2023 Fantasy Football Sophomore Studs: Skyy Moore, Christian Watson Among Year 2 Breakouts

2023 Fantasy Football Sophomore Studs: Skyy Moore, Christian Watson Among Year 2 Breakouts article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Skyy Moore (left) and Christian Watson.

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Not every star comes out of the gates thriving in the NFL. Sometimes, it takes a bit for players to hit their stride.

Sean Koerner and Chris Raybon are updating their fantasy rankings every day, and they've found the players who they see making the leap in Year 2. The duo is high on five second-year receivers, one RB and even a tight end.

Check out our experts' second-year breakout candidates below.

Fantasy Football Breakout Candidates

WR Skyy Moore

Koerner: Skyy Moore had a disappointing rookie season, but he’s set up perfectly to break out in year two.

With JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman no longer with K.C., Moore looks set to be a mainstay in 3-wide receiver sets and has a chance to be Patrick Mahomes’ No. 2 target this season. That alone makes him worth his ADP.

RB James Cook

Raybon: After posting strong efficiency numbers (5.7 yards per carry, 8.6 yards per reception) as a rookie, Cook is slated to take over as Buffalo’s RB1 in Year 2. While Cook’s usage could wind up similar to Devin Singletary’s over the past two years, Cook is more explosive than Singletary ever was.

WR Drake London

Raybon: Thanks to playing in all 17 games, London was able to post WR3 numbers as a rookie, but his per-game production was closer to that of a WR4. London was targeted on an impressive 27.1% of his routes, fourth among WRs that ran 100 or more routes.

London’s chemistry with Desmond Ridder was especially promising, as he averaged 6.3 catches for 83.3 yards in Ridder’s four starts compared to 3.6 catches for 41.0 yards in Marcus Mariota’s 13 starts.

WR Christian Watson

Raybon: After averaging 1.7 receptions for 14.7 scoreless yards across his first six games, Watson came on strong with averages of 3.9 receptions, 65.4 yards, and 0.88 TDs over his final eighth contests, accounting for 30.3% of Green Bay’s passing yardage and 61.5% of its passing TDs over that span. Watson’s target-per-route rate of 24.1% was 12th among WRs with 100 targets or more.

Watson could be targeted even more in Year 2 as the leader of a pass-catching corps that consists of nothing but rookies and second-year players with lesser draft pedigrees.

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WR Jahan Dotson

Raybon: After averaging 2.0 catches for 25.6 yards and 0.57 TDs over his first seven NFL games, the 2022 No. 16 overall pick came on strong over his final five contests with 4.2 catches, 68.8 yards, and 0.60 TDs, hinting at a Year 2 breakout.

Dotson showcased excellent ability in a variety of situations as a rookie, including the red zone (5 TDs on 7 targets), 50-50 balls (his 61.1% contested catch rate was 17th of 103 qualified WRs, according to PFF), and deep balls (his 98.7 PFF grade on targets 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage was tied for 15 among 98 qualified WRs, per PFF).

With new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy expected to bring a more modern, pass-happy offense to Washington and the QB situation unlikely to be any worse than last season, Dotson should be able to parlay his ability to get open all over the field into WR3 numbers, and has a chance to approach the production of Terry McLaurin as soon as this season.

WR George Pickens

Raybon: Pickens ended 2022 trending upward, averaging 57.8 receiving yards and 0.4 TDs over his final five games after averaging 42.7 yards and 0.17 over his first 12 outings. Despite a somewhat limited route tree as a rookie, Pickens’ 801 receiving yards were only 81 behind Diontae Johnson for the team lead.

Pickens was primarily a go-route runner as a rookie and did a good chunk of his damage in contested-catch situations – his 19 contested catches were third-most of all WRs, and his 67.9% contested catch rate was first of 44 WRs with 17 or more contested targets according to PFF – but has been working on expanding his route tree this offseason.

As a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with sub-4.5 speed, the 2022 No. 52 overall pick possesses the requisite talent to unseat Johnson for the WR1 role as soon as this season.

TE Jake Ferguson

Raybon: I initially expected Ferguson to open the season in a three-way committee at TE alongside rookie Luke Schoonmaker and fellow second-year man Peyton Hendershot, but I now believe Ferguson is a good bet to be the direct replacement for Schultz while Schoonmaker and Hendershot split backup duties a la Ferguson and Hendershot last season.

Ferguson looked like a different player in a brief preseason stint in Week 1, catching three passes for 38 yards on just eight routes against the Jaguars. He then received the starter’s treatment in Week 2, sitting out against the Seahawks while Hendershot and Schoonmaker received the majority of the snaps at TE.

Earlier this month, Cowboys beat writer Jake Machota of The Athletic pegged Ferguson as the “clear No. 1” and “favorite to get the majority of targets” left behind by Schultz. If Ferguson indeed takes over for Schultz, he will be assuming a role that saw Schultz finish as a top-12 TE in each of the past three seasons, averaging 4.1 receptions, 41.7 yards, and 0.35 TDs per game.

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