August 19, 2022, 12:59 pm
Historically, in their third season is when wide receivers take their biggest jump in productivity as it takes them a couple seasons to understand defensive schemes, develop rapport with their QBs and master their craft. Most recently, players such as Tyreek Hill, Deebo Samuel, Cooper Kupp and Michael Thomas have taken massive leaps and had breakout seasons as third-year professionals. The 2020 class, who now enter their third year, is absolutely loaded with talent and are ready to produce career years, establishing themselves amongst the league’s best. There are studs like Justin Jefferson and Ceedee Lamb who have already shot into fantasy stardom, so let’s look at some other players who are primed to join them at that next level, including some late-round sleeper picks.
Gabriel Davis, Bills
After Davis’ monster playoff performance, the hype train was in full force for the third year Bills’ receiver. He enters the season as the second option in a top-3 offense and should be able to feast. Surprisingly as draft season approaches, it seems that the fantasy community is not as high on him as they were a month or two ago. In his last six games last season, Davis ran a route on 88% of dropbacks, leading to 19.8 fantasy points per game (PPR). He has the ceiling to finish as a top-15 WR, so his WR32 ADP makes it a no-brainer to grab him in the sixth round. Josh Allen is the consensus QB1 and he has to score his fantasy points somewhere, so it seems likely for Davis to breakout in his third season.
Tee Higgins, Bengals
Last season, Higgins had a 2% higher target rate per route run than Ja’Marr Chase, yet Chase is going as a top-6 pick in fantasy drafts this season, while Higgins is going in Round 3. Higgins could very easily lead the Bengals in targets, catches, yards and even touchdowns this year and fantasy GMs are getting a nice two round draft discount in comparison to his running mate. Higgins ranked 13th in fantasy points per game in PPR formats last season and should flirt with that ranking again this year. Coming off a year with 85 catches on 130 targets, 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns, it’s hard to not see Higgins fighting for a top-12 finish at the wide receiver position. He may not have the game-breaking upside that Chase has, but Higgins is an incredibly reliable and consistent wide receiver that should be queued in the third round for every fantasy GM.
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Michael Pittman Jr., Colts