“Breakout” is a loosely employed term in fantasy that most often applies to players a prognosticator ranks well above the consensus average. In other words, what unheralded rookie or veteran is going to obliterate the widely perceived norm and profit massively for investors? This week’s series will addresses question. Today’s topic: WRs and TEs.
Andy – TREY BURTON (98.0 ADP, TE10). Chicago’s new head coach, Matt Nagy, has made it perfectly clear that Burton will play the hybrid WR/TE role that helped turn Travis Kelce into a star for KC. (Kelce’s uncommon talent and athleticism helped, too. No disrespect intended.) Burton won’t lack volume in the Bears’ redesigned offense and he’ll find himself in plenty of favorable coverage situations. Belief in him requires a certain level of belief in second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, of course. Preseason should tell us more about this team’s offense than most others, because so much is new for Chicago.
Brad – MIKE WILLIAMS (151.7 ADP, WR50). If you’re looking to capture lightning in a bottle after pick No. 100 overall, Williams is the bolt to bag. Sapped by a back injury last year, the then rookie wideout was a non-factor for much of the season. In total, he tallied 35.6 percent of the snap share, lured 23 targets and caught 11 passes for 92 yards. Essentially, what he achieved in nine games is a typical random Sunday afternoon for Keenan Allen. For the first-round pick who flashed much promise with Deshaun Watson at Clemson, it was a forgettable rookie campaign.
Now healthy and showing signs of tapping into his gigantic potential, Williams has the appearance of a viable WR3 in fantasy. He’s a high-pointing, field-stretching weapon who should thrive with defenses focused on containing Allen. With the Chargers down Hunter Henry (14.6 target%; 19.7 red-zone TGT% in ’17), head coach Anthony Lynn has molded Williams into a premier scoring threat. His in-air adjustment skills, size and leaping abilities have greatly impressed this summer.
Allen will hog targets, but 100-plus looks are attainable for the sophomore. If he takes advantage against favorable coverage and excels in his presumed red-zone role a 55-950-7 effort is in the cards.
Dalton – MARQUISE GOODWIN (85.81 ADP, WR38). The former track star showed major strides developing as a complete receiver last season, especially after Jimmy Garoppolo took over, when he ranked as the PPR WR8 over the final five games (despite being somewhat unlucky in scoring, as Goodwin failed to secure any of his 10 end zone targets last season, h/t Mike Clay). Over the full year, Goodwin also ranked 10th in Air Yards and 16th in yards per route run, and he had some of the league’s worst quarterbacking for two thirds of the season.
An expected camp battle for San Francisco’s No. 1 WR job has been anything but according to the team’s beat writers, as Goodwin has soundly beaten Pierre Garcon for the job. Garoppolo has struggled with the deep ball at times, but he and Goodwin have routinely stayed after practice to work on it. The last time a Kyle Shanahan system was in year two it produced an MVP-season from Matt Ryan (and a trip to the Super Bowl), and the 49ers have quietly put together an underrated offensive line. As the No. 1 option for budding star Jimmy G, Goodwin’s ADP should be much higher than it is.
Liz – CHRIS GODWIN. (ADP 166.8, WR73). Godwin is the TRUTH. I’ve been jawing about this kid’s talent since last April when I listed him as my No. 5 ranked receiver heading into the 2017 NFL draft. A technician whose football smarts are as sharp as his routes are smooth, the Penn State product can climb ALL the ladders and catch ALL the balls. Converting 8 of 16 looks for 166 yards and a score in his two starts as a Buccaneer, Godwin flashed almighty potential. But don’t take my word for it…
Both GM Jason Licht and OC Todd Monken have praised the second-year player, promising to get him more involved this season. Younger and more versatile than DeSean Jackson, Godwin is expected to start opposite Mike Evans. He’s reportedly been putting on a clinic in training camp, gifting the media and fans with a bevy of highlight-worthy plays. While volume may initially be an issue, I believe talent will eventually win out. Plus, there’s no way DJax stays healthy (or chill) through November. Godwin is the future, and the future is (almost) here.
Matt – TYLER LOCKETT (146.2 ADP, WR56). We shall not relent. We go down with this ship. Tyler Lockett was a premature hype candidate by some analysts, none more than me prior to the 2016 offseason. However, we’ve finally arrived at the year for it all to come together. You’ve heard the sell before, but this time it’s not all based on talent and ability. All the other factors needed for production are in line for Lockett in 2018. This is the year.
Several layers of injuries and a lack of volume derailed the gifted former third-rounder from reaching his potential the last two seasons. Those ghosts should be gone in 2018. Lockett admitted to playing at 75 to 80 percent last season after a late-season broken leg the year prior. The incomparable Josh Hermsmeyer confirmed this using the NFL Next Gen Stats tracking data to show that Lockett was one of the slowest wide receivers in the league. Despite this, Lockett still ranked as the sixth-best wide receiver last year at defeating man coverage in my Reception Perception charting (72.7 percent), demonstrating he still maintains his strong route-running prowess.
The Seahawks saw almost 200 targets walk out the door when Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson departed in free agency. In a receiver room bereft of proven talent, Lockett is the odds-on favorite to finish behind Doug Baldwin in the target pecking order. It’s not aggressive in the least to project him for a 20 percent target share in a Russell Wilson offense. While the Seahawks might want this to be a run-heavy attack, defensive departures will force a unit that already ran 63.4 percent of their 2017 plays while trailing (fifth-most) to the air once again.
A gifted wideout that many are more than ready to give up on, who finally has the opportunity on his plate to match his ability, Tyler Lockett should outkick his ADP with ease. No matter your prior feelings, these are the players you want to buy.