Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings
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With the NFL Draft and free agency over and done with, it’s time to start taking a look at the fantasy football wide receiver rankings for the 2021 season. While these rankings could chance with new additions and subtractions, most rosters are pretty locked in for the start of the regular season. Also note that these rankings are based on PPR scoring – if your league uses a different format, then there will be a few subtle changes to this list.

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Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: The Top 50

Tier 1: Unstoppable Superstar

1. Davante Adams
2. A.J. Brown
3. Tyreek Hill
4. Keenan Allen

It should go without saying, but these fantasy football wide receiver rankings assume that Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay. Davante Adams is a phenomenal wide receiver, and he’ll always be near the top of this list, regardless of quarterback. However, losing Rodgers will lower Adams’ ceiling and probably drop him into the tier below.

A.J. Brown is the last man standing in Tennessee. This is a run-heavy attack, but Brown’s combination of talent, market share, efficiency, and poor defense should be enough to make him one of the best in the game. Tyreek Hill is the most dangerous receiver in the game playing in the NFL’s best offense. The biggest knock on Hill used to be consistency, but he seems to have fixed that issue last year. If he can prove that wasn’t a one-year fluke, he’ll probably be the WR1 at this point next year.

By far the hottest take in this tier, Keenan Allen is set for a massive season. Last year, Allen was the WR4 in my expected fantasy points per game model, and that was with a rookie Herbert and one game of Tyrod Taylor. Herbert should be even better in 2021, and with no Hunter Henry around, Allen should be set for a huge year.

Tier 2: Dominant Stud

5. Calvin Ridley
6. Michael Thomas
7. Allen Robinson
8. Stefon Diggs
9. Justin Jefferson
10. DeAndre Hopkins
11. Terry McLaurin
12. D.K. Metcalf

Julio Jones is still a Falcon for the time being, which keeps Calvin Ridley out of the elite tier. Ridley averages over 100 yards per game when Jones doesn’t play, and Atlanta didn’t do anything to fix their defense. With or without Jones, Ridley should be a WR1 next year. Everything that could go wrong with Michael Thomas in 2020, did go wrong. Even without Drew Brees, a now-healthy Thomas should command a large market share and remain one of fantasy football’s biggest stars.

Andy Dalton is the best quarterback Allen Robinson has ever had, and Justin Fields has the potential to be a lot better than Dalton. Robinson has all the talent in the world, and the sky is the limit for what this guy can do with a real quarterback. Stefon Diggs is a force of nature on the football field, but Josh Allen is probably due for some regression. Justin Jefferson is one of the best young receivers in football, but a run-heavy attack and Adam Thielen’s presence keep him out of the elite tier.

DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray are a dangerous duo, but Murray’s red zone rushing ability puts a cap on Hopkins’ ceiling. Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the best quarterbacks a wide receiver can have for fantasy, and McLaurin should feast with the Harvard product tossing the rock. D.K. Metcalf could be the WR1 in a high-volume offense, but Pete Carroll just fired Brian Schottenheimer for throwing the ball too much and signed Tyler Lockett to a massive extension.

Tier 3: Very, Very Good

13. Diontae Johnson
14. Julio Jones
15. Mike Evans
16. Robert Woods
17. Amari Cooper
18. Chris Godwin
19. Courtland Sutton
20. D.J. Moore
21. Kenny Golladay
22. Adam Thielen
23. CeeDee Lamb

Diontae Johnson was peppered with targets last year, and he has the same quarterback and receiving core as a season ago. If he makes the most of this opportunity, he should be a WR1. Julio Jones has the ability to make me look like an idiot for putting him this low on the fantasy football wide receiver rankings, but his trade rumors and injury history make him a little too risky for a top-12 ranking.

Mike Evans is a touchdown machine and Tom Brady’s go-to target in the red zone. Brady still has plenty left in his tank, but there are just too many mouths to feed in this offense. Robert Woods received a massive upgrade at quarterback and should continue to be his ever-reliable self. Amari Cooper won’t be able to match his ridiculous pace with Prescott under center from last year, but I believe he will remain the top option in this passing attack.

Chris Godwin didn’t live up to the hype in 2021, but he was never truly healthy. This should be a fascinating season to see what he can do with Brady. Jerry Jeudy put up a lot of great film as a rookie, but Sutton should remain the alpha in this offense. If Aaron Rodgers comes to town, then Sutton will probably be a top 12-15 receiver in these ranks. D.J. Moore needs a real quarterback in the worst way, and Sam Darnold probably won’t be the answer under center.

Speaking of great talents with subpar quarterbacks, Kenny Golladay will struggle with Daniel Jones throwing the ball and Saquon Barkley being the focal point of the offense. Adam Thielen still has something in his tank, but he’s not going to repeat his ridiculous touchdown rate from one season ago. CeeDee Lamb had a fantastic rookie season, but his heavy slot usage is worrying. Outside targets are generally more valuable than slot targets, but does he have what it takes to succeed on the perimeter?

Tier 4: Good Flex

24. Cooper Kupp
25. Chase Claypool
26. Tyler Boyd
27. Tyler Lockett
28. Antonio Brown
29. Will Fuller
30. Ja’Marr Chase
31. Tee Higgins
32. Jerry Jeudy
33. Odell Beckham
34. Brandon Aiyuk

I do not like ranking Cooper Kupp this low. However, as previously mentioned, slot targets generally aren’t as valuable as outside targets, and we don’t know if Matthew Stafford will have the same red zone connection that Jared Goff had. Chase Claypool was one of the most exciting rookies in the league last year and should be even better with more experience. Tyler Boyd doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the world, but he is a great safety blanket for a quarterback coming off of an ACL injury.

Tyler Lockett burned a lot of fantasy owners last year, but he still has a very reliable connection with Russell Wilson and not much in terms of target competition. Antonio Brown would be higher on this list if I thought he’d play a full 17 games, but can you really trust him to stay out of trouble for that long? Will Fuller is going to miss one game to suspension, and I’m not completely sold on Tua Tagovailoa taking the next step.

Ja’Marr Chase is the consensus top receiver in the NFL Draft by both the film and analytics communities, and he already has an established connection with Joe Burrow. With more and more rookie receivers succeeding out of the gate, Chase could be in for a 1,000-yard season. Tee Higgins plays a similar style of football to Chase and might lose out on some of the work.

Jerry Jeudy led the league in uncatchable targets and could have easily been a top-24 receiver with a better quarterback. Unfortunately, the Broncos kept the same quarterback, and now Jeudy will need to battle Courtland Sutton for targets. It gets harder and harder to trust Odell Beckham with every passing year, but the upside is well worth the risk at this point in the fantasy football wide receiver rankings. Brandon Aiyuk proved he was the real deal in the second half of the 2020 season, but he’ll have to deal with a now-healthy George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, along with a potential quarterback change.

Tier 5: Honorable Mentions

35. Brandin Cooks
36. Jarvis Landry
37. Corey Davis
38. DJ Chark
39. Juju Smith-Schuster
40. Deebo Samuel
41. Curtis Samuel
42. Marquise Brown
43. Devonta Smith
44. Robby Anderson
45. DeVante Parker

46. Michael Gallup
47. Mike Williams
48. Marvin Jones
49. Michael Pittman
50. Parris Campbell

Brandin Cooks is one of the most disrespected players in fantasy football and always finds a way to produce, but I just can’t get excited about any aspect of Houston’s offense. Corey Davis finally has his shot to be the top option in a pass-heavy attack, but can Zach Wilson get the job done? Juju Smith-Schuster is the third-best receiver on a team with major issues at quarterback.

As previously mentioned, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a godsend for wide receivers. Terry McLaurin will be the primary beneficiary, but Curtis Samuel should get some production as well. Marquise Brown will still be the Baltimore receiver to own in 2021, as he quietly had a very strong finish in the back half of the year. Devonta Smith has an easy path to the field, but will Philadelphia’s (presumably) low-volume offense be enough for the rookie?

Mike Williams has the chance for a breakout season with a great young quarterback, but I need to see it before I believe it with him. One of Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell is going to have a good season next year, but good luck picking the right guy. Campbell looked great in his one healthy game last year, while Pittman flashed throughout his rookie year.

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