2024 Second-Year Scouting Report: Michael Wilson


The new rookie class around the NFL gets all the attention over the summer. They’re the flashy new pieces for fantasy football, and of course they can be anything.

But last year’s rookies aren’t fully formed yet. The players entering their second season aren’t the fancy new thing anymore. That can open up some value in fantasy drafts for players still due to break out, and it can lead to fantasy mistakes for players who had a good first season and turn out to be a mirage. Everyone knows Year 1 to Year 2 is one of the biggest jumps an NFL player can make, but this still happens.

Over the course of the summer, we’re going to revisit last year’s rookie class in our Second-Year Scouting Report series, looking at the incoming sophomore NFL players to see what went right in their rookie season, what went wrong and what we can expect from them going forward.

Michael Wilson, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Michael Wilson played five seasons at Stanford, frequently hindered by injuries that prevented him from reaching 500 receiving yards in multiple seasons. Over his final three years, he appeared in just 14 out of 36 games, yet still accumulated 1,662 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging over 12 yards per touch. Despite a modest showing at the combine, his 6-foot-2, 213-pound frame made the Cardinals optimistic enough to draft him with the 94th overall pick.

Upon arriving in Arizona, Wilson found himself in a favorable position due to a thin depth chart, suggesting he could have an immediate impact in both fantasy football and the NFL. However, his injury woes persisted, causing him to miss four games. As a result, he only recorded 565 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, finishing as the WR60 in half-PPR formats with 95.5 fantasy points.

What Went Wrong

Wilson’s rookie year was marred by several key issues, primarily centered around volume and touchdown production. Despite earning 58 targets across 13 games, he only saw more than five targets in six games, limiting his opportunities. This inconsistency made him an unreliable fantasy option, as he managed to exceed 10 fantasy points in half-PPR scoring a mere three times, with two of those occurrences happening late in the season when many fantasy seasons had already concluded.

Another significant factor contributing to his lack of fantasy production was his minimal touchdown output. He scored a total of three touchdowns for the season, with two of them coming in a single game in Week 4.

Wilson also faced challenges due to missing four weeks in the middle of the season, which slowed his adjustment to the NFL. Furthermore, the instability at the quarterback position with multiple changes throughout the season further complicated his development.

What Went Right

Despite limited opportunities, Wilson proved effective with his touches, averaging over 14 yards per catch. He maintained a solid catch rate, snagging 65% of his targets, and notably had four games where he grabbed every pass thrown his way. According to PFF, his 1.36 yards per route run ranked ninth among rookie wide receivers who received over 50 targets.

While his on-the-field success was evident, it translated to only a few standout fantasy weeks. In Week 4, Wilson finished as the WR6 with 23.1 fantasy points, showcasing his significant upside. In that game, he became one of just three rookie wide receivers in Cardinals history to score twice in one game, joining Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. He also achieved two other top-30 finishes during the season. 

Prognosis Entering 2024

Wilson’s situation heading into 2024 is somewhat polarizing. Despite the Cardinals adding competition, particularly with Marvin Harrison Jr. likely to command significant targets, Wilson’s role appears secure. Other additions like Zay Jones and Greg Dortch are expected to rotate as the third receiver, leaving Wilson with the initial opportunity to claim the full-time second receiver spot in most formations. That will hopefully lead to some positive regression in the touchdown department. 

Another factor for Wilson is the presence of Trey McBride, who received a substantial number of targets late last season. However, it remains uncertain whether McBride will maintain this volume with the recent roster changes.

Looking ahead, there’s a plausible scenario where Wilson could see around 90 targets in 2024. If he reaches this mark, he could become a consistently viable fantasy option weekly. While cracking the top 24 wide receivers seems unlikely but not impossible, finishing within the top 36 appears well within his reach. 

Dynasty Outlook

Wilson’s dynasty outlook is on an upward trajectory given the current state of the Cardinals and his developmental path. While his rookie season was modest, it provides a positive foundation for future projections. The addition of Harrison bodes well for Wilson, as it positions him as the secondary receiving option, likely facing softer coverage.

A stable factor contributing to Wilson’s potential is quarterback Kyler Murray, who is expected to remain with the team for the long haul. Murray’s presence has historically supported multiple top fantasy assets, which benefits Wilson’s fantasy outlook.

Looking ahead, expecting Wilson to consistently rank among the top 24 wide receivers is ambitious. But becoming a reliable WR3 or flex option seems well within his reach given his projected role and supporting cast in Arizona.

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