As summer begins, football is starting to enter sports fans’ thoughts again. With less than three months until kickoff, here are the 2021 Fantasy Football PPR Wide Receiver Rankings. (Note: These rankings are best used for the PPR scoring system, where a player gets a point for every reception, and will be updated as the offseason progresses).
1. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
Leading the league in receiving yards and target volume in 2020, there’s no reason Diggs can’t continue his crusade in 2021. Being the number one option on one of the league’s biggest breakout offenses last year while appearing in all 16 games and playing through a torn oblique in the playoffs certainly doesn’t hurt either.
With the only addition to the Bills’ receiving corps being veteran Emmanuel Sanders, there’s no reason for Diggs’ insanely high volume to go down. If the Bills offense is anywhere near where they were last year, Diggs will without a doubt be the most reliable receiver in the league to get the points expected from him week-to-week.
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Last year, Davante Adams had the most targets in Green Bay on the year at 149. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was second in targets at 63. Adams makes up one half of the entire Green Bay passing offense, assuming the other half doesn’t leave Wisconsin this offseason, Adams should pick up right where he left off as a one-man scoring machine.
3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
‘A deep threat that sees consistent volume’ is a sentence that will make any fantasy manager salivate. Give him some of the fastest wheels in the league and put him on one of the best offenses in NFL history and you get Tyreek Hill. His only drawback is that his volume is only slightly hindered by having to share with certified tight end legend Travis Kelce, who slightly edged out Hill for most catches on the team last year.
That being said, Hill’s uncanny ability to drop a 40+ point game at least twice a year still makes him one of the best options for WR1.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
The video of the most iconic play of the 2020 season could probably be enough for this explanation. In case some readers need more, Hopkins posted over 1400 receiving yards last season, the third highest year in his career in his first year as a Cardinal. He should do nothing but feast this year with some time to adjust to the pass-heavy offense, an elite QB under center, and slot receiver Christian Kirk and veteran A.J Green helping to take some attention away from him.
5. A.J Brown, Tennessee Titans
As the Titans seem to be gearing up to be a contender, A.J Brown is gearing up to be a league-winner. With the departure of Corey Davis and Johnnu Smith and the addition of Julio Jones to keep some defensive pressure off him, Brown is set up to have an even better year than last, which was slightly dampened by a constant nagging ankle injury.
With Tennesse being fourth in points-per-game scored last season, there’s no reason why this offense isn’t able to support both Brown and Jones, but with Brown being younger, having an established tenure with Tannheill and Jones’ recent concerning injury history, Brown will likely remain the clear number one option on the Titans.
6. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones’ departure from Atlanta opens up a door of opportunity for Ridley, as he posted some monster games without Jones during his injury-ridden 2020 season. With Atlanta putting heavy pressure on Matt Ryan to pass due to a poor defense and an almost non-existent running game, Ridley will see no shortage of targets this year.
What could be detrimental to Ridley is the addition of rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who is a generational prospect already projected to be a top five tight end in 2021. His presence could potentially take some touchdowns away from Ridley especially in plays close to the goal line.
7. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
In the past, Keenan Allen has routinely been a value pick, almost always going lower in the draft than he should. This year is different as all eyes are on the Chargers due to Justin Herbert’s historical rookie campaign. With his target share steadily increasing over the years, and the Chargers’ abysmal offensive line being beefed up with rookie Rashawn Slater, Allen is set up for a huge season. Don’t be surprised if he gets scooped up earlier than expected in fantasy drafts this August.
8. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
The wide receiver rookie sensation who smashed records and filled out Diggs’ previous role as the Vikings’ number one option last year nicely is looking good to have another elite season. Minnesota’s poor defense should mean there will be no shortage of passing, either. What could hold Jefferson back is Cousins’ tendency to turn over the ball, and elite running back Dalvin Cook’s ability to end a drive in one rush.
That being said, Jefferson should still be a monster coming into the 2021 season, as there are not many rookies who can come in and edge out Adam Thielen in targets.
9. D.K Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
One of the most iconic receivers in today’s game who can just casually participate in an Olympic qualifier is definitely a player no one should sleep on. D.K Metcalf posted some absolutely unreal stats last year as the number one option for future hall-of-fame QB Russel Wilson. His massive build and playmaking abilities make him a potential top five receiver this year. So, why is he not in the top five on this list?
While he is by any definition an elite receiver, Metcalf was pretty inconsistent last year, earning his over 1300 receiving yards on the year in large chunks. He shared a pretty similar regression line with Wilson, taking a sharp decline in the second half of the season. He is also pretty heavily affected by the conflict with head coach Pete Caroll’s desire to focus on the run game and Wilson’s vision of a pass-heavy offense. Metcalf is definitely a riskier pick than in year’s past, but the huge upside is still there.
10. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas definitely took a few steps back last year. It’s hard not to after a historical 2019 season, where he saw a mind-boggling 185 targets, of which he caught 149. For reference, that’s almost 40 more targets than the number two receiver on that list, Keenan Allen. His 2020 was riddled with injuries, an aging quarterback who couldn’t stay healthy and even a one-week suspension. Even with all of that, Thomas is still an elite receiver with the potential to return to form in 2021.
The Saints’ QB situation creates more uncertainty around Thomas as well. The starting spot is a competition between Jameis Winston, who led the league in passing yards during his time in Tampa during the 2019 season, and Taysom Hill, a more running-centered gadget QB. Although managers are worried that Hill starting under center could be lethal to Thomas’ production, Thomas’ target share and production actually shot up during HIll’s starts last year while Drew Brees was hurt. The panic over Thomas this year is a bit exaggerated.
While the Saints as a whole are currently a giant question mark, Thomas should still see a bounceback year, and is still worthy of an early draft pick.
11. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Even though the Cowboys went from one of the funnest teams to watch to one of the most lifeless offenses ever seen after Dak Prescott’s horrific injury, Amari Cooper still managed to flourish despite the rotating cast of painfully average to downright horrible QBs. Prescott is poised for comeback player of the year, and Cooper will most likely be the pivotal piece of the campaign.
12. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
A shining beacon of hope on an otherwise struggling Bears offense, Allen Robinson remains one of Chicago’s only reliable pass-catchers. He still managed to post over 1200 receiving yards last year with Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky, which is no easy feat. How well Robinson does this year is extremely dependent on how long Andy Dalton starts before Justin Fields takes over, as he is not much of an upgrade over Trubisky. If Fields plays like he did in college, expect Robinson’s performance to drastically increase, but until that happens, he remains a low-end WR1.
13. Mike Evans , Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The number one option on a Super Bowl-winning offense that retained every player through the offense, Mike Evans will no doubt continue to thrive this year. With this squad now in its second year together, the Buccaneers will likely hit the ground running, and will be a much more consistent year, which can only benefit Evans. Having the literal greatest QB of all time throwing to him certainly doesn’t hurt his case either.
The problem is that offense has a lot of mouths to feed. Between wide Receivers Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and a top notch backfield, the Buccs have no shortage of options to move the chain. This could potentially result in Evans not seeing as much volume as some of the receivers higher on this list.
14. Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee was probably the best-case scenario for fantasy managers in terms of Julio Jones’ landing spot. A highly-productive offense with a QB capable of throwing a deep ball and a wideout opposite of him worthy of drawing away attention. Jones is poised to have an amazing year, the big holdup is his recent injury history, as he was absolutely banged-up last year with a multitude of tears and strains.
His age is starting to show, but that doesn’t mean he can’t put up some WR1 numbers, and even some week-winning performances.
15. Terry Mclaurin, Washington Football Team
Terry Mclaurin suffered from Washington’s severely inconsistent and checkdown-heavy QB play last year. While he had some amazing performances, he also had some absolute duds. With the acquisition of everyone’s favorite journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, things should be different this year. Fitzpatrick should bring some stability to the offense, and Carolina import Curtis Samuel should help take some pressure off Mclaurin. Scary Terry is looking like a great and reliable low-end WR1 option this year, with a top 5 WR upside.
16. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
It very much feels like Matthew Stafford’s arrival to the Rams is not talked about as much as it should be in the fantasy realm. Woods has been a quietly consistent receiver who has outperformed his ADP year after year with Jared Goff throwing to him. With the clear upgrade at QB, expect Woods to flourish this season as a high-end WR2 with some top 5 finishes sprinkled in.
17. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Another one of the monsters to come out of the stacked 2020 wide receiver draft class, CeeDee Lamb impressed many last year, flourishing both with and without Dak Prescott. While he may not be the number 1 option on the stacked Cowboys offense, he should get his fair share of targets with an offense that can support multiple receivers, and a defense so poor that it will force Prescott to keep passing.
18. Kenny Golladay, New York Giants
Watching Kenny Golladay go from Matthew Stafford to Daniel Jones is a very terrifying prospect for fantasy managers, as evidenced by his huge ADP drop, and his injury-ridden 2020 season still lingers in their memories, but there is some hope. Golladay is being paid a boatload of money to play for New York, he is by far the best receiving option on the team, and is the key component in proving that the Daniel Jones experiment is a success. He also still managed to finish as WR9 in 2019 while playing with Jeff Driskel and David Blough for half the season. Expect Golladay to be a pleasant surprise and a nice value pickup in the draft this year.
19. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin is a talented number 2 option on an offense that is absolutely stacked in terms of weapons. As long as Tom Brady’s eternal youth spell doesn’t wear off, expect Godwin to get his healthy portion of targets as a safe high-end WR2.
20. D.J Moore, Carolina Panthers
Ah, another very talented receiver suffering from a bad QB situation. These never get old. While Panthers fans don’t seem to be ecstatic over the Sam Darnold acquisition and passing up on a new QB from the stacked 2021 draft class, Darnold is still an upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater according to their trade values, though. If Darnold flourishes under the Carolina system, D.J Moore will be a monster, but that’s a BIG “if”, so proceed with caution.
21. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
While he’s an elite slot receiver, Tyler Lockett had some of the biggest up-and-downs of 2020. While he finished as WR8 on the season in 2020, he only finished as a top 20 receiver in only 6 weeks. He has huge boom potential, but his extremely risky nature makes him a WR2 option at best.
22. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
The unfortunate victim of Justin Jefferson’s quick rise to the top, Adam Thielen’s target share took a decline last year, and it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change in 2021 unless Jefferson has a huge slump. While Kirk Cousins does tend to air the ball out, he’s a little too turnover-prone to trust him to feed two receivers enough for both to have elite production. Thielen is a safe WR2 option.
23. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Similar to Woods, things have been oddly quiet surrounding Cooper Kupp. He should see a nice, measured step forward from last year with the QB upgrade.
24. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
The name doesn’t carry the same fantasy greatness it used to, as Odell Beckham Jr. is coming off of an ACL tear which was followed by the Browns’ conspicuously-timed pass-game flourishment. He is still OBJ, but that acronym is starting to mean less and less when he’s on a team with arguably the best run committee in the league.
25. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
Tee Higgins had a pretty nice rookie season despite the franchise QB going down in the latter half of the season. Even with some career backup QBs, Higgins still managed to put up some solid numbers, and with A.J Green gone and Joe Burrow constantly dishing the ball out, he should take a step forward this year. The one but big concern is the arrival of Ja’Marr Chase, who is projected to come in and step into the WR1 role almost immediately in Cincinnati.
26. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
Out of the Pittsburgh receivers, Chase Claypool’s future looks the brightest, and is the safest bet out of the lot to have a good 2021. Of course, with geriatric Ben Roethlisberger taking another stab at it, an offensive line not fit to protect the elderly, and the Steelers drafting a workhorse running back from Alabama, the ceiling seems to have lowered quite a bit for Claypool.
27. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Courtland Sutton exited the 2020 season in week 2 with an ACL tear, and somehow came back to an even more pedestrian QB room. He’s shown that he has the talent to be an elite receiver, but for some strange reason, neither Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater just don’t inspire confidence to bring out Sutton’s full potential.
28. Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
The most hyped-up receiver in the draft and apparently Joe Burrow’s best friend for life, JaMarr Chase is looking like he’s going to be the Bengals’ future elite receiver. While he’s an unproven prospect and the likelihood of the Bengals keeping the training wheels on him for a couple of weeks, Chase should flourish in Cincinatti’s pass-heavy offense.
29. Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
Diontae Johnson was Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite receiver last year, but with Claypool slowly creeping up behind him and of course, everything else that’s wrong with Pittsburgh’s offense as mentioned above, Johnson is not nearly as an enticing prospect as in year’s past.
30. Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
The words “San Francisco 49ers offense” do not exactly inspire fantasy football confidence in most. A rotating cast of running backs, a very secretive head coach, and a QB who can’t stay healthy with an unproven rookie waiting in the wings, things in the bay aren’t exactly ‘secure’. Brandon Aiyuk was an outstanding rookie last year, but with George Kittle being the preferred receiving option and Kyle Shanahan’s affection for the run game, it’s hard to safely call Aiyuk anything other than a good flex option.
31. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Tyler Boyd is always a nice safe pick for fantasy as an extremely reliable slot receiver. While The Bengals have added some more weapons to their arsenal, expect Boyd to still benefit from Joe Burrow’s plentiful supply of targets.
32. Will Fuller, Miami Dolphins
While Will Fuller will have a one-game handicap this year with his suspension bleeding over into the 2021 season, he should be a big help to sophomore QB Tua Tagovaiola. He’s immensely talented and should be a big help to the Miami offense, but there’s still a lot of ambiguity around who will be the clear-cut number one receiving option.
33. D.J Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
D.J Chark has been a bit of a disappointment in 2020 relative to his hype coming off of a surprisingly great 2019 season, but being injured and also on a team that dropped 15 straight games tends to result in disappointment. While the answer to who is the number one option in Jacksonville is unclear, Chark seems to have the best odds. If Trevor Lawrence lives up to the hype, expect Chark to explode, but for now, he’s a just a nice bench pickup in the draft.
34. Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
Jerry Jeudy’s tendency to drop passes haunted him throughout his rookie season. If he improves over the offseason, he could be a bright spot on a Broncos squad that doesn’t particularly excel on any front on the offensive side of the ball.
35. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
JuJu Smith-Schuster is similar to the other Pittsburgh receivers above him, except he won’t have a good 2020 season to look back on when he’s scoring his 5-11 points a week this year. Smith-Schuster had some bright spots, but his wild inconsistency and his relegation to a checkdown role for a measly 1-2 yards late in the season have no reason to go away with Pittsburgh’s circumstances.
36. Curtis Samuel, Washington Football Team
Curtis Samuel had his moments on Carolina last year, and is now at Washington with an upgrade in QB and a number one receiving option in Terry Mclaurin who will draw defensive attention. Samuel will no doubt benefit from this and will be a nice week-to-week flex option.
37. Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans
Well, someone does have to catch the ball in Houston, right? There will be a week or two where Houston will play a defense so bad that they can score touchdowns against them, and Cooks is the one most likely to catch those touchdowns. Beyond that, there’s not much else value there.
38. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
With San Francisco’s mystery of an offense and George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk lined up for the bulk of the passing work, Deebo Samuel is looking like a week-to-week matchup-based play this year.
39. DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
A Heisman-winning wide receiver is always due some credit, but DeVonta Smith’s landing spot in Philadelphia is not exactly ideal for fantasy production. The Eagles ranked 28th in passing yardage, and Jalen Hurts was 1-3 in 4 starts with a 41 QB rating. Still, an Alabama reunion in the NFL can’t hurt, and the number one receiving option is Smith’s role to lose, as the receiving competition in Philly isn’t exactly cutthroat.
40. Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers
Robby Anderson will be reunited with Sam Darnold in Carolina this year, and while reunions are always a nice thing, he will likely be relegated to the number 2 option behind D.J Moore. Until he proves otherwise, Sam Darnold isn’t productive enough to make two receivers fantasy-relevant.
41. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
42. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
43. Corey Davis, New York Jets
44. Marvin Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars
45. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
46. Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars
47. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins
48. Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
49. Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
50. Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
51. Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears
52. MeCole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
53. John Brown, Las Vegas Raiders
54. Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts
55. Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
56. Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots
57. Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens
58. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
59. A.J Green, Arizona Cardinals
60. Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders
61. Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles
62. Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers
63. Darius Slayton, New York Giants
64. Denzel Mims, New York Jets
65. Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills