Will the Next Alshon Jeffery Please Stand Up?
Those who excel in fantasy football are often those who can correctly predict breakout campaigns. What this ultimately allows you to do is get incredible value for a player while saving your top picks for established superstars.
Last year we got a perfect example of a breakout player in Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery was drafted between the 11th and 12th round before the start of last season, but ended up as the No. 7 scoring receiver and No. 37 scoring player overall.
That’s simply an unbelievable amount of value.
In order to establish who this year’s Alshon Jeffery will be, there are three guidelines that we need to stick by. They are as follows:
- They need to coming off an underwhelming rookie reason. Jeffery had a breakout campaign during his second year in the league after struggling as a rookie.
- They need to be the clear No. 2 receiver on the roster. With Brandon Marshall in Chicago, Jeffery was able to see plenty of single coverage throughout the season. He also had little competition as the No. 2 target.
- They need to have a new coach. One reason Jeffery was able to be so successful is because of the new offensive philosophy brought in by head coach Marc Trestman.
With these three guidelines established, let’s take a look at three players who have the potential to be the next Alshon Jeffery.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
Some might say that Nate Washington is the No. 2 receiver in Tennessee, but that shouldn’t last through training camp. There is no doubt Hunter has more potential than Washington, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the clear-cut second option for the Titans.
Hunter has ideal size at 6’4” and the ability to consistently win jump balls. Despite only playing 340 snaps all year, Hunter still finished the year with 354 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, what was most impressive about Hunter’s rookie season was his 19.7 yards per catch average.
Now that the Titans have offensive guru Ken Whisenhunt at the helm, the offense in Tennessee should become a pass-first offense. While there are questions about quarterback Jake Locker, he proved last year that when he’s healthy he has the potential to put up huge numbers.
If Hunter can improve his catch rate (he only caught 43.9 percent of passes last year), he has a chance to excel in the Titans offense.
2014 Predicted Stats: 72 receptions, 1,187 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Everyone expected Hopkins to have one of the most productive rookie seasons last year. For a while, it actually looked like it would happen. Hopkins had 18 receptions, 243 yards and a touchdown in his first three games in the NFL.
Unfortunately, everything went downhill from there for Hopkins and the Texans. Hopkins went on to catch only 34 more balls and one more touchdown the rest of the season. It was an implosion internally for the Texans in every sense of the word.
The 2014 season should be different for Houston and Hopkins. What could ultimately keep him from having a breakout campaign this year is his quarterback situation. If the Texans pass on drafting a quarterback, Hopkins will likely have either Case Keenum or Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball. If that’s the case, Hopkins would be better off with David Carr re-signing with the team.
However, should the Texans make the smart decision and find their quarterback of the future in this year’s draft, Hopkins will be poised for a fantastic sophomore campaign.
2014 Predicted Stats: 83 receptions, 1,243 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
While both Hunter and Hopkins have the potential for fantastic numbers in their second year, they both will fall well short of what Patterson should do for the Vikings. If you’re looking for the next Alshon Jeffery, Patterson is the only player who needs to stand up.
Patterson finished his rookie season with a respectable 45 receptions, 468 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, Patterson was only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential in year one.
What ultimately makes Patterson such a dangerous receiver is his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. In Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens, Patterson had 22.8 yards per reception after the catch. That’s just a ridiculous number.
The problem with Patterson is the same issue that Hopkins has: his quarterback. In fact, the only thing that will keep Patterson from experiencing a truly phenomenal sophomore campaign would be the ineptitude of his quarterback.
Don’t be surprised if Patterson not only establishes himself as one of the most exciting receivers in the league, but also a top-10 fantasy football player at his position.
2014 Predicted Stats: 87 receptions, 1,368 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns