Evaluating WRs during their transition to the NFL can be tough. We all have our favorites, and we usually fall back on net production and the eye test.
For fantasy, we constantly look for indicators that can help us with that usually fuzzy evaluation of this transition. For RBs, we’ll look at yards after contact/att, missed tackles forced, and draft capital as having good correlations, especially when they can be combined.
For WRs, yards/route run and yards/target are good indicators, but the combination of breakout age and draft capital should also be considered in evaluating WRs. Breakout age is the age a WR was in college when they amassed at least 20% of their team’s receiving yards and TDs.
Specifically, if a player has a breakout age of 19 or under, AND they are drafted in the 1st round, they have a 70% chance of having at least one top-24 PPR season in their careers. Rookies that fit that description in 2020 are Ceedee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, and Jerry Jeudy.
Jalen Raegor is in his own class, as he broke out at 18, while also being drafted in the 1st round.
The one WR who broke out at 18 and was drafted in the 1st round in 2019? N’Keal Harry. The Patriots will need that true WR1 pretty soon, so that can work out.
WRs drafted in Round 2 and 3 who break out at age 18 have a hit rate of 46% and 43%, respectively. Bryan Edwards is the one WR who fits that bill from the 2020 draft… and it just so happens that the Raiders are looking for a true #1 WR.
WRs drafted in Round 2 who have a breakout age of 19 have a hit rate of 36%. That would include Denzel Mims, Laviska Shenault, and KJ Hamler from the 2020 draft.
These aren’t the only numbers to consider when evaluating WRs from college to the pros, obviously, but it’s another tool in your tool belt, especially considering how high the hit rate can be in the right circumstance.