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Three Sophomore Wide Receivers Who Will Surprise in 2016

Back in the medieval days of fantasy football (early 2000s), it was largely assumed that the third year of an NFL wide receiver's career was destined to be his breakout season. In fact, many magazines and websites ran articles on which receivers to tab simply due to to the number next to their Years of Experience column. Nowadays, players come out ready to contribute earlier than ever. Odell Beckham Jr. and Allen Robinson are the most recent examples to prove that you don't need to wait three years for production.

In this space, I want to highlight three sophomore receivers that are flying under the radar, but may be ready to take the leap into fantasy relevance in 2016. I've already given my take on why Kevin White may totally be worth the risk, as well as why I'm not buying Devin Funchess or Stefon Diggs as breakout candidates. While those three receivers are getting a lot of buzz, here are some names that will be available toward the tail end of drafts or may even be available on the waiver wire of your league if you've already drafted.

Editor's Note: Purchase a full season NFL Premium Pass (including Draft Kit + DFS Premium), and also get MLB Premium + DFS for free through October. Premium DFS lineup picks, expert lineups, tools and more - seven days a week. You can see screenshots of our NFL Premium and MLB Premium and DFS tools. What are you waiting for?

 

Three Sophomore Receivers to Target Late

Chris Conley (WR, KC)  ADP: N/A

The Chiefs traded to acquire Conley as a third-round pick last year even though his college stats didn't exactly scream future star. At Georgia, Conley managed just 36 catches for 657 yards and eight TD in his senior year, marking his most prolific season. As an NFL rookie, he caught 17 balls for 199 yards, scoring once. What suggests this modestly productive WR will become relevant in a rather conservative West-Coast offense? Opportunity.

Conley is slated to be the Chiefs' starting X receiver entering the season, which in itself isn't overly exciting, but will surely increase his usage. There is little threat to him, as the competition on the receiving corps consists of Albert Wilson, Frankie Hammond, Tyreek Hill, and Rod Streater. With his 10.9% target share due to jump dramatically already, he is just a Jeremy Maclin injury away from becoming a major component of the Chiefs' offense. The news of Maclin's groin injury in camp the other day, although not serious enough to keep him out of their second pre-season game, reminds us that Maclin has only played a full 16 games twice in six NFL seasons.

As a 6'2", 205 wideout who ran a 4.35 40 time, Conley has drawn comparisons to Martavis Bryant for his ideal blend of size and speed. Of course, Alex Smith is no Ben Roethlisberger and the #2 receiver in KC's scheme is not likely to put up starting-caliber numbers. Even so, Conley has the ability to make an impact this season and should be getting more credit in dynasty leagues. There is no urgency to draft Conley, as he is currently being left undrafted in a majority of leagues. Keep him on your watch list and wait until you find yourself in need of a replacement WR on waivers. Or wait until it's too late, watch him light it up during the regular season and then remember that I told you so.

 

Phillip Dorsett (WR, IND)  ADP: 156.2

The Colts drafted Phil Dorsett to challenge for a starting job. Donte Moncrief is the popular pick among pundits in the pre-season, but Dorsett has a good chance to outpace him in production. The former receiver and track star out of the University of Miami has blazing speed and was officially clocked at 4.33 in the 40, although he has been reported to run as low as a 4.2 in college. His first challenge is to stay healthy. He missed five games in his rookie season, just as he did in his junior year of college.

A fractured fibula and subsequent return from surgery stunted his progress. Throw in Andrew Luck's absence and his rookie year was destined to be a wash. In an all-around disappointing campaign for the Colts offense, Dorsett produced just 225 yards and one touchdown. There is no doubt he will see a huge increase in targets as long as he is on the field. Even if he stays behind Moncrief on the depth chart, he will still be a big part of the offense. The Colts frequently employ three-receiver sets and new Offensive Coordinator Rod Chudzinski likes to challenge secondaries down the field.

He is a big play threat that could produce some surprising production in his second year. He is an ideal MFL10 target due to some likely inconsistent fantasy performances that will range from zero fantasy points some weeks to double-digits in others. When you look to fill out your last receiver slot in re-draft leagues, Dorsett has one of the highest ceilings among all WR in his ADP range and is a worthy flyer.

 

Breshad Perriman (WR, BAL)  ADP: 158

I don't know if Breshad Perriman plays fantasy football (maybe he's kind of busy doing the real thing), but if so he should be feeling disrespected right about now. He and Kevin White are in the same boat - first round picks who missed their entire rookie years due to injury. Yet, White is being drafted on average in the eighth round of standard league drafts, while Perriman is available in the 14th/15th round and is going undrafted in many circles.

Of course, it's possible that his recent knee surgery has something to do with it. Perriman nearly made everyone in the Ravens' front office staff soil themselves when he went down with a knee sprain during OTAs. Fortunately, it does not appear overly serious and coach John Harbaugh has even declared Perriman could be ready when the regular season starts. Missing training camp will certainly slow his progress, but by mid-season he could become a force.

Perriman jumped up to first round status when he ran a 4.30 40 and logged a 125.7 height-adjust speed score, according to PlayerProfiler.com. He was highly productive at UCF and has a pretty good lineage as his father is former NFL receiver Brett Perriman. The final factor in Perriman's favor is the Ravens' thin receiving corps. As tough as he is, Steve Smith is 37 and returning from injury himself. Kamar Aiken led the way in 2015 with 74 catches for 944 yards, but that was out of necessity. Perriman could be the one to make a huge leap in production and is worth a bench stash if nothing else.

 

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