Fantasy Football: The Myth of the 3rd Year WR

There's an old saying in the fantasy football world that a wide receiver's best chance at a breakout campaign comes in his third NFL season. The reasoning usually offered is that it takes most receivers two years to fully adjust to the NFL level of competition.

As the regular-season approaches, in countless fantasy football publications and Web sites, you'll read something to that effect. Those who hail the "third-year receiver" theory will often do so hailing greats from the past that fit the description, names like Hall of Famer Steve Largent, James Lofton and Charley Taylor. Or, pulling a page from more recent history, they'll recite the 2006 statistics of Jerricho Cotchery, Lee Evans or Roy Williams, noting how they "only broke out because it was their third NFL seasons."

Isn't it convenient how often fantasy "experts" take the whole third-year receiver thing as gospel, picking and choosing the examples that support their hypothesis, while ignoring the group as a whole? Sure, Cotchery, Evans and Williams stepped up with 2006 numbers to back up the concept, but for every one from the past who has succeeded, I could point out one who failed to live up to advanced billing. From last year alone, do the names Michael Clayton, Ernest Wilford and Reggie Williams ring a bell?