5 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers Primed to Break Out in 2023

Aug 08, 2023
5 Wide Receivers Primed to Break Out in 2023

We're not playing with last year's stats. Unfortunately, a common leak for the average fantasy 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. I've been relatively successful at highlighting wide receiver production, topping all industry rankers in wide receiver forecasting over the past three seasons. The most productive way to forecast results 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 TJ Hernandez did a tremendous job looking at the most predictable statistics year-over-year for wide receivers. TJ's work indicates—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 their 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-grab 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.

More Breakouts: TEs | RBs | QBs

2023 Wide Receiver Breakout Candidates

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