Tyreek Hill, Chiefs. Hill finished 2020 right on the heels of Davante Adams for the top WR spot. With the uncertainty surrounding the Aaron Rodgers situation, Hill should be taken as the first wideout off the board in standard leagues, though his semi-reliance on big plays dings him a bit in PPR.
Davante Adams, Packers. If Aaron Rodgers is the signal-caller for Green Bay, Adams will once again sit near the top of the league in targets, yards, and touchdowns. Yes, 18 touchdowns from 2020 will be tough to replicate, but he’ll see plenty of opportunity in the red zone. If Jordan Love is the guy, Adams should still serve as the security blanket in the offense, though we will be dropping him in our rankings. Expect a flurry of targets either way after he led all WRs in targets share last season at 33.93 percent.
DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals. In the thick of his prime, Hopkins will continue dominating with weekly monster fantasy outings. While touchdowns are fluid, last year’s six scores feels like his floor, so there’s decent likelihood he improves on last year’s performance that saw him finish fourth among WRs in PPR leagues and 10th in standard leagues.
Stefon Diggs, Bills. Like Hopkins, Diggs is entering year two with his star young quarterback. Diggs has been a solid fantasy option before emerging to elite status in 2020 with a top-five finish in fantasy points per game (FPPG.) Diggs ranked third in 2020 in target share (29.2 percent) and will enjoy a stellar fantasy season even if that figure drops a bit.
DK Metcalf, Seahawks. Metcalf ranked No. 5 in standard leagues at the position last season. While he’s viable in all formats, standard leagues is where he’s the most attractive commodity. Russell Wilson’s willingness to let it rip deep, combined with Metcalf’s elite size and speed sets up for potential nuclear outings each week. In 2020, Metcalf ranked third in yards/reception among wide receivers who caught 54-plus passes.
Calvin Ridley, Falcons. There is some worry among the fantasy community that Ridley is somehow hindered with the loss of Julio Jones. It’s the age-old question of whether Julio’s departure means more coverage or more targets for Ridley. The fear is not warranted. In eight career games without Jones, Ridley has averaged 11.1 targets, 7.3 receptions, and 107 yards. He’s going to be just fine, and you can confidently press the draft button on him.
Michael Thomas, Saints. Thomas let down fantasy owners in 2020, and many are quick to write him off. It’s important to remember he dealt with a lingering high ankle sprain all season and never got back into his true form. Still, he remained among the top-four wide receivers in target share when he was on the field (27.8 percent). If Jameis Winston is QB1 in New Orleans, a healthy Thomas will see plenty of opportunity. As weird as it may sound, Winston is an upgrade in the Saints air attack over a weaker-armed Drew Brees, at least in terms of yardage potential for the WRs.
Allen Robinson, Bears. Robinson is QB-proof. From Blake Bortles to Mitchell Trubisky, he continues to put together top-15 fantasy campaigns. Oddly enough, Andy Dalton is likely an upgrade from the quarterbacks he’s been playing with. If Justin Fields is the real deal and earns the starting job, Robinson’s ceiling could be higher than we’ve ever seen. Tied for fourth in red-zone targets in 2020 (23), he’s a premier go-getter.
Justin Jefferson, Vikings. Jefferson started the 2020 season on the bench, leading to panic among his fantasy owners. After his breakout week against Tennessee in Week 3 (23.5 FP,) Jefferson found himself within the top six in total fantasy points at season’s end. He ranked fourth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,400) on just 88 catches. If he’s anywhere near his 2020 yards/ per reception average (15.9), a 100 catch season could yield a top 5 finish.
A.J. Brown, Titans. Before the addition of Julio Jones to the Titans, Brown probably would’ve ranked closer to the top five. Even so, Brown is still a top-10 standard scoring option. He makes every reception count, breaking 13 tackles on receptions in 2020, third best in the NFL and second among wide receivers. He can score on a long ball, take a slant the distance, or just beast a corner in the end zone.
CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys. Lamb is expected to take the next step as the No. 1 WR in a high-powered Dallas offense. He finished just one spot behind Amari Cooper at WR20 last year, all while dealing with the likes of Andy Dalton and Ben DiNucci at QB. With Dak Prescott back at the helm, a 1000-yard receiving season is iminent.
Keenan Allen, Chargers. Year two with Justin Herbert should mean excellence from Allen. Yes, he’s 29, but he’s still one of the premier route runners in the league. Those guys stick around. While his aDot of 7.29 isn’t all that impressive in standard formats, the sheer number of targets and receptions he draws makes him a great option at WR. In PPR, Allen is comfortably ranked inside the top 10. He sees just a slight drop in standard.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers. For those who have rostered Evans in the past, you know it’s a game of Russian Roulette. You can’t necessarily trust him week to week, but he will provide several mind-blowing games throughout the season. In 2020, he produced as low as 1.0 points and as high as 30.1 points. That gives the idea of his range of outcomes. On the bright side, he did record 21 red-zone targets in 2020, good for 11th in the league, with nine red-zone touchdowns. And in the end, he finished 10th in FPPG. On another note, a fully healthy season of Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski may limit his upside. He should be a weekly feature in boom-or-bust articles.
Cooper Kupp, Rams. No player is set to be more enhanced by a change at quarterback than Kupp. Kupp’s aDot of 6.44 is ugly, but Matthew Stafford will raise everyone’s aDot on the roster. After all, that’s the reason the Rams made the blockbuster QB trade. While the Rams aren’t going to completely abandon the run with the loss of Cam Akers, it can be assumed they’ll now pass more often. Kupp saw 125 targets and netted 978 yards last season. If his aDot and/or targets increase even a hair, he will be a big factor. You can also expect his career-low three TDs from last year to be closer to his totals the previous two seasons (16 in 22 games).
Terry McLaurin, Washington. Third-year McLaurin should be the best version of himself. Gone are the days of Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith. Oddly enough, Ryan Fitzpatrick raises the bar for the offense and McLaurin. We’ve seen Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and DeVante Parker have tremendous fantasy success with Fitzmagic behind center. Parker finished 2019 as the No. 6 wideout in standard scoring fantasy with Fitzpatick at the helm. As WFT’s No. 1 option, McLaurin cements himself in the top 15.
Amari Cooper, Cowboys. Anytime you can get a piece of the Cowboys offense, do it. Cooper and Lamb are ranked closely together for a reason. They are the only receiving duo to both be inside the top 16. Dallas’ explosive offense will net smiling faces on the owners of their players. And like Lamb, Cooper still carved out a nice year with a bad QB situation in place. The only worry is an ankle injury that’s still bothering him in the preseason, but if healthy, Cooper will be solid.
D.J. Moore, Panthers. Moore’s talent alone could place him within the top 10 of the rankings. Unfortunately, he’s going into another year with a questionable QB. With Teddy Bridgewater at the helm of the Panthers offense last year, Moore racked up the fifth-most air yards. Air yards account for total yards of his targets, whether complete or incomplete. He also finished with an aDOT above well-known deep threats Tyreek Hill and DK Metalf (13.36). If somehow Panthers OC Joe Brady can unlock Sam Darnold’s potential, Moore is completely equipped to break out in a big way.
Robert Woods, Rams. Woods outperformed Kupp in 2020, mostly due to doubling him in touchdowns (six to three). They saw eerily similar targets, catches, and yards. Both are a part of an emerging electric offense in LA, but we expect Kupp to garner more of the touchdowns in 2021.
Julio Jones, Titans. While Jones’ arrival in Tennessee enhances its offense, his ceiling is undoubtedly lower. The Falcons aired it out 144 more times than the Titans in 2020. Put simply, the volume will not be what it was in Atlanta for Jones. He still remains in the top 20 due to his presumed efficiency in an already efficient offense. He’ll still see plenty of opportunities, but it will likely be a far cry from his 10.5 targets/game in his last full season, especially with an already established alpha receiver in A.J. Brown lining up in the same offense. A lot has been made of Julio’s injury concerns, but prior to last season, he had missed just four of the past 96 games for the Falcons. Hopefully his seven missed games last season doesn’t become a pattern.
Chris Godwin, Buccaneers. Even with a crowded skill position group in Tampa Bay, Godwin could see a return to closer to his 2018 form in which he finished No. 2 among WRs. The Bucs franchise-tagged Godwin and were unable to reach an extension with him before the July 15 deadline. Godwin knows a great year means serious long-term money next offseason. Bank on him taking it to the bank.
Odell Beckham Jr., Browns. Before suffering a torn ACL in Week 7, Beckham Jr. showed flashes of his old self that we hadn’t yet seen in Cleveland. In Week 4, he exploded for 33.4 fantasy points. Unfortunately, he was a frustrating option at other points in the year. On the bright side, he saw eight or more targets in three of the seven games he played, possibly foreshadowing a future with consistent opportunities. If Beckham doesn’t hit this year, he likely won’t again.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks. Lockett finished 2020 as WR11 despite notable inconsistence. Eight of his 10 receiving touchdowns came in just three games in which 52.6 percent of Lockett’s total fantasy points came from. When he was on, he was on. When he wasn’t on, it wasn’t pretty for your team. With a change at OC in Seattle, the passing volume of the offense is presumed to be pointing up, hopefully leading to a more consistent Lockett.
Kenny Golladay, Giants. In Golladay’s last complete season, he finished third among all WRs in fantasy. He did so while catching just 56 percent of his targets and averaging 18.3 yards/reception. Unsurprisingly, that kind of statline netted a No. 9 ranking in PPR. No. 23 feels like a safe spot for Golladay heading into this year. It’s easy to sleep on Daniel Jones, but what if you knew he was the league’s best deep passer in 2020? However, Jones will not be slinging it around like Matthew Stafford did in 2019. There are more mouths to feed in New York, including a possible 100-plus targets to Saquon Barkley, Don’t forget shiny first-round rookie KaDarius Toney. Golladay will likely join Lockett in a group of boom-or-bust wideouts each week — assuming he stays healthy after missing 11 games last year.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers. Deebo Samuel was once thought of as the future No. 1 receiver in San Francisco — that is, until Aiyuk emerged. After missing Week 1 with a hamstring injury, Aiyuk struggled in his first action in Week 2. From Week 3 to Week 15, Aiyuk was No. 9 in FPPG at the position. He saw 13 and 16 targets in the thick of the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 14 and 15, rewarding fantasy owners that stuck with him. Regardless of who’s under center for the Niners, Aiyuk is primed to challenge George Kittle as the primary weapon in the offense. FantasyPros also ranks the 49ers wide receivers as the group with the easiest strength of schedule in 2021.
Courtland Sutton, Broncos. Add Sutton to the growing list of WRs who sat out a big portion of the 2020 season. After a breakout 2019 season with 1,100 yards and six touchdowns (WR17), Sutton only appeared in the Broncos season opener the following season. His sophomore campaign looks even more impressive when you consider Joe Flacco and a rookie Drew Lock were his two facilitators. He has a great chance to return to form this season with an alpha WR profile, and he should return as the No. 1 option in the Mile High City.
Adam Thielen, Vikings. Thielen was an elite wideout in fantasy in 2020 with a 14-touchdown campaign. While that number should come down to earth, he’s still very much a fantasy-relevant option. Justin Jefferson and Thielen both commanded around a 25-percent target share and an aDot around 11.4. The Vikings didn’t add any significant pass-catchers in the offseason, so much of the same can be expected, with Thielen seeing just a slight drop at worst.
Robby Anderson, Panthers. While D.J. Moore was used as the deep threat in Carolina, Anderson became the underneath man for Teddy Bridgewater. If that recipe remains true, Anderson could see another flurry of targets (138 in 2020). Again, it remains to be seen if there will be competence at the Panther’s quarterback position.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins. Parker endured an underwhelming 2020 finish (7.4 FPPG,), at least partially because of a lack of consistency from the quarterback position. It remains to be seen whether Miami will try to phase him out of the offense, or if the additions of Waddle and Fuller V will open up the field for him. Preston Williams is more likely to be the odd man out. Tua Tagovailoa is expected to take a step forward in year two, hopefully setting Parker up for a bounce-back season.
Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals. Chase’s ceiling is somewhere around where Justin Jefferson’s was in his rookie season. However, rookies don’t always hit the ground running or make immediate impacts in fantasy. He projects as the No. 1 option in Cincinnati, but nothing is guaranteed with a rookie. He won’t bust like Henry Ruggs III or Denzel Mims, but it’s tough to automatically expect him to have Jefferson-like impact in year one. That is in his range of outcomes, though.
DJ Chark, Jaguars. Beware. With a huge quarterback upgrade in Jacksonville, it’s easy to get excited about Chark. He enjoyed a Pro-Bowl season in 2019 and could return to form. However, he’s just as likely to get replaced as the Jags’ WR1 by Laviska Shenault or Marvin Jones. The target share is up in the air in a crowded WR room, but Chark gets the benefit of the doubt.
Chase Claypool, Steelers. Claypool is another guy in a crowded WR room. However, he is undoubtedly the top deep threat and red-zone target in the offense. In his rookie season, he tied for 13th with 20 red-zone looks (and also received several goal-line carries on end-arounds). The 6-2, 240-pound Claypool obviously possesses the size to be a contested catch machine in that area. He led all Steelers receivers in air yards (1,438) despite finishing third in targets (109). If JuJu Smith-Schuster had opted to go elsewhere, Claypool would be higher on the list. He likely will be in 2022.
Tee Higgins, Bengals. The case for Higgins is that he still could be the Bengals No. 1 option over Ja’Marr Chase. Higgins could just as easily find himself leading the team in targets. While the odds may be stacked against this with Joe Burrow already having rapport with Chase, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Either way, both are worth having on your team. On a lesser scale, Cincinnati’s offense is similar to Dallas’ — you want a piece of it.
Diontae Johnson, Steelers. Johnson is often criticized over his league-leading 16 drops, but he did lead the Steelers in receiving yards (924) and targets (144). He and Claypool have seemed to overtake the once No. 1 option JuJu Smith-Schuster out wide. There’s a chance Johnson reached his fantasy ceiling last year, though. The Steelers offense was as pass happy as ever and should come down in volume a bit. Additionally, Najee Harris is likely to siphon targets from everyone.
Deebo Samuel, 49ers. Samuel was once talked about in the same breath as A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf, and Terry McLaurin. The physical nature of his game has caused his body to fail him early in his career. He’s missed 10 games in his first two seasons as a pro. Last year, when healthy, he was used in the intermediate part of the field while Brandon Aiyuk became the primary WR in the offense. Samuel still presents fantasy upside with his elite YAC skills if the 49ers can stabilize their quarterback position and he can stay on the field.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The man who was once poised to go nuclear with the departure of Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh now finds himself at the No. 35 spot in our rankings. As mentioned in the intro, Smith-Schuster found himself in a heavy-usage, low-result situation, becoming the dink-and-dunk man in the offense. Competing for targets with Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, Najee Harris, and Pittsburgh’s TEs, things could continue to go south for JuJu. However, he is in a contract year and will be as motivated as ever to reclaim his spot as the ace wideout in black and gold. But for now, the Tik-Tok star is safely enlisted on the boom-or-bust list.
Mike Williams, Chargers. Think of Williams like a discount version of Kenny Golladay. He won’t catch a lot of balls, but he will deliver chunk plays that sometimes produce good weeks. In 2019, he caught just 49 balls for 1,001 yards, averaging over 20 yards; reception (all career highs.) In ’20, he caught just one less pass for 250 fewer yards and put up 13.2-plus fantasy points four times, having lackluster outings otherwise. His ceiling has been potentially raised by Justin Herbert’s rocket arm, but he still doesn’t look to be a reliable option week to week.
Antonio Brown, Buccaneers. After a chaotic 2019 season in which Brown played only one game, he joined the Bucs in 2020. For the first time since his first few years in the league, he wasn’t the No. 1 option in an offense. However, he settled in nicely, carving out a role as a secondary receiver. From Weeks 10 to 17, Brown drew either the most or second-most targets among Tampa Bay pass-catchers, including a 13-target game in Week 10 and a 14-target game in Week 17. With a real offseason to jell with Tom Brady, Brown could find himself right in the thick of the Bucs passing game.
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos. Jeudy didn’t exactly make the immediate impact some had hoped for in his rookie season. Even without Courtland Sutton in the fold, Jeudy caught just 52 of 113 targets, producing 6.6 FPPG. Of course, Drew Lock isn’t exactly the most friendly fantasy quarterback, but at least Jeudy did draw a large number of targets. Even if Sutton returns healthy and ready to take over the No. 1 WR spot, any improvement in Broncos’ quarterback play could mean an uptick for Jeudy. There will still be plenty of targets to go around.
Michael Pittman Jr., Colts. Like Jeudy, Pittman Jr. had quite the underwhelming rookie campaign. He was used primarily as an underneath target, with an aDOT of 8.45, (lowest on the Colts.) However, he is in prime position to be the No. 1 WR in Indianapolis. If Parris Campbell can stay healthy and take over the underneath role, the 6-4, 223-pound Pittman possesses the size to be an alpha receiver out wide. The last time Carson Wentz was adequately protected by his offensive line, he was in the thick of the MVP race. If Frank Reich pulls that Carson Wentz out, Pittman should see deep, accurate targets.
DeVonta Smith, Eagles. Coming off the heels of the greatest season ever by a college wide receiver, the naysayers point to Smith’s thin frame (6-0, 170 pounds) as the reason he won’t be successful. With elite route-running prowess and college production, he can certainly be the guy who overcomes those odds. The bigger issue is Jalen Hurts. Hurts was the most inaccurate passer in the league in 2020 (52.3 completion percentage). Smith’s profile isn’t made for contested catches. He needs a quarterback that can put it on him. If Hurts continues where he left off in the passing game, Smith won’t prove fruitful for your team in 2021. Fortunately, he should see a ridiculous amount of targets in a putrid Eagle wide receiver group. Be cautious in redraft leagues taking him too early.
Will Fuller V, Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa is no stranger to playing with serious speed. Between Henry Ruggs III and Jaylen Waddle at Alabama, he’s seen his fair share of wide-open receivers streaking down the field. That bodes well for Fuller, another guy that can turn a 50-catch season into 1,000 yards and a bunch of touchdowns. His concern has been health. Since entering the league in 2016, Fuller has missed 27 of 80 possible games. Last year looked to finally be the year he was going to stay healthy, but he got tagged with a six-game suspension, serving five of them at the end of last year. His 16-game pace would’ve amounted to 77 catches for 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. While those numbers are unlikely in a more balanced Miami offense, he’s capable of producing nuclear weeks after his Week 1 suspension is served.
Brandin Cooks, Texans. Cooks has somehow quietly produced 1,000-yard seasons with four different NFL franchises (NO, NE, LAR, HOU). Just last year, he finished at the WR16 spot on a bad Houston team. His drop to the No. 42 ranking has everything to do with the presumed absence of Deshaun Watson. Whether Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills is set to take over the Houston offense, it’s tough to see a scenario where Cooks is fantasy relevant on a weekly basis. However, if for some reason you’re adamant on having a piece of the Houston offense, he’s the guy.
Christian Kirk, Cardinals. It’s a now-or-never year for Kirk in Arizona. With Larry Fitzgerald, who has been playing in the slot, likely out of the fold, Kirk should see his greatest opportunity. Kirk flashes potential but hasn’t quite put it all together. The Cardinals signed an aging A.J. Green in free agency and took Purdue receiver Rondale Moore in the second round of the NFL Draft, so there is a risk of diminished targets. The good news for Kirk is Arizona’s offennse will remain explosive.
Corey Davis, Jets. Davis gets another chance to be a team’s WR1 after A.J. Brown surpassed him in Tennessee. Davis produced a breakout year last season but still only found himself as the No. 29 WR in standard formats. Zach Wilson is young and has no prior allegiance to any of the Jets pass-catchers, but it’s unlikely Davis will dominate target share completely.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals. Boyd has been criminally underrated as one of the best slot receivers in the league. Expect Cincinnati to be among the league leaders in pass attempts, with Boyd getting a decent share of the targets. He’s noticeably more valuable in PPR leagues.
Marquise Brown, Ravens. Brown will finally get to play to his strengths in 2021. He’s not a No. 1 wide receiver; h’s a speedy field stretcher who can also make his money in the underneath game. Rashod Bateman’s arrival moves Hollywood into a more natural role. Expect his efficiency to climb to a career high.
Michael Gallup, Cowboys. Not to beat a dead horse, but come on, it’s the Dallas offense. Take a chance of Gallup if he falls too far. Even with the loaded receiver room, Gallup led the Cowboys in air yards (1,252) and aDOT (11.81). He had the same number of touchdowns as Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Just because he’s the WR3 on paper doesn’t mean he won’t be a fantasy contributor.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts. While Hilton isn’t the elite fantasy option he once was under an Andrew Luck-led offense, he still finds himself in the top 50. He shouldn’t be considered the Colts WR1 this year, but it wouldn’t be totally surprising if it plays out that way.
Gabriel Davis, Bills. Davis is the likely WR2 in a top-three offense, but Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley will have something to say about that. The good news is Josh Allen trusted Davis in 2020. He caught 35 balls on 52 targets for 599 yards and seven touchdowns acting as the Bills primary deep threat. Rocket arm QB + deep threat = fantasy points.
Henry Ruggs III, Raiders. No rookie receiver was more of a letdown than Ruggs III in 2020. It’s important to remember that players with first-round draft capital get lots of time and patience, so he should still see opportunity. The hope is he’s not just one of those fast guys. You at least hope for those kinds of players to score loads of touchdowns, but Ruggs charted just two, with one seemingly being a Jets attempt at tanking. However, his price is low enough in drafts that he’s worth a flier.