The PlayerProfiler staff is here to help YOU win your league with their NFL Wide Receiver Breakout Candidates for 2023!
Breakout WR: Rashod Bateman
After producing in spurts as a rookie, expectations were high for Rashod Bateman going into his sophomore season. Suiting up for six games, he quietly made the Year-2 leap that fans were expecting. He improved as a route runner, posting a 51-percent Route Win Rate and 2.6 Yards per Route Run. Following the absence of Marquise Brown, he found himself in a much more fantasy-friendly role. His eight-yard Average Depth of Target increased to 13.5-yards. Additionally, he earned 1.2 Deep Targets per Game. Bateman dominated in open space, racking up 4.8 Yards After Catch per Target. Generating a 20-percent Dominator Rating and 1.67 Yards per Team Pass Attempt, the Ravens relied upon Bateman to move the passing game forward.
He’ll return to the lineup. In Lamar Jackson‘s words, Bateman is the team’s “Wide Receiver 1” in an offense now led by pass-first offensive coordinator Todd Monken. This is a much more meaningful statement from Jackson given that veteran Odell Beckham and highly touted rookie Zay Flowers are also in Baltimore’s receiving room. While these additions concern some, neither of these receivers are true target hogs and should help deter some defensive focus away from Bateman. Monken is adamant about letting Jackson throw more often in his new offense, meaning more targets for Bateman.
Ultimately, Bateman’s health is what prevented him from the breakout season he deserved. Through the first three weeks prior to sustaining his foot injury, he set a season-long pace of nearly 1300 receiving yards. This offense is rejuvenated and is going to look far different than the one we’re used to seeing. Therefore, a Bateman breakout looms in 2023.
Breakout WR: D.J. Moore
Anybody that follows my work at all already knows that I have a strong bias in favor of Denniston Moore Jr aka D.J. Moore. He has been a consistent performer for fantasy football since 2019 but 2023 will be his best season yet. Moore is on a new team with the most skilled quarterback, Justin Fields, he has ever played with. That is why it was a no brainer for me to pick Moore as my breakout wide receiver for 2023.
Despite playing with quarterbacks like Kyle Allen, Baker Mayfield, and a washed Cam Newton through the years, Moore has put together three seasons with over 1,100 receiving yards and has scored 14 or more fantasy points per game in three of his five seasons as a professional.
Bad QB Play
Last year with Mayfield and Sam Darnold, Moore saw 118 targets, caught 63 of them for 888 receiving and caught seven total touchdowns. Moore proved that he is capable of being an alpha in the league by posting a 48-percent Air Yards Share (No. 1 among qualified wide receivers), a 27.7-percent Target Share (No. 12), and a 35.6-percent Dominator Rating (No. 5). That is even more impressive given the 6.3 Target Accuracy (No. 97) and 820 Unrealized Air Yards (No. 7). Matter of fact, Moore has found himself in the top eight for Unrealized Air Yards each of the last three seasons. This is not a list players want to be in once never mind three years in a row.
Getting a receiver like Moore will elevate Fields’s game much like A.J. Brown did with Jalen Hurts. Hurts improved his accuracy metrics and efficiency metrics after the Eagles added his alpha wideout. There is a worry that the Bears do not throw the ball enough and that is fair. However, the Eagles went from No. 29 in Team Pass Plays per Game in 2021 to No. 23 in 2022. Chicago could see a similar boost and that is enough to flood Moore with enough targets to dominate. Moore will finally have that unquestionable breakout in 2023!
Breakout WR: Jameson Williams
If you’ve tuned into any of my shows you know I LOVE Jameson Williams going into this year. It’s important to capitalize on discounts when you can- and a 6-game suspension has provided the perfect window to get one of the more talented WRs in the league. People forget that going into last year’s draft, he was considered the best WR before he tore his ACL in the National Championship. And even with the torn ACL, the Lions still took him No. 12 overall.
He returned from the injury in Week 13 and only had one catch from then to the end of the season. That one catch was a 41-yard TD grab. This play showcased his explosiveness. He is THE big play threat on this Lions offense, plain and simple. He has 99th percentile speed, a 94th percentile College Yards per Reception, and a very impressive final year at Alabama posting 1,572 yards and 15 TDs on top of two special teams TDs as well. When Williams returns from suspension he will produce. And produce exceedingly well at that. He will be fully healthy and locked into the WR2 role. The Lions were No. 10 in Team Pass Plays per Game, and Jared Goff had the No. 6 most Pass Attempts. The WR2 role on this offense is extremely valuable.
Breakout WR: Christian Watson
Christian Watson is a certified playmaker who is ready to become a full-fledged star in the NFL. Christian Watson used his 98th percentile speed and 95th percentile burst to average over 18 yards per reception for his college career, routinely making FCS defenders look silly. The Packers selected the 6-4, 208 pound WR out of North Dakota State with the No. 34 overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft after Watson lit up the NFL Combine.
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It was a slow start for Watson. He missed time throughout the offseason with a hamstring strain that would linger into the season and cost him two games. Then Week 10 arrived and Watson went on a run over the next four games. Watson caught four of eight targets against the Dallas Cowboys and turned them into 107 yards and three TDs, finishing as the WR3 on the week. He’d follow it up by catching four of six for 48 yards with another two touchdowns as the week’s WR8. Watson then turned in a career high 110 yards on four grabs against the Eagles while adding another touchdown, finishing as the WR10. His stretch of WR1 finishes would end at four after turning three receptions and a carry into 94 yards and another two scores.
There was no way that Christian Watson was going to continue to average two touchdowns per game, making him an obvious candidate for regression in 2023. However, what Watson did as a rookie was so special that he will demand eight targets a game in his sophomore year. Fellow second year receiver Romeo Doubs is not a threat to take targets away from Watson. Rookie second rounder Jayden Reed is a nice complimentary WR2. Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft are athletic freaks, but tight end is one of the hardest positions to make an impact as a rookie. Yes, Watson will see a downgrade at QB moving from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love, but we have already seen that Watson has no issue housing passes from No. 10.
Watson is the Alpha of the Green Bay Packers passing game and THE breakout WR of 2023.
Breakout WR: Jahan Dotson
My breakout WR has first-round NFL Draft capital, tied for the lead among all 2022 Rookie WRs with seven TD catches, and had six top 25 WR finishes in only 12 games played. That player is Jahan Dotson. When you check out PlayerProfiler, his best comparable is Tyler Lockett. Dotson has the talent and role to have a Lockett-like finish with a top-20 PPR season. Right now, you can draft Dotson as a high-end WR4 (WR39 in FFPC and WR40 on Underdog).
We are in the summer period where fantasy analysts poke holes in every player and any statistic- even scoring TDs. The Washington Commanders were No. 24 in PPG with 18.9 PPG and No. 21 in TDs scored per game with a measly 1.9. Dotson had an 11.48-percent TD rate. That rate is unsustainable, but he WILL see a vast increase in his total number of targets. Dotson possesses 4.43 speed and top-notch route running. He also showed the durability to come back from a nagging hamstring injury that he suffered mid-season. Dotson came back and finished the season with some of his best and most productive games.
Terry McLaurin should lead Washington in total targets, but Dotson will be second. This number will be a lot closer than the two player’s current ADP indicates. Dotson is a rare second year WR who flashed in Year 1 and is under the radar. His ADP right now is similar to Devonta Smith‘s 2022 ADP. While a WR1 season is out of reach, Dotson can beat his WR ADP by 15+ spots. Draft him confidently and enjoy his breakout season on your team.
Breakout WR: Skyy Moore
Sometimes in life, you have to shoot your shot. I’m shooting my shot on Skyy Moore. To be honest, Moore is a big-time projection this season. The good news for Moore is that every other Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver is a projection, including newly drafted Rashee Rice. Moore only played on 28.2-percent of the snaps in 2022 and only saw 33 targets in an offense that loves to pass the football. So, what evidence do we have that Moore is about to breakout in his sophomore season?
Simply put, Moore has a great chance to seize the WR 1 job in Kansas City, and he’s currently being drafted like he’s a WR 3. The truth is Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a field stretcher, Kadarius Toney has been the very model of inconsistency, and outside of those two players the Chiefs tout newly drafted Rashee Rice, Justin Watson, Richie James, and Justyn Ross at WR.
I like Moore’s chances of filling the Juju Smith-Schuster void based on his production in college and his skill set as a slot wide receiver. Throw in the fact that he is being drafted later than both Toney and Valdes-Scantling, and this is the value receiver you want in this ambiguous WR scenario in Kansas City. The situation is primed for a breakout, and Moore won’t cost a ton in drafts this season. My question to you is: Why wouldn’t you draft Skyy Moore?
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