2014 Fantasy Breakout No. 2 Wide Receivers
Elite wide receivers like Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas get plenty of attention from Fantasy owners and defensive coordinators alike. These top-level talents change the way the game is played by their mere presence on the field. But when opposing defenses are busy double-covering these threats, coverage loosens on the WRs across the field, allowing these second-fiddle receivers to put up some impressive numbers. Number two WRs who play alongside stars often end up being some of the best value picks in Fantasy drafts. Here are some players poised to fill that type of role in the 2014 season.
Traditionally, rookie WRs struggle in their first NFL season, as they adapt to stingier coverage and more complicated offensive schemes. Evans will look to break that rule in his first year at Tampa Bay. Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson has developed into one of the top WRs in the NFL, and figures to attract most of the attention of opposing defensive coordinators. That could create an opportunity for 6-foot-5 rookie Evans to explode onto the scene. (Editor's note: We consider Bills WR Sammy Watkins to be the No. 1 receiver on the depth chart so he technically does not fit the premise of this article.)
Floyd, FFToolbox's 2014 Breakout Player, is trying to repeat on an excellent 2013. Last year Floyd very quietly caught 65 balls for 1,041 yards. The 6-foot-2 third year WR lines up opposite Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, and should draw No. 2 cornerbacks throughout the season. To find out more about Floyd, check out this piece where we highlight his huge upside. He is already on the brink of something special.
It's a stretch to call Dolphins WR Mike Wallace an elite threat, but his speed forces defensive backs to play deeper than usual. That will open up space underneath for Hartline. Coming off a 1,000-yard season, Hartline is still not being embraced by Fantasy owners as evidenced by his ADP of 67th WR. At that spot, Hartline is a great value pick as a WR3 with upside.
It looks like the Texans have finally landed a solid complement to stud Texans WR Andre Johnson. In a very solid rookie year, Hopkins posted 52 receptions for 802 yards. He'll get to face the porous defenses of the AFC South again in six games this year, with Johnson taking the top-level coverage. Hopkins is a value at his current ADP (84.30), and he is the 36th WR taken in drafts.
Jones was the 22nd WR in Fantasy points in 2013. This season, he's being drafted as the 51st. As Jones heads into his third season, he holds tremendous value in drafts. Although pass-happy offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has left Cincinnati to coach the Redskins, Jones is still the second wideout in a passing attack that includes Bengals WR A.J. Green, who sees the bulk of attention from opposing defenses. Jones should continue to benefit from favorable coverage, and could end the year as a solid WR2 for Fantasy owners.