Coming into this NFL season there 24 wide receivers/tight-ends that topped 1000 yards this past year.  Here’s how long they each had to wait for their first 1000-yard season:

Josh Gordon – two years

Antonio Brown – two years

Calvin Johnson – two years

Demaryius Thomas – three years

A.J. Green – one year

Alshon Jeffery – two years

Andre Johnson – two years

Pierre Garcon – six years

DeSean Jackson – two years

Jordy Nelson – four years

Brandon Marshall – two years

Eric Decker – three years

Dez Bryant – three years

Vincent Jackson – four years

Jimmy Graham – two years

Anquan Boldin – one year

Torrey Smith – three years

T.Y. Hilton – two years

Kendall Wright – two years

Harry Douglas – five years

Julian Edelman – five years

Keenan Allen – one year

Michael Floyd – two years

Brian Hartline – four years

Let this be a warning against drafting a rookie wide receiver/tight-end in the early-to-middle rounds of your fantasy team.

The breakout first-year receiver is far too rare.  Sammy Watkins may look like a stud right now, but just wait until he’s going up against a complicated NFL defense while trying to process a massive playbook while trying to collect passes from E.J. Manuel.   Let someone else draft Watkins. And Eric Ebron. And even Kelvin Benjamin (who might actually have some red-zone value this year).

As you can see from the above list, it’s the second year players you should be targeting. A lot of people will downgrade names like Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson and DeAndre Hopkins since they didn’t live up to their first-round hype last year.

Now, there’s been a lot written about Cordarrelle Patterson’s potential value in a Norv Turner offense this year, so don’t expect him to be available too long.  But Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter, Zach Ertz, Robert Woods, Aaron Dobson, Terrance Williams, Markus Wheaton, Jordan Reed, and Kenny Stills may all be available when everyone else is looking at kickers. 

Each breakout potential in 2014 given their maturation, their opportunities and their natural abilities. I may even be missing a couple guys from that list – who know what’ll happen with Marquess Wilson in Chicago, Marlon Brown in Baltimore, or Kenbrell Thompkins in New England.

Do yourself a favor and make it a priority to grab a second-year receiver with one (or more) of your late picks. Which one will depend on your personal taste, their pre-season performances, or just plain following your gut? Personally, I like the depth at wide receiver so much that I will almost certainly wait until Rounds three or four before I select my first, and I’ll do most of my damage at the position in the final rounds.

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