This third installment of the legend of the 3rd year wide receiver breakout looks at 3 prime breakout targets to consider in your fantasy football drafts and auctions.
We’ve already gone through 15 of the best 3rd year wide receiver seasons of recent memory and highlighted the big three 3rd year wide receivers in 2013.
This 3rd year receiver series will touch on 2013’s top 3rd year wide receiver fantasy options, 3rd year wide receiver breakouts and 3rd year wide receiver busts and we’ll also take a peek back at the 2011 NFL Draft and see if the order those receivers were selected in should be shuffled up a bit in hindsight.
For the big 3 covered yesterday, monster seasons are almost a certainty, but for these 3, there are still questions and concerns surrounding their assent into fantasy relevancy. Although, they have all shown glimpses of potential, a full season of fake football production has excluded them. Torrey Smith has a Super Bowl Ring, Cecil Shorts has emerged from Division III to be a number 1 wideout with the Jags and Greg Little, well what has Greg Little done?
2013 Top 3rd Year WRs | 2013 3rd Year WR Breakouts
2013 3rd Year WR Bust | 2011 Draft Revisited
3rd Year Wide Receiver
3 to Target in 2013
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
I am pretty sure it went something like this, “Cecil who, from where? No thanks, he plays for the Jags.” At least that was my take. But Shorts was sneaky good and put up a top 25 fantasy wideout season, seemingly out of nowhere, alright, completely out of nowhere. But just how good was Shorts in 2012?
Well, only 4 times all season did he fail to score a TD, register 100 yards, or grab 6 receptions in a game. 3 of those games were before he became a starter in week 7! Furthermore, Shorts packed his punch with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne behind center, which unfortunately isn’t going to change, but at least there is some some familiarity then, right?
So, just how good was Shorts down the stretch last season? Well, in the second half of last year he was the 14th ranked receiver. Shorts started his first NFL game in week 7 and from his 2nd start on was a high-end #2 fake receiver and he went to Division III Mount Union, hence the “Cecil who, from where?” Now we all know he holds all kinds of records at the same school that Pierre Garcon went to and that he is pretty good at football.
So what will 2013 bring? Will we see 2nd half 2012 Cecil Shorts, or will opponents key in and slow him down? One thing is for sure, Shorts will be given every opportunity to succeed and it is safe to assume the Jags will be putting the ball in the air a lot. Toss in Justin Blackman’s suspension, Laurent Robinson’s departure and you have a number 1 receiver who is coming off a huge 2nd half and being drafted and ranked around 30th amongst WRs.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
The writing may be the boldest on this wall for a breakout 3rd year season. Anquan Boldin is in San Fran, which stands to increase his targets, he already has 15 NFL TDs and almost 1700 receiving yards and if I remember correctly he plays for the Super Bowl Champs!
But that isn’t all that is going for Smith, as he is one of the best downfield threats in football and the guy tossing his way has a cannon of an arm. After Jim Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron the Ravens offense went good for over 27 points a game, playoffs included and Smith will chew into even more of those points in 2013.
Obviously though, there are the doubters and I’m not sure I’d bank on a significant jump in his production. However, more of the same is by no means a bad thing, is it? Even with a modest bump in receptions, yards and 2 more scores you’re easily looking at top 25 fantasy WR production, which is exactly where he is being ranked and drafted currently.
The Ravens didn’t sign up for 120 million dollar bills so Joe Flacco could hand the ball off, so Torrey ‘Two Rs” stands to see plenty of targets and no one has ever questioned his skills. The only real concern is whether he is ready to take the next step as a full fledged number 1 receiver. To me that sounds like real football talk and I’m only concerned with fake football, so bank on low-end #2 fantasy WR production in 2013 and “Two Rs” could be better!
Greg Little, Cleveland Browns
There is limited upside, but Little has already started 28 NFL games and with Rob Chudzinski’s new offense, the Browns WR could be a fringe fantasy starter and low-end #3 WR. If the offense is as aggressive as Chudzinski and Norv Turner claim it will be than Little stands to improve on his first 2 seasons.
What exactly that turns out to be is the real question though, as Little has only a single 100 yard game in his career and actually produced better as a rookie in 2011. Furthermore, the Browns brought in Davone Bess and he’ll cut into Little’s targets and it’s sophomore Josh Gordon who is the best receiver in Cleveland. With that being said, Little did lead the Browns in receptions in 2012.
The UNC product had his issues in college, losing his senior season and never reaching his potential. Although, some of those concerns have remained with Little, he’ll look to quiet the doubters and put together a big season in 2013. The early reports out of camp are encouraging and his talent has never been an issue.
With defenses having to stop Trent Richardson first and the hype surrounding Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, Greg Little might just end up flying under the radar and rewarding owners with solid fake football production. Temper expectations, but there are some encouraging forces at play. With a few more downfield and red zone targets it could be easy for Little to have his best season yet.
There is going to be some significant disparity between where these 3 are drafted and their ADP and current rankings in relation to their breakout potential are the reason they’re listed here. Smith is being drafted as a #2 fantasy WR and needs only marginal increases in production to justify a selection as such.
Cecil Shorts, however, is being drafted and ranked as a #3 fantasy receiver, despite proving to be much better than that in the second half of last season. This makes him an excellent draft target, who doesn’t have to improve in his 3rd season in order to produce to his draft value.
Finally, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Greg Little, beyond entering his 3rd season of course. Given his low ranking, it is easy to select him in the late-middle rounds and potentially land a low-end #3 fantasy receiver, who you can slide in and out of your lineup as needed.
I’m a Loyal Leafs, Cubs, and Cowboys fan for decades. I wear the C for The Fake Hockey, in addition to contributing to The Fake Baseball and The Fake Football in more of a Timmy Try Hard role. You can also find my weekly fantasy baseball preview here at davidgonos.com and can reach me on Twitter @naparker77.