Step up Sophomore 2021 – Wide Receivers
Step up Sophomore is back for its Sophomore season.
A player’s second season, also known as their sophomore year can be a tricky time. Get it right and you are more likely to stick around in the league a little longer.
In this series, I look at 3 players who have just finished their rookie season and will be looking to do just that.
In the systems they are in, stepping up is what’s needed. Knowing this could help you find some fantasy help in your drafts or at least some sleepers to keep an eye on.
As always I will start with my favorite position, and look at three Wide receivers.
Jerry Jeudy – Denver Broncos
Jeudy definitely didn’t have the worst rookie season but he also didn’t have the best. The young receiver showed some promise when he was thrown in at the deep end. Sutton, the number one receiver for Denver, was out for the season after going down injured in the first game of the season.
Jeudy managed to take in 52 receptions and go for 856 yards whilst grabbing 3 TD’s. Not particularly bad stats as a rookie but it could have been so much better had Jeudy pulled in more of his opportunities after he was targeted 113 times.
2021 gives Jeudy an opportunity to step up and start becoming the player he was touted to be coming out of college. He will have a full offseason to work with after not getting the opportunity during the covid stricken 2020 season. If Lock is still the starter, then Jeudy will have more of a chance to get a connection with his Quarterback with a year under his belt.
However, if Teddy Bridgewater becomes the new starter, then this brings new opportunities. Bridgewater is a more conservative Quarterback and will look after the football. Bridgewater is also better at timing the pass than Lock which would definitely help Jeudy with his route running abilities.
One last thing, with Sutton back, it won’t all be down to Jeudy to make the play and that also means the defence won’t be piling the pressure on as much as they have to think about sutton too.
Right now Jeudy is going towards the back end of the 8th round. He’s coming off the board as the 95th pick overall and as the WR36. In this price range you are looking at backup Running Back, Gus Edwards, two rookies Trey Sermon and Michael Carter or the Wide Receivers going just ahead of Jeudy like Deebo Samuel, Robbie Anderson and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
If the Quarterback situation improves from last season, Jeudy can improve from last season and have a nice breakout year in 2021
Henry Ruggs III – Las Vegas Raiders
2020 was not the Rookie season it was hyped up to be for Henry Ruggs. A woeful 43 targets wents his way with Ruggs catching 26 of them. Ruggs turned those into 452 yards and two TDs. One thing that was good to see was his yards per reception which was up at 17.4 yards.
Ruggs was in a fantastic position to get a good workload and give us great value but for some reason, the Raiders coaching staff didn’t seem to know how to utilise Ruggs to the best of his abilities. The fact that Ruggs had an average of 17.4 yards per reception you would have thought that the coach might want Carr to get him the ball more often.
As I said at the start, Ruggs was only targeted 43 times and never made it past 5 targets in any single game. This for me is outrageous, especially after the Raiders spent a high first-round draft pick on him in 2020.
Ruggs has the ability to make the most of his opportunities when given the ball. His speed is one reason the Raiders selected him in the first place but using him just downfield take away his explosiveness when taking in the short ball.
This season John Brown has been added to the team which could help with Ruggs’ game. If Ruggs was to drop into the slot and be used underneath then he has that ability to fly and make things happen after the catch.
Like with Jeudy, a full offseason programme can hopefully help with this and get that connection sorted with Carr. The other hope is that Gruden can see the player Ruggs is and use him properly to maximise his potential. That and maybe get carr to throw him the ball more.
Right now, Ruggs is coming off the board as the 130th overall pick. This puts him near the back end of the 11th round and as the WR 51. This late on in the draft is great value for a player that has big upside if given the opportunity. Especially when the next Wide Receiver off the board is Mecole Hardman and the player just before Ruggs is Running Back Rashaad Penny.
Chase Claypool – Pittsburgh Steelers
Claypool had a fantastic rookie season which seemingly came from nowhere. There wasn’t a lot of hype compared to the likes of 1st round rookies Ruggs and Jeudy and some were even calling Claypool a Tight End.
Claypool soon showed why the Steelers picked him with a fantastic range of ability. Between him rushing and being a wide out, when given the opportunity, Claypool stepped up.
So why is he in a step up Sophomore article if I’ve already said he’s done that? Doing it in a rookie season is one thing but being able to produce and carry on producing is another.
Tale of the tape
Claypool’s rookie season saw him catch 9 TD’s and rush for 2 more. He had 109 targets, catching 62 for 873 yards. That averages out as 14.08 yards per completion.
Claypool also rushed 10 times for only 16 yards but they were at some key moments in the game when a huge 1st down was needed or Claypool was rushing in for 2 TD’s.
The Steelers have a lot of weapons in the offence now with 3 solid Wide Receivers, good Tight Ends and a promising rookie and a first round rookie Running Back in Harris.
Because of this, Claypool has to step up in 2021 even more than when he was a rookie. To help this offence, everyone needs to play their part to keep the opponent’s Defence guessing.
When using many offensive weapons the Defence won’t be able to pin down the main target and this is when Claypool needs to act. He needs to get Rothlisburger to trust him and have him as a solid go-to player.
Claypool showed he is capable of a full load after being targeted over 100 times and going just shy of 900 yards. Being another year into the system can only mean good news for Claypool and giving him the opportunity to push on in his freshman year.
Claypool is coming off the board a little earlier than the two previous Wide Receivers I’ve spoken about. Right now he’s going in the 7th round as the 75th overall player and going as the WR 28
This just shows how much better Claypool was last season and how things look to be promising for 2021. With a strong Offence at the Steelers, Claypool has a fantastic opportunity to cash in and step up as sophomore in this offence.
There you have it Rush Nation. My Sophomore Wide Receivers needing to step up in 2021.
Next up is the Running Back position.
Until then, Keep Rushing.