For a long time, NFL and fantasy pundits alike talked up third-year wide receivers. While the year three leap is still a thing, in recent years, WRs have been breaking out in their second seasons. In the vast majority of cases, though, rookie year performance suggests the sophomore year breakout. What if it doesn’t happen? Here are four sophomore wide receivers you can give up on in fantasy football.
Sophomore wide receivers it’s okay to give up on in fantasy football
One of the most important skills to possess in fantasy football is admitting when you’re wrong. None of us can predict player success at a 100% rate. If we can even get to 60%, that will result in a massively positive expected value over the course of our fantasy football careers.
The 2021 rookie class was truly fantastic. Of the first seven wide receivers selected, not one of them appears on this list. After those top guys, though, things take a bit of a turn. Here are four sophomore wide receivers I’m giving up on after poor rookie seasons in the NFL.
D’Wayne Eskridge, Seattle Seahawks
There are plenty of wide receiver prospects I whiff on. D’Wayne Eskridge was not one of them.
Eskridge was pretty much dead on arrival as a prospect. It’s a good bet to fade four-year college players. Eskridge was in college for five years. And he wasn’t productive until his super senior season. Eskdrige was a 24-year-old rookie with average athleticism drafted to a run-first offense with two established studs ahead of him.
In 10 games as a rookie, Eskridge caught 10 passes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He was outproduced and outplayed by Freddie Swain.
Eskridge enters the 2022 season as the Seahawks’ WR4, at best. He may even be their WR5. With Geno Smith and Drew Lock both likely to make starts this year, there is simply no hope for Eskridge to break through. Even if Russell Wilson were still in town, I’d feel the same way. You can close the door on Eskridge ever mattering in fantasy football.
Tutu Atwell, Los Angeles Rams
I have no idea why the Rams spent a second-round pick on Tutu Atwell one year after using a second-round pick on Van Jefferson while already rostering Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
Atwell is 5’9″, 155 pounds. He’s unfathomably small for an NFL receiver. He was active for 8 games as a rookie and literally did not see a single target. Again, I have no idea why he’s on this team.
The Rams extended Kupp, who just had the greatest fantasy wide receiver season of all time. They signed Allen Robinson. Jefferson is still their WR3. At best, Atwell can overtake Ben Skowronek to be the WR4 — but he couldn’t do that last year.
If Atwell ever matters in fantasy, he will be the outlier of all outliers. I don’t think I’m alone in completely giving up on the sophomore wide receiver after just one season.
Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers
I highly doubt anyone would argue with me over the first two names on this list. But this one might draw the ire of some.
Terrace Marshall Jr. certainly looked the part. He was a 21-year-old rookie early declare from LSU who posted elite speed and burst scores at his pro day. At 6’2″, 205 pounds, Marshall has the profile of a dominant outside receiver. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t possess the on-field ability.
As a rookie, Marshall caught just 17 passes for 138 yards in 13 games. The typical arc for rookie receivers is to get acclimated over the first half of the season and then come on strong in the second half. Marshall did the opposite. He saw his snap share decline over the course of the season. By the second half of the 2021 campaign, Marshall had fallen behind Brandon Zylstra.
The Panthers may be getting a slight quarterback upgrade in Baker Mayfield, but he is not supporting three fantasy-relevant receivers, let alone four. I’m not sure Marshall is good enough to overtake Zylstra. Even if he does, he will be firmly behind DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. I’m completely out on Marshall in 2022 and forever.
Dyami Brown, Washington Commanders
The Commanders’ third-round pick from last year’s draft is an easy sophomore wide receiver for me to give up on. I did not view Dyami Brown as a legitimate NFL prospect. Then, he went out and posted a rookie season where he caught 12 passes for 165 yards in 15 games. Bad prospect + poor rookie season = no reason to buy in long-term.
The Commanders thought so highly of Brown after his rookie season that they extended Terry McLaurin and selected Jahan Dotson in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. With Curtis Samuel still around and Cam Sims having proven to be the superior player to Brown, there’s just no path to Brown ever mattering in the NFL or fantasy football.