Second Year Studs and Duds- WRs
The 2013 class of wideouts is much more of a mixed bag as we head into the 2014 season. Some were very disappointing in their rookie seasons, some were solid contributors and some are poised to breakout in year two. Knowing how these players will perform this upcoming season could mean the difference in victory or defeat.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis
The most talked about rookie wide receiver was a big disappointment in his first season with the Rams. Tavon Austin was drafted with the eighth overall selection in the 2013 draft which meant St. Louis would surely get him the ball early and often. Right?
Austin caught 40 balls on just 69 targets and those actually decreased as the season wore on. While at West Virginia he was also used extensively in the backfield but only netted nine carries all season for the Rams.
Austin stated recently that the NFL was a “pretty big adjustment for me.” There were also multiple reports that he was having trouble with the playbook.
At West Virginia Austin played in a revamped Air Raid system created by Head Coach Dana Holgerson with roots from the Mike Leach coaching tree. This type of offense stresses repetition and in play adjustments. It’s very different from most NFL playbooks and explains why Austin would have a tough transition to the pro game.
But the coaching staff has to take some of the blame here. I’m not sure if they put too much on Austin too early or they weren’t creative enough with the diminutive chess piece. Either way, will it get better in 2014?
Yes and no. While I do think Austin will take a major step forward this season from an NFL perspective I don’t think he’ll end up on my fantasy rosters. He could very well have some monster games. But even in a best-case scenario I don’t think he’ll be consistent enough to be worth the hassle. Especially if you draft him too early, he’s poised to be a second year dud.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
Hopkins was one of my favorite wide receivers in the 2013 draft class. He was slightly overshadowed by top five pick Sammy Watkins during his time at Clemson but he’s a very solid player in every aspect.
He knows how to get open, has outstanding body control and is a hands catcher. In 2013 he turned in a decent season especially when you consider the dumpster fire that was the quarterback position in Houston.
The good news is that I think “Nuk” can be even better in 2014. The bad is that the quarterback situation isn’t any better.
Andre Johnson is currently unhappy with his contract and I do think Hopkins projects as the eventual number one wideout for the Texans. I’d be excited about owning Hopkins in a dynasty league but in 2014 I don’t really think he’ll be a stud or a dud.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota
Patterson showed his dynamic playmaking ability last season in Minnesota. He’s one of the few players in the league that can make NFL defenders seem slow.
His open field running is effortless and fluid. And he’s a walking highlight film. But will that translate to fantasy football success in 2014?
Patterson is probably the biggest risk, reward player in this group. Many feel like he’s poised to have a monster season while others aren’t sure if he can be a prototypical wide receiver in the league.
While I don’t think you’ll see him play like a traditional wideout, I do think there’s potential for a big season. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner said the first thing he did after taking the job was design plays to get Patterson the football.
Patterson will be a stud or dud in 2014 depending on where you draft him. Take him early and he may disappoint you. But if you’re able to wait a bit you could land a big purple second year stud.
Keenan Allen, San Diego
When I watched film on Allen prior to the 2013 draft I thought he was one of the top wide receiver prospects in the class. He was plagued by poor quarterback play in college and had a knee issue that hurt his draft stock.
If you had to redraft this class however, he may go number one. With the Chargers he has a revitalized Phillip Rivers and is in a scheme that takes advantage of his skillset.
I wouldn’t have any hesitation drafting Allen in redrafts for 2014. He’s poised to be a second year stud and you can probably grab him at a value especially in casual leagues.
Robert Woods, Buffalo
Woods was a very polished receiver coming out of USC. He didn’t wow scouts with blazing numbers or big time measurables but he does know how to play receiver and wasn’t terrible in 2013 despite playing in the anemic passing offense of the Bills.
This season Sammy Watkins is in and Stevie Johnson is out which could actually help Woods be targeted more especially early in the year.
The big problem is Buffalo is that E.J. Manuel is still the quarterback and I don’t envision a scenario where he puts up a whole lot of passing yardage. For that reason alone Woods is a dud.
Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh
Wheaton is a breakout candidate in 2014. He’s currently slated to be the number two receiver opposite Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh.
I have concerns with Wheaton’s talent. Also, the team brought in Lance Moore and Heath Miller is healthy meaning Wheaton could end up fourth in the pecking order for targets.
But there is upside here. If given enough volume Wheaton could be a decent bye week filler and possibly more. He’s not really a stud or dud but should come cheap in your draft and has upside.
Terrence Williams, Dallas
Williams could be one of the steals of your draft this season. He’s poised to be a second year stud. Miles Austin is out in Dallas and never was that talented to begin with. Dez Bryant draws lots of attention on the other side of the field.
Jason Witten still has to be respected as well meaning that Williams will be in lots of one on one situations this season. The Sean Lee-less Dallas defense is also terrible.
I expect the Cowboys to throw the ball a ton. In fact their “passing game coordinator” is calling the plays. Only in Dallas right? I’d have Williams on my list as one of the receivers to grab when the time is right.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee
If you’re looking for a late round sleeper Hunter is your man. The quarterback play for the Titans isn’t very good and Hunter has taken some time to adjust to NFL coaching. But, he’s a freak talent who projects physically as a number one receiver in the NFL.
The Titans need him to be just that in 2014 and beyond. Kendall Wright is a good possession receiver but the team needs a big playmaker to stretch the field in Ken Wisenhunt’s offense. Reports out of Nashville are that things are clicking with Hunter. So he’s a good player to take a chance on.
Aaron Dobson, New England
Dobson has a chance to be a second year stud in New England but may not be worth the headache. The Patriots will still plan to use a lot of Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Danny Amendola provided those last two can get and stay healthy.
I’d take Dobson as a value pick but be careful. Take him too early and he may be more dud than stud.
Nate Hodges is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and radio host for Tennessee Sports Radio (Saturdays at noon eastern). Listen at TNsportsradio.com. His work can also be found at TopTierFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter – @NateNFL