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Finding 2020's breakout wide receiver: Marquise Brown

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: 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 going to look into the breakout chances for second-year wide receivers, starting with the first one taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, Marquise Brown. 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 Brown 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. 

METHODOLOGY

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 air yards per target (AYPT) and rookie top-24 fantasy weeks (Top-24). All college numbers are from players’ final seasons.

MARQUISE BROWN COMPS

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