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2018 Biggest Breakouts - Wide Receivers


Due to the scoring output that we saw from the quarterbacks during the 2018 season, we also saw an uptick in value from the receivers as well. In fact, we had five receivers top 320 fantasy points last season, marking the first time since 2015 that ANY receiver has hit that mark.

What we saw atop the leaderboard was your usual suspects (DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Antonio Brown). But as is the case in fantasy football, we had our fair share of up-and-comers that put together breakout seasons. These unheralded players are the sleepers that help shape championship contenders for the owners that put in that extra bit of homework.

In this article, we take a look at a few of those players that perhaps went overlooked during drafts. These receivers far outplayed their ADP, finishing as startable players in 12-team leagues in 2018. When you're done, check out our quarterback breakouts from 2018.

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Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Preseason ADP: WR120

Coming into 2018, many fantasy owners were wondering if the Bengals would finally fill the void opposite A.J. Green. That question was answered by a player that had been sitting on their roster all along with the season put together by Tyler Boyd. Boyd was a virtual unknown during drafts but finished as WR16 in PPR formats.

Most owners plucked him off of the waiver wire after his Week 2 performance of six catches for 91 yards and a score. He followed that game up with another five over 20 FP on the season, making Boyd a popular player on playoff rosters.

Boyd's 76 catches for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns were also very impressive for a guy that missed the final two games of the year. Although most of his metrics were among the league average, one that jumps out to me is his yards after contact. His 5.55 YAC per reception was one of the highest at the position and shows Boyd to be a receiver that can be very dangerous in the open field.

The real question will be whether this was a flash in the pan or a sign of things to come in 2019. With A.J. Green also returning from injury and a new offense being installed as well, there could be growing pains for Boyd. Keep an eye on his ADP through the summer as he could be drafted as a high-end WR3, which is too rich for my blood.

 

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

Preseason ADP: WR55

Lockett is a player that many have been expecting to break out for a couple of years. Those expectations came to fruition in 2018 with a WR17 finish on the year and his first double-digit scoring season. He also recorded highs in receptions (57) as well as yardage (965). This was a major leap forward for the oft-injured speedster with a combined nine scores in his career.

From a fantasy standpoint, Lockett was a touchdown-dependent player that would help you win a week in those that he scored. But, in the weeks that he did not convert, he was likely the dud that could take you to a loss. Overall, the consistency was good enough each week to warrant the finish as a WR2.

Looking ahead to 2019, can Lockett hold steady with his production in a run-based offense? We all know that the Seahawks like to rely heavily on the run game, which limits Lockett's opportunities each week. The question will be can he capitalize on those chances next season AND stay healthy? As a league leader in yards per reception (16.93), odds are that he will hit enough big plays to be a weekly staple in fantasy lineups. But for me, I would like to see another solid year from Lockett before I really buy in.

 

Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Preseason ADP: WR49

Rookie receiver breakouts rarely happen in today's game but that is what we saw with Calvin Ridley in 2018. Ridley finished as WR20 with 64 receptions for 821 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for the pass-happy Atlanta Falcons.

Consistency was an issue for Ridley as his scores came in bunches and he recorded more games with single-digit scoring than those in the double digits. He was also among the league leaders in drops (8), something that should be rectified entering his second season. His advanced metrics were all among the league average while his YAC per reception (5.73) displayed his elusiveness that can go overlooked.

As he enters the 2019 season, I see Ridley as a player whose draft stock may see an incredibly high increase. He'll likely go as high as mid-range WR2 in drafts. As long as the Falcons stay heavily dependent on the passing game, the scoring opportunities should be there to warrant the ADP. If you draft a strong WR1, Ridley will not be a bad option to plug in as your weekly WR2.

 

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Bucs

Preseason ADP: WR61

Chris Godwin's expected breakout came just a season later than many thought. Some believed that he would have seen a bigger role just a year ago, but 2018 saw Godwin finish WR26 on the season. His 59 catches for 842 yards and seven scores look good on paper but can be deceiving. Much like Ridley's production, Godwin's scoring came in bunches and made him a hard player to pinpoint while submitting a weekly lineup.

His average depth of target (12.77) and YPC (14.27) were above average for his position, but his YAC per reception (4.19) was somewhat low for a player you'd consider to be hard to take down. All this in a Bucs offense where he was anywhere from the third to fifth option in the passing game each week.

Heading into 2019, Godwin's potential relies solely on free agency. New head coach Bruce Arians is actively trying to talk DeSean Jackson into a return to Tampa Bay, while Adam Humphries could be on the way out himself. If both leave, Godwin instantly flies up the draft board. But if one or both return, he will be looking at fighting for targets once again. Making him a hard player to rely on, especially in PPR formats.

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