How to spot a Breakout Wide Receiver

Dynasty Guide with Top 300 Rankings and Top 50 Rookie Rankings

I get asked a lot who I think could be the next breakout wide receiver. While nothing is full proof, there are a few things you can look for when trying to isolate one. With the NFL Draft kicking off today, there are a lot of potential wide receiver breakouts. This is one of the deepest wide receiver classes we've ever seen. There are numerous things I look for in a rookie wide receiver, which I thoroughly explain in my Dynasty Guide if you want to really nerd out on a deep dive, but here I’ll touch on three of them. I selected a list of 20 wide receivers who are right around the Top 25 in rankings for 2020. You will see that many of them reach the parameters outlined below. I'm not saying this makes them a lock to breakout, but it does improve their chances.

 Ceedee Lamb


Breakout Wide Receivers are very rarely drafted in the late rounds. Tyreek Hill (5th), Stefon Diggs (5th), Adam Theilen (undrafted) and Antonio Brown (6th) are rare. They only happen once every couple years. The receivers being drafted in rounds 1-3 have the best odds at breaking out.

  • DeAndre Hopkins  = 1st
  • Adam Thielen = Undrafted
  • Mike Evans = 1st
  • Odell Beckham = 1st
  • Davante Adams = 2nd
  • Allen Robinson = 2nd
  • Amari Cooper = 1st
  • Stefon Diggs = 5th
  • Michael Thomas = 2nd
  • Tyreek Hill = 5th
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster = 2nd
  • Chris Godwin = 3rd
  • Kenny Golladay = 4th
  • Cooper Kupp = 4th
  • D.J. Moore = 1st
  • Calvin Ridley = 1st
  • Michael Gallup = 2nd
  • A.J. Brown = 2nd
  • D.K. Metcalf = 2nd
  • Courtland Sutton = 2nd

Jerry Jeudy

Drafted as the secondary WR

What might be surprising is that rarely do these breakout wide receivers land on teams where they are the number one option. Almost all of the wide receivers mentioned had their breakouts with another wideout taking away some of the pressure. However, to truly break out it’s better to have a situation with a good established wide receiver, or one who’s on the back end of their career, but not an elite one. You want a situation closer to what Devante Adams had with Jordy Nelson than you do with what Calvin Ridley has with Julio Jones. You want them to eventually be able to overtake that number 1 role.

  • DeAndre Hopkins = Andre Johnson
  • Adam Thielen = Stefon Diggs
  • Mike Evans = Vincent Jackson 
  • Odell Beckham = Victor Cruz
  • Davante Adams = Jordy Nelson 
  • Allen Robinson = Marquis Lee
  • Amari Cooper = Michael Crabtree
  • Stefon Diggs = Adam Thielen
  • Michael Thomas = Brandin Cooks
  • Tyreek Hill = Travis Kelce
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster = Antonio Brown
  • Chris Godwin = Mike Evans
  • Kenny Golladay = Marvin Jones
  • Cooper Kupp = Sammy Watkins
  • D.J. Moore = Greg Olsen
  • Calvin Ridley = Julio Jones
  • Courtland Sutton = Emmanuel Sanders
  • Michael Gallup = Amari Cooper
  • A.J. Brown = Corey Davis
  • D.K. Metcalf = Tyler Lockett 

Justin Jefferson

Attached to Good QB or System

Unsurprisingly breakout wideouts usually come with great quarterback play or coaching. That doesn’t always mean the quarterback had to be a perennially good QB, they could have just been good for that season, like Ryan Tannehill in 2019, or Sam Bradford in 2016. It also helps to be tied to an offensive-minded head coach who can scheme them into the system, like Andy Reid or Sean McVay. Ideally you want a great quarterback with a great offense and coaching.

  • DeAndre Hopkins = Gary Kubiak 
  • Adam Thielen = Sam Bradford 
  • Mike Evans = Luke McCown
  • Odell Beckham = Eli Manning 
  • Davante Adams = Aaron Rodgers
  • Allen Robinson = Blake Bortles
  • Amari Cooper = Derek Carr
  • Stefon Diggs = Sam Bradford
  • Michael Thomas = Drew Brees
  • Tyreek Hill = Andy Reid
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster = Big Ben
  • Chris Godwin = Bruce Arians 
  • Kenny Golladay = Matt Stafford 
  • Cooper Kupp = Sean McVay
  • D.J. Moore = Cam Newton
  • Calvin Ridley = Matt Ryan
  • Courtland Sutton = Joe Flacco / Drew Lock
  • Michael Gallup = Dak Prescott
  • A.J. Brown = Ryan Tannehill
  • D.K. Metcalf = Russell Wilson 

Some teams with great situations for the 2020 incoming rookies to land on include:

  • Minnesota Vikings
    —compliment to Adam Thielen
  • Oakland Raiders
    —compliment to Darren Waller 
  • Philadelphia Eagles
    —Carson Wentz at QB and compliment to Zach Ertz
  • San Francisco 49ers
    —Kyle Shannahan at coach and compliment to George Kittle
  • Indianapolis Colts
    —Philip Rivers as QB and compliment to T.Y. Hilton
  • Houston Texans
    —Deshaun Watson as QB
  • Miami Dolphins
    —compliment to DeVante Parker 

Pay attention to the draft over the next two days and see how many of the above boxes get checked. If you want even more data to help you make your decision, I encourage you to check out my the dynasty guide which is chalk full of data on all the rookie positions to help you nail your rookie draft picks.

Enjoy the draft everyone.  

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