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Rookie Wide Receiver Week 1 Breakouts: Why they are predictive of future fantasy success

Rookie wide receivers tend to take some time to develop in the NFL. But there are a select few every season who make an immediate impact in Year 1. This exclusive group of rookie wide receivers often burst onto the scene as early as Week 1. 

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It happened in 2019, with four rookie wide receivers going over 89 receiving yards in their NFL debuts.

Most receiving yards by rookie WRs in Week 1 of 2019
Marquise Brown 147 yards
Terry McLaurin 140 yards
A.J. Brown 100 yards
D.K. Metcalf 89 yards

A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin and D.K. Metcalf all ended up finishing 2019 inside the top 30 fantasy wide receivers. In terms of fantasy points per touch, all of them, including Marquise Brown, finished inside the top 23 fantasy wide receivers. The main point: They all remained useful fantasy options throughout the 2019 season after big Week 1 performances.

This is why it is crucial to pay close attention to rookie receivers who deliver early, because it is not only predictive of fantasy success in their rookie seasons but in the following years — especially when you consider their draft capital.

I've conducted research with a large sample of rookie wide receivers who delivered in Week 1, looking at how they progressed the rest of their rookie seasons (short-term outlook). In addition, I analyzed how their careers progressed (long-term outlook). I also found the differences in future success for early-drafted players versus later-round/undrafted receivers.

Week 1 Breakouts

I've compiled a list of rookie wide receivers who broke out in Week 1 of the NFL season between 2005 and 2019. In terms of quantifying the wide receiver breakout candidates, they must have met a threshold of scoring double-digit fantasy points in their Week 1 contests. There are 44 total rookie receivers who fall within this threshold, sorted here by draft round. 

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