8 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers Primed to Break Out in 2022
We're not playing with last year's stats. Unfortunately, a common leak for the average fantasy football gamer is they often lean too heavily on what happened last season. The football season is short, so we're constantly forced to deal with small sample sizes when it comes to parsing through actionable data versus noise in a 17-game season.
At 4for4, we're in the business of forecasting results, and for this article specifically, wide receivers. The most productive way to do that is to look at performance on a granular level- think per play, snap, or target. When your league-mates reference year-end stats to summarize what someone did last season, they're missing the forest through the trees.
Our own T.J. Hernandez did a tremendous job looking at the most predictable statistics year-over-year for wide receivers. T.J.'s work indicates that -surprise- targets are the most predictable year-to-year stats for wide receivers. Receptions, yards, and fantasy points are simply the results of those targets. Also, air yards and target depth have proven to be among the most stable year-to-year metrics and can help predict yardage output for wide receivers. A tremendous amount of advanced metrics continue to flood in every year that can help us get even more granular here, and I'm hoping to do so in this piece.
We can debate the definition of a breakout until we're blue in the face, but that's not really fun. So for the purposes of this article, I'm looking at younger players who'll exceed expectations based on current ADP. In your opinion, some of these players may have already had a breakout season, and that's fair. However, I'm telling you that I believe they'll be even better.
In past seasons, Alex Gelhar has taken a stab at forecasting breakout wide receivers for us. I echo his sentiments on the common situations and traits that go into forecasting breakouts at the wide receiver position.
Frequent Breakout Indicators
- A strong finish to end the year prior. Players who end the year on a high statistical note will often carry that success into the upcoming season.
- Lack of an established No. 1 target. No true alpha on a team opens the door for a breakout star to step in and claim the throne.
- Vacated or up-for-grabs targets. If a player is on a team with a sudden amount of open opportunities following the departure of a big-name player, their path to a breakout season is much easier.
- Strong draft/athletic pedigree. The NFL Draft is also far from an exact science, but the draft capital a team spends on a player, along with that player's athletic profile, can sometimes indicate future success.
2022 Wide Receiver Breakout Candidates
Kadarius Toney, New York Giants
If you listened to our NFC East preview on Move The Line, you'd know I'm pretty bullish on this Giants' offense. Yes, there are a lot of question marks, but new Head Coach Brian Daboll has shown the ability to maximize the talent on his roster and scheme gameplans around that talent. Unfortunately, we didn't get a lot of Kadarius Toney reps in 2021, but what we saw was electric, and I expect Daboll and company will let him lose in 2022.
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