Top 60 Wide Receivers for 2021

Tier 6


41. Laviska Shenault Jr. (Jacksonville Jaguars) – I was pleasantly surprised looking back on Shenalt’s 2020 rookie season, as he averaged 5.6 targets per game, caught 73% of his passes, and scored five touchdowns on a struggling Jaguars offense. Shenault was used close to the line of scrimmage, receiving the fifth-lowest average target distance in the league per FantasyData, but the hope is that Trevor Lawrence injects some life into this offense. Shenault ran an impressive 4.58 40-yard dash considering his 6’1″, 227-pound frame coming out of college, so the downfield game should be a possibility. He will battle with Chark, Marvin Jones, and Travis Etienne for touches in the passing game, and Etienne could be a problem if he takes some of the schemed opportunities that Shenault saw in 2020. But Shenault has some upside at a reduced price, and while Chark feels a bit too expensive in drafts, I find myself taking Shenault quite often. Out projections really like Shenault, giving him 114 targets on the way to a WR16 season. That may be a bit optimistic, but the opportunity is certainly real for the talented second-year player.


42. Jarvis Landry (Cleveland Browns) – Landry is what he is at this stage of his career, so drafting him is more about team build than anything. Landry was miscast as a WR1 with OBJ injured last season, and his fantasy points per game dropped from the 14 points-per-game range the prior two seasons to 12.5 last season. Landry topped 100 yards once last year in a Week 12 blow-up against the Jaguars, where he caught eight of 11 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Otherwise, his high yardage marks were 88, 62, 61, 61, 52, and so on. You can count on Landry for plenty of five-catch, 50-yard games, but if you need upside at wide receiver you are better off going to the next on the list.


43. Mike Williams (Los Angeles Chargers) – Williams has struggled to top 11 fantasy points per game in each of the past three seasons, and we are beginning to run out of time waiting for his upside. Williams is one of the more visually pleasing players in the league, often laying out and risking his health attempting a spectacular catch, often in a contested-catch situation. Yet in 2020, Williams converted just six of 22 contested catches, ranking towards the bottom of qualified receivers. And his reckless style has often left him on the sidelines, missing one game last year while also logging fewer than 55% of the snaps in three other games. Even with Herbert breaking out last year, there were too many valleys for Williams, and outside of a fortunate ten touchdowns in 2018, Williams has had little fantasy relevance. His career-high 49 receptions just aren’t enough in PPR leagues, and Williams will need to see a significant change in usage to have a memorable age 27 season.


44. Michael Pittman Jr. (Indianapolis Colts) – The injury to Wentz certainly puts a damper on Pittman in redraft leagues, and we are in wait-and-see mode as his quarterback rehabs. Even if Wentz does return in time for Week 1, this offense loses valuable practice time to get on the same page, and the backup quarterback situation is banking on Jacob Eason, a second-year player with zero NFL snaps. Pittman had a few moments in 2020, including his first 100-yard game on seven catches in Week 10 against the Titans. But Philip Rivers was all too happy to spread the ball around, and Pittman saw just two targets inside the 10-yard-line on the season while scoring only one time. With the quarterback position in much worse shape in 2021, it’s hard to see the breakout coming now, despite the potential of the talented second-year pro. If Wentz looks certain to miss regular-season games, Pittman will tumble down these rankings.


45. Corey Davis (New York Jets) – The Jets wide receiver corps is somehow crowded heading into the new year, as they decided to bring back Jamison Crowder in addition to drafting Elijah Moore at pick 2.02. Davis had a nice 2020 season, averaging 6.6 targets a game for 70 yards in the Titans’ high-efficiency passing game. Still, that resulted in just 13.7 fantasy points per game, a number that 49 different receivers have topped over the past three years. Now he will be counting on a rookie quarterback for his breakout, which seems unlikely in year one of a new scheme and coaching staff. Even if Davis can hold off his competition for targets, a big if, we just don’t know how big the passing game pie is in New York.


46. Marvin Jones Jr. (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Jones is a cheap dart throw at Lawrence’s potential WR1 in Jacksonville, and he was sneakily a good fantasy player last season in Detroit. Jones’ 14.2 fantasy points per game ranked as the WR26 last year, and it was no fluke as he posted 14.9 points per game in 2019. Jones is a consistent touchdown scorer with nine in three of the last four seasons, and his 115 targets last year were his career-high at age 30. Jones ranked 23rd of 90 qualified receivers in Average Target Distance and should provide a solid deep threat for Lawrence, which could be a lucrative role if this offense clicks. He’s not going to win you your league, but he should return solid value and is a nice, cheap best ball stack with Lawrence.


47. Russell Gage (Atlanta Falcons) – It’s admittedly hard for me to get past Gage’s profile as a former sixth-round pick, and I see him as simply a product of volume in 2020. You’d like to see his catch rate higher than 66% with his career 10.2 yards per reception, and his drop rate of 7.3% ranked as 15th worst in the league last year. He did top 100 targets, and there is an opportunity here with the departure of Jones to Tennessee. But I expect Gage to be behind Ridley, Kyle Pitts, and the running game in touches, and even an injury to Ridley would leave Gage severely outmatched attempting to be a top wideout. He’s a fine depth piece late, but I wouldn’t expect much more.


48. Elijah Moore (New York Jets) – Moore has been the talk of Jets camp so far, and in early August that’s all we can really ask for from a rookie receiver. He seems to have already supplanted fellow second-round draft pick Denzel Mims and is set to battle Davis and Jamison Crowder for touches from day one. We’ve got a long way to go before we buy into the 5’9″ rookie completely, but this is an excellent first step. Keep him in your end of draft plans, and keep an eye on Jets camp for more updates.


49. Mecole Hardman (Kansas City Chiefs) – I’m ready to believe! We went down this road last year with Hardman, and while the draft capital was minor we received almost no return on our investment, as Hardman produced just 560 yards on 62 targets across 16 games despite a clear need for a receiver to step up behind Hill and Kelce. But reports out of camp are promising, and Sammy Watkins is gone in free agency, so maybe this is Hardman’s window after all. The former second-round pick enters 2021 with a ton to prove, and I certainly haven’t forgotten about his 4.33 speed. If something were to happen to Hill, Hardman could absolutely take on some of that role and be a league-winner. That seems worthy of a roster spot.


50. Jaylen Waddle (Miami Dolphins) – There have been some concerning reports that Waddle still isn’t over his fractured ankle suffered at Alabama, which is causing me to rethink where to rank him. Prior to the injury, Waddle was flying under the radar despite his lofty 1.06 draft capital. That’s a legitimate investment in a receiver by the Dolphins, and there seemed to be implications that the Dolphins preferred him to Ja’Marr Chase with the pick. Miami left a ton of talented players on the board to draft Waddle, and his game-breaking speed could make him a factor in his rookie season. He needs Tua Tagovailoa to take a significant step, which is no guarantee, so Waddle is no more than a late-round dart throw at the moment. But his best-case scenario is higher than a lot of the names to follow, making this a matter of your risk-reward preference.


51. Jakobi Meyers (New England Patriots) – Meyers’ 26% target share ranked seventh-best among wide receivers last year; unfortunately, he played for a team that never passed the ball. New England’s 477 passes were more than only the Ravens, and Meyers has failed to score a touchdown on his 122 career targets, so you can be forgiven for missing him in 2020. He’s now got more competition in the receiving corps, as well as two top-end tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to share the ball with. But I’m not high on Nelson Agholor or Kendrick Bourne, so if the Pats make the switch to Mac Jones sooner rather than later, a change in passing volume could be a boon to Meyers. He’s probably no more than a cheaper version of Jarvis Landry, but that has value late in drafts.


52. DeVante Parker (Miami Dolphins) – Parker was just activated off of the PUP list and should be ready to compete for targets in Miami, and with Fuller and Waddle experiencing minor injury scares, it’s not crazy to imagine Parker as the last man standing and a value on his current ADP. Parker’s 16.7 yards per reception in 219 looks like Fitzmagic in hindsight, as he’s hovered around 13 yards per reception in every other year but his rookie season. Parker saw a healthy eight targets inside the 10-yard-line last year, so maybe those nine touchdowns from 2019 are repeatable, and if you believe in this Dolphins offense then Paker may be worth stashing on your bench.


53. Rondale Moore (Arizona Cardinals) – At 5’7″, 181 pounds, the Cardinals drafted Moore in the second round in hopes of finding a spark plug for a sputtering receiving corps (outside of Hopkins, of course). So far, he’s impressed in camp. He’s unlikely to be a true alpha receiver at that size, but the Cardinals seem interested in getting him the ball in space, and with the attention that Hopkins draws to one side of the field, and the chaos that Murray causes with his legs, it might just work.


54. Emmanuel Sanders (Buffalo Bills) – Sanders has a big opportunity ahead of him with Cole Beasley walking a fine line between being a major part of the offense and being outright cut. John Brown has left town, leaving Sanders, Gabriel Davis, and Beasley to fight for a number two role that is a lucrative spot in this pass-heavy Bills offense. Sanders enters his age 34 season, so his best years are likely behind him, but he also hasn’t had the best situations lately to put up numbers. Expecting a full season of solid numbers is a mistake, but Sanders should be able to contribute when called upon, and if Buffalo’s slot receiver runs himself out of town, Sanders may have a surprisingly large target share while healthy.


55. Marquise Brown (Baltimore Ravens) – Brown is currently out for an undisclosed amount of time with a hamstring injury, casting doubt on his early-season outlook. Brown could be a bargain if he returns quickly from his injury, but don’t forget about the struggles of his 2019 season. Brown caught a combined six passes for 55 yards and a touchdown from Weeks 8-11, and while he rebounded down the stretch, it was mainly due to a hot streak of touchdowns. With first-round rookie Rashod Bateman and free agent Sammy Watkins in town, Brown will have the most competition of his career in 2021. Once hoped to be a devastating deep threat, Brown ranked 62nd in yards per target last year. Maybe a better supporting cast will help him back into that preferred role, but his hamstring injury is a concern, and I’ll be passing on him until we have more information.


56. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints) – Thomas looks set to miss the first six weeks of the season after undergoing ankle surgery, a big blow to a thin Saints’ receiver group. Roster spots are too valuable in most league types to hold onto Thomas for that long, as that could be the difference between having a spot on your bench for this year’s James Robinson. combined with the fact that this is now two straight years with a major injury, and I’ll let someone auto-draft Thomas when they time out.


Tier 7


57. Allen Lazard (Green Bay Packers) – I was starting to get excited about Lazard again until the Packers traded for Randall Cobb. Now with Cobb and rookie pass-catcher Amari Rodgers joining Robert Tonyan and Valdes-Scantling, there’s just too much competition for the scraps left behind after Adams is done eating. Lazard has shown ability when healthy and enters just his age 25 season, but we need too many things to break right for a big season.


58. Darnell Mooney (Chicago Bears) – There’s plenty of hype around Mooney in fantasy circles, but I’m not ready to buy in for redraft leagues. His 98 rookie year targets were impressive, but his 10.3 yards per reception and 62% catch rate were not. I expect more of the same if Andy Dalton is starting, and even if Justin Fields gets the nod, I’m not sure he’s ready to support two fantasy-relevant receivers right off the bat.


59. Gabriel Davis (Buffalo Bills) – Davis had an excellent 9.7 yards per target, ranking 15th among qualified receivers last year. But he needs some polish before he can become more than a big-play threat, and the signing of Sanders shows that Buffalo isn’t quite ready to hand this job to Davis. I love the 22-year-old in dynasty leagues, but this is likely a year too early in redraft.


60. DeVonta Smith (Philadelphia Eagles) – Smith suffered a sprained MCL in his knee and is currently week-to-week. The first-round rookie is in an uncertain spot anyway with Jalen Hurts at quarterback, and now he loses valuable developmental time. It’s wait-and-see mode for now, but I won’t be spending redraft capital on Smith until we hear good news.

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