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The Great Big Third Year WR Post - AFC

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This is the second post of a long discussion about third year WRs. If you haven't read the previous post here then I strongly suggest you go back and read that first. Otherwise this post may not make much sense.

In the last post I reviewed the NFC wide receivers, now it's time for the AFC. For whatever reason (probably random chance), the AFC looks to be a much better environment for third year WRs.

Draft Order

Player

Team

Games Played 2005-06

2007 QB(s), 2006 QB(s), 2005 QB(s)

Rcv Yd Diff 2006-2005

1

Braylon Edwards

CLE

26

Quinn/Frye, Frye, Frye/Dilfer

372

3

Mike Williams

OAK

22

Russell, Walter/Brooks, Collins

-251

4

Matt Jones

JAX

30

Leftwich, Leftwich/Garrard, Leftwich/Garrard

211

5

Mark Clayton

BAL

30

McNair, McNair, Boller/Wright

468

9

Roscoe Parrish

BUF

26

Losman, Losman, Losman/Holcomb

172

11

Vincent Jackson

SD

24

Rivers, Rivers, Brees

394

12

Courtney Roby

TEN

25

Young, Young,  McNair

-261

13

Chris Henry

CIN

N/A

N/A

N/A

14

Brandon Jones

TEN

26

Young, Young,  McNair

85

15

Jerome Mathis

HOU

14

Schaub, Carr, Carr

-65

16

Craphonso Thorpe

IND

0

Manning, Kitna, Green

0

19

Roydell Williams

TEN

24

Young, Young,  McNair

-178

22

Rasheed Marshall

PIT

12

Roethlisberger, N/A, Smith

1

24

Tab Perry

CIN

18

Palmer, Palmer, Palmer

60

30

Harry Williams

HOU

1

Schaub, Carr, Carr

0

 

Before I start, you'll notice I greyed out Bengals' WR Chris Henry. He's been suspended for half the season (credit to oldschooler who pointed out the error when I originally said he was suspended the entire season), so I'm not reviewing him at all. I'll have to remember that he'll effectively be a third year WR next year though.

There are four WRs that meet all four of my criteria. The first two, Matt Jones and Mark Clayton, are well known to fantasy players. Both of them are expected to have solid years though neither one plays in a passing offense. Our sister blog on the Ravens, Baltimore Beat Down, thinks the addition of McGahee means the Ravens will be able to run more one-back sets, allowing them to use an extra receiver and stretch the field more. If that's the case, it looks even better for Clayton's fantasy status this season.

The next two guys are your "surprise" third year wide receiver breakout candidates, as much as anybody can be a surprise in fantasy football these days. Roscoe Parrish has the experience and has played with QB J.P. Losman for the past two years. But he's trapped on the depth chart behind Lee Evans, Peerless Price and Josh Reed. He'll need an injury to get a shot, but he has a lot of potential.

Vincent Jackson is the third year back that everybody is talking about. With Philip Rivers proving himself and no defined #1 WR, Jackson could certainly be the breakout candidate that everybody is predicting. However, Jackson is competing with teammate Eric Parker for that #1 spot and there likely aren't enough passes in the Charger offense for both of them.

That brings us to the players that have met two of the criteria. Braylon Edwards is developing into a fantasy star and if the Browns give Charlie Frye a shot, he should be the breakout third year WR that everybody wants to see. However if the Browns play rotating QB with Frye, Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, it should drop Edwards' production. Here's to hoping the Browns let Charlie Frye take the ball.

Interestingly, there are three Titan receivers that meet the games played and QB stability criteria, though none of them have really shown improvement the past two years. Between Courtney Roby, Brandon Jones and Roydell Williams will be one breakout 3rd year wide receiver. Take that to the bank. Which one? Um..I don't know. And they're so similar that I don't know how anybody would know right now. Here's my advice though: when the #1 WR slot is announced coming out of camp, draft the guy listed at #2. He's the one that will be the fantasy sleeper in 2007.

The last guy is another interesting possibility as a sleeper and that's Tab Perry in the Queen City. With Chris Henry suspended, Perry moves up to the #3 slot. Henry's numbers last season - 36 catches for 605 yards and nine touchdowns - were good enough for many fantasy teams. Perry doesn't have the sheer athleticism of Henry, but he should be good enough to come close to Henry's 2006 numbers. The explosive Bengals offense almost guarantees that there will be plenty of opportunities for 24th receiver taken in the 2005 draft. Keep an eye on him this summer.