Last year I broke down a WR theory that others in the CFF industry have more recently been taking advantage of called the “Jumbo WR3 Theorem.” In simplest terms, this draft strategy is centered around drafting WR3s for teams in high-powered passing attacks that will have value in their current role but see their value explode if an injury occurs. At first, I struggled to find this year’s top Jumbo WR3 candidates, but after digging, I found four that fit the mold perfectly. 

Sam Brown, Miami (FL)

Of course, the starting WRs here for Miami are Xavier Restrepo (WR13) and Jacolby George (WR49), and with good reason. Last year, these two generated 119 and 90 targets and stat lines of 85/1,092/6 and 57/864/8. This doesn’t scream jumbo WR until you remember that Emory Williams and Jacurri Brown played in six games, combining for 102 (poor) attempts. Cameron Ward, as much as I was a hater in 2023, is a legitimate QB as we’ve seen over the last few seasons. He had an electric day and now we get Sam Brown to step in as the WR3.

Brown has been drafted as WR61 so far, but that includes mainly drafts with him as the Houston WR1. I suspect the ADP stays about the same (I just took him in the 26th round of a best ball), making him a prime Jumbo WR3 candidate. His numbers were good in 11 games last season, catching 61 passes for 815 yards and 3 TDs. With Ward at QB, I think Miami has a real shot at two WRs over 1,000 yards, and 30+ passing TDs, a nice step up from 2023’s 23 TDs. 

Jalil Farooq, Oklahoma

Farooq went into the 2023 season as a guy everyone thought would take over the WR1 role that is extremely valuable in the OU offense. That ended up not coming to fruition as Drake Stoops (84/962/10) stole that role, and freshman Nic Anderson had a big season as the WR2 (38/798/10). Andrel Anthony went down with a knee injury in the middle of the season, and I suspect that he won’t have much of a role, if any, in 2024. Stoops is out, and so Deion Burks steps in as a legitimate contender for WR1 this season. 

Courtesy of 247Sports

Farooq’s 2023 wasn’t all that bad, all things considered. He ended with 45 receptions for 694 yards and a pair of TDs, but that was more of an availability thing than anything. The staff loved giving him the ball, as he also had 17 rushing attempts on the season. All of these things are good for this theory, though, considering Jackson Arnold should keep this offense rolling even in the SEC. Burks versus Anderson for WR1 is a debate. Who the WR3 will be with Anthony likely out the entire 2024 season is not. Farooq and his WR147 ADP are the clear WR3 this season.

Gary Bryant Jr./Traeshon Holden, Oregon

Bo Nix is out at Oregon, but the Ducks replace him with another old, proven QB in Dillon Gabriel. This offense that led the country in passing yards per game in 2023 should be in contention and should do it again in 2024. They’re extremely talented out wide with Tez Johnson back after a 1,182-yard and 10-TD season, and the Ducks have brought in Evan Stewart from TAMU to take over the Troy Franklin role out wide. There’s no doubt that these two are the top guys here, but who is the WR3?

Gary Bryant Jr and Traeshon Holden certainly seem to be the only contenders for the WR3 role, no matter how much the coaches want to talk “WR rotation” in 2024. Holden has the size to play out wide (6’3″, 215) and played 181 of his 285 snaps there to confirm that.

Even though Bryant’s size is closer to Tez at 5’11″, 185, he played just 85 of his 343 snaps in the slot. The reason why this matters is because the Jumbo WR3 Theory is centered around opportunity caused by injury. Stewart, the presumed outside WR1, played eight games in 2023 and ten in 2022, so he’s missed a decent amount of games in his career. Tez, on the other hand, has played 38 out of 38 games his team has played in the past three seasons.

I’m going to plant my flag on Holden due to the previous year’s performances and size, alongside the potential of Stewart being hurt at some point in 2024 (as much as I’m not hoping that happens!). 

Honorable Mention: Koby Drake, Memphis

Who?! I know, I know. Shooting from deep here, but I think this one has some serious legs. Roc Taylor (WR21) and Demeer Blankumsee (WR58) are hot commodities in CFF best ball drafts right now, and if one were to go down, then Koby Drake (WR Undrafted) has the experience to step right in. There are CFF rankers out there that have Seth Henigan as top 12-14 QBs in CFF in 2024, so this is a prime jumbo WR3 spot. Don’t forget that he threw for over 3,800 yards last season!

The battle for WR3 at Memphis is bleak, with Joseph Scates and Tauskie Dove both out of college football. The only other returning WR with playing time in 2023 is Marcello Bussey (28 routes run), and the only other player worth noting is Jyaire Shorter, who transferred in from Auburn this offseason. I’m not going to entertain the idea of Shorter too much as he couldn’t crack the WR rotation at Auburn, and his career high in receptions is 24 through six seasons. 

Dove was a real contributor for Memphis last season, running 257 routes (fourth-best overall) and catching 33 passes for 352 yards and 2 TDs. He gives me real Drake Stoops vibes but played more snaps out wide (179) than in the slot (91) last season. This type of flexibility is nice for this theory. It also helps that Blake Watson and his 60 targets are being replaced by Mario Anderson, only an average threat in the passing game. 

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