In the fantasy football world, there is a notion that wide receivers who are entering their year have had enough time to progress on Sundays. Making them sought after during draft season. So when comparing players you’ll want to draft, you’ll want to have marks next to players who will be playing in their third season.

Last season a few of the higher-tiered, third year receivers heavily let us down (i.e. Amari Cooper and DeVante Parker). However, there were a few of the third year receivers who hadn’t yet made a big name for themselves that exploded onto the scene (i.e. Nelson Agholor and David Funchess) and a certain receiver who continued his eliteness in the NFL by catching the Minnesota Miracle — Stefon Diggs — and ending the Saints season.

So now we’ll take a look at who will be entering their third season in 2018 and breaking them down into categories.

Studs

These are the players I shouldn’t have to tell you to be targeting, because they are elite already.

Michael Thomas – NO

When you’re the number one target for Drew Brees, then you’ve got yourself a nice gig. The Saints traded away Brandin Cooks last season because they had Michael Thomas to take over the WR1 role. Thomas isn’t going anywhere, and I doubt Brees will be on the move.

Tyreek Hill – KC

The fifth round pick made a name for himself when he literally burst onto our TV screens in 2016. Giving us reminders of Dante Hall, Tyreek Hill looked like a return specialist. Then we finally understood that this guy can catch also. With Patrick Mahomes and his big arm now under center, the possibilities are endless for the fastest man in the NFL.

Soon-to-be Studs

Players like DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor last season, big “boom or bust” potential.

Will Fuller – HOU

The biggest name entering the 2018 season will be Will Fuller. When you catch 7 touchdowns on 28 targets (1 touchdown every 4 catches), you’ll be high on everyone’s radar. That obscene stat really makes you think. Fuller was a touchdown machine and a fantasy machine. Averaging 2.6 fantasy points per TARGET, which was good enough fourth best in the league. On a team where Hopkins will be double-covered and Watson has a huge arm, combined with Fuller’s speed. If Fuller stays healthy, he’ll be one of the best players in the NFL.

Sterling Shepard – NYG

Here’s a guy who has done a lot to show his worth. In his rookie season with a healthy Beckham Jr., Shepard still put up 683 yards and 8 touchdowns. Then during last year’s off-season, the Giants went out and signed veteran receiver Brandon Marshall. It looked like a dangerous squad, but we weren’t able to see them at full potential. Beckham Jr. was hurt in preseason and was never himself, Marshall was out by week three, and Shepard was only able to play in 11 games. Shepard’s most notable stat is his 70.1% catch rate. He did have 7 drops, which needs to be understood, but other than those seven, he caught almost everything thrown to him. With Marshall getting older, I predict a 2017 Agholor-type of season from Shepard in 2018.

Josh Doctson – WAS

I’m not the biggest fan of Doctson. I do think he had a more-than-capable quarterback in Kirk Cousins, yet still could never be a consistent fantasy player. Now, losing Cousins and gaining Alex Smith may be a good change for Doctson, and that’s why I’m including him in this category. He has the potential to be an absolute stud and maybe just needs some new chemistry with the quarterback. Smith has an arm for the deep ball and can throw very good quick-route passes. Doctson should flourish along with fourth year receiver Jamison Crowder. However, I’m very hesitant and will be watching the summer workouts very closely.

Corey Coleman – CLE

Another player that I don’t like but that you should note. When you’ve played in two season and have a 45% and 40% catch rate, it tells me that you aren’t an elite pass catcher. You may be an elite athlete but you’re hands don’t show it. He’s never played more than 10 games and has never caught more than 413 yards. Yet his potential is still there. With the re-emergence of Josh Gordon, who should be drawing double coverage often, it should leave Coleman one-on-one on the opposite side. The biggest worry, of course, being that he can’t stay healthy. This season will be about the final chance for Coleman to keep the hearts of the fantasy world.

Shot in the Dark

Some players who haven’t done much yet, but you should have on your watch list as of right now.

Chris Moore – BAL

This is a player whose catch percentage is also below 50% every year. Yet, Chris Moore emerged last season catching over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Ravens are not expected to go after Mike Wallace once the new season begins, and Jeremy Maclin is on his final year of his contract and getting older. The Ravens like Moore and should be introducing him into a bigger role, barring any big free agent signings or a trade for Miami’s Jarvis Landry.

Braxton Miller – HOU

The biggest reason Braxton Miller is on this list is because of Watson’s arm. Sure, he’ll be looking to Hopkins and Fuller first, but you can be a third string receiver and be an impactful fantasy player. This is merely a guy to keep on your watch list through the summer to see if everyone’s looking healthy and if Watson is looking like someone who can spread the ball around.

Seth Devalve – CLE

Out of all the receivers (5) the Browns drafted in 2016, Coleman has the most potential, but Devalve has shown the best stats. His 83% and 57% are far and away better catch rates then Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins, and Coleman. He also showed the most improvement in 2017 in their sophomore seasons. With the odds against Coleman playing a full season, I will expect Devalve to get a few chances to start and, if he shows out in preseason, could have an immediate impact in 2018.

Not Listed

The players I’m going to be avoiding no matter what — and you should too.

Laquon Treadwell – MIN

He actually showed a lot of promise last season and I like the player. The situation just doesn’t give him a chance to succeed. I’ll be looking for him once he switches teams.

Tyler Boyd – CIN

Andy Dalton is an awful quarterback who only likes to look at A.J. Green and his tight ends. Tyler Boyd is now the odd man out.

Malcolm Mitchell – NE

Where have you gone Malcolm Mitchell? If anyone sees him, let me know.

About The Author Nick Faber

Nick is an avid fantasy footballer and avid sports follower from Detroit, Michigan. He hosts the Ten in the Head video podcast which can be found at facebook.com/teninthehead.