Step up Sophomore
Step up Sophomore is back and as always I will start with my favourite position and look at three 2022 Sophomore Wide receivers.
A player’s sophomore season can be a boom or bust season. Get it right and the player is more likely to stick around after their second season and consequently stick around in the league.
In this series, I look at 3 players who have just finished their rookie season and will be looking to do just that, step up.
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.
DeVonta Smith kicks off the 2022 Sophomore Wide Receivers. There are still question marks at the Quarterback position in Philly. Whoever starts behind centre in 2022, the Eagles need their 1st round pick to step up and be the player they have been missing and help the Quarterback.
DeVonta Smith did ok in his rookie season. Smith was targeted 104 times, catching 64 of those for 916 yards and 5 TDs. Not bad for a rookie but when you put those numbers next to the other two Wide Receivers who also went in the top 10, it doesn’t quite match up.
Ja’Marr Chase went 5th overall and was a rookie sensation in 2021. Chase’s numbers were 128 targets, 81 receptions and a massive 1455 yards and 13 TD’s. Jaylen Waddle went 6th overall and had 140 targets, catching 104 of those for 1015 yards and 6 TD’s
Whichever way the Eagles go with the Quarterback, they need Smith to be the Heisman Trophy winner he was in college who had 1856 receiving yards from 117 targets and 23 TDs in 2020.
A Philly History Lesson
The Eagles’ past Wide Receivers have been a mixed bag. However, they have had the likes of DeSean Jackson popping off for 1332 yards and 9 TD’s before they released him.
Following on from Jackson, the Eagles then had Jeremy Maclin step up and get 1318 yards and 10 TD’s and also had a Tight End in Zack Ertz have his best season when he had 1163 yards and 8 TD’s.
Unfortunately, the past few seasons haven’t gone quite as planned in the receiving game, with the likes of Quez Watkins and more notably Jalen Reagor not being the options they might have hoped they would be.
This is now why the Eagles hope to get Smith at his best. If the Eagles do, they not only get Smith stepping up but the Eagles will have a Wide Receiver that will help the team step up from mediocrity.
The Giants could really do with one of the leagues 2022 Sophomore Wide Receivers stepping up and Toney has the potential to be that guy.
It wasn’t the best rookie season for Toney, as he struggled to stay fit enough to put together a good stint on the field. However, when Toney did suit up there were some good points to pick up
In 10 games, Toney was targeted 57 times, catching 39 of those for 420 yards with an average of 10.8 yards per reception. Toney’s best game came in week 5 with 10 receptions for 189 yards against the Cowboys, showing us some huge potential.
I haven’t mentioned Toney’s TD’s. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any for Toney in 2021. With an NFL season now under his belt, surely Toney can progress and start picking up TD’s for the Giants.
Toney needs that Gator Chomp Back!
Toney has shown us he can score. In his last season for the Florida Gators, Toney scored 10 TD’s with 984 receiving yards and that was whilst lining up with Tight End sensation Kyle Pitts who scored 12 TDs in the same season.
If the Giants can have Toney stay on the field, he’s good enough to draw attention away from the other pass catchers and help the whole of the Giants’ offense. If Toney is stepping up, he’s able to spread the defence and open up plays for not just himself but other receivers too.
During Toney’s rookie season, the targets were always there. Even on the days where Toney might have looked to have struggled with a lack of targets, it was also the case for the other receivers on the team.
Obviously, as a rookie, the season started slower for Toney. From week 4 on, Toney played in 7 games and had only 3 games with under 5 targets. Whilst having 4 games with 9 targets or above.
One thing that the Giants are not sure of is how long Jones will stay behind centre. The Giants don’t want to take the 5th year option for him so the Quarterback plans will still be up in the air.
The only thing that Toney needs to worry about, is taking that next step for the Giants and being that player they hoped they drafted. Whether that’s with Jones throwing Toney the ball or a new Quarterback.
Going into the 2021 season, Bateman was all set to be the difference-maker for the Ravens. The Ravens selected Bateman in round 1 with the 27th pick overall. Unfortunately, Bateman started the season on Injured Reserve making him miss the first 5 games of the season.
Once Bateman got back to the team, he got to work trying to show everyone why he was a first-round pick. Bateman finished the season playing in 12 games, having 68 targets and catching 46 of those. Bateman had 515 receiving yards and picked up one TD. With that, he averaged 11.2 yards per reception.
Moving into year 2, Bateman will be hoping for a healthy Lamar Jackson to pass him the football. The Ravens will be looking to have a full offense, getting Jackson back behind centre and having Dobbins back too. Add in Wide Receiver Marquise Brown and you now have an offense that’s going to help each other step up.
With Jackson and Dobbins having the ability to run the ball well, this should make the opposition stack the box. With teams having to choose to watch the run, this now opens the secondary up for the two lead Wide Receivers.
A Room of Alphas?
Brown is good enough and fast enough to take coverage away from Bateman and vice versa. This will only help both players but especially give the chance for Bateman to step up in his sophomore year.
Luckily for both players, they are very different in terms of how they could be used. Brown is very much that fast deep threat whilst Bateman offers the big X type receiver.
Obviously, we have to throw in Jackson’s favourite target, Tight End Mark Andrews. However, in the 11 games that Jackson finished, Jackson only had 3 games with under 30 pass attempts. Meaning that there should be enough passes to go around. Especially as Jackson had 5 games with over 37 pass attempts of those 11 Jackson finished.
Even with the rushing ability that Jackson has, the Ravens pass game is still good enough to house three noteworthy fantasy receivers especially if Bateman steps up in his sophomore season.
There you have it, Rush Nation. My 2022 Sophomore Wide Receivers that need to step up in 2022.
Next up is the Running Back position.
Until then, Keep Rushing.