Austin, Matt, Derek, and Jacob project out the top 25 WRs for 2021. We’ll go pick by pick reviewing things like off-season moves, upcoming strength of schedule, and analytics from past seasons to justify our ranks. This partners with the recent 365 Fantasy Football podcast episodes on the top 25 WRs and mirrors the article on the top 20 RBs for this year: Backs… to the Future. Follow along to the end for the 365 guys consensus ranks.
- Derek – Mike Evans
Tough to put him here, but for me his volume on TBB won’t be there – with more Godwin and Brown and maybe Howard, arrow down.
- Austin – Jerry Jeudy
A lot of people feel like Jeudy was a huge disappointment last season. What can you expect from a rookie playing with a terrible quarterback, though? Personally, I feel like Jeudy’s 856 yards and 16.5 yards per reception was exceptional given the circumstances. With better QB play this year, Jeudy should be a lock to get inside the top 25.
- Matt – Julio Jones
This is thinking that he will get traded and acclimated to a new team. Before last year the guy had a top-10 finish every year since 2014. I think going to a new team and getting used to a new system will hold him back a bit, and I think that his new team will cap his reps a little at the start of the season to keep him healthy. The size and skill are there though, it’s health and landing spot that will dictate where he finishes
- Jacob – Jaylen Waddle
If Miami puts Waddle in the slot as its being talked about now (Fuller and Parker on the outside), then he’ll have the chance to replicate his Alabama success after the catch 12.2 YAC last year. Tua hasn’t really gotten on the same page with Parker yet, so Waddle’s got a leg up on the field in both talent and rapport.
- Derek – Tee Higgins
Buying into the Bengal’s skill player talent (despite O-line issues). Austin comp’d him to Reggie Wayne and Chase in the draft should take some defensive attention off him.
- Austin – D.J. Moore
I probably need to move him up. The guy is just flat out good at football. I also believe Darnold is an upgrade and the Panthers’ receivers have the easiest schedule in all of football. But what about Darnold, you ask? He’s got the 3rd easiest schedule.
- Matt – Kenny Golladay
I think he’s one of the best WRs in football but he’s going to a new team and he needs to show that any injury problems he had last year are behind him. Also I want to see his QB take a step forward before I put Golladay back in the top-10. The skill is there, just too many questions going into this season.
- Jacob – Antonio Brown
This is a projection as much as it is an eye-brow raiser. I was ready to move him all the way up my board if he landed with a team with more targets to go around – he’s competitive as the day is long and wants to prove to himself and the world that he’s still the best. I’m sure being buddies with Brady doesn’t help his complex any either.
- Derek – CeeDee Lamb
Look for CeeDee Lamb in 2022. This year he’s going to split leftovers with Gallup, where Amari will be the clear one. I love the upside of all three with a healthy Dak.
- Austin – Diontae Johnson
Again, this pains me. I just can’t ignore the volume. Big Ben is going to throw the ball 550+ times, even if his arm is shot. Good news for Ben is Johnson is one of the best in the league in the screen/slant game.
- Matt – Rashod Bateman
Skill and opportunity is why I have him here. I think he’s the 2nd best WR and 4th best skill position player in this draft behind Harris, Pitts and Chase. He’s clearly the best WR on this team and I think that Lamar will be a much better passer because of him this season.
- Jacob – Courtland Sutton
I went back and looked at 2019 for the Yards per Catchable Target article and immediately made a trade offer for Sutton in every league I didn’t already have him. He balled out despite terrible QB play. Jeudy showed in 2020 that he’s prepared for anyone but him to take over as WR1. If Sutton lands Rodgers by some miracle it’s a top 5 ceiling. But even Bridgewater is an improvement.
- Derek – Tyler Lockett
I’m not a huge fan, but I can’t ignore the talent and the production. As Austin says, follow the money and he just got paid. He’s a lock for top 25 given his situation and usage.
- Austin – Jarvis Landry
Landry and I are completely in sync. We are one. If I need to say more, I will just add that the Browns have a middle of the pack strength of schedule for receivers and quarterbacks. This is a run first team, though, and the Browns have one of the best RBs in the league with the 3rd easiest strength of schedule. That will result in plenty of scoring opportunities for Landry.
- Matt – DJ Moore
I think this guy is super undervalued and I feel like I’m undervaluing him again but this team is much deeper at the skill position than in years past and I’m still not 100% sold on the QB. This is another guy where I want to see how the offense looks before I rank him higher but I think he has the potential to be a top-10 guy, but I don’t think that will be until next year.
- Jacob – D.J. Moore
I bought all the D.J. Moore shares last offseason, so got bit a little bit by the slower start and the awkward usage under the new system. I think Darnold is a downgrade. But he’s an undeniable talent who will get enough targets to put you in WR2 over the course of the season.
- Derek – Chase Claypool
He’s going to be targeted the most on this team. He has the measurables and is used on some nice gadget plays in addition to his receiving yards.
- Austin – Ja’Marr Chase
We saw him two years ago out-class Justin Jefferson and now he’s reunited with Joe Burrow. As it turns out, Jefferson is no slouch. Mixon being back and healthy takes a little off the ceiling for the receivers and that nasty knee injury is going to lead to a slow start. Could be top 10 on this list next year.
- Matt – Mike Evans
I know, I know people reading this probably want to scream at me saying how this guy has a 1000 yard season every year since he was drafted and he catches a bunch of touchdowns and I think he could do that again this year, but I think there’s too much talent on this team and they like to spread the ball around to the point where he may not get 100 targets or 8+ touchdowns this year for his team to be good. I think all of his numbers will be down this year given how deep this team is.
- Jacob – Cooper Kupp
I love his Touchdown upside on an offense that should have more opportunities this year. I do think Stafford’s arm doesn’t favor slot play, but I see him running a deeper route tree out of the slot this year as McVay morphs to the talent.
- Derek – Michael Pittman
Hilton was WR 86 last year, he’s not going to take anything away from Pittman who has the bigger body type like the TEs Wentz fed in PHI. He’s a beast.
- Austin – Tyler Lockett
Lockett got PAID! Unfortunately for him, the Seahawks refuse to get an offensive line that can protect the person that throws him the ball and he is not the first read. That role belongs to Metcalf. Lockett will continue being a thorn in the backside of fantasy owners, but he’ll just be making bank while he does it.
- Matt – Ja’Marr Chase
Normally I don’t like ranking rookies this high until I see them play but I believe this guy is the real deal and he gets to play with his college QB on a team that demonstrated that they like to throw the football. Part of me thinks he will finish higher than this but I think he will at least make it here by the end of the season.
- Jacob – Adam Thielen
14TDs and 8 games with 7 plus targets in 2020, he’s still a huge factor in this offense, and gets a little breathing room with Jefferson taking more coverage. He’s 30 years old.
- Derek – Julio Jones
Julio in NFL terms is the best overall receiver in football. He’s the prototypical X-receiver that every team is looking for. He’s going to regress from the top 10 (5) where he’s spent most of his career but he’s a top 20 lock, but then again, watch him wind up in New England and be back in the top 10 and shut me up.
- Austin – Ceedee Lamb
Volume is the name of the game in Dallas. Lamb is explosive and a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.
- Matt – Diontae Johnson
If he’s passed his drop issues, then he could be a top-10 fantasy WR. They feed the ball to him a lot when he’s healthy and if he catches the majority, he becomes a PPR monster. There’s also two other really good WRs on this team that will take some touches and touchdowns from him but even when all three were healthy and in the game, Johnson is the favorite target.
- Jacob – Ja’Marr Chase
If he came out last year he would have been WR1 and folks like me probably would have been even lower on Jefferson. The Joe Burrow reunion is everything we need to know and they will likely struggle to piece together an O-Line meaning Boyd is still very much in play. Still WR 19 seems like a fair compromise between hype and waiting.
- Derek – D.J. Moore
Measurables, mechanics, route tree. D.J. Moore has been underrated so far in his career, he has tremendous stats to go along with being really talented and gifted athletically. I’d have him higher if not for the natural chemistry between Robby and Darnold.
- Austin – Kenny Golladay
I’m still bitter that Kenny G isn’t in a Colts uniform, but he is the immediate WR 1 for Daniel Jones. The Giants were able to put together a solid offseason and made all the right moves to take a step forward. A returning Saquon will do wonders for the passing game and Golladay will reap the benefits.
- Matt – Terry McLaurin
I was all ready to put him in the top-10 as the offseason began because the dude is just so good but the team added more WR depth both in free agency and in the draft which should take some targets from him but should also take some attention away from him. I really want to see how the offense looks and how much they feed him the ball before I rank him any higher than this.
- Jacob – Chris Godwin
The Antonio Brown injury is everything for me and Godwin. It was a clean-up procedure, but it puts the 2020 season projection for Brown back in play. This year Godwin has a full year with Brady behind him. If he can shake his 2020 nagging injuries, he’s “trampoline moon please” gif. I have him behind Evans because I do think eventually this season Brown chops some targets off the top.
- Derek – D.J. Chark
There are some injury concerns here, but Chark has the opportunity to establish that primary target spot with TLaw, who also is a nice deep threat.
- Austin – Mike Evans
It’s going to be a painful ride if you’re a Mike Evans owner. It’s going to be touchdown or bust on a weekly basis, but at the end of the season he will somehow end up inside the top 20.
- Matt – Keenan Allen
I like Allen, there’s nothing flashy about him, he just gets open and catches the ball. I still worry about health after he missed two games last year and left two others early. He was able to stay relatively healthy the year before and has an ascending QB throwing him the ball.
- Jacob – CeeDee Lamb
For a slot receiver, he’s a stud athlete, with great hands, and a ton of competitiveness. Everything that made him last year’s rookie WR1 is still true – the only thing limiting his ceiling is his role on a loaded team.
- Derek – Ja’Marr Chase
Love the production between Chase and Burrow. That chemistry is going to be there and Burrow is going to have to throw it around like he did before he got injured. He’ll easily be in the 8-10 TD range as a rookie.
- Austin – Julio Jones
If Julio winds up outside of ATL I’d have to bump him down, but he is a perennial talent and feel that ATL situation puts him close to his ceiling. He’s an ironman, but closer to the end.
- Matt – Tee Higgins
Another guy that just continued to produce no matter who his QB was last year. Now his QB should be back to begin the year and there’s another guy on the team that will be demanding the defense’s attention which should keep Higgins from being double teamed on a regular basis.
- Jacob – Robert Woods
365 Guys are sipping that Matt Stafford upgrade. And Woods projects as more of the typical outside threat to support Stafford’s arm than does Kupp.
- Derek – Robert Woods
Stafford. Woods is above average to good. We saw what he did with Goff but with Stafford he could be great.
- Austin – Chris Godwin
The only reason I have him this low is because I’m calling for the start of the fall off of Brady. I believe he’s the number one, the yardage guy, good in the red zone and he’s the best receiver on the team.
- Matt – Adam Thielen
I thought his best years were behind him last year but he proved me wrong. This dude knows how to get open and just catches the football. I think he may get more opportunities, I just don’t see him scoring as many touchdowns this year (14 is a lot for a WR).
- Jacob – Mike Evans
Mike Evans role as the field-stretching seem-route go-route running end-zone grab-it guy is secure. I’m calling for a nice balanced float to WR15, no stress for owners.
- Derek – Kenny Golladay
I think he takes a step forward this year in New York, and that New York as a whole is going to progress with Danny Dimes getting more into the new offense and having new weapons at his disposal.
- Austin – Terry McLaurin
Are you ready for some Fitzmagic? I know Terry McLaurin and his fantasy owners are! We’ve all been waiting for the true breakout season and should finally get to see it with a gunslinger like Fitz airing it out.
- Matt – Amari Cooper
A very good receiver who is once again getting his QB back so you know his numbers have to improve. Now once again he has to share targets with two other receivers so it does cap his point potential but he should be able to put up some big numbers this year.
- Jacob – D.K. Metcalf
Second half numbers are probably a good balance for the other worldly start to 2020. Seems like Seattle will do little to incentivize Russ to cook or stay, which is silly to me, but on brand for Petey. Still, he’s a size/speed unicorn.
- Derek – Davante Adams
Even with ARodg there, it feels like a natural regression is coming, where the younger guys in front of him on this list start jumping him in the WR ranks.
- Austin – Davante Adams
Lots of questions right now, but Adams is undoubtedly one of the best in the game. I don’t see a world in which he repeats as WR1 for fantasy this season with the Packers receivers having the 5th toughest schedule and 7th toughest for quarterbacks. Regression is coming, but Adams will still be elite.
- Matt – Robert Woods
He is a very good receiver and I think he will finally be playing with the best QB he’s ever played with. If he didn’t have to share targets with Kupp and if he didn’t play on a team that likes to run the football, he would be higher. He will still get his touches and still score but there is a ceiling here.
- Jacob – Julio Jones
Whatever happens to Julio (NEP WR1), he’ll be the team’s best receiver, if not player even at his age, not “for his age.” He was a Yards per Catchable Target monster in 2020, and the only reason the didn’t put him out there more, was the team had nothing to play for.
- Derek – Amari Cooper
As long as Dak stays healthy he should have a good year, but just can’t put him above the other names on this list, especially considering this is likely his last year there.
- Austin – A.J. Brown
Brown is one of the most physically gifted receivers in the game. Many have him slated higher than I do, and while I love his talent and overall game, I simply can’t ignore the Titan’s receivers having the 2nd toughest strength of schedule. Brown remains a fringe WR1 for me this season.
- Matt – CeeDee Lamb
With the return of his QB and the fact that they like to play him in the slot, means that Lamb should blow up this year. I really wanted to rank him higher but I think none of the guys ahead of him will have to share targets as much as he will. They have two other very good WR on this team that will be catching the ball as well.
- Jacob – Terry McLaurin
Nothing not to love. He’s had to shoulder his team’s air yards for two years without QB play and without competition across from him. As things open up on offense look for him to break into the 1300+ class of WR. Only reason he’s not higher is the names above him and the Washington Defense.
- Derek – Michael Thomas
Love the situation with Jamais Winston taking over but want to see what the chemistry looks like between – MT is almost exclusively a slant guy and Jamais loves to throw it deep so not sure what it’s going to look like.
- Austin – D.K. Metcalf
His role in this offense is secure. Chris Carson is also back on a new deal and is the X-Factor for the offense. That should translate to plenty of scoring chances for Metcalf.
- Matt – Justin Jefferson
I really wanted to rank him higher but I think defenses will shift how they defend against the Vikings. I think they will pay more attention to Jefferson and focus less on his running mate which will lead to a slight sophomore slump for Jefferson. He’s so talented and will still find a way to get open and make plays for this team.
- Jacob – Justin Jefferson
In 2020 we learned that Jefferson is serious – and in a perfect situation where safeties are locked in the middle of the field with one eye on Jefferson and the other of Dalvin. NFC North up for grabs, look for MIN with health back on Defense to make a run.
- Derek – D.K. Metcalf
Agree with Austin that regression is coming with Wilson being disconnected from the organization and with Lockett getting paid it could shift a little bit of focus back to him.
- Austin – Robert Woods
Yes, really. Woods is incredibly solid and underrated. This offense is going to erupt with Stafford under center and Woods will be the primary beneficiary.
- Matt – Chris Godwin
Godwin also had an injury riddled season but we saw that when he’s healthy, Brady likes to throw him the ball a lot. Godwin is a great route runner and had a few drops but I think they were concentration drops and after an offseason with Brady, they will get those figured out.
- Jacob – Amari Cooper
Dallas WR1 will play dividends if Dak attacks for 17 games. Even if CeeDee takes a step, he’s going to take a step in the slot – leaving the outside passing ops (which should be plentiful) to Coop.
- Derek – DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins at 9 is all about the ballers at 8-1 on this list. The offense could regress a little bit and there isn’t a ton there to take the weight of the offense off of his shoulders.
- Austin – Justin Jefferson
The hype train is off the tracks after such a historic rookie campaign. Thielen will begin being phased out this year, meaning Jefferson should supplant him as the WR1 no matter what the depth chart says. With opposing defenses having a year’s worth of tape on the young star, I see some mild regression coming his way.
- Matt – Allen Robinson
I think the addition of a good QB will instantly help Robinson. He has shown us that he’s a fantasy stud with questionable QB play, now he has a QB should be able to get him the ball consistently. If his QB wasn’t a rookie, I would want to rank him higher
- Jacob – Allen Robinson
YUGE upgrade at QB regardless of the fact Fields is a rookie, and he’s still two or three tiers above the next pass catcher on the team (Tarik Cohen?). Nice volume play for a guy looking for a long-term deal.
- Derek – Terry McLaurin
I love Fitz and everything about this offense. There is more talent around him in the receiver corps, but McLaurin should be the primary beneficiary. I think he’ll be a yardage monster.
- Austin – Keenan Allen
The Herbert/Allen connection was strong last season. With a full offseason to continue developing chemistry and the team’s moves this offseason, Allen’s workload and target share are safe. Improved offensive line play should give Herbert plenty of time to get his number one guy the ball.
- Matt – Davante Adams
Honestly, I thought about leaving him out of the top-10 because I don’t Chris think Rodgers will be the QB for the Packers next year but even if that’s the case, I think Adams has enough talent to finish up here regardless of who throws him the ball. If Rodgers is the QB of the Packers, I will rank him higher, if he’s not, I believe this is where Adams will finish
- Jacob – Keenan Allen
Touchdowns is the only reason he’s at 7, but being Herbert’s go to has proven to be a nice thing for he and his fantasy managers.
- Derek – Calvin Ridley
He’s the X now, with or without Julio and Pitts. He’s great in the red zone and should retain touchdown upside with Pitts there. I can see him upwards towards 120 catches.
- Austin – Amari Cooper
Cooper was a top 6 guy last year before Dak went down for the season. The defense has gotten better (on paper) but not nearly enough to take away much volume from the offense. Dallas has the 6th easiest schedule for WRs and there’s going to be plenty of volume and scoring opportunities coming Cooper’s way in 2021.
- Matt – Calvin Ridley
He finished at #5 last year and now they’re talking about moving Julio, freeing up more targets for Ridley. Adding Pitts in the draft I think helps him because it demands attention away from Ridley but I think he will get even more targets this year.
- Jacob – Calvin Ridley
Splits with and without Julio are negligible as his fancy route-running make him hard to eliminate regardless of coverage. Look for more of the same with Matt Ryan continuity and new OC upside.
- Derek – Allen Robinson
They finally got him a way better QB than he’s ever had regardless of how good Justin Fields is. Pair that with David Montgomery’s improvement at the end of last year and improvements on the O-line and it’s arrow up across the board.
- Austin – Allen Robinson
He will be playing with the best quarterback he’s had in his entire career. Chicago has a tough schedule, but Robinson is one of the safest wide receivers in all of fantasy. A-Rob’s safe volume coupled with the improved QB play should lift him inside the top 10.
- Matt – DK Metcalf
Arguably the most freakish athlete in the NFL since TO or Randy Moss, if this guy continues to improve, there’s no reason to think he can’t finish as the WR1 in the near future. For now I’ll put him here because I still don’t believe in their O-Line situation and I think they will make an effort to run the ball more to protect their QB.
- Jacob – Michael Thomas
“The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” As far as I can tell, he’ll project at a full season of Brees with half coming from Winston bombs, and half coming from Taysom rush plays. WR6 is a nice compromise who has a WR1 ceiling with a full season of Winston.
- Derek – A.J. Brown
As a receiver he’s the second best out of that class, but definitely the most complete. He’s going to continue to click with Tannehill and there’s no one on the team that’s going to be take targets away from him. Calling for a plethora of TDs.
- Austin – Michael Thomas
A lot of people’s forgotten player after last year’s down season: injuries, fighting teammates. But now he’s getting a reset, healthy, and with a QB who can air it out. Look for his ADOT to increase back up to 12 where he was really thriving in catches and receptions.
- Matt – DeAndre Hopkins
He finished at #4 in PPR last year and it seemed like the passing offense struggled in the 2nd half of the season last year. They’ve added more talent to this passing attack which should help open things up for Hopkins. Him and his QB need to stay healthy though.
- Jacob – A.J. Brown
The dominator – will have more to shoulder if they don’t sign Julio and if they do, will have more yard to run. He’s already shown he’s a number one and is dangerous when targeted. Even better if they have to feed him.
- Derek – Keenan Allen
Year 2 with Herbert is only going to improve the situation and the chemistry. There’s nothing he can’t do as a receiver, and he has very little target competition. Outside of Mike Williams who has had some injury concerns, there’s no one else on the depth chart.
- Austin – Calvin Ridley
Will Julio even play for ATL this year? Regardless, Ridley has taken over the number 1 target role for Matt Ryan. I see no improvement coming for the ground game, so Ridley’s volume is incredibly safe.
- Matt – Michael Thomas
Well Thomas was the consensus #1 last year before the year started and then got hurt so if he stays healthy, he should finish top 5 next year. I actually think a change in QB should actually work out to his advantage because now defenses will have to worry about his teammates catching a deep ball.
- Jacob – Davante Adams
“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” it’s almost a come-back tour at this point for the most dominant receiver of 2020. He’s crazy talented, negligible target competition, and has survived a Rodgers absence before.
- Derek – Justin Jefferson
He’s going to go all the way off. I don’t think many defensive backs can stop him. He separates himself from even the best on the field already, so he has a chance to take a huge leap.
- Austin – Stefon Diggs
Many feel like he has the chance to finish the season as the WR1. He very well might, but the Bills made some moves that could lead to an improved running game that will organically lead to slight regression in the passing game.
- Matt – Stefon Diggs
The main reason why I think he will finish here is because this is where he finished last year and still only had 8 touchdowns. Add a couple more touchdowns and continue where he left off last year and he should have no problem making it to at least #3 on this list.
- Jacob – Tyreek Hill
The often-comped-to, incomparable speed unicorn on a team lacking receiver depth. His target share and ADOT are secure.
- Derek – Tyreek Hill
It’s the chiefs, it’s Tyreek Hill. There’s not much to say, he’s fast, they throw him the ball, he catches it and runs with it. The only thing you could say is soft tissue stuff with him.
- Austin – DeAndre Hopkins
Clear #1 on the team. Demands too much of a target share. Team made good moves this offseason that should translate to more scoring opportunities.
- Matt – AJ Brown
Two reasons for this: skill and opportunity. He is arguably one of the toughest guys to take down when he gets the ball in his hands and he has a knack for getting open no matter what the coverage is. AJB should also get at least 150 targets this year if he’s healthy because I’m not sure who else they’ll throw the ball to.
- Jacob – DeAndre Hopkins
The best wide receiver in the league, is in year 2 of a great situation. Rondale Moore should eat into everyone else’s work, not his.
- Derek – Stefon Diggs
Really high catch percentage. More chemistry with Allen in year 2, John Brown is gone, Emmanuel Sanders will be injured. Beasley will have his own share of work, but that’s in a addition to Diggs not subtraction. He’s not just running downfield, he’s getting 3rd downs moving the chains. He could even see his targets go up from his monstrous 2020.
- Austin – Tyreek Hill
Not much explanation needed. Offensive scheme, QB and HC = POINTS.
- Matt – Tyreek Hill
He has skill and, more importantly, he has the best QB in football throwing him the ball. They scheme him open and do what they can to get him the ball in space and he’s a home-run threat on any given play.
- Jacob – Stefon Diggs
Year 1 with Josh Allen was nice. He’s a possession receiver, who has his complete route tree versatility and dominance. He’s the first and second read for last year’s best QB.
365 Guys Consensus
Top 25 WR’s of 2021
1. Tyreek Hill (–)
2. Stefon Diggs (+1)
3. DeAndre Hopkins (+2)
4. A.J. Brown (–)
5. Calvin Ridley (+1)
6. Michael Thomas (+3)
7. Allen Robinson (+4)
8. Justin Jefferson (–)
9. Keenan Allen (+1)
10. Davante Adams (-8)
11. D.K. Metcalf (-4)
12. Amari Cooper (+3)
13. Terry McLaurin (-1)
14. Robert Woods (+3)
15. Chris Godwin (+1)
16. CeeDee Lamb (+2)
17. Julio Jones (-3)
18. Ja’Marr Chase (+11)
19. Mike Evans (-6)
20. Kenny Golladay (+2)
21. D.J. Moore (-2)
22. Adam Thielen (-2)
23. Tee Higgins (+4)
24. Diontae Johnson (-3)
25. Tyler Lockett (-1)