Fantasy Football: The Second-Year Jump


Dec 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) runs against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Ravens won 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As training camps approach and teams assemble for the 2015 NFL season, so starts fantasy football season.  Some leagues have already started drafting while others prepare and build their draft boards. There are loads of strategies when building a draft board, but I find it best to just be informed about players and trends, and like NFL teams do, let the draft come to you.

One trend to keep an eye on is players entering their second year and the jump that they could potentially make. You also have to be aware of players who will be over-drafted because of their rookie year performance. When looking for that second year gem, you might have to take a chance on a guy, but solid players with high upside can be found in the later rounds. Some players who could have been injured or buried on the depth chart might now be primed for a larger role. Here’s five guys that look to be in line for a second year jump.

Dec 21, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) before facing the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Seahawks won 35-6. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

WR John Brown, Arizona Cardinals

Some were surprised by the Cardinals’ selection in the third round last year, but John Brown hushed doubters after catching 48 balls (on 103 targets) for 696 yards and five touchdowns during his rookie campaign. Brown’s 103 targets were second only to Larry Fitzgerald who had 106. Brown is clearly a big part of the Cardinals’ offensive plans this offseason, and with Carson Palmer back under center, all the Cardinals skill position players production should increase.

WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2005, but Allen Robinson will look to end that streak this year. Ankle and foot injuries held him back last year, but he still impressed when on the field. Despite playing in only 10 games, Robinson still received 81 targets and enters the season as the clear number one option for the Jaguars. Part of his production is dependent on fellow second-year player, quarterback Blake Bortles progressing, but Robinson has the upside of a potential WR1 who could be drafted in the fifth or sixth round.

WR Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Out of the top four guys on the depth chart, Jarvis Landry is the only player who was in the system last year, so at least for the first half of the season I expect Landry to get a good portion of the targets. Landry is especially appealing in PPR leagues.  In the last half of the 2014 season, he averaged nine targets per game and finished the season with 85 catches.  He could be a solid WR3 who offers WR2 upside early in the 2015 season while his fellow receivers either get acclimated to Miami’s offense and/or life in the NFL.

RB Tre Mason, Saint Louis Rams

When the Rams selected Todd Gurley in the first round of this year’s draft, Tre Mason‘s fantasy future took a hit. However, with Gurley still recovering from a torn ACL, it looks like Mason will get the majority of reps in training camp and could start the season leading the team in carries.  The Rams have no reason to rush Gurley back with Mason showing that he was a very capable led back last year.  After ridding the pine the first six weeks the Rams turned Mason loose and he had six runs of 20 yards or more. Mason can be selected in the late rounds of a draft and pairing him with Gurley might make for a nice “buy low with high upside” strategy.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rookie tight ends seem to always struggle somewhat in their first year. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was no different after catching only 21 passes and accounting for two touchdowns in his rookie season. In his second year, and with shinny new quarterback (Jameis Winston), Seferian-Jenkins could approach 60-70 catches in his sophomore year. Winston loved throwing to his tight end while playing for Florida State and the 6’5″, 265-pound Seferian-Jenkins will make for a nice security blanket for the first-year quarterback. The Buccaneers tight end will likely be available in your draft’s later rounds.

Next: Ground Rules for Effective Fantasy Football Drafting