Fantasy Football 2013: Cecil Shorts, Vincent Brown And The Third-Year Wideout

By Adam Pfeifer
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports


People who play Fantasy Football tend to over-analyze often. They dive into numbers, trends, you name it. And, of course, those who write about fantasy football (me) tend to do the same. However, there is often more than just liking this player or liking that player. Fantasy owners can look at numbers from season’s past, study theories and see if they are a myth or not, anything to try to get the edge on the opposition. Speaking of theories, one of the more popular ones is that of the third-year wide receiver.

It’s been noticed that a handful of wide receivers take their biggest statistical leap during the third year of their career. Granted, not every single wideout thrives during year three, but a ton of guys have proved this theory to be true. Whether it’s just a coincidence or players fully get into their respective team’s system during that specific year, who really knows? Anyway, below are some of the recent guys to post strong fantasy numbers in their third season.

Year Player Team Yards Catches TDs
2007 Braylon Edwards CLE 1,289 80 16
2009 Sidney Rice MIN 1,312 83 8
2009 Steve Smith NYG 1,220 103 7
2010 Stevie Johnson BUF 1,073 82 10
2012 Dez Bryant DAL 1,382 92 12


There were even more guys to emerge during their third season, which shows that perhaps there is something in the water here. However, not every guy entering the third year exits as a big time producer. There has been a fair share of players who struggled and posted one of their worst statistical seasons in year three.

Year Player Team Yards Catches TDs
2007 Vincent Jackson SD 623 41 3
2009 Dwayne Bowe KC 589 47 4
2011 Michael Crabtree SF 874 72 4
2012 Antonio Brown PIT 787 66 5


Look, whether you believe it or not is entirely up to you. I mean, I highly wouldn’t just suggest targeting players that are entering year “X”, hoping that these theories hold true. In all honesty, it depends on the type of player and situation, but as a guy who drowns himself in fantasy, it’s definitely something interesting to look at. So, having looked at all of this, could there possibly be a few third-year wideouts that could break out for fantasy owners in 2013? If last year was any indication, there very well will be. Like I mentioned before, Dez Bryant absolutely went bonkers in his third year in 2012, but he wasn’t the only one. Guys like Eric Decker (85 catches, 1,064 yards, 13 TDs) and his teammate, Demaryius Thomas (94 catches, 1,434, 10 TDs) established themselves as top wideouts in this league last season. Could we see the next batch of guys here in 2013? Here a a few candidates:

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars: Fantasy owners hand no idea who this guy was entering last season, but Shorts made sure you wouldn’t forget him at season’s end. Despite some atrocious quarterback play, Shorts caught an impressive 55 balls for 979 yards and seven scores. He would have easily eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards if he hadn’t dealt with a concussion towards the end of the year. As for 2013, teammate Justin Blackmon is suspended for the first four games of the season, which means all of the targets, from whoever is throwing the football, will go to Shorts. Hopefully, that guy is Chad Henne, rather than the disappointing Blaine Gabbert. During eight of Henne’s starts in 2012, he targeted Shorts a whopping 88 times, including five games where he targeted him double-digit times. Last year’s breakout was not a fluke from Shorts. He is a guy who can make defenses pay when given space, and as long as his concussion issues don’t come up, he’ll post his first 1,000-yard season of his career in 2013.

Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers: We haven’t seen a lot of Brown in the league lately. He suffered a fractured left ankle in the preseason last year and never suited up for a game. However, fast forward to 2013 and Brown is recovering during camp, and apparently, is the talk of the town. There has been a lot of hype over this kid for a while now. Coming into the league as an incredibly polished route runner, Brown has the skills to not only be a competent wide receiver for the Chargers, but he could eventually be their number one. Current number one Danario Alexander has had five surgeries already and he is only 24-years old, which means it wouldn’t surprise me if he didn’t play all 16-games this season. The Chargers are a team that will want to pass the football a lot, and are also a team that really isn’t very good. In terms of fantasy football, this is good, as it allows Brown to post a bunch of garbage time points.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.



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