All you young pups drafting Devonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase in the second round can just calm down and take a seat. I’m about to go all “crazy old man/get off my lawn guy” on your ass. Back in the day when I started playing fantasy football, before it was on the interwebs, there were no rookie drafts and we didn’t believe in drafting rookie receivers before the sixth round. There was a good reason for that. 90% of all rookie receivers suck in their first year. But guess what? If you can nail your draft picks of, or trades for, second and third year receivers, that’s when you can get the most bang for your buck. Just ask the guys like me, who drafted or traded for year two DK Metcalf in last year. The shiny new toys are nice, but sometimes they’re more flash than substance. Let’s take a look at some second and third year wide receivers poised to break out in 2021.
Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders: With Nelson Agholor moving on to the wide receiver black hole known as the New England Patriots, it looks like Bryan Edwards steps into a nice spot if he can stay healthy. Agholor put up very solid numbers last year. Edwards, with the advantage of going into his second season with the Raiders, should at least equal Agholor’s 2020 stat line. He’s tall and he’s jacked like DK Metcalf, so I won’t be surprised when he gets some end zone looks. Right now his ADP is in the double digit rounds. Grab him as your third or fourth WR and enjoy the returns.
Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills: Now that the Smoke, (aka John Brown) has cleared, Gabe Davis moves up a spot on the depth chart after a promising rookie season. We know he’s not going to overtake Stefon Diggs anytime soon, but 107 year old Emmanuel Sanders? Maybe. Even if Davis isn’t the starter for game one, will it surprise anyone when Manny Sanders gets hurt when his walker breaks down on the way to the stadium? What about Cole Beasley? He’s also in his 30’s and has never had more than six TD’s in a season in his career. Davis had 7 as a rook last season. Trust me, Josh Allen will get this guy the ball this season. In PPR leagues his ADP is around the 13th round. Snap him up two rounds earlier and he’ll pay you back.
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers: Is this really a break out candidate? Damn right he is. Yes, he’s flashed potential in his first two seasons, but what has he really done? Last season he had 923 yards and 7 TD’s. Good, but nothing that wows you, right? Those are Nelson Agholor type numbers. Does that comparison inspire anyone? He also led the NFL in drops. He had four games with four or less targets. Diontae, inconsistency be thy name! This year, with Big Ben likely to be under siege because Pittsburgh’s O-line is the worst in the league, he’ll have to get rid of the ball quickly. Guess which wide receiver has consistently ranked near the top of the league in separation?
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots: New England is where the F.B.I. sends wide receivers that are in the witness protection program. But last year one Pats wide receiver jumped off the screen. He caught 73% of anything thrown his way, and that’s saying something when Cam Newton is the QB. Imagine what he might do this year if uber accurate Mac Jones takes the starting job! He’s earned more time on the field and guess what? Julian Edelman is gone. If Meyers wants Edelman’s share of the catches he’s only got Kendrick Bourne and Isaiah Zuber to beat out. You can wait until round 10 or later to get him.
Antonio Gandy Golden, The Washington Football Team: First off, it’s been a year Washington. Pick a name for the team or we’ll assign you one, and it won’t be good. But do you know who will be good? Antonio Gandy Golden, whose name is nearly as long as The Washington Football Team. Coming out of college his stats and metrics looked golden. I was looking to draft him whenever I could last year. Unfortunately, as often happens with promising rookies they’re not quite ready to play against grown ass men for 16 games and they get hurt. A healthy and hopefully more durable Gandy-Golden returns this year with high hopes for better quarterbacking than Washington’s 2020 Cavalcade of Crap. Remember last year when we were all pleasantly surprised by the success of rookie Antonio Gibson? Trust me, he can’t take the beating of full time RB work and he’ll be the Antonio on the bench while Gandy-Golden will see plenty of space underneath because Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel will drag coverage down field with their deep routes.
Next week we’ll look at some TE sleepers!