You’ve probably read the “third-year WR breakout theory” popular with many in the fantasy football community.

Sure Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker were all examples of this last year, but what about the second year guys that broke out last year?

I’m talking about AJ Green, Julio Jones and Randall Cobb. Yes, it can be argued that Jones and Green broke out their rookie seasons, but they both still took huge steps forward last year.

I expect the following five players to take big steps forward this year, and they can all be had insanely late in your draft.

wide receivers fantasy football draft

Chris Givens

Givens had 5 catches of 50 yards or more in 5 consecutive games last year. While he is a burner with big play ability, according to his quarterback Sam Bradford, he is expected to be utilized more on the inside this year as well. This means a big uptick and targets and receptions for a guy that caught 42 passes for 698 yards and 3 TD’s last year. With first round pick Tavon Austin getting all the preseason hype, I’m waiting a couple rounds and taking the guy that has already proven to be a dynamic threat in the NFL. A top 25 finish at WR is not out of the question for Givens. Heck, even this fantasy football prediction software loves him.

Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery failed to live up to high expectations last year posting only 367 yards and 3 TD’s in 10 games. Don’t expect a similar stat line this year. Jeffery is a big physical target that will benefit greatly from lining up alongside stud WR Brandon Marshall. Teams are forced to throw double coverage at Marshall, so Jeffery will again see some very favorable one-on-one matchups with much smaller corners. Now you can argue he saw the same last year, but the transition from college WR to NFL WR is one of the toughest of any position in the NFL and a year of experience will be invaluable to him.

Josh Gordon

Yes we all know that Gordon will be suspended for the first two games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. To be honest though, I don’t see how this hurts his value. You are drafting him as your #4 receiver, and barring an injury to one of your starters in the preseason or weeks 1 and 2 you won’t be starting your #4 receiver anyway.

This guy is an elite talent that can be had at a bargain price due to his baggage. He had 805 yards and 5 TD’s on 96 targets last year. He is a big play threat that can get open deep on virtually every play. Though he is on a run focused team with a mediocre talent at quarterback in Brandon Weeden, Gordon is simply too talented to be drafted out of the top 100.

Rueben Randle

Randle is a big target at 6’4’’ with above average speed and has been getting praise from his QB Eli Manning all summer. Manning was quoted as saying “He just has a better understanding of everything going on. He has really stepped up. He has great talent.” Randle has seen significant time with the starters this offseason with oft injured teammate Hakeem Nicks missing time with a bad hamstring and Victor Cruz sitting out until he signed his 5 year contract. Odds are Nicks doesn’t stay healthy all year, and even if he does Randle could see enough targets to make him a useful WR 4 or WR 5. Fantasy managers who draft Nicks would be wise to take Randle as a high upside insurance policy.

Michael Floyd

The Cardinals quarterback situation was an absolute mess last year and Floyd still managed 562 yards and 2 TD’s. To put that in perspective, Larry Fitzgerald finished with only 798 yards and 4 TD’s. Well Carson Palmer is now in town, and though he is no Peyton Manning he is a tremendous upgrade over the laughable combination of John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer that started games for the Cards last year. Actually, compared to those guys Palmer may seem like Manning to Cards fans.

Floyd, like Jeffery, will also benefit from the single man coverage that comes from playing with an elite WR. Something like 900 yards and 8 TD’s is not out of the question for this talented youngster.

Each one of these wideouts currently has an ADP of over 115 (as of 8/12/13) in ESPN Standard Leagues, meaning they can be had around the 12th round or later in 10 team leagues. It would be wise to take a late round flier on one of these high upside WR’s in your draft.


Written by Jason Ruhl, an aspiring fantasy football writer and numbers geek. Be sure to follow him on twitter and let him know what other 2nd year WR’s you think will breakout this year….


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