Fantasy Football: 3 second-year wide receivers who are unlikely to advance to the next tier in fantasy scoring

2X997MD Costa Mesa, United States. 29th May, 2024. Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) during organized team activities at the Hoag Performance Center, Wednesday, May. 29, 2024, in Costa Mesa, Calif. (Dylan Stewart/Image of Sport) Photo via Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News

• WR Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers: Johnston’s 2024 outlook is so dreary that he might even lose his run-blocking role.

• WR Jonathan Mingo, Carolina Panthers: Carolina’s front office added an established veteran wide receiver via trade and spent a first-round draft pick on Mingo’s heir apparent this offseason.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Talented NFL wide receivers frequently establish themselves as perennial top-36, top-24 and even top-12 positional assets in their second season. Identifying which players are unlikely to do so well in advance gives fantasy football managers a tactical advantage over fantasy league mates on draft day. The article below details which second-year wide receivers are most likely to stagnate in their second NFL seasons, accounting for both half-PPR (half-points-per-reception) and PPR scoring formats. 

WR Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers second-year wide receiver Quentin Johnston finished as a WR7 in Weeks 1-17 half-PPR and PPR scoring in 2023. His poor 2023 showing coupled with decent 2024 target competition and snap-siphoning role players make for a slippery grip on the No. 3 wide receiver role. Johnston is unlikely to advance to the WR6 tier in 2024. His 58.7 PFF receiving grade ranks 60th among 64 NFL wide receivers with at least 65 targets.

As detailed in “3 must-draft rookie wide receivers,” Los Angeles’ second-round wide receiver Ladd McConkey profiles as a modern-day inside/outside No. 1 wide receiver. He is reportedly “already developing a connection” with quarterback Justin Herbert in organized team activities (OTAs), per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper. Journeyman free agent signee wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. is also stealing first-team repetitions in OTAs. Herbert’s 83.1 PFF passing grade ranks 10th among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 275 dropbacks, and McConkey’s 81.3 PFF receiving grade ranks 19th among Power Five wide receivers with at least 35 targets

Chark operates as a downfield, boundary wide receiver, producing a 15.2-yard average depth of target (aDot) and 27.4% deep-target rate with the Carolina Panthers last year, which generally conflict with Johnston’s respective 12.9 and 23.1% rates.

Johnston (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) possesses an imposing, classical X-wide receiver stature but Chark (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) and rookie Cornelius Johnson (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) offer similarly lanky frames as downfield perimeter targets. Johnson spent five years studying under head coach Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, finishing top-two in team targets in each of the last four seasons while functioning as Harbaugh’s most-trusted run-blocking wide receiver in each of the last three. Among 26 Power Five wide receivers to log at least 1,600 offensive snaps from 2021-to-2023, Johnson’s 1,076 run-blocking snaps rank No. 1.

Harbaugh trust in Johnson’s run-blocking skills is concerning for Johnston, whose 228 run-blocking snaps ineffectively led the 2023 wide receiver corps. Among 64 NFL wide receivers to log at least 630 offensive snaps, Johnston’s 52.7 PFF run-blocking grade ranks 40th. The second-year player cannot afford to be taken off the field in run-heavy personnel packages as his access to play-action passing opportunities would also shrink. 

Johnston must also compete with fourth-year wide receiver Joshua Palmer, who locked up a starting 2024 role via a 67.6 PFF receiving grade, a 17.5% target rate and a 1.71 yards per route run (YPRR) average, all career-highs, as a fill-in 2023 starter. Johnston’s 65 targets earned him the final spot in the position’s top-64 player pool but he finished outside the top 60 in both target rate (13.3%) and YPRR (0.88). His 58.5% catch rate and 11 explosive pass plays landed outside the top 50. 

Johnston is unlikely to advance to the next fantasy football tier.

WR Jonathan Mingo, Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers second-year wide receiver Jonathan Mingo produced dismal per-play efficiency en route to half-PPR and PPR scoring WR7 results, prompting the new front office to draft his heir apparent and add an established NFL veteran wide receiver. Mingo is unlikely to advance to the next positional tier. His 52.6 PFF receiving grade ranks 64th among 64 NFL wide receivers with at least 65 targets.

Carolina’s new head coach Dave Canales held various passing game coaching positions with the Seattle Seahawks from 2010-2022 before a successful one-year stint as the 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator. His time with both teams is littered with physically dominant old-school X-wide receivers side-kicked by mid-sized inside/outside route-running technicians. The former archetype includes players like Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (6-foot-5, 231 pounds) and Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf (6-foot-3, 229 pounds), Sidney Rice (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and Mike Williams (6-foot-5, 229 pounds). The latter includes Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin (6-foot-1, 208) and Seattle’s Tyler Lockett (5-foot-10, 182 pounds), Doug Baldwin (5-foot-10, 192 pounds), Jermaine Kearse (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) and Golden Tate (5-foot-10, 197 pounds).

Canales’ hiring initially breathed life into Mingo’s second-season potential, as his 6-foot-2, 220-pound perimeter profile fits Canales’ alpha ideal and Mingo’s 2023 second-round draft capital theoretically makes him an incumbent starter. Canales quickly indicated otherwise by trading back into the 2024 NFL draft’s first round to select 6-foot-3, 227-pound hyperathletic wide receiver Xavier Legette. As detailed in “Most overvalued players in Rounds 11-20 on Underdog Fantasy,” Legette’s college profile is collaged with red flags but the move remains an undeniable indictment for Mingo. Legette’s 86.9 PFF receiving grade ranks 10th among 31 Power Five wide receivers with at least 95 targets.

Should Mingo fend off Legette, Mingo must still contend with savvy veteran target-earning wide receivers Adam Thielen, who out-played Mingo last year, and Diontae Johnson, an offseason trade acquisition. Mingo’s 15.4% target rate ranks 56th among 64 NFL wide receivers with at least 65 targets, distantly trailing Thielen’s 28th-ranked 21.3% target rate and Johnson’s 24th-ranked 22.8% target rate. 

Mingo must reinvent himself to earn targets ahead of those two. Among qualifying NFL wide receivers, Mingo ranks 58th in catchable pass catch rate (84.3%), 63rd in yards per reception (9.7) and dead last in YPRR (0.78), catch rate (51.8%) and explosive pass plays (six). 

Mingo is unlikely to advance to the next positional tier.

WR Tyler Scott, Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears second-year wide receiver Tyler Scott flopped in his 2023 rookie season, finishing outside the top 100 NFL wide receivers in both half-PPR and PPR scoring formats, and is now stuck behind perhaps the league’s best three-wide receiver set. He is unlikely to leap into even the top 100 tier this year. His 53.2 PFF receiving grade ranks 106th among 112 NFL wide receivers with at least 30 targets

Scott dazzled as a Big 12 post-catch producer in his 2022 junior season, ranking inside the top 10 among 44 Power Five wide receivers with at least 85 targets in yards after catch per reception (6.6), missed tackles forced per reception (0.22) and yards per reception (16.4). His small-sample (five returns) 32.0 yards per kickoff return in 2021 further reinforced Scott’s potential in the open field but his specialized post-catch skillset thunderously failed to translate to the NFL. 

Among 112 NFL wide receivers with at least 30 targets, Scott’s 3.8 yards after the catch per reception rank 64th, his 9.9 yards per reception rank 102nd and he forced just one missed tackle. Among 79 NFL players with at least five total returns, Scott’s 21.6 yards per kickoff return rank 36th, 26 spots lower than teammate and 2022 NFL draft bust Velus Jones Jr.’s 27.2-yard average. 

Scott must now make a case for targets against Nos. 1 and 2 wide receivers D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen, whose respective 89.5 PFF receiving grade and 87.4 PFF receiving grade rank eighth and 10th among 33 NFL wide receivers with at least 105 targets, and first-round rookie wide receiver Rome Odunze, whose 89.5 PFF receiving grade ranks fifth among 22 Power Five wide receivers with at least 100 targets

Scott is unlikely to leap into the position’s top-100 tier this year.


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