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2020 Breakout Wide Receivers

Last week, we looked at breakout running back candidates. This week, we’re looking at breakout wide receivers. A reminder that the 2020 breakout wide receivers include players drafted past pick 60 that will significantly outperform their ADP. Significantly outperform means they will jump up at least two rounds in ADP the following season or leap up one-tier. Sometimes the definitions of sleepers and breakouts overlap, but the goal is to find potential league winners with the 2020 breakout wide receivers. With so many wide receivers to choose from, let’s dive into five 2020 breakout wide receiver candidates. 

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2020 Breakout Wide Receivers

Breakout Wide Receiver Parameters

  1. Provide flex-worthy or WR3 value
  2. Past pick 60 (outside the top-24 wide receivers in ADP)
  3. Ability to jump up one tier (e.g., WR4 to WR3 or WR3 to WR2)

Similar to the breakout running backs article, we’re looking at breakout wide receivers past pick 60 or outside of the top-24 wide receivers in ADP. These breakout wide receivers also provide WR3 or flex-worthy value. All of these breakout wide receiver candidates have an ADP in the WR3 range (No. 25 – 36) and beyond. These wide receivers also have the potential to leap into the top-24 in drafts the following season.

My Top 2020 Breakout Wide Receiver – Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

As a rookie, Darius Slayton burst onto the scene and finished second on the team in targets just one behind Golden Tate. Slayton finished with 84 targets, 48 receptions, 740 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. He averaged 12.1 fantasy points per game (No. 38) with three massive two-touchdown games where he finished 13th, 2nd, and 3rd. The 16.7% touchdown rate is not sustainable, but there’s the potential for a higher target volume in 2020 since the Giants ranked 8th with 37.9 pass attempts per game. Although there may be a more balanced offense with Saquon Barkley healthy, Slayton proved to be a weapon in the passing game.

Slayton ranked 10th in production premium (+24.2), 11th in target premium (+24.2%), and 21st in fantasy points per target (2.05), meaning he was efficient last year. Tate and Sheperd were not efficient, but slot receivers like those two do not typically rank highly in the efficiency metrics. Target premium is a Player Profiler metric that indicates Slayton scored 24.2% more fantasy points per target than other Giants receivers.

Check out the Giants’ first four opponents in 2020 – Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams. Three of those teams had the five best defenses in 2019, meaning the Giants will play from behind and pass more often to start the year. Maybe we see Slayton break out sooner than later? Slayton has a 105.7 ADP as the 43rd receiver drafted, and he’s worth the draft value as my top 2020 breakout wide receiver candidate.

Breakout Wide Receiver #2 – Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers offense as a whole struggled after Big Ben suffered an injury in week two. However, over the final four weeks, Diontae Johnson ranked in the top-12 twice. From weeks 14-17, Johnson totaled 31 targets, 23 receptions, 257 receiving yards, and two touchdowns with Devlin Hodges at quarterback. That averaged out to over seven targets, five receptions, 64 receiving yards, and 15 fantasy points per game. With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers offense will improve. Johnson’s 87.2 ADP makes him the 36th wide receiver drafted. Look for Johnson as my number two 2020 breakout wide receiver candidate. Check out his explosiveness and ability to shed tackles. 

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Some might argue that Michael Gallup already broke out in 2019. However, Gallup’s 2019 production and 2020 ADP do not align. Gallup finished with similar production to teammate Amari Cooper, yet Gallup’s going 40 picks later. His ADP of 79 slots him as the 33rd receiver drafted while Cooper is the 14th receiver with an ADP of 38.7. The table below breaks down the similarities in Gallup and Cooper’s opportunities and production last season.

Michael Gallup 2020 Breakout Wide Receiver

Both Gallup and Cooper proved to be efficient in this explosive offense that ranked 6th in points per game. The Cowboys ranked 9th in rush attempts per game, and they ranked 11th with 37.3 pass attempts per game tied with the Chargers. 

Gallup Breakout Part Two

With Mike McCarthy as head coach and Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator, the Cowboys should continue to display a balanced offense. In my coaching changes article, I noted that under McCarthy, the Packers ranked inside the top-10 in pass attempts per game in 2016 and 2018. In 2016, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams both ranked in the top-7 amongst wide receivers. Then in 2018, Adams finished as the 3rd best wide receiver, but the Packers had few other weapons with Jimmy Graham being their second-best receiver. 

McCarthy also called Gallup a number one wide receiver in a recent interview. It would not be surprising to see the ADP gap narrow between Gallup and Cooper next season, as I expect Gallup to smash again in 2020. Gallup is a breakout wide receiver candidate that could solidify himself into the high-end WR2 conversation next season. 

Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans

Before you roll your eyes at the often injured Will Fuller, let’s consider the upside he provides when healthy. Fuller may be better suited for non-PPR leagues since he has not reached 50 catches in his four-year career. Through 11 games in 2019, he finished with 71 targets, 49 receptions, 670 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Fuller reached career highs in receptions and receiving yards with the second-best catch rate of his career at 69% (No. 16).

Although there’s volatility with Fuller, he scored massive fantasy points and ranked top-12 in five out of 18 games over the last two seasons. In those five blow up games, he averaged ten targets, seven receptions, 139 receiving yards, and one touchdown. With Fuller often targeted deep finishing with 23 deep targets (No. 19) and a 14.8 average target distance (No. 12), there will be some volatility in his profile. Fuller averaged 12.2 fantasy points per game (No. 37), and it’s close to his 77.8 ADP as the 32nd wide receiver drafted. If Fuller stays healthy, then there’s the potential for him to be a breakout wide receiver candidate. 

Honorable Mention Breakout Wide Receiver:

Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins

Preston Williams fits into the crossover group of sleeper/breakout wide receiver with his 151.1 ADP as the 57th wide receiver. Williams played in the first nine games of his rookie year until he suffered a torn ACL. Last season, he finished with 60 targets, 32 receptions, 428 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. In the limited sample, Williams 21.1% target share (No. 31) and 15.9% hog rate (No. 17) looked promising on a pass-heavy team that ranked 7th with 38.4 pass attempts per game. One concern would be if the Dolphins play Tua Tagovailoa, then temper expectations since the offense would adjust with a different quarterback. Williams fits the breakout wide receiver parameters, but more of deep sleeper/breakout. 

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