave WRs 3 years to prove their worth before declaring them to be a bust. Each of the players discussed in this article
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