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Fantasy football 2021: Second-year wide receivers with breakout potential

Wide receivers usually take a massive step forward in year two.

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Wide receivers are always a bit of a risk when it comes to fantasy football, and a lot more goes into their production than just how well they perform.

Even if they do everything right, their stats still come down to who is throwing them the ball. So knowing that it’s a bit trickier to pick a few pass-catchers to have big years, but we’ll give it a shot anyway.

Here are the second-year wide receivers who have the best chance to have a breakout 2021 season.

Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears

This is probably a name that will surprise some people to be on this list. He wasn’t a highly touted prospect coming into his rookie year, but the wideout from Tulane impressed. He caught 61 passes on just under 100 targets in 2020 and went for 631 yards and four scores and also added a touchdown on the ground.

He might have Andy Dalton throwing him the ball early in the season, but odds are good he will have a rookie QB throwing him the ball at some point this season. The team drafted Justin Fields and officially ended the Mitchell Trubisky experiment. While a rookie QB isn’t always a good thing, Fields is a top-tier prospect who was ranked as the second-best QB in the draft by many. He should be able to step in sooner than later and be as good if not better than what Chicago had under center last season.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

Shenault has already made a big impression in training camp, according to Jags reporters. He’s looking to build on a season where he caught 58 passes for 600 yards and five touchdowns. The big-bodied 221-pound receiver can be physical with any DB in the league and he’ll need to be as one of Jacksonville’s best-receiving options on the roster.

He’ll also get an immediate upgrade at QB, even more so than Mooney is getting. The Jags drafted Trevor Lawerence out of Clemson with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. He’s arguably the most pro-ready prospect of all time and will be an upgrade over the Jags QBs they trotted out in 2020.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills

Davis was a bit of a surprise last season in Buffalo, though it came as no shock to those who watched him dominate in college at Central Florida. With a WR corps as stacked as Buffalo’s is, he’s never going to be WR1. He’s stuck behind Stefon Diggs, but his 6’2 frame makes him one of the biggest targets on the roster that includes Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. He racked up just 35 catches last year, but earned seven scores. That means one out of every five catches was a touchdown, which is a pretty solid conversion rate.

He’s also in one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL. If QB Josh Allen can replicate what he did in his third season, which isn’t a guarantee given how inconsistent he could be during his first two years in the league, Davis could see those numbers skyrocket in 2021.