For a long time, NFL and fantasy pundits alike have addressed third-year receivers. While the third-year jump is still a thing, WRs have been breaking out into their sophomore seasons in recent years. However, in the vast majority of cases, rookie-year performance points to the sophomore breakout. What if it doesn’t happen? Here are four sophomores wide receivers you can live without in fantasy football.
Sophomore wide receivers, it’s okay to give up
One of the most important skills in fantasy football is admitting when you’re wrong. None of us can predict player success 100%. If we even get to 60%, that results in a massively positive expected value over the course of our fantasy football career.
The 2021 rookie class was really fantastic. None of the first seven wide receivers selected appear on this list. Things take a little turn after these top guys though. Here are four sophomore wide receivers I’ll be retiring after poor rookie seasons in the NFL.
D’Wayne Eskridge, Seattle Seahawks
There are many wide receiver prospects that I fall for. D’Wayne Eskridge was not one of them.
Eskridge was all but dead when he arrived as a prospect. Fading four-year-old college players is a good bet. Eskridge was in college for five years. And he wasn’t productive until his super senior season. Eskdrige was a 24-year-old rookie of average athleticism who was drafted on a run-first offensive with two established stallions in front of him.
In 10 games as a rookie, Eskridge caught 10 passes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He was passed 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 start this year, there’s just no hope for Eskridge to make it. Even if Russell Wilson were still in town, I would feel the same way. You can close the door on Eskridge, which is always important in fantasy football.
Tutu Atwell, Los Angeles Rams
I have no idea why the Rams issued a second-round pick on Tutu Atwell a year after a second-round pick on Van Jefferson while they were already fielding Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
Atwell is 5’9″, 155 pounds. It’s unfathomably small for an NFL receiver. He played 8 games as a rookie and literally didn’t see a single goal. Again, I have no idea why he’s on this team.
The Rams renewed Kupp, who just had the greatest fantasy wide receiver season ever. They signed Allen Robinson. Jefferson is still their WR3. Atwell can at best pass Ben Skowronek as a WR4 – but he couldn’t do that last year.
If Atwell ever plays a role in the fantasy, he will be the runaway of runaways. I don’t think I’m the only one who gave up second wide receiver completely after just one season.
Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers
I very much doubt anyone would argue with me about the first two names on this list. But this one might draw the wrath of some.
Terrace Marshall Jr. certainly looked good. He was a 21-year-old rookie who was declared early by LSU and had elite speed and burst scores on his pro day. At 6’2″ and 205 pounds, Marshall has the profile of a dominant outreach receiver. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have the skills on the field.
As a rookie, Marshall caught just 17 passes for 138 yards in 13 games. The typical arc for rookie receivers is to acclimate in the first half of the season and then come strong in the second half. Marshall did the opposite. He saw his snap percentage decrease as the season progressed. By the second half of the 2021 campaign, Marshall had fallen behind Brandon Zylstra.
The Panthers might get a slight quarterback upgrade in Baker Mayfield, but he doesn’t support three fantasy-relevant receivers, let alone four. I’m not sure if Marshall is good enough to pass Zylstra. Even if he does, he’ll stand firmly behind DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. I’m 2022 and totally out on Marshall forever.
Dyami Brown, Washington Commanders
The third-round pick of the commanders from last year’s draft is an easy second-year wide receiver that I can give up. I didn’t consider Dyami Brown a legitimate NFL prospect. He then went out and posted a rookie season in which he caught 12 passes for 165 yards in 15 games. Bad prospects + bad rookie season = no reason to buy long-term.
The Commanders appreciated Brown so much 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 proving to be a superior player to Brown, there simply isn’t a path to Brown that ever matters in the NFL or fantasy football.