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In 2023, the third-year breakout wide receiver of note was Nico Collins. I liked him a lot coming into the season, and here's what I wrote in this column last year.

"Collins is one of my favorite sleepers this season, and I'm hoping Year 3 in the NFL is his best year to date. The Texans receiving corps is wide open this year with Collins, Robert Woods, John Metchie III and (Tank) Dell all fighting for targets, but I like Collins the best coming into the season. He showed positive flashes last year during Weeks 10-13 when he had 36 targets and averaged 11.2 PPR points per game. I think he's capable of much more than that, and I'm willing to draft him as early as Round 8. New quarterback C.J. Stroud should lean on Collins quite a bit in 2023."

Collins was fantastic last season when he finished with 80 catches for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns on 109 targets, and he averaged 17.4 PPR points per game. Every stat was a season high, and he broke out in Year 3.

This season, we have plenty of candidates to perform like Collins did -- if not better. I'm excited about the Wide Receiver Class of 2022 heading into this year.

The top options are Garrett Wilson, Drake London and Chris Olave, who will likely all be selected in the first three rounds of most Fantasy drafts this season. George Pickens is right behind that group, and he's likely a Round 4 pick.

Christian Watson, Jahan Dotson and Jameson Williams all have the potential for breakout campaigns, and Khalil Shakir, Romeo Doubs and Wan'Dale Robinson could be significant contributors as well. This is a fun class with a ton of upside.

The reason we like to discuss third-year receivers is this is the season when things start to click for players at the position. What some of the best receivers in NFL history have told me -- and I've spoken to Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin, among many others about the topic -- is that it takes at least two years to develop. They have to learn how to hone their craft, develop a rapport with their quarterback and also understand defenses better.

Historically, some receivers you can point to who have broken out in their third season in the NFL include CeeDee Lamb, Michael Thomas, Tyreek Hill, Chris Godwin, Cooper Kupp, Mike Evans, Collins, DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, Carter, Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Diontae Johnson and Marquise Brown, among others.

Now, it's not always perfect, and guys sometimes have their best season in Year 1 or Year 2. Because of how college offenses are operating these days, many receivers come into the NFL more prepared than ever before. Their maturation process is accelerated, and the learning curve isn't as steep.

And so rather than Fantasy players gravitating toward third-year breakouts, they are instead just using it as another part of the decision-making process. It's not necessarily a priority anymore.

For me, I'm still going to give these guys an extra bump in my rankings, especially the ones on the cusp of having a big season. And I'm very excited about many of the wide receivers in this class.

Let's hope for them -- and us -- that Year 3 is even better than what we've seen in the first two seasons of their career.

The Stars

These are guys you're drafting in the first four rounds in all leagues.

Garrett Wilson

2022 stats: 83 catches, 1,103 yards, four touchdowns, 147 targets

2023 stats: 95 catches, 1,042 yards, three touchdowns, 168 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 101 catches, 1,213 yards, seven touchdowns, 179 targets

Wilson is one of my favorite breakout candidates this year. We just have to hope that Aaron Rodgers (Achilles) is healthy for Week 1 and stays upright all season so we can finally see Wilson with competent quarterback play. He's dealt with a lot of bad quarterbacks through the first two seasons of his career -- mostly Zach Wilson -- but we got a glimpse of Garrett Wilson's upside as a rookie in 2022 when he averaged 17.6 PPR points per game in seven outings with Joe Flacco or Mike White, including three games with at least 24 PPR points over that span. Last season, Wilson scored at least 15 PPR points just eight times and scored only three touchdowns, but he averaged 9.9 targets per game, which was good for seventh in the NFL. I have Wilson ranked as a late first-round pick in all leagues, but he should be drafted no later than in the top 15 overall.

Drake London 

2022 stats: 72 catches, 866 yards, four touchdowns, 117 targets

2023 stats: 69 catches, 905 yards, two touchdowns, 109 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 78 catches, 1,051 yards, five touchdowns, 124 targets

London has the potential to be a No. 1 Fantasy receiver in all leagues in Year 3 thanks to the addition of Kirk Cousins at quarterback and Raheem Morris at coach. We've seen flashes of London's upside in the first two years of his career, but he only has 11 outings with at least 13 PPR points in 33 games. Part of that was playing in a run-based system under former head coach Arthur Smith. But London also suffered with poor quarterback play from Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke. That changes now with Cousins. During his time in Minnesota, Cousins helped Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs thrive. Jefferson had four seasons in a row with at least 16.9 PPR points per game, Diggs had two seasons with at least 14.5 PPR points per game and Thielen had one season at 19.2 PPR points per game with Cousins. I'm hopeful London will end up in the 16.9 range or better, and I also like that Zac Robinson is the new Falcons offensive coordinator. Robinson was just the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Rams the past two seasons, and he helped develop Puka Nacua in 2023, as well as working with Cooper Kupp. I'm being aggressive with London on Draft Day and plan to target him in Round 2. 

Chris Olave

2022 stats: 72 catches, 1,042 yards, four touchdowns, 119 targets

2023 stats: 87 catches, 1,123 yards, five touchdowns, 138 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 90 catches, 1,198 yards, seven touchdowns, 143 targets

Olave was a breakout candidate in 2023, but he failed to deliver on the hype when he averaged just 14.5 PPR points per game. It was a solid campaign, but more was expected, which will hopefully happen in 2024. Entering his third season in the NFL, Olave is the clear-cut leader of the Saints receiving corps. He averaged 8.6 targets per game he had in 2023, and that number might increase this season. I'm also excited to see what Olave can do in new coordinator Klint Kubiak's system, and he joins the Saints after spending the past season as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach in San Francisco. That should lead to more pre-snap motion and creative route concepts, and Olave should benefit by making more plays after the catch. Kubiak also was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota in 2021 when Justin Jefferson had 108 catches for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns on 167 targets. I'm once again drafting Olave in Round 2 in all leagues, and this should be his breakout campaign.

George Pickens

2022 stats: 52 catches, 801 yards, four touchdowns, 84 targets

2023 stats: 63 catches, 1,140 yards, five touchdowns, 106 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 56 catches, 1,014 yards, seven touchdowns, 95 targets

The runway is clear for Pickens to be the No. 1 receiver for the Steelers after Pittsburgh traded Diontae Johnson to Carolina, and now Pickens gets a quarterback upgrade in Russell Wilson. In four games last year when Johnson was hurt, Pickens had two outings with at least 22.7 PPR points. He also scored at least 20.1 PPR points in two of three games with Mason Rudolph under center. Say what you want about Wilson, but he threw 10 touchdowns to Courtland Sutton in 2023. And Wilson was good for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett toward the end of his tenure in Seattle. Wilson should help make Pickens a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues with the chance to be a top-10 option. Now, you may be concerned that Arthur Smith is the new offensive coordinator for the Steelers, and Smith wasn't good for Drake London the past two seasons in Atlanta. But as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee in 2019-20, Smith helped A.J. Brown catch 122 passes for 2,126 yards and 19 touchdowns on 190 targets in 30 games. Pickens should be the focal point of the passing game in Pittsburgh, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 4 in all leagues.

Mid-Round Targets

These are guys you're targeting after Round 5 who still have breakout potential.

Christian Watson

2022 stats: 41 catches, 611 yards, seven touchdowns, 66 targets (14 games)

2023 stats: 28 catches, 422 yards, five touchdowns, 53 targets (nine games)

2024 SportsLine Projections: 44 catches, 668 yards, nine touchdowns, 79 targets

Watson was a breakout candidate going into last year, but he flopped, mostly due to repeated hamstring injuries, as he missed eight games. In the nine games he played, Watson only had three with more than 11 PPR points. Jayden Reed looked the part of the No. 1 receiver in Green Bay, but this is a deep receiving corps that also includes Romeo Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks. And my approach with the Packers receivers will probably be to get one of Watson, Doubs or Wicks with later-round picks (Reed will likely get drafted as early as Round 7). I still believe Watson has the most upside of the group if he can stay healthy, including Reed. Prior to Watson's final stint on the injury report, he had 12 catches for 165 yards and three touchdowns on 16 targets in two outings against Detroit and Kansas City, and he scored at least 20.4 PPR points in each game. He may never become an elite Fantasy option because of all the weapons in Green Bay (don't forget about Josh Jacobs and Luke Musgrave/Tyler Kroft), but he could become a No. 2 receiver if he can stay on the field. Watson is worth drafting as early as Round 8.

Jahan Dotson

2022 stats: 35 catches, 523 yards, seven touchdowns, 61 targets (12 games)

2023 stats: 49 catches, 518 yards, four touchdowns, 83 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 48 catches, 559 yards, six touchdowns, 81 targets

Dotson was another receiver hyped up prior to 2023, but he was terrible in his second year in the NFL when he averaged just 7.3 PPR points per game. But this season, Dotson could return to prominence with a new system and quarterback in Washington. For starters, the Commanders let Curtis Samuel leave as a free agent to Buffalo, and Dotson should be No. 2 in targets behind Terry McLaurin. Last year, Samuel left Week 8 against Philadelphia and missed Week 9 at New England, and Dotson had 12 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 18 targets in those two outings while scoring at least 16.9 PPR points in each game. We'll see how new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury uses Dotson, and the Commanders have a new quarterback in Jayden Daniels, who will hopefully make Dotson a focal point. I'm excited to re-invest in Dotson again this season, and I'll be drafting him as early as Round 9 in all leagues.

Jameson Williams

2022 stats: one catch, 41 yards, one touchdown, nine targets (six games)

2023 stats: 24 catches, 354 yards, two touchdowns, 42 targets (12 games)

2024 SportsLine Projections: 42 catches, 639 yards, five touchdowns, 73 targets

I'm hopeful that Williams can make a big leap in Year 3 because the first two seasons of his career have been disappointing. His rookie season in 2022 was slowed by his recovery from a torn ACL, and he played only six games. Then 2023 started with his four-game suspension for gambling. But his role should expand in 2024, and Josh Reynolds (Denver) is now gone, opening up a starting spot (and 64 targets) opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Lions already have plenty of weapons with St. Brown, Sam LaPorta, Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, but Williams adds a speed element that could help Jared Goff and the offense be more explosive. And Dan Campbell knows it. "[Williams] is going to push to be a full-time starter, and that's what we're looking for," Campbell said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. "Everybody grows at a different rate. Maybe it's taken him a little bit longer, but he is developing and growing. The kid has come on. We got high hopes for him and see him continuing to grow." I plan to draft Williams as early as Round 9 in all leagues, and he has the upside to be a top 30 Fantasy receiver in 2024.

Other Breakouts To Target

These are guys you're targeting after Round 10 who still have breakout potential.

Khalil Shakir

2022 stats: 10 catches, 161 yards, one touchdown, 20 targets (14 games)

2023 stats: 39 catches, 611 yards, two touchdowns, 45 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 53 catches, 751 yards, five touchdowns, 64 targets

Shakir will likely be my favorite Bills receiver to draft this year. While rookie Keon Coleman has more upside, and Curtis Samuel might be a favorite for offensive coordinator Joe Brady since the two were together in Carolina, I like the potential of Shakir in his third season. And you can likely draft him as late as Round 10 in all leagues. Shakir didn't do much for most of his sophomore campaign playing behind Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, but Shakir stepped up at the end of the season when Davis was hurt and Diggs struggled. Starting in Week 18 when Davis was injured at Miami, Shakir had six catches for 105 yards on six targets. And then in two playoff games against Pittsburgh and Kansas City, Shakir had 10 catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns on 12 targets. Josh Allen trusts Shakir, and I expect him to set career highs in all receiving categories. He might not be a star, but Shakir can be a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues this season.

Romeo Doubs 

2022 stats: 42 catches, 425 yards, three touchdowns, 67 targets (13 games)

2023 stats: 59 catches, 674 yards, eight touchdowns, 96 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 56 catches, 741 yards, eight touchdowns, 87 targets

As stated above with Christian Watson, this is a crowded receiving corps in Green Bay with Jayden Reed, Watson, Doubs and Dontayvion Wicks. But Doubs should still have a prominent role, and he led the Packers in targets in 2023 with 96. And his eight touchdowns also matched Reed for the team lead. In the playoffs, Doubs was a star with 10 catches for 234 yards and two touchdowns on 12 targets in two games. Jordan Love has shown he's going to spread the ball around, so Doubs will have some productive weeks, with plenty of quiet ones as well, and I don't think he has as much upside as Reed or Watson. But Doubs is still worth a late-round flier in all leagues, and he's clearly shown he can be a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all formats when Love is looking his way. Hopefully, that continues to happen often for Doubs in his third season in the NFL.

Wan'Dale Robinson 

2022 stats: 23 catches, 227 yards, one touchdown, 31 targets (six games)

2023 stats: 60 catches, 525 yards, one touchdown, 78 targets

2024 SportsLine Projections: 71 catches, 674 yards, four touchdowns, 93 targets

I'm hopeful that the Giants will line up at receiver this season with Malik Nabers and Darius Slayton (or Jalin Hyatt) on the outside and Robinson in the slot. That could lead to plenty of production for the third-year receiver. While I love the upside of Nabers in his rookie season, and Slayton has quietly been productive for the Giants for the past four years, Daniel Jones likes leaning on his slot receivers. Sterling Shepard led the team in receptions in 2019 and 2020, and Richie James tied for the team lead in 2022. That doesn't guarantee anything for Robinson this season, especially with the addition of Nabers, but I plan to take a flier on Robinson with a late-round pick in all leagues. Last year, Robinson started to come on late, hopefully when he was fully recovered from his torn ACL in his rookie campaign, and he scored at least 13.5 PPR points in three of his final five outings. He could be a surprise Fantasy option in his third year in the NFL, especially if he's the slot receiver for Jones in 2024.

Best Of The Rest

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