Your fantasy football draft is coming up any day now as preseason games are just about to kick-off. We’re already back in the swing of another exciting football season.
In this 2021 wide receiver summary, we’re going to look at one of the most boom or bust positions on your roster. That is the wide receiver spot.
Avoiding WR Busts
I’m sure everyone over the years owned a wide receiver who put up 1.5 points for you. When you thought they were in a solid spot to produce. Or had a long touchdown threat on your bench put up 30 points after he stunk it up in your lineup four weeks in a row before.
Draft WR’s with ‘Boom’ Potential
The volatility of the wide receiver position is very real. It is also the position that can win you big matchups after being down 35 heading into the Monday night game.
It is essential to look at all your options heading into your draft for receivers as there are undoubtedly some diamonds in the rough. These WR’s will be late-round picks or go undrafted in your league.
Some guys will be taken too early and prove to be busts. Let’s get into all that and more in this one to get you prepared for the unexpected in this year’s draft.
WR’s in the First Round
To get this kicked off, we have to start at the top of everyone’s wide receiver rankings this season. Beginning with big Davante Adams.
Adams led all fantasy wide receivers last season with 25.6 points per game in a one-point PPR scoring format.
That’s 3.7 more points than the second leader in wide receiver points per game, Tyreek Hill.
Why is Davante Adams so good?
So what puts Davante Adams ahead of guys in this year’s wide receiver rankings? How is Adams a better fantasy pick than Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, Deandre Hopkins, and others?
It comes down to three things. The first is that Davante Adams plays with a top 5 (potentially of all time) quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers looks to Adam all the time and can trust Adams in any situation.
In addition to playing with Aaron Rodgers and being his favourite target. Adams doesn’t have as much competition for targets as some other players do.
And finally, Adams is the complete wide receiver in football. He possesses the ability to take short throws and turn them into significant gains.
He is one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats. Adams has proven he can get it done in the red zone to get six extra fantasy points to close out a drive (In 6 point passing touchdown leagues).
Adams comes into this season finding himself in basically the same offense as we saw last season and should produce similarly.
His 18 touchdowns last year were 3 more than the next highest in Tyreek Hill. His yards per game at 98.1 was 2.2 yards more than the 2nd man Stefon Diggs, and in catches per game, he was just second to Diggs.
So it seems pretty clear that Davante Adams should still be number one on the wide receiver board. Look to target Adams in the mid to late first round of your draft.
Is Tyreek Hill worth an early round 1 pick?
Since we already mentioned some other big names in the top 5 wide receiver rankings: Hill, Diggs, Ridley, and Hopkins. We should get more into those guys because they are in more exciting situations, unlike Adams.
Starting with Tyreek Hill, he is essentially in the same situation as last season but faces an odd predicament that Adams doesn’t.
He plays on the Kansas City Chiefs, who put up a ton of offense.
The only problem with that is Hill can get lost in fantasy games when Kelce, who put up 11 touchdowns last year. Or potentially another one of their many weapons, have early touchdowns.
Hill will go out there sometime this season and have a monster game, such as last year with his 13 catches, 3 touchdowns, and 269-yard performance.
But for the lack of consistency argument, he might also have multiple no touchdown games. Such as in 2020 when he posted 3 catches for 20 yards or 6 catches for 58 yards or 4 catches for 65 yards. All of which he did last season that could lose you a matchup any week.
Will Stefon Diggs be a Top 5 WR?
Stefon Diggs is a very close 3rd wide receiver in the rankings. However, he doesn’t posses as big of an ability to win you a week on his own such as Adams or Hill.
Diggs only registered one game with more than one touchdown last season, but week-by-week has a lower floor than Hill’s. It’s worth noting that his worst game last season was still better than the three mentioned above for Hill.
With Ridley, we probably see the most considerable increase in draft stock from 2020 to 2021 (besides Justin Jefferson).
Due to the monster season he is coming off of, Julio Jones is now in Tennessee, so he is the clear number 1 in Atlanta.
Ridley’s stats will be somewhat unknown as that was his first 900+ yard season in the NFL. Defenses could key on him with Julio gone.
The 5th ranked wide receiver is also somewhat of a wildcard in Deandre Hopkins. Hopkins is currently a risk of sitting out games due to Covid reasons and not getting vaccinated.
That’s the biggest downside for taking him as the 5th receiver, or he might even be ranked 4th.
Hopkins had 25 more catches than Ridley last season and more yards but only found the end zone 6 times.
The 6 touchdowns seem unlucky. Therefore, Ridley should be in line for closer to 10 this season, assuming he plays at least 15 of the 17 game season.
Drafting Deep at WR
While getting a top 5 receiver like this is ideal, you could not be in a situation in your draft to do so.
We have to look for some value players who are currently ranked too low or have the opportunity to break out this year.
One of the sleepers is former Bills wide receiver John Brown, ranked 80th or lower on most draft boards.
While Brown struggled as the season went on last year. Early-on he started extremely hot and then eventually took a back seat to Diggs and others as the season progressed.
In the 1st two games of 2020, Brown had 19 and 18 point fantasy games.
These two games and the season prior, 2019, is what many people have forgotten about Brown.
He logged over 1,000 yards with 72 catches and 6 touchdowns in 2019. He was about even for the number 1 receiver on the team with Cole Beasely by the end of the season.
Brown, now in Las Vegas, can become the Raiders new number 1 option (If you don’t count Darren Waller). The Raider’s sophomores Henry Ruggs and possibly Bryan Edwards being the only other receivers on the team to challenge Brown for the WR1 spot.
Even if they split number one duties, as with him and Beasely, he could be in for a 2019 repeat season.
Finding Value in Later Rounds at WR
Another undervalued player who is a speedster and deep threat is Marquise Brown.
Drafting him as your third or even fourth receiver is possible as he’s ranked as the 50th or lower wide receiver on most draft rank boards.
As the number one wideout on the roster, M. Brown put up 8 touchdowns last year on 100 targets.
If Lamar Jackson is going to be a top NFL quarterback. Lamar will have to throw more consistently and be more accurate as M. Brown hauled in just 58 of those 100 targets.
Having Marquise ranked this low is disrespectful to put him below guys such as 3rd option Michael Gallup. 3rd or 4th option Mecole Hardman, Daryl Mooney, or anyone on the Jets, which a few draft rankings have.
One guy fantasy football players are well aware of over the years is Julio Jones.
Jones isn’t a breakout candidate. However, being traded to the Titans has unfairly slid down fantasy wide receiver rankings.
Many have him outside of their top 15 receivers, which seems to undervalue him severely.
Has Julio Jones still got it?
Before two seasons ago, Jones had 6 straight seasons of 1,400 yards. After a 2019 season full of DNPs, Julio had a comeback year with nearly 800 yards and 51 catches in just 13 games.
Jones now comes into Tennessee, where he may be the number one option. Even if he is the number two option, he will still increase his numbers from last season.
The Titans number two receiver last year, Corey Davis, hauled in almost 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns. We’re talking about a talent like Julio Jones, not Corey Davis here for the Titans.
The only knock on Jones could be his lack of touchdown production and age (32). All of which can be overcome on a talented Titans roster.
Speaking of age, wide receivers nowadays seem like they don’t age like fine wine as some of the more recent superstar receivers we’ve seen. Such as, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and Randy Moss, did it at a high level well past 34-years-old.
The oldest receiver inside of the top 14 in fantasy wide receiver rankings this year is just 29-years-old.
Julio Jones bumps up the average age of the top 15 wide receivers being the outlier at 32.
But why does this matter? If you are in a keeper league or thinking about joining one, this will be important.
Is the age of WR’s important?
Whether the league will go on for only 3 more years or 4 or 5. It may be worth considering not taking anyone over the age of 27 too early on.
It seems 30 is about the breaking age for a top 15 receiver nowadays, with the exception of Julio.
Some younger guys to target for keeper leagues higher than draft boards rank them are:
- Calvin Ridley
- Justin Jefferson
- Terry McLaurin
- DK Metcalf
- AJ Brown
- CeeDee Lamb
- Look for other rookies or 2nd-year players who have yet to break out.
These WR’s are all 25 or under and should have at least 5 more good seasons under their belt.
Breakouts at WR
Drafting potential breakout players can turn your draft into a 1st place league winning team.
Imagine if you found last year’s Justin Jefferson, Diontae Johnson, or Terry McLaurin?
Those guys won a lot of people fantasy leagues last season. While it seems that this 2021 rookie class of wide receivers don’t have a ton of fantasy firepower, some are almost guaranteed to finish the season ranked 20+ spots ahead of where they were pre-draft.
You could even find last year’s Justin Jefferson, who finished as a top 10 fantasy receiver.
2021’s Top WR Rookie
The rookie that appears to be in the best spot to succeed is Ja’Marr Chase. Chase, who was drafted to the Bengals to pair with his old college quarterback in Joe Burrow.
Chase probably has the best throwing quarterback out of the top 7 ranked fantasy rookie wide receivers and was the first selected wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The only thing that could hold him back is the depth chart as Cincinnati’s wide receiver group is looking impressive. With both Tyler Boyd and last year’s emergence of Tee Higgins on the roster along with Chase.
They are making an exciting scenario where one of the three will have to take a back seat this season.
2021 WR Rookie Class Breakouts
The question is just who? Another candidate for a big rookie season is Devonta Smith.
Smith has arguably the deepest threat speed and long touchdown ability and could be this year’s, Justin Jefferson.
A question mark will be Jalen Hurts as his quarterback, but Smith could be the number one guy in Philadelphia if those two connect.
Some guys that seem to be in more questionable situations are players with average to below-average quarterbacks. Such as Jaylen Waddle (MIA), Rashod Bateman (BAL), and Kadarius Toney (NYG).
As Marquise Brown seems like an undervalued option as a 50th ranked fantasy wide receiver, I’m not sure Batemen is in Baltimore.
It remains to be seen what Bateman can be with Lamar Jackson. While Brown can get a long touchdown at any point to turn his 3 catch 30-yard game into 4 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Bateman doesn’t seem to have that same ability to save his fantasy day, and with an inaccurate quarterback, he could struggle.
Teams with Talented WR Potential
Another exciting team, besides the Bengals, will be the San Francisco 49ers.
The 9ers come into this season with an almost entirely different look than last year.
Every game saw another group of players roll out there due to injuries.
With all of them healthy, where will the ball go?
George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel are their top receiving options. However, this 9ers team likes to get going on the ground and could stick with that the entire game if working.
It seems you can’t go wrong with one of these SF options but look for Deebo Samuel to come back and be the go-to guy in the receiving game. SF will look to get him going on short passes, which he can turn into long gainers.
One more team out of the NFC West that is interesting is the new look Rams.
After a reasonably disappointing fantasy season last year, look for Cooper Kupp to regain the number one spot over Robert Woods.
Woods will still significantly impact the team, but Kupp seems to be a complete receiver that new quarterback Matt Stafford will look to early and often.
The general consensus in the fantasy community seems to rank Kupp around 16 or 17 on most wide receiver fantasy draft boards, while Woods is 12 or 13.
I like the odds of those spots being swapped around by year-end.
What is the best draft strategy for WR’s?
Let’s talk a little about draft strategy when going after wide receivers this season to wrap this one up.
If you aren’t lucky enough to score Davante Adams in the first round. It may be worth it to consider waiting until round two to go after a receiver with a guy like Tyreek Hill or Stefon Diggs.
As mentioned in the beginning, Hill and Diggs have a couple of flaws that make them not worthy of a round 1 fantasy selection when you could get a more consistent or explosive player.
A decent strategy has been to load up on running backs early, wait on a quarterback and tight end, and take receivers where you see fit.
I am taking into account the significant discrepancy in running back tiers.
This one works well with so much depth at quarterback.
Plus, the ability to find value at the wide receiver position later on.
Such as a John Brown or Marquise Brown, and then take a flier with upside on your 3rd or 4th receivers such as a rookie or other breakout candidates Tee Higgins or Russel Gage.
WR’s Draft Board
No matter what kind of league you’re in, it helps to know the wide receivers at the top of the draft board and who the potential breakout wideouts could be.
This knowledge could be the difference between winning your league or finishing last place.
Know your draft and the value of the wide receiver position.