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Finding 2020's breakout wide receiver: valuing redshirts like Jalen Hurd and Hakeem Butler

In this series of articles, I’m looking at the breakout potential for second-year wide receivers. This article will focus on Jalen Hurd and Hakeem Butler, two receivers who missed their entire rookie seasons with injuries. The situations for Hurd and Butler aren’t completely analogous: Hurd had a severe injury that prevented him from any chance of playing; Butler could have potentially returned during the season. 

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One of the best ways to determine the range of outcomes and the probability of success for fantasy players is comparing them to similar historical players. In previous analyses of wide receivers from the 2019 draft class, I compared the second-year receivers to hundreds of receivers drafted since 2006 and projected the likelihood of their breakouts based on those who had the most similar size, college production, draft position and rookie metrics. For Hurd and Butler, I’m going to look at all the drafted receivers since 2006 who didn’t run a route in their first seasons to see if they can possibly contribute in their second seasons. I’m calling these receivers rookie redshirts.


Since 2006, I found 69 drafted wide receivers who didn’t run a single route in their rookie seasons. Of those 69 receivers, only 39 (53.6%) ran a route in their second seasons. Of those, only 13 were targeted at least two times per game. 

Here are their stats, with draft information, college market share, second-year games played, PPR points per game, targets per game and top-24 weeks.

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