Is James Washington About to Break Out?

Is James Washington About to Break Out?

This is the time of year where I start drafting in earnest and am starting to notice that I’m regularly ending up with specific players at certain points in the draft. I wrote about Kenyan Drake earlier this month, and another player that I’m getting in just about every draft is Pittsburgh receiver James Washington.

According to Best Ball 10s ADP, he’s going off the board as the No. 43 receiver with the 102nd pick (ninth round). At DRAFT, he’s the No. 49 receiver off the board with the 115th pick (10th round). I currently have him ranked No. 31 in full PPR formats, so I think he’ll return sixth or seventh round value.

Washington's Past

The former second-rounder was highly productive in college, racking up 145 catches for 2,929 yards and 23 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Oklahoma State. He won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2017. The Steelers made him the seventh receiver off the board in the 2018 draft.

He was a favorite of #ReceptionPerception creator Matt Harmon as he evaluated last year’s draft class. Harmon writes: “What makes Washington stand out among this crop of prospects is his ability to offer two skills that are rare and valuable: winning deep and in contested spaces.”

After a strong preseason—catching seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns—Washington had a quiet rookie year, catching just 16 balls for 217 yards and a touchdown on 30 targets, but there wasn’t much room for Washington in the offense with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster gobbling up 166+ targets apiece. Even though he was playing fifth fiddle in the passing game, Washington still played 55% of the snaps and had two of his best games late in the season, posting 3-65 on four targets against the Patriots in Week 15 and 3-64 on three targets in Week 17 with Brown sidelined.

Washington said that he hit a wall in his rookie season but has taken steps to avoid that in 2019. He has lost 15 pounds in order to improve his speed and is in much better shape heading into his sophomore campaign.

Expectations for 2019 

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