12 Wide Receivers Primed to Break Out in 2020
Every summer, a number of wide receivers capture the hearts and minds of the fantasy community. Authors pen wishful puff pieces hyping these wideouts as the next great fantasy receiver. What follows is my entry into this annual tradition.
Identifying “breakouts” is an inexact science. If you need proof, simply revisit some articles from the past. Analysts may have identified the right team with breakout potential, but highlighted the wrong candidate. Just last year in this same space I theorized that Dante Pettis could be the missing piece of the 49ers offense ready to take the league by storm. As we all know now, that honor went to Deebo Samuel. Speaking of last season, a quick look back at the breakout stars of 2019 can help inform our targets in 2020.
A Look Back at 2019
The breakout king of 2019 was Chris Godwin, who’s ADP climbed from the mid-rounds to a high-end WR2 by summer’s end. Nevertheless, after a strong finish to 2018 (three 100-yard games in his final eight) he scorched opponents all year in 2019, finishing as the WR2 in PPR scoring. Aside from Godwin, other notable breakouts included DeVante Parker, D.J. Moore, D.J. Chark, Michael Gallup, Courtland Sutton, and rookies A.J. Brown and Terry McLaurin. Examining the seasons and breakout paths for these receivers reveals a few common traits to look for:
- Strong finish to end the year before. Players like Godwin, Moore, Parker, and Sutton showed potential the year before and built upon that coming into last season.
- Lack of an established No. 1 target. Part of what allowed Brown and McLaurin to break out in Year 1 was the absence of a bonafide No. 1 wideout on their teams. The Titans had invested a No. 5 overall pick in Corey Davis, but he hadn’t delivered on that draft capital. Meanwhile, McLaurin joined a team completely devoid of dynamic receiving options and quickly rose to the top of the target pecking order.
- Vacated or up-for-grabs targets. This should go without saying, but if a player is on a team with a sudden amount of open opportunities their path to a breakout season is much easier.
With these ideas in mind, let’s take a look at some breakout candidates for the upcoming season.
2020 Wide Receiver Breakout Candidates
Terry McLaurin, Washington
Yes, I mentioned McLaurin above, but no wide receiver breakout article is complete this year without highlighting F1. McLaurin is currently being drafted as the WR25 according to 4for4’s ADP rankings, but his outlook could be as a WR1 if the cards fall in his favor. Last season, McLaurin notched 58 catches, 919 yards, and seven touchdowns on just 93 targets. No team ran fewer plays last year than Washington, who were the only team in the league to not run at least 900 plays (885). That should change in 2020, with Ron Rivera at head coach and Scott Turner as offensive coordinator. Last season in Carolina, that duo orchestrated an offense that ran the fifth-most plays in the league (1077). Some of that is certainly game-script dependent, but the run-heavy, clock-killing approach from Washington in 2019 is dead.
Also working in McLaurin’s favor is a dearth of other pass-catching options. Washington is extremely thin at wide receiver, especially after Kelvin Harmon tore his ACL. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for McLaurin to come close to doubling his target total next season, but at the very least he should see a significant increase. McLaurin’s combination of individual skill, opportunity, and an improved offensive approach make him 2020’s top breakout target.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Ravens
Continue reading for other potential breakouts + a couple rookie breakouts!
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