A Few to Fade: Three Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Fades for 2021

Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Fades
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Each year, heading into draft season, we start to settle upon players we love and players we hate, relative to ADP. This article will dive into the latter portion, my fantasy football fades. We never like to see players perform poorly, but we also need to identify players that look to be in disadvantageous situations. Here are three fantasy football wide receiver fades for 2021.

Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Fades for 2021

Before we get into these fantasy football fades, I want to preface this by saying that all of these are relative to ADP. Of course, if any of them slip a few rounds, I’ll take a chance on them but that rarely happens. These are all based on Fantasypros PPR ADP data as of this writing. The quarterback fades for 2021 can be found here while the running back fades can be found here.

1. Kenny Golladay – New York Giants

Kenny Golladay has been a popular pick in fantasy football for the last couple of years to take the next step. Everything looked right for him to break out and become an elite fantasy wide receiver. In 2019 he took the leap in touchdown production going from five the previous year to 11. The targets and yardage remained about the same, however. 2020 came around and was a disaster for Golladay. It was an injury-riddled season as he missed the first two games with a hamstring injury and then was placed on injured reserve after Week 9 with a hip flexor injury. This offseason, Golladay signed with the New York Giants.

Golladay’s start with the Giants hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing to this point. During the first practice, he incurred a hamstring injury and hasn’t practiced or played since. This is troubling since he dealt with hamstring issues last year too. Not only that, but he’s missing valuable reps with a new team, new offense, and new quarterback. Golladay’s current ADP is 68th overall as the 26th wide receiver off the board. He’s going ahead of players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jerry Jeudy, Robby Anderson, and Tyler Boyd, all of whom I would rather draft. Currently banged up, on a new (and hard-to-trust) offense, and going ahead of wide receivers that will all likely see higher target totals, Golladay looks like one of the easiest fantasy football wide receiver fades for 2021.

2. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints

From one guy with a lost 2020 to another, Michael Thomas dealt with an ankle injury that ruined his entire season. Thomas had some of the best numbers through the first four seasons of anyone in NFL history with the New Orleans Saints. He was also coming off a record-breaking 2019 and was the consensus best wide receiver in fantasy football. The high ankle sprain suffered in Week 1 derailed all of that as it lingered all season. He finished the year with 40 receptions for 438 yards and no scores.

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Thomas looked like he was going to be one of the most popular and sure-fire bounceback candidates of 2021 earlier in the offseason. That all came to a screeching halt when it was revealed he didn’t get ankle surgery until June despite the team urging him to get it done months earlier. Not only has this created plenty of bad blood, but he’s also now going to miss the beginning of the season. This is the same ankle injury that has lingered from last season. In the words of the wise Scott Pianowksi, “injury optimism is not your friend.” I like to subscribe to this theory and you should too and let someone else in your league be the injury optimist. Thomas is currently going as the WR30 in PPR ADP as the 72nd overall player off the board. That’s simply way too early given the injury situation. Pass on Thomas and take any of Jerry Jeudy, Robby Anderson, or Tyler Boyd instead.

3. Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings

Adam Thielen was an interesting case in 2020. By most standards, he had a successful season in 2020 with the Minnesota Vikings. He finished the year with 74 receptions for 925 yards and 14 scores. Thielen finished as the WR11 in terms of fantasy points per game. A deeper dive into the numbers shows a bit of unsustainability, however. Starting with the most obvious, the 14 touchdowns on 108 targets. The most Thielen had before this was nine and that was on 153 targets. He did, however, have 20 red-zone targets which were good for third in the NFL. On top of that, Thielen saw a decline in usage as the year went on.

As seen, Justin Jefferson became the clear target hog while Thielen took a backseat to the rookie. There’s no reason to expect anything different in 2021. While Jefferson was at or near the league lead in almost every efficiency metric there is, the same can’t be said for Thielen. He was outside the top 40 in both yards per target and yards per route run. He was also outside the top 50 in both yards after the catch and yards per catch. This was despite a 100% route participation rate and a 96.7% snap share that ranked second in the NFL among all wide receivers. On top of all that, he’s 31 now and currently dealing with a minor thigh injury. Add it all up and Thielen’s current ADP of 48th overall (WR19) is far too early. Those who pass on Thielen in favor of wide receivers like Tyler Lockett, Diontae Johnson, or D.J. Moore will likely be celebrating by the end of the year.

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