The NFL’s top wide receivers — Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio Jones — rack up huge fantasy football numbers each year. Most fans rush to get these big names to give their fantasy rosters a much-needed boost. Good news for fans in deeper leagues, a ton of wide receiver talent can still be plucked in the later rounds.
These players are expected to unleash their potential and take another step closer to reach their ceiling in the upcoming season. This list is dominated by four rookie wideouts from the 2019 draft class and a fifth-year veteran.
Here are the top 5 fantasy football wide receivers who are expected by many to have better campaigns in 2020:
NFL breakout candidates
5. Preston Williams
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams aims to pick up where he left off last season. His 2019 NFL campaign was cut short as he sustained a torn ACL injury in a Week 9 game against the New York Jets. However, there is plenty to rave about in those eight games that were played by Williams.
He tallied 32 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns as the team’s leading receiver at the time of his injury. The rookie could have exceeded 1,000+ receiving yards if he didn’t contract the injury bug last season.
Better days are on the horizon as he has already recuperated from his injury and is raring to ball out in his sophomore campaign. His existing chemistry formed with starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick should help prime him for a comeback season in 2020.
4. Will Fuller
Houston Texans wideout Will Fuller has had a long list of injuries in his time in the NFL thus far. He’s also missed 22 games in his four seasons, including 5 games from last season. He nursed a torn ACL injury in 2018 while a sports hernia injury barred his 2019 campaign. Despite his unlucky situation, he had 49 receptions for 670 yards and three touchdowns through 11 games last season.
Fuller wants to change the narrative as he will be playing for a contract extension in the upcoming NFL season. He took the time during the offseason to restructure his body and add muscle mass to help himself navigate through the physicality that the season will entail. With former Texans WR1 DeAndre Hopkins now out of the picture, Fuller could set career numbers if he manages to stay healthy.
3. DK Metcalf
The fact that a freak of nature like DK Metcalf dropped so low in the 2019 NFL Draft still puzzles me to this day. Luckily for him, the Seattle Seahawks took notice and gave him an opportunity to contribute last season. He became a regular starter and concluded with 900 receiving yards (third among rookies) on 58 receptions with seven receiving touchdowns.
Metcalf also showed up when it mattered the most. In the wild card round of the NFL Playoffs against the Philadelphia Eagles, he set the record for most receiving yards by a rookie in a playoff game with 160. He also scored a touchdown in the Seahawks’ 17-9 victory. After a year of getting familiar with head coach Pete Caroll’s system and quarterback Russell Wilson, expect Metcalf to only get better from here on out.
2. Darius Slayton
The New York Giants had growing pains last season as most of the team’s scoring coup was sidelined for a significant amount of time. The spotlight was suddenly put on fifth-round draftee Darius Slayton. He responded to the call as he caught 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 appearances last season. He also emerged as a favorite target for fellow NFL rookie and starting gunslinger Daniel Jones.
The former Auburn Tiger will aim to take a step in the right direction under a reconstructed offense headed by new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. The Giants’ offense will need to rely upon Slayton once again if most of the offensive players will continue to miss time next season. His current situation is ideal and will ultimately benefit his potential drafters as the NFL season progresses.
1. Top NFL WR breakout candidate: Diontae Johnson
The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers looked nothing like the NFL team they once had. Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sustained a season-ending elbow injury early in the season. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner both missed significant time last season as well. Amidst the team’s subpar 2019 campaign, rookie Diontae Johnson shone the brightest in a disjointed and undermanned Steelers offense.
The Toledo product amassed 59 receptions for 680 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in his rookie season. He was also named to the NFL All-Pro Second Team as a punt return specialist. With Big Ben now back at the helm, Johnson will aim to exceed his numbers from last season and establish himself as a franchise cornerstone for the Steelers moving forward.