WR Handcuff Rankings

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) trains at Heinz Field during the Steelers 2020 Training Camp, Thursday, July 30, 2020 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

By Jacob Bourgeois; Twitter: @JacobBourgieFFB

Michael Gallup is the poster child for WR3s who need an injury / trade / release in front of them to be relevant, but who we’re confident will be if the cards fall right.  Russell Gage is a recent winner of this lottery with Julio Jones getting shipped off to Tennessee.  The below is my quick rank of each team’s 3rd best wide receiver in terms of their potential fantasy relevance and/or upside given the opportunity, which many of them will get at some point in 2021.

The Ranks:

Tier 1

1 Chase Claypool – PIT

Just scroll back to before JuJu re-signed and you can see where he’s valued closer to the top of the depth chart.

2 Antonio Brown – TBB

His per opportunity stats are the same as when he was with Pittsburg (WR2 overall between Tyreek and Adams).

3 Michael Gallup – DAL

2018 3rd round pick really popped in opportunities and should thrive when he’s de facto #2.

4 Tyler Boyd – CIN

The consistency is undeniable, albeit in the slot, but Chase/Higgins should eat from each other’s more so than Boyd’s well-defined role.

5 Terrace Marshall Jr. – CAR

This is just a nod to his upside as a rookie, will need to prove himself but has standalone value upside given his profile even without injuries in front of him.

Tier 2

6 Corey Davis – NYJ

A force in 2020 in both efficiency and overall production – would look the part of X in this offense, Mims and Moore have a slight ceiling advantage of the unknown (Moore especially) – can’t wait to see the Jets playing from behind in 2021 😉.

7 Tutu Atwell – LAR

Higher in my heart than on this list because of his slight stature, but I really like the chance for him to earn snaps in the Brandon Cooks role – he’s as smooth an operator as they come.

8 Kendrick Bourne – NEP

Looking like McDaniel’s new slot guy, with Jules off to the HOF (yup).  Could spell some nice opportunities if a pass-thrower prevails from the milieu. 

9 Nico Collins – HOU

A big and fast guy in HOU.  A lot to like outside of his QB situation, should be starting in 2 WR sets by mid-season unless they decide to save him for years that matter.

10 Curtis Samuel – WFT

Controversial putting Dyami Brown over him in the WFT fantasy WR depth chart (all teams linked here: depth charts), but I like the fantasy upside of a pure outside receiver with day 2 draft capital over there versatility of Samuel.

Tier 3

11 Cornell Powell – KCC

Mechole is more an athletic specimen than Cornell, but they need someone to take some of the chain moving pressure off an aging Kelce, Powell could carve a slice earlier than expected.

12 DeVante Parker – MIA

Never really clicked with Tua in Miami year one.  He’ll start alongside Waddle in the slot and Fuller across, both of whom I like more.

13 Gabriel Davis – BUF

Decent in spots as a rookie who was used down the field with a 15.4 aDOT. 

14 Tylan Wallace – BAL

Lacks explosiveness on paper and on film, but very steady producer who would have a chance to carve out a role on a team like KCC, NOS, WFT. 

15 Christian Kirk – ARI

Here’s why you keep the light on for Christian Kirk: work ethic.  As a prospect he was heralded as a guy who would study like crazy to gain an advantage, I believe his best days are still ahead – but topping off as a WR3 role-player seems like the ceiling for guys that don’t have Rondale Moore’s quads or Hopkins’ everything.    

16 Marvin Jones – JAX

Going into his age 31 season, put up almost 1000 yards in 2020 (9 TDs 3 out of last 4 years), might be the best WR in JAX on day 1. 

17 Dwayne Eskeridge – SEA

He’s old for a rookie but was a solid kick returner his senior year at Western Michigan thanks primarily to speed and a downfield nose.  The 56th overall pick seems a little overdrafted, but Carrol has a good track record.

18 Bryan Edwards – LV

Everyone’s favorite value at the back of the 2nd in 2020 rookie drafts – disappointed – me.  He has upside this year being the sole possession receiver on the squad.  He put up 193 yards on only 12 catchable targets and with a modest aDOT of 9.8 (that’s uber efficient).  Question is why did he not see more action?

19 Darnell Mooney – CHI

A little hot takey keeping him behind Miller.  Everyone’s favorite breakout this year given his 631 yards as a rookie, superb speed/burst, and elevated spot on the depth chart in CHI with the Justin Fields upgrade.  One problem for me: he was secretly pretty bad in 2020 (check out his finish in YpCT: YpCT losers), so he’ll need to develop this offseason to handle the work.   

Tier 4

20 Ihmir Smith-Marsette – MIN

Outside of catch % put up a solid career at Iowa and shows nice athleticism on the field.  He can ying to J. Jeff’s yang given the chance.

21 Josh Palmer – LAC

Has above average profile (6’1, 210 lbs, 4.24s short shuttle – rest here: Josh Palmer) excepting his late breakout, but looks athletic and has a nice ball hog mentality.  Allen and Mike Williams have 2022 questions (age/contract), so climbing Herbert’s depth chart could reap benefits. 

22 Rashard Higgins – CLE

Uber efficient in 2020 (based on Yards per Catchable Target – article here: YpCT), only stepped up once OBJ went down, but the 26 yo has earned more work in my book.

23 Tim Patrick – DEN

I love what he did when forced to take on an increased target load in 2020.  Unless there are further injuries, he won’t get the chance to keep that momentum in 2021 with Fant, Jeudy, and Courtland demanding targets. 

24 TY Hilton – IND

But a shadow of his former-tied-to-Andrew-Luck’s-arm former self, meshes much better with a Carson Wentz type than a Philip Rivers type – so it could be a mini bounce-back. 

Tier 5

25 Marquez Calloway – NOS

Very limited usage and might not even be the team’s WR3, but the depth chart is wide open after MT and TQS.  Great hands and tons of lateral agility.

26 Marquez Valdez-Scantling – GBP

Got pushed down into the Lazard tier with the Amari Rodgers pick in this year’s draft, still has that outside WR size/speed combo to love, an epic 17.5 aDOT, which should still have a nice role on the team (even with Jordan Love).

27 Josh Reynolds – TEN

Prior to Julio signing he was in line for the Corey Davis role, but is otherwise JAG with agility on paper.

28 Sterling Shepherd – NYG

It seems like he’s on the back nine of his career at age 28, he’s had some tough luck with injuries but could be the 3rd guy up across from Golladay and rookie 1st Toney.

29 Olamide Zaccheaus – ATL

A good chance to play field stretcher for Matt Ryan as needed, only 23, but went undrafted and has average everything. 

30 Austin Watkins Jr. – SFF

Sammy Watkins cousin has some similar traits in his frame and possession receiving ability.  Given the injuries that SFF deals with every year, it’s a matter of when he’ll get a shot not if.

31 Travis Fulgham – PHI

Was the best WR on the team in 2020 and that says it all for PHI.  He could again have a nice streak of games if the team has injuries or figures something out through the air.

32 Breshard Perriman – DET

Former first round pick, had a flourish at the end of 2019 with Jamais Winston to mark an otherwise greater than Kevin White and Laquon Treadwell less than everyone else career.