This past year, receivers such as Adam Thielen, Robby Anderson, Robert Woods and Nelson Agholor all took their games to the next level. As was the case for running back breakouts, receiver breakouts seem to be coming down to if the opportunity presents itself. Granted, being efficient with those targets matters but unless the wideout is a pure deep threat, they’ll need at least four or five targets a game to really get the chance to flash what they’re capable of.
Corey Davis, Titans: The first receiver taken in the 2017 draft, Davis has all the tools for a breakout season in 2018. He was limited to just 11 regular season games and also had a broken ankle leading up to the draft which prevented him from some early OTA work. This season, all signs indicate he’s healthy and in Matt LaFleur’s offense Davis will be lining up outside and in the slot. With a more modern passing attack that figures to fit Marcus Mariota’s skillset, Davis could be the prime beneficiary. A breakout season would be a huge boost for a Titan team with its eyes set on a deep AFC playoff run.
Chris Godwin, Buccaneers: The Buccaneers have a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game, so volume is a concern of mine for Godwin. However, I was a huge fan of his leading up last year’s draft and think the talent wins out. Rarely used early in his rookie season, Godwin had nearly 450 yards in the final eight weeks. This preseason, Godwin has received rave reviews with the ability to win in various areas of the field. With DeSean Jackson playing more in the slot, Godwin figures to play plenty of snaps outside along with Mike Evans. An 1,000 yard type season might not be obtainable, but Godwin will certainly show the league what he’s capable of.
Kenny Golladay, Lions: Like Godwin, Golladay is a player who flashed in his rookie year but is an offense where targets could be tough to come by. The difference is Golladay offers something to the Lions that they’ve been missing since Calvin Johnson retired: a true redzone threat. At 6’4″ 218, Golladay proved he could go up and get passes either down near the endzone or vertically. His route tree was limited next year, but adding more to it would bring an added dimension to the Lions passing attack.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins: Crowder struggled to start the 2017 season, but saw his production pick up later on in the year. While the outlook of the Redskin receiving corps is uncertain, Crowder could really benefit from the addition of Alex Smith. Crowder last year was most effective when used on intermediate routes in the middle of the field. History shows us that area is typically Smith’s bread and butter so it wouldn’t be surprising if he and Crowder developed a nice rapport. If that does take place, a 80 plus catch season with over 1,000 yards isn’t out of the question.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks: Lockett wasn’t fully healthy for most of 2017 after a brutal leg injury prematurely ended his 2016. The good news is he’s healthy now, entering a contract year and the Seahawks are in need of someone to step up in the passing attack. With Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham both leaving, Lockett could easily eclipse his career high of 71 targets. Odds are he will likely be playing outside as well, so there’s a chance he could flirt with 1,000 yards this season.
Mike Williams, Chargers: Injury was the theme of Williams’ rookie season which ended with him recording less than 100 yards receiving. This preseason he has been healthy, and the talent he showed at Clemson could translate to him being a redzone threat for the Chargers. Like other receivers listed, there is a deep receiving corps that Williams has to compete with for targets. Some do open up with Hunter Henry being lossed for the year and Antonio Gates being waived this offseason. Williams might not fully breakout in 2018, but he should start scratching the surface as a player after a lost 2017.