Identifying and drafting the right breakout wide receiver can be the difference between winning your fantasy football league or suffering the ridicule of your league mates. Sometimes receivers can break out later in their career, but most often the jump happens in their second year. Almost every season, you can find a top fantasy receiver outside of the top-15 taken in fantasy football drafts, and many have been second-year breakouts like JuJu Smith-Schuster (2018), Tyreek Hill (2017), Allen Robinson (2015), Josh Gordon (2013), Hakeem Nicks (2010), DeSean Jackson (2009), Calvin Johnson (2008) and Greg Jennings (2007).
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In this series of articles, I’m looking at the breakout potential for second-year wide receivers. The series started with Marquise Brown, then moved to N’Keal Harry, and now we've progressed to the next receiver selected in the 2019 draft, Deebo Samuel. One of the best ways to determine the range of outcomes and probability of success for fantasy players is comparing them to similar historical players. In this analysis, I’ll compare Samuel to hundreds of receivers drafted since 2006 and project the likelihood of his breakout based on those who had the most similar size, college production, draft position and rookie metrics.
The matching methodology for this set of articles is similar to that for the 2020 wide receiver and running back prospects, where I found the closest statistically comparable players using principal component analysis (PCA) and the euclidean distance between the players' components, and then gave each a “Similarity” score based on percentile of distance.
The metrics for PCA are: draft position, weight, rushing attempts per game, market share of college receiving yards (CFB MS), college yards per reception (CFB YPR), rookie yards per route run (YPRR), rookie average depth of target (aDOT), rookie PPR fantasy points per game (PPR/Gm) and top-24 fantasy weeks (Top-24). All college numbers are from players’ final seasons.
DEEBO SAMUEL COMPS