Step up Sophomore – Second Season Boomers

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 piece, 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 near the end of your drafts or at least some sleepers to keep an eye on.

Jakobi Meyers – New England Patriots

All the hype went to N’Keal Harry last season after the Pats drafted him in the first round. The first time the Patriots have taken a WR in the first round since Terry Glenn in 1996. So you can understand, that was quite a big deal.

Meyers, on the other hand, went undrafted and was brought in to bolster receiving depth. This turned out to be quite a good decision as to when Meyers was getting the targets he was making the most of the opportunity.

The Stats

The ball was thrown to Meyers in 11 games. In those 11 he was only targeted 41 times and caught 26 of them. He did manage to rack up 359 yards giving him an average of 13.8 yards per reception.

Let’s not forget he was undrafted especially when you compare these stats with the likes of Mohammed Sanu. The Patriots decided to spend a high value 2nd round pick to trade for him from the Falcons. So you expect him to be a big deal and for them to get him the ball. He played in 8 games scoring just one TD. Racking up 206 yards from 26 receptions giving him an average of 8 yards per reception.

Phillip Dorsett did manage to get 5 TDs but the rest of his stats compare to Meyers. 14 games, 54 targets catching 29 of them and turning those into 397 yards. Giving him an average 13.7 yards per reception.

The rookie to rookie comparison with Harry’s stats helps Meyers too. Harry was injured for the start of the season so only played in the last 7 games of the season. He was targeted 24 times catching 12 of those passes. He managed 105 yards which average at 8.8 yards per catch.

Too many mouths in 2019.

The Patriots used so many WRs In 2019 and by the looks of it Bill just couldn’t quite find his groove. Although looking at the snap counts with the stats above, he could have used Meyers a lot more and got a lot more production.

Meyers totalled 416 snaps, nothing compared to Brady’s other half Edleman who racked up over 1000 snaps. The next most used WR was Dorsett who was part of 564 offensive snaps. The Patriots got just 38 more yards from Dorsett who was part of the offence well over 100 more snaps than Meyers.

Meyers’ snap count was over 16 games. Sanu only played in 8 and racked up 379 offensive snaps but produced very little in that time.

Mix in players like Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon who also spent time taking away the opportunity from Meyers, I’d say he did a pretty good job with the little chance he was given.

2020 step up.

For an undrafted free agent to come into a notoriously complex New England offence and start to produce when given the opportunity is massive. Head Coach Bill Belichick is well known for running a tight ship and if you don’t fit the system, you disappear.

To make it through year one as an undrafted rookie shows the Pats think they have massive potential with keeping Meyers around. This can play into our fantasy hands in 2020. Meyers can’t rest on making it through his rookie season.

He’s shown he can produce even with the little ball that was sent his way. A year under his belt will massively help upgrade into his Sophomore year.

One more thing to keep in mind. I can’t see the Patriots rolling into 2020 with the QB situation as it is. However, If the Patriots do go with QB Sophomore Jarrett Stidham, the pairing between Stidham and Meyers could be something to watch. With Meyers not getting a lot of game time in 2019 he would have been getting a lot more practice reps with Stidham and in turn strengthening the passing connection.

So with all of that said, Dynasty owners, have a look and see if he’s on the waivers to go have a sneaky off-season pick up. 2019 volume was low but he produced. Stash him away now before he starts to become too expensive.

Preston Williams – Miami Dolphins

Williams was having a fantastic start to his rookie campaign until week 9 came along. He suffered a torn ACL on a punt return and therefore was ruled out for the rest of the season.

So 2019 wasn’t quite the year Williams had hoped for. Yes, he was in a Miami team that was once tanking and deemed one of the worst in history before they got things together.

But… when Williams was playing he was getting the volume and getting the yards.

In the 8 games Williams played, he totalled 32 receptions for 428 yards, averaging 53.5 yards per game and that’s as a rookie on a so-called bad team. He was also having his best game yet when he was injured. 5 receptions, 72 yards and 2 TDs.

Special talent.

Williams was an undrafted free agent before Miami picked him up. That’s when everything started to click. He worked hard and showed the coaches that he had something to give. It paid off in a big way.

The first step was to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Something that’s pretty hard to do as an undrafted free agent. After getting his spot on the team, Williams found himself in the starting lineup in the season opener. A feat that no rookie free agent WR has ever done before for the Dolphins.

Just to top it all off he bagged himself a TD in his first rookie game too. Something that only 7 other Dolphins players had done in their first-ever game.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Williams led the team in receptions after the first 4 games of the season and was on par with DeVante Parker for most receiving yards with 201.

2020 comeback.

With his ability and his ACL being fixed, Williams is set to be back in the line-up for Miami raring to go.

Looking at his ADP, Williams is going around 113 overall and coming off the board as the WR 49. He has a lot more upside than some of the WRs going just above him. For instance Curtis Samuel the WR 47 drafted 109 overall, had 627 yards from 54 receptions from a full season. That’s only 199 more yards than Williams who only played 8 games.

WR 48 is Jamison Crowder going at 111 overall. Yes, last year Crowder was Sam Darnold’s, go-to man. However, it’s been well documented that the Jets are looking to get one of the top WRs in this year’s draft. If they do this it will only reduce Crowder’s volume and in turn affect his value. That and I also don’t trust Adam Gase as a head coach.

For me, looking at the ceiling of Williams compared to Crowder, I’d take the more interesting and exciting prospect of Williams every time. His upside at the time you are drafting him is what you are searching for so it can be a big draft win.

Miles Boykin – Baltimore Ravens

Boykin’s rookie season came and went without many highlights. He scored 3 TDs, one of which came in the very first game of the season. It was on his one and only target, a 5-yard pass into the end zone. The rest of the season was very limited behind a run-first offence.

Boykin finished the season on an underwhelming 13 receptions for 198 yards. However looking further into the stats, his average yards per reception was 15.2. Even Michael Thomas only averaged 11.6 yards per reception.

Something to build on.

I know, I know, it’s not the same to have a comparison to Thomas and you might be thinking I’m clutching at straws. However, in an offence like Baltimore’s you are going to find some space and that’s where things start to help Boykin for 2020.

You have a massive run game with both a good RB in Ingram and the star of the show at QB in Lamar Jackson. This automatically opens up passing lanes as the defence prepares for a run. On top of that, you also have fellow rookie turned Sophomore, Marquise Brown. Again the Defence have to prepare for him and his speed.

All this together opens up the rest of the field for passes to come to other players including Boykin. His stats show that when he does get the ball he is able to open the field and get some big yards.

Yes, the Ravens will build on last year’s insane running game with Jackson. However, Jackson and the coaches will also be wanting to throw the ball to keep the defence guessing. The OC Greg Roman will want to continue expanding the offence further. The Ravens will need to pass the ball more and Boykin will benefit.

15.2 was not a one off!

Yards per reception for Boykin has always been on the bigger side. I joked about comparing him to Thomas last season but looking back at Boykin at college he was still putting up the numbers.

2016, sophomore year – averaged 13.5 yards per catch.
2017, junior year – averaged 21.1 yards per catch.
2018, senior year – averaged 14.8 yards per catch.

When you have talent in the building like that you have to make use of him.

Step up in 2020.

Knowing all this and the fact that Boykin had an underwhelming rookie campaign could bode well for him in 2020. If Boykin wants to make it he has to stand up and be counted. At 6’4 he’s already up there in height which will give him an extra edge. Putting in the effort to get game time and continuing with the big yards per catch average can only be a good thing and help him carve out a role in this offence.

This all makes for an intriguing 2020 for Boykin making him a nice hold or buy super cheap in dynasty leagues. Right now in redraft, he will be waiting on the waivers unless you are in a deep league as his ADP right now is the 245th overall pick and the WR 80 off the board.

Just some Second year guys to keep tabs on and possibly buy low on.

-Pittsy @PittsyNFL

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