What have been the top free-agent wide receiver signings so far? With the 2021 free agency frenzy kicking off with a bunch of movement around the league this past week (I’m looking at you, Bill), one position, in particular, stole a lot of the excitement. Here are the top five free-agent wide receivers and their fantasy outlook* for their 2021 seasons.
*Rankings are based on half PPR scoring systems and 12-team, season-long leagues
2021 Fantasy Football Outlook for Top 5 Free-Agent Wide Receiver Signings
1. Kenny Golladay – New York Giants
One of the biggest names talked about throughout all available positions in this season’s free agency market was 27-year-old Kenny Golladay. After a few team visits across the league this past week, the former Detroit Lions standout signed a 4 year/$72 million deal on Saturday with the New York Giants.
After battling a hip injury for most of the 2020 season, Golladay only saw the field in five total games. His last appearance came in Week 7. However, during the two seasons prior with the Lions, he put up big-play numbers. Golladay averaged just over 67 catches, 1120 yards, and 8 touchdowns per season. Golladay looks to turn around a struggling Giants offense in 2021. But with workhorse Saquon Barkley returning from injury, and the fact he’ll be competing with touches amongst fellow pass-catchers Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram from up-and-down quarterback Daniel Jones, what should fantasy managers expect from this electric pass catcher? Take him as a low-end WR1 or solid WR2 option (Top 20 WR) as his presence will demand targets and his skillset will continue to help him exceed at his position.
Kenny Golladay has had the 2nd-most difficult targets on average among WR since entering the NFL in 2017. His quarterbacks seem to trust Golladay down the field in tight windows.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 22, 2021
2. JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
In one of the more surprising moves of free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers opted to keep JuJu Smith-Schuster on a one-year deal. This keeps their entire stacked wide receiver crew intact for at least one more season. While Smith-Schuster may have seemed ‘quieter’ (not in the TikTok sense) on the field than in previous seasons due to primarily lining up in the slot last year, his presence was still felt incredibly.
On 128 targets, he brought in nine touchdowns off of 97 catches. Both numbers led the team. He also tallied 831 yards in the 2020 season. Still clearly an integral role in this offense, and at only 24 years old, expect Smith-Schuster to keep hauling in catches for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final days (especially if the drops continue elsewhere). Coming in at WR18 last season, anticipate Smith-Schuster to have similar, but slightly lower numbers on a familiar team coming in as a low-end WR2 or solid WR3/FLEX option in 2021.
3. Curtis Samuel – Washington Football Team
This just seems like the perfect fit for former Carolina Panther wideout Curtis Samuel. Pairing back up with his old college teammate, Terry McLaurin, and reuniting with his first NFL coach, Ron Rivera, Samuel is going to play a pivotal role in the up-and-coming offense of the Washington Football Team in 2021. Samuel broke out in 2020 with 118 touches (77 receptions and 41 carries), over 1000 total scrimmage yards. He also totaled five touchdowns. He has proven to be a dual-threat as a runner and a receiver. That made him one of the most sought-after free-agent wide receivers this offseason.
Falling just out of the WR2 range at WR25 overall last season, look for Samuel to make a slight jump in fantasy production this year as a low-end WR2 option on a more exciting offense that will find ways to get the ball in space to their new, versatile weapon.
Lookout for the Fitzmagic bombs 💣
Curtis Samuel had a 77% catch rate on deep targets in 2020
Highest among all WRs 🚀 pic.twitter.com/yciXTvNouJ
— PFF Washington (@PFF_Washington) March 18, 2021
Will Fuller – Miami Dolphins
Will Fuller has had an interesting journey with the Houston Texans over the years. Although most of them being injury-plagued, when he has stepped on the field, he has been quite a playmaker. Consistency is obviously the issue here, especially when it comes to fantasy value week after week.
With the Miami Dolphins adding the long-time Texan receiver to their arsenal, Fuller looks to be a strong piece to help with the improvement of second-year signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa. Fuller still ended as WR28 in the 2020 season. Even after missing the last five games due to suspension, and parts of numerous others due to nagging injuries. Based on his risk of injury and the run-heavy mentality Miami tends to run operate their offense with, look for Fuller to be a strong WR3/FLEX option with upside for this upcoming season.
Most receiving yards per target in 2020 (WRs, min. 50+ targets)
🎯 Julio Jones – 11.9
🎯 Justin Jefferson – 11.6
🎯 Will Fuller – 11.6 pic.twitter.com/dMmJoixPoM
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) March 19, 2021
Corey Davis – New York Jets
Another wide receiver who finally had a ‘long time coming’ breakout year in 2020 was former Tennessee Titan Corey Davis. Even on a team with a top ten wideout in A.J. Brown and a dominant ground attack behind Derrick Henry, Davis was still able to produce an impressive 64/984/5 stat line. Going into free agency, Davis was one of the first free-agent wide receiver signings to go down, which came from the New York Jets, who are in the midst of a much-needed restructuring of their team.
Whether the Jets decide to roll with Sam Darnold next season or use their second-round pick to draft a new quarterback, Davis will be a consistent piece of the passing game that will build the confidence of his young quarterback. Finishing at WR31 last season, anticipate Davis to have a nice jump as a go-to receiver in this Jets offense as a solid WR2 in 2021.
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