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5 Breakout Wide Receivers You Need to Draft


NFL Wide Receivers To Target in 2014

Let’s take a look at the some 2014 fantasy football wide receiver sleepers that have the potential to become fantasy stars this season. Since these potential breakout players have the potential to return significant value considering their current ADPs, they can all be considered sleepers for your fantasy football draft, even if some of them are more well known than others. We touch on a couple rookies and some other big breakout candidates for 2014 fantasy football, so make sure these players are part of your draft strategy.

Michael Floyd, ARI

Broderick Delaney - is my 3rd time writing about Michael Floyd this offseason.  If you haven’t checked out my previous articles, check out my two pieces on Floyd.  Floyd is a physical specimen not unlike Josh GordonDemaryius ThomasJulio Jones and Andre Johnson, as he possesses the size, speed and strength necessary to be a factor anywhere on the football field. It has been reported that Floyd had a fantastic offseason, as expected for someone with his talent level.

Floyd made himself relevant last year in a Cardinals offense that was rather effective, and we can expect more of that this year.  Bruce Arians has a very vertical offensive philosophy, which plays right into Floyd’s strengths.  If he is able to increase his touchdown total (which he almost certainly will given how many times he was tackled within the 5 yard line last year), he is poised for huge coming out party this year.

I expect Larry Fitzgerald to stay underneath for most plays while Floyd is used in every way possible, most of it being vertical, as his ability to win the ball at the high point is pretty outstanding.I love the value he offers currently, being drafted 63rd (WR23) as the low WR2 / high WR3, as I expect him to put up top 20 numbers while top 12 is not out of the question.


Justin Hunter, TEN

The Titans have been going out of their way the past 2 years to light a fire under Hunter.  He possesses plenty of physical tools, and at 6’4, is a matchup nightmare against any corner.  Had it not been for character concerns, he would have probably been a first rounder.  However, he failed to make a true impact last year, falling below Nate Washington and Kendall Wright in targets for most of the season.

Even though he is still not listed as a starter this year, it’s commonly thought that he will replace Washington as the year progresses.  On just 18 catches last year, he amassed 4 touchdowns and over 350 yards receiving. He did receive 42 targets, so the low amount of catches is a bit concerning, but he did have Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to him on most occasions.

While Jake Locker isn’t Aaron Rodgers, he is a big upgrade.  On the few opportunities he did have to make an impact, Hunter succeeded, hauling in 100 yards in two games while making a big impact in a 3rd.  Ken Whisenhunt’s offense should be more vertical than what Tennessee has had in the past, akin to what we saw in Arizona during the Kurt Warner era, giving Hunter plenty of opportunities.  It’s a question of when, not if he will be starting.  His current ADP of 160 (WR55) lets you buy him as a WR5, but he could give you low end WR2 value by years end.


Kelvin Benjamin, CAR

I’m almost listing Benjamin here by default.  Before Benjamin was drafted, he was being touted by experts and fans alike as a player with high bust potential due to him having weak hands, below average speed, and a limited route tree.  When Benjamin landed in Carolina, I immediately pegged him as a guy to target.

There is no one else for Cam Newton to throw to, as Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery are well past their primes and are both possession receivers.  Outside of Greg Olsen, Benjamin is the only player who can actually get down field for the Panthers.  Newton’s numbers have declined year after year, but with an expected downgrade in the defense, and with the questionable health of Jonathan Stewart, I expect the Panthers to focus slightly more on the pass this year.  Kelvin Benjamin should be the main beneficiary of that.

The reports out of camp have been absolutely glowing as of late, as Benjamin has actually proved doubters wrong. His hands have been well above average, while his blocking ability and vertical routes have been as expected.  He should be on the field for a majority of Carolina’s snaps, and could see upwards of 130 targets.  Carolina is very run heavy in the redzone (very, very run heavy) but I expect Benjamin to get his fair share of red zone looks due to his sheer dominant size. I would hate to draft Benjamin as a starter, because he is a rookie, but his current ADP of 145 (WR49) lets you draft him as a WR4, one who is very likely to post numbers equivalent to Keenan Allen last year and far exceed his draft day price.


Brandin Cooks, NO

Sigh, another rookie.  I’m not a fan of drafting rookies, as I described in 5 Guidelines to Follow on Draft Day, but Cooks has been the talk of the town ever since the college football season ended.  Cooks is extremely fast, lightning quick, and built like a bigger Tavon Austin. He went to the best possible team he could have went to in the New Orleans Saints, who just lost Darren Sproles and rely on the overrated Pierre Thomas to catch their underneath passes. The Saints have consistently been at the top of the NFL in passing, and for good reason, as Drew Brees is their quarterback.

If Cooks is able to carve out a role and play over 50% of the snaps in New Orleans, he is a surefire fantasy starter this year.  On the depth chart, he is currently listed behind Marques Colston and Kenny Stills, while Jimmy Graham (and Pierre Thomas for now) are ahead of him in targets as well.  They lost Darren Sproles and Lance Moore, who combined for almost 150 targets last year.  If Cooks sees about 90 targets, the low end of what I expect, then he should thrive, both in the screen game and in one on one coverage.. Kenny Stills received 51 targets as a rookie, and Cooks has a much more developed game than Stills did.  I’m buying Cooks as a starter for fantasy, and in PPR, he has upside to be a monster this year. His current ADP of 110 (WR37) lets you reach a little for him and still draft a starting WR at a WR4 price.


TY Hilton, IND

Many fantasy experts pegged Hilton as one of their top targets for a breakout 2013 season.  While he did put up nice statistics, he had far from a coming out party, finishing with just over 1000 yards and 5 touchdowns.  When the Colts lost Reggie Wayne, Hilton failed to step up on multiple occasions.  This year, we can expect more from Hilton.

Pep Hamilton, the Colts offensive coordinator, was notoriously run heavy last year despite their generational talent in Andrew Luck playing quarterback.  Rightfully so, Hamilton faced a ton of criticism for relying on the struggling Trent Richardson, who possessed no speed or vision, who Hamilton kept giving the ball to week after week.  Pep Hamilton has stated on multiple occasions that he will throw more, and while you can’t always believe what coaches say, I expect this to be true because of, well, Andrew Luck.  Luck threw for 3800 yards last year, and that number can hit 4400 easily.

Hilton was targeted 138 times last year, good for 17th in the NFL.  I think that number should stay roughly the same even with the increase in volume due to Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen being back and the addition of Hakeem Nicks (who has been disappointing so far in camp and preseason).  Hilton has drawn rave reviews from reporters, and is expected to see an every down role with the Colts even with Wayne returning.  He has been working on extending his route tree so he can be used in every spot on the field, which should open up more opportunities for him and increase his catch rate.  He is being drafted as a WR3 (67 overall, WR25), and he is a rather safe one at that, but he has a much higher breakout potential than those being drafted around him, such as Torrey Smith, and Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace.


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Other Potential Breakouts to Watch

rotoballer-fantasy-football-cordarrelle-pattersonCordarrelle Patterson - Talent-wise, Patterson deserves to be at the top of this list, but the Vikings offense just isn’t ideal for him.  He looked phenomenal in that first preseason game, and it looks like the Vikings will be using him all over the field.

I just don’t expect his targets to be up there with the elite just yet. Greg Jennings had only 106 targets last year, and Patterson may barely eclipse that.

Spending a 4th round pick on him will make it difficult to return positive value.  While he should still post good numbers, I’m not expecting a monster breakout that will justify his current draft price.


Marvin Jones - I wanted to list Marvin Jones here even though he broke his foot. When he gets healthy, he’s an intriguing waiver wire pickup.  He was a great college prospect that fell due to character concerns.

He’s showed great vertical ability and found the endzone 10 times this past year.  If he’s at full speed, he could give you some decent value.  Hue Jackson is a notorious run heavy coach however, so the targets just may not be there to support a true break out.


Jordan Matthews - Chip Kelly didn’t give his rookies that much playing opportunity last year, but if Matthews can make an impact early on, he should see consistent playing time, as he’s way more talented than Riley Cooper.  I don’t expect a breakout, but he has a ton of talent and is in a great situation long term. He'll be a late round flier or waiver wire pickup that you should keep your eye on.


Reuben Randle - Many people are drafting Reuben Randle at somewhat of a premium because he’s the most likely person to find the endzone in New York, and he’s also likely to get over some of his sophomore woes this past season.

If Eli improves on his play, Randle should get plenty of opportunities to be successful, as he’s starting on the outside even with the addition of Beckham.  I’m just having a hard time trusting him because he looked so lost so many times last year. If he gets it together though, he’s a matchup nightmare with his size.  At his current ADP of 130 (WR43), he provides some potentially great value as a backup WR for your team.


Aaron Dobson - Hooray, Dobson is actually practicing!  Dobson should have no issue overtaking Kenbrell Thompkins and become 5th in line for targets behind Rob GronkowskiDanny AmendolaShane Vereen, and Julian Edelman.

While Amendola has apparently looked great, he’s one of the biggest injury risk’s in the NFL, and Vereen and Gronk aren’t exactly Iron Horses either. Dobson can stretch the field pretty well, and Tom Brady isn’t afraid to throw to him. He is a valuable asset to own on the bench, and should put up some decent games.  If one, two or even three of the players ahead of him goes down, he could solidify himself as one of Brady’s top targets.


Kenny Britt - I think the days of thinking Kenny Britt could become a star are long gone.  His ACL tear sapped a good amount of his speed.  However, reports are coming out of St. Louis that he has looked quick and is quickly becoming the favorite target of Sam Bradford.

While the St. Louis receiving corps is somewhat crowded, with Jared Cook, Tavon Austin, and Brian Quick, I wouldn’t call any of those players proven by any means.  Kenny Britt should see ample opportunities, and if he plays well in the preseason would make a great buy low or waiver wire target as a player who could receive over 100 targets.