Fantasy Football 2014: 3rd-year WR’s that could break out

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Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

This post comes from Justin Becker of You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Premier Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose.

It’s not an exact science, but it’s one that every fantasy football enthusiast needs to at least consider with each new season: the plight of the third-year NFL wide receiver.

Naturally, some wide receivers are studs right away as rookies, some come around in year two or four and some simply never amount to anything. However, when it comes to offensive systems, chemistry with quarterbacks, adjusting to NFL defenses and nailing down routes and separation abilities, year three does tend to be a magic number for a lot of wide receivers.

With that in mind, and the 2014 fantasy football season just around the corner, let’s take a look back at the wide receivers selected in the 2012 NFL Draft and see if this might be the year they post their best numbers yet:

Alshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears)

Jeffery had the luxury of breaking out last year during his second NFL season, when he became an elite deep ball threat en route to 89 receptions, 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. Fantasy owners will hope for an escalation in scores, but he’s still got Brandon Marshall to contend with. He’ll enter 2014 as an elite WR2 with high-end WR1 upside.

T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts)

Hilton isn’t really that far behind Jeffery. Despite being a much smaller wide receiver, Hilton stepped up in his second season, posting 82 catches for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns. He was even more impressive during the playoffs, as he tore up the Chiefs and Patriots in two post-season games. Hilton also did this without the help of Reggie Wayne (torn ACL), which makes his leap even more impressive. Like Jeffery, he’ll be a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside heading into 2014.

Michael Floyd (Arizona Cardinals)

Floyd also made a solid leap in year two, posting his first 1,000+ yard season with five touchdowns on 66 receptions. Floyd should be in for an even bigger season in year three, as slot receiver Andre Roberts is gone and his skills fit perfectly in head coach Bruce Arians’ vertical offense. He’ll enter 2014 with high-end WR2 upside.

Kendall Wright (Tennessee Titans)

Wright burst onto the scene in 2013 with elite PPR (points per reception) value, hauling in 94 catches, while also adding 1,079 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He’s already broken out when it comes to his PPR value, but there is still room for improvement in the touchdown department. Wright is at worst a high-end WR2 in PPR formats, but has some work to do to earn that same value in standard leagues. With continued shaky quarterback play likely in the cards that could be easier said than done.

Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Blackmon flashed elite playmaking ability as a rookie and had 29 catches in just four appearances in 2013. But truth be told, he’s turned out to be a real problem for those who’ve invested in his services. After missing 12 games last year due to suspensions, Blackmon’s 2014 season appears to be up in the air. He has a good amount of talent and upside, but anything more than a late round flier in fantasy drafts isn’t encouraged.