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Sophomore Wide Receivers: 2014 Fantasy Football Outlook Part 1


A few weeks back I took a look at sophomore quarterbacks (QBs) and how they might fare in 2014. This this around we'll look at sophomore wide receivers, players who were rookies in 2013, and check out their fantasy football potential and outlooks for 2014. These wide receivers may range from fantasy football stars to sleepers or busts, but all should be considered and accounted for as part of your 2014 draft strategy.

 

Five Sophomore Wide Receivers

Jeffrey Beall - Own workKeenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers: Keenan Allen was, without a doubt, the leading rookie wide receiver in 2013. He finished the season with 71 receptions and 8 touchdowns, and his 1,046 yards were good enough for 22nd in the league amongst wide receivers. His chemistry during his first season with Philip Rivers was that of a seasoned veteran.

As he enters 2014, he’ll be the leading receiver for the Chargers and should be able to showcase his size and athletic talent in an even more impressive way with a full NFL season of experience under his belt. Few rookie WRs have played as well as Allen did in his first year, which bodes very well for what is to come. One concern for Allen is that he’ll no longer be a surprise to opposing teams. I expect him to see a lot more coverage this season, which means he’ll have to work harder to post the same numbers he saw last season. Still, Allen should go very early in fantasy drafts this year and post solid numbers that could push him into top ten fantasy wide receivers in 2014.

 

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings – Despite somewhat limited involvement last season, resulting in just 45 receptions, 469 yards, and 4 touchdowns, Patterson is poised for a big year in 2014. Last year, the Vikings didn’t utilize Patterson much in their overall offense initially, showcasing his speed on kickoff returns but otherwise including him in the offense only sporadically. Once the Vikings began incorporating him more as the season went on, his athletic talent was undeniable. His speed is his greatest asset and I see 2014 as a season of huge upside for the sophomore receiver. The arrival of Norv Turner as Offensive Coordinator will only help get Patterson more involved. He should see more targets and find more consistency from week to week. He has potential as someone who can be drafted in the middle rounds but still turn into a solid WR2.

 

rotoballer-fantasy-football-advice-tavon-austinTavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin made things hard on his fantasy owners in 2014 as he was difficult to predict and even harder to watch at times. He finished the year with just 40 receptions, 418 yards, and 4 touchdowns despite being one of the most highly touted rookie receivers at the start of the season.

As is the case so often with rookie wide receivers, the Ram's struggled with how to use Austin and take advantage of his talents. He did snag an 81-yard touchdown, showing off his big-play abilities, but it was hard to count on him as a reliable fantasy contributor. Consistency is key in fantasy and he just didn’t have it. When evaluating his overall performance in 2014, it should be noted that he spent several weeks injured and lost his starting quarterback early in the year.

It will be interesting to see how he performs if he can stay healthy with Sam Bradford back under center. If Bradford can find chemistry with Austin and utilize his speed and breakaway skills, he could have the kind of year that makes his rookie performance a distant memory. His potential is undeniable and he’s worth a late-round snag to find out if he can maximize his upside.

 

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans: Hunter certainly didn’t have a banner year as a rookie but he showed off enough talent to snag 4 touchdowns and 354 yards. Next season he should be able to improve those numbers, as he has the potential to become the top target for Jake Locker over Kendall Wright and aging veteran Nate Washington. He’s worth keeping an eye on at the end of your draft in a deep league.

 

Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: After a disappointing hand injury early in the year, we didn’t get to see much of what Markus Wheaton is capable of. Despite being unable to do much on the field, he used his time to learn the offense, making the season a productive one nonetheless. Now that his hand is healthy and Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery have departed, 2014 will be Wheaton's year to prove what he can do. With all the opposing defenses focused on Antonio Brown, Wheaton should be set up nicely to capitalize on his opportunity. Whether or not he will be able to shine is hard to guess, making him a wildcard, even in the late rounds.