3 Year Wide Receiver Rule

Definition of Three Year Wide Receiver Rule

The "3 year wide receiver rule" or "third year wide receiver rule" refers to the theory that wide receivers who blossom and have breakout years generally do so in their third year. (Some fantasy football fans call it the "magical third year".) Like all generalizations, this one isn't something that's carved into stone. Some wide receivers (like Larry Fitzgerald) blossom in their 2nd year, and some (like Antonio Bryant) blossom in their 4th year. So the 3 year wide receive rule is really more of a "guideline".

But there is some truth to theory that a wide receiver will start to really perform well in his third year.

Running backs perform consistently on a fantasy football team, as long as they're healthy and talented. It doesn't matter if they're rookies or veterans. But rookie wide receivers have a lot of adjustments to make when they reach the NFL. A professional level defense is one aspect of the pro game they have to adjust to. And a whole new set of professional plays is another aspect of the pro game they have to adjust to. And they also have to develop a relationship with their quarterback.

Third Year Breakouts - Wide Receivers - Examples

Examples of wide receivers who had breakout seasons in their third year include:

  • Braylon Edwards, who had 1289 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in his 3rd year.
  • Roddy White, who had 1202 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in his 3rd year.
  • Roy Williams, who had 1310 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in his 3rd year.
  • Lee Evans, who had 1292 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in his 3rd year.
  • Jerricho Cotchery, who had 961 receiving years and 6 touchdowns in his 3rd year.

Fantasy football league owners who try to take advantage of the "three year wide receiver rule" pick up third year wide receivers in the middle to late rounds of their fantasy football draft. The theory is that since they don't have big numbers from their first two years, their value is potentially much greater than their ADP (average draft position) would indicate. And getting an advantage at a fantasy football draft is all about getting more value from your pick than you rightfully should.

2009 Third Year Wide Receivers

Some third year wide receivers playing in 2009 include:

  • Calvin Johnson
  • Dwayne Bowe
  • Anthony Gonzales
  • Ted Ginn, Jr.
  • Steve Breaston
  • Steve Smith
  • Sidney Rice
  • James Jones
  • Johnnie Lee Higgins
  • Mike Walker
  • Laurent Robinson
  • Jason Hill
  • Chansi Stuckey
  • Robert Meachem
  • Dwayne Jarrett

We'll update this page with 2010 third year wide receivers next year.

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