2021 Dynasty Rankings—Wide Receivers

Dominate Your League With the Guys That Are Always Open, So They Say

What is happening fantasy football fools! In this edition of my fantasy football dynasty rankings, I will look at the guys that are always open: wide receivers. C’mon coach. I’m open.  

I love this time of year. Actually, I don’t. I hate it. Right after the Super Bowl, it’s like my soul leaves my body. It’s like watching the greatest tv show, only to find out you just watched the last episode.  What the hell will I do now? Well, this year the last episode wasn’t that great. Tom did what Tom does. Gronk did what Gronk does. The Tampa Bay defense destroyed the Chiefs offense and the big game became the big snooze. Congrats to the GOAT by the way; his greatness knows no bounds.  

Whatever, it was still awesome and I already miss it. But, in a sense, I do love this time of year because this becomes speculation time. This becomes ‘checking Twitter to see if any more QB’s have been moved’ time. This becomes projection time. And us fantasy fools love to project, especially in the dynasty game. In this edition of dynasty wide receiver rankings, I will celebrate the best athletes in the game: the wide receivers. 

There are so many great wide receivers and it seems like we add 2-3 great receivers every year. This year was no different. Some names have changed, some remain the same, but make no mistake. After Quarterback, the key to dynasty championships is building your core wide receiver group. They are the most consistent and they will help you win the championship.  

It’s important to grab them early and then to wait. The thing with wide receivers in any kind of draft format is they are great in the first 1-3 rounds, then every guy feels like he is kind of the same but late in the draft is where you can do some damage. I’ll give you a list of my top 24 and then I’ll give you 5 guys that I think you can get in the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th rounds that can help you on your road to building a dynasty. Without further ado, grab your popcorn (like TO said), and let’s get after it.

Here are my top 24 wide receivers, the top 12 with commentary, the other 12 without.  I’ll also discuss a few late-round gems.  This does not discuss rookies; that will be a discussion for a later date.  For now, like a Tyreek Hill fly route, let’s go!

Davante Adams

What can I say? As a die-hard Bears fan, the Packers always seem to find special wide receivers to go with their special QB’s. Adams might be the best of all the Packer wideouts. There was Sterling Sharpe at the beginning of the Favre run; he was awesome. Robert Brooks, Javon Walker, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, and now Adams. Adams seems unstoppable some games and his QB loves to deliver him the rock. Adams is not only great from the outside but he can also line up inside and deliver. He is tethered to a hall of fame QB who was rightfully just named MVP in 2020. 

Rodgers and Adams have at least 3 years of greatness left if Aaron does demand his way out before that. Consider this: in 2020 Adams only played in 14 games and he still lead all receivers in PPR points by 30 points. The next closest were Tyreek Hill and Stefan Diggs, both who played an extra game, had an all-world season, and still were 30 points behind Adams.  

Adams is not only a point scorer though; he is consistent. He averaged 25.4 points per game, which was 5 points more than the next guy (Tyreek Hill). He is a target machine, he is guaranteed to produce, and, with 18 touchdowns last year, he is averaging over a TD a game. That is insane. I don’t see this train slowing down anytime soon. At 27 years old and locked up with ARod until at least 2023, he is at the top of the board for me in all formats for fantasy wide receivers. In a dynasty, he is a core piece that could win championships for you in the next couple of years.  

Tyreek Hill

Hill is similar to Adams having a HOF QB tied to his hip. Hill is simply the most explosive player in the NFL right now. He is an outlier for dynasty fantasy wide receivers due to his size and college profile. Most stud receivers have a very similar profile. They are big; 6’2 or taller; 220 pounds or more; drafted in the 1st or 2nd round, and the kicker is being tied to a good to great QB. Hill is 5’10, 185 yards. He was drafted in the 5th round as he had some serious off-the-field issues. 

What makes Hill special is his speed and, at this point in his career, he uses his speed not just for deep balls but he also knows how to set up defenses to run crossers. Hill is also tied to the most dynamic quarterback in the sport in Patrick Mahomes. They are going to break many records together. Along with Travis Kelce in the middle, this is an offense that is scary for opposing defenses and they will feast on regular-season foes for the next 5 years. 

They are not only crazy talented and have one of the best play-callers of all time in Andy Reid, but they also seem to be on another level together. They all seem to see the field as one mind. Hill is used on deadly deep crossing routes and no one in the game is better at the deep ball than Patrick Mahomes.  

Hill was the 2nd leading scorer in PPR this year and he averaged just over 21 points per game. He is not only a deep ball threat, however; he still managed a healthy 14.9 yards per reception, but he had the 9th most targets and the 15 most receptions. He is deadly, he is targeted, and he even gets a few running attempts in most games. He had 2 scores on the ground this year. He reminds me of Rickey Henderson in baseball in the ’90s. He just scares the hell out of defenses. I don’t think there is a scarier guy to plan for because with his speed he can beat you over the top and if he gets a corner on a rub route he can take it 50 yards to the house. I love Hill in the 2nd round higher than most running backs and at 27 years old he will be tearing up the league for at least the next 5 years.

Justin Jefferson

There are no words for this kid. I can’t believe I have become so old that I refer to rookies as kids now. 40 never felt so old. I remember like it was yesterday being the same age as these rookie players; now they look like they are still in the 10th grade to me. Crazy.  

Like any old man, I have to reference the guys of my youthful glory. And anytime you are a rookie that is mentioned in the same breath as Randy Moss, you are doing something right. Especially in Minnesota. But Minnesota has grabbed another great wide receiver. They have been dominant at collecting wide receiver talent the last 20 years: Chris Carter, Jake Reed, The Ran Ran man, Percy Harvin, Adam Thielen, and now Justin Jefferson. This kid does it all. He is fast. In fact,  I didn’t realize how fast he is—he ran a low 4.42 forty time. 

He destroyed folks in college. He is not huge at 6’1, 200 pounds but he plays big. Most importantly, when you watch his tape, he is always open. He reminds me of a faster Allen Robinson. He is smooth in his route running.  

The Vikings had a great receiver in Stefon Diggs, but the trade they made with Buffalo is what we call a win/win. Both teams got exactly what they needed from that trade and Minnesota now has a 10-year stud to pepper the ball into. He is going to kill the Bears—HA! This guy was 6th in PPR fantasy scoring as a rookie. He started 14 games and he worked short, medium, and deep. He made Kirk Cousins a whole hell of a lot easier, that’s for sure. 

He also managed to hit home runs, often. He had the 34 most yards per target (15.9) but he had the most of any receiver that had over 70 receptions. He also had the 15 most yards per target. So he is not just catching 80 balls near the line of scrimmage; he is running total route tree, including deep shots. I don’t love the QB situation in Minny, and I’m sure Zimmer gets his defense back to at least a top 12 unit, but this kid is the next star in the league. He will get bigger, faster, wiser and if this is what he can do as a rookie, the sky is the limit.  

AJ Brown

What can I say—I like ’em thick. AJ Brown is just a beast. At 6’0, 220 pounds, he plays the game like a demonic linebacker. He fits the mold of a dynamic young receiver in every possible way. He is a big dude, with soft hands that can do it all. He can go up and get the ball over defensive backs, and he can take drag routes to the house. He is still refining his route running, and he has been knicked up the last 2 years, but this dude could be WR1 at any point in the next 3-4 years.  

The one thing where I am hesitant about Brown is his targets. Playing in an offense that wants to see Derrick Henry run the ball 25 times a game, his targets at times can be limited. He only had 106 targets on the year, which was good enough for 30th in the league. He also only played in 14 games and was hurt in most of those games. He was hurt entering the season and I don’t think he was ever close to 90%, let alone 100%. 

I am hoping with the impending free agency that Corey Davis finds his way out of town. This should help Brown become a Davante Adams type of true 1 receiver for Ryan Tannehill. If you look at what the Packers do, there is no reason that RT and Brown can’t have this same type of connection over the next 3-4 years. I think Brown gets an annual bump of 20% in targets going up to the 120-130 range, which should help his production tremendously. This is a bad man and he will be the focal point of the passing game in Nashville for the foreseeable future.  

DK Metcalf

With AJ Brown and DK Metcalf coming out of nowhere to end up at Ole Miss, I know these two receivers are taking pay cuts to play in the league. HA. Seriously though, Metcalf scares me. In a good way. That dude is an alien. I wonder most games how he doesn’t have 12 catches for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. He just looks physically superior to most athletes on the field.  

He is, of course, tied to Russell Wilson who seems like the perfect QB for Metcalf to be tied to. They seemed to be almost unstoppable early in the year. A few key drops from Metcalf could have turned his season into even more of a monster year. I counted 3 ‘for sure’ touchdown drops on the season and one boneheaded play of leaving the ball at the one as he was going in for the score. He is a big play waiting to happen at any moment. Son of former Chicago Bears Guard Terrance Metcalf, this dude is just shredded, loves football, and is motivated to be the best. I have no idea how he lasted until the last pick of the 2nd round. I would have screamed more at the TV but the Bears didn’t have a 1st or 2nd round pick in 2019, so they didn’t have the chance to miss not drafting him.  

Playing with Russ, Russ is always looking deep. He likes to hold the ball and wait for backyard scrimmage plays to develop and, with a 6’4, 230-pound wrecking ball using his 4.3 forty track speed, Metcalf is a mess for any secondary. I would like to see Seattle use Metcalf and Lockett for that matter in a few different ways. It looked like the Seattle offense went stale the last 6 weeks of the year. They couldn’t run. Russ wasn’t cooking like he was in the first month of the season. Something looked off. 

I hope that changes and they can use Metcalf even more in the years ahead. He is only 23 years old. He just had 83 grabs on 129 targets with 10 touchdowns and over 1300 yards receiving. He had a healthy 15.7 yards per reception following his 15.5 yards per reception as a rookie. So he is going to get you deep. I would love to see him be more consistent next year and beyond and I think he will. He is just too much of a freak to not be used as much as possible.  

Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs is so fun to watch. Now being matched with a top-five QB in Josh Allen, that’s right, I said it, Diggs is going to feast for years to come. He feels like he’s been in the league forever but he’s only 27 years old and he is just now entering his prime. His route running can’t be duplicated.  He also plays bigger than his 6’0, 190-pound frame. He goes up and gets the ball with the best of them. 

He is a dude that is always open and Josh Allen found him in spades this year. He led the league in receiving yards, he had 127 receptions on a mind-boggling 166 targets and he also hit the zone 8 times. Although 3 of those were in week 16, I think he can plunge 10-12 times annually so his fantasy points have room to grow.  

Diggs is a PPR monster, tied to an elite QB, playing in an elite offense. He should be in the top 5 of all receiving points in PPR for the next 3-5 years. The Bills’ Super Bowl window is wide open and I don’t see much changing for the passing game. Brian Daboll is coming back, so Allen should only get better. Cole Beasley and Gabe Davis are there but Diggs is still going to be the apple of Allen’s eyes. He will be a true WR1 for your fantasy squad.  

Calvin Ridley

I have to say, I loved Ridley coming out of Alabama but I didn’t think he would become great. I thought, what with his skinnier frame and his taking a back seat to Julio Jones, he would be a good player but not special. I was wrong. Ridley put together an exceptional 3rd season. He was the 5th highest scorer in PPR points. He had 90 grabs, for 1,374 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He was another dude, like Metcalf, that went to work early and faded slightly late. But Ridley had a healthy 18.8 fantasy points per game and didn’t skip a beat, with Julio Jones playing Sir Limps-a-Lot most of the season.  

The Falcons defense was terrible. I believe that will change a little next year, but this is a team that is still built to sling the rock. Arthur Smith comes over as HC from being the OC with the Titans and he is a dude that likes to run the rock. With a way over-the-hill Todd Gurley, I fully expect the Falcons to find a running back in the draft or in free agency to make Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’ possible last years in Atlanta a great one. 

I think the band is breaking up after 2021. Matt Ryan is 36, and although he was very good last year, something has been off since the Super Bowl disaster of 2016. Tom scared this team like no other and they have been reeling since.  

One piece of the puzzle that isn’t going anywhere, however, is Ridley. He is a stud. He is open all the time and he is so smart with his routes and his break-off when plays break down. He can hurt you deep and in the intermediate game, and surprisingly, he is an effective red-zone player due to his route running. I love this kid. I was wrong on my projection and he can help you win the ship in your leagues if you pounce on him in the 2nd or 3rd round.  

DeAndre Hopkins

I still believe Hopkins could have been an all-time great if he was paired up with DeShaun Watson for 10 years. Their chemistry was uncanny and with Watson’s greatness and Hopkins’ athleticism, they were a deadly force. That is not to say that Kyler Murray and Hopkins won’t put up incredible numbers in the next 5 years. They will. But something was a little off. I don’t believe Kyler will ever become the passer that Watson is, although he will improve. I also don’t love how much Kyler runs for his fantasy partner in Hopkins, but look; after just one year, the Cardinals received one of the best players, not just receiver, but players in all the NFL.  

Hopkins is sticky. He doesn’t drop untying and he contorts his body in the air as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. He is a catch-and-stop guy and not a catch-and-run guy, but it doesn’t matter. He put up 115 grabs on 160 targets, had over 1,400 yards receiving, and despite only having 6 touchdowns, he was 4th in wide receiver PPR scoring. He is a guy that will beat you with the jump ball and I think he should average 12 touchdowns a year. 

His touchdowns will positively regress next year. I’m looking for at least 10, if not 12, touchdowns. He plays in every game and just dominates his opponents. I do worry a little about Kyler Murray.  There are games where he looks like Mitch Trubisky throwing the football, but he is dynamic and he is going to pepper Hopkins with 100’s of opportunities every year for the next 5 years.  

Hopkins is elite and I think you can get him for a solid 3rd round price right now. He could be a WR2 for you if you play your cards right, and in that scenario, you will dominate your league mates now and into the future.  

Chris Godwin

The uncertainty shouldn’t scare you. If Godwin hadn’t been hurt this year, I believe he and Tom would have feasted. He seemed to be the perfect guy for Tom Brady. A true slot receiver that is big and fast. Godwin will more than likely leave for greener pastures (financially, not competitively) in 2021. I am not sure where he goes but in 2019 Godwin was a PPR machine. He was 2nd in fantasy points scored with Jameis Winston and he turned it on late with Brady as the Bucs made their run to the bowl.  

If Godwin is smart, he will choose a team with a good quarterback. Most of the teams with great QB’s probably can’t afford Godwin but as long as he is tied to at least an average QB, I think he will turn it on in his first year away from the Bay. Godwin is still only 25 years old; he put up 7 touchdowns in only 12 games played this year and he is still a ‘get open’ machine. He runs such crisp routes and he is smooth in his game. He has eyes for the end zone and he is sneaky fast. At 6’1 and 205 pounds, he also has a bigger frame than people think.  

Much like Kenny Golladay and Allen Robinson, I just don’t know where Godwin lands, or I might have had him higher. I think number 9 is a perfect spot and I think he will have a better year than his current Bucs teammate, Mike Evans, next year.  Wherever Godwin lands he will produce and if you land Godwin. you will have a receiver worth of envy for the next half-decade.  

Michael Thomas

‘Can’t Guard’ Mike looked bad last year, didn’t he? After being the undisputed champion of the PPR world in 2019, he fell back down to Earth. He was hurt in his first game and he never truly recovered.  Surprisingly, he looked like he had a better connection with Taysom Hill than Drew Brees. He was hurt and it showed.  

Mike Thomas is never a dude that is going to beat you with elite speed but he beats people with his get-off, his route running, and the intermediate game. Until this year, in the last 4 seasons, he did seem like a dude that couldn’t be guarded. I worry a little with MT, however. Brees is more than likely done in the NFL. I believe his retirement announcement will come anyway, and that will spell trouble for MT; not terrible trouble, but his days of being a top-five receiver in the NFL are over. 

He can still be a 90-100 grab guy, which would put him in the thick of things for wide receiver 5, but I think his touchdown rate and yards per reception will keep him from putting up consistent gaudy numbers. He will need to be an 8 ‘grab a game’ guy and I don’t know if that is happening again. 

Coming back healthy will mean a world of difference, and I like Jameis Winston for fantasy football.  Even Hill seemed to lean on MT, which would help his stock. I will say this: his stock is dropping, so if you can get MT in the 4th round, I would still jump all over him.  But at this point in his career, I see him being an elite number 2 receiver for your squad. He would make a fairly average to poor wide receiver 1, though.

CeeDee Lamb

There were so many awesome rookies in 2020. So many I can’t even name them all in my top 24. Chase Claypool made a splash with 4 touchdowns in one game. Darnell Mooney had a great year for the Bears. Of course, Justin Jefferson was a record-breaker but we can not sleep on CeeDee Lamb.  Wearing Drew Pearson’s number 88, he is being primed to be the next great receiver in Dallas, although I still think Amari Cooper may have something to say about that. If the Cowboys find a way to keep Dak, Amari, and CeeDee the next 5 years, they could have an early 2000’s Colts vibe going for them.  

CeeDee Lamb still managed to be the 24th point scorer in PPR. He had 111 targets and 74 grabs playing for, mostly, an Andy Dalton lead attack. He seemed to be making his move as the top receiver in town when Dak got hurt and I think that chemistry picks up right where it left off next year. He is playing in an elite offensive infrastructure. He has a coach in Mike McCarthy that is allergic to running the ball. He has Amari taking away most of his attention, he lines up in the slot and he can beat you everywhere on the field.  

I love Lamb and I think he is a sneaky contender to drop into the top 7 fantasy scores next year. It will be a matter of Dak and that offensive line staying healthy and Lamb will be set to ascend.  Grab him and grab him fast; going into only his 2nd year, he is a hot commodity in all fantasy formats.  

Tee Higgins

The Joey B. injury devastated me. It reminded me of seeing Carson Palmer blow out his knee right as he was about to lead the Bengals to the pinnacle of the NFL. I hope Burrow can bounce back. I think he will and, when this team hits their stride, there will be a dynamic passing tandem in Chili City USA. Burrow seemed to have a great connection with not only Higgins but also Tyler Boyd. They seemed to be a great duo. Boyd is a big body slot, while Higgins is a fast, twitchy, thick outside receiver that has WR1 written all over him.  

I am higher on Higgins than most but I watched some of his tape and man, that dude is impressive.  He runs great routes, catches everything, and can do damage in YAC. He is 6’4 and 220 and plays like a smaller receiver. I believe the Burrow to Higgins tandem will take the NFL by storm in 2022. The Bengals need to beef up their offensive line and that defense is atrocious, so this could be the perfect combo of great offensive talent, gelling by week 8 in 2021 and riding that momentum to 2022 and beyond. 

I think the Browns, Steelers, and Ravens will give the Bengals all they can handle next year but, starting in 2022, the Bengals will have the best passer in the division and one of the best receivers in the league. I think Higgins is worthy of a late 2nd round pick in fantasy and if he falls to the middle of round 3, do not hesitate. Snatch him up with glee because he will be fantasy glory for many years to come.  

Dynasty Receivers without commentary

The next 12, I present without commentary but any one of these guys could carry your squad for more than a couple of weeks the next 3 years.  There are so many great receivers that I think you can not go wrong drafting them in the 2-7th rounds to fill out your 2-3 receiver sets and put up a ton of points. They call drafting zero RB’s ‘the zero RB’ strategy for a reason. RB’s flash fast and are still the gold standard of fantasy football but receivers are more consistent, play longer, and are the true focal points of the majority of NFL teams. Grab these guys when you can and don’t look back.  

I wish you well as we start our many drafts this year. Don’t let uncertainty sway you with these guys; all 24 of them of awesome. It’s just a matter of health, timing, and roster construction. Best of luck going forward, fantasy fools.!

13. Allen Robinson 

14. Terry McLaurin

15. Keenan Allen

16. Mike Evans

17. Kenny Golladay

18. JaMarr Chase

19. Amari Cooper

20. DeVonta Smith

21. DJ Moore

22. Diontae Johnson

23. Courtland Sutton

24. Rashad Bateman

5 Dynasty Wide Receivers That You Can Get Late That Will Help You Dominate Your League 

1. Scottie Miller

If you are looking for the next Wes Welker or Julian Edelman, look no further. The speedy 2nd-year receiver from Barrington Illinois will be Tom’s new toy. He has all the same attributes. With Godwin and Antonio Brown leaving in free agency, Miller will be a perfect short game target machine for Tom and I am looking for him to take the next step into fantasy stardom next year.  

2. Quintez Cephus

Cephus showed plenty of promise as a rookie. He will take a step back with Goff and not Stafford at the helm, but he is the only viable receiver that has a contract with the Lions next year. I believe Golladay will walk and so will Marvin Jones. I think the Lions will draft a stud receiver (or at least they believe he will be a stud) and they will sign another vet. But Cephus had the inside track to be a Cooper Kupp type of receiver for the Lions and I think he will be a household fantasy name in 2022.  

3. Parris Campbell

Staying healthy will be Parris’s greatest challenge. He has been dinged up the last two years, but when he has played, he has flashed. He is fast and savvy and has a big body—all good things for receivers. I am not sure who his QB will be, but with TY Hilton leaving town, I expect Parris and Michael Pittman to dominate touches for the next 2-3 years.  

4. Gabe Davis

I have him 4th, not because I don’t believe in his talent, but because the secret may be out on young Gabriel Davis. With the ascension of Josh Allen this year, any young 6’4 receiver tied to Allen is going to get attention. I still see Davis as being a deep threat type the next year or two, with Diggs and Beasley dominating the looks, but Gabe Davis is going to make noise in the next 2-3 years, and if he is there in rounds 11 or later, scoop him up quickly.  

5. N’Keal Harry

I still believe in Harry’s talent. He is a big, fast receiver that needs some help from the QB position. I think with a competent QB, Harry could have 70 grabs next year. Yes, really. As a rookie, he struggled to stay healthy and Tom doesn’t usually like rookies—it takes some time for Tom to trust you will be where he wants you to be. And in 2020, almost every receiver on the Patriots snuggled with Cam Newton under center in one of the NFL’s most anemic passing offenses. 

Depending on who is running the huddle for the Pats in 2021 and beyond, I think Harry’s talent is still untapped and you can get him late, 15th round, or later in most drafts. He is the perfect guy to scoop before he breaks out and, even if the Pats say are starting Ryan Fitzpatrick next year, I think Harry still has some fantasy relevance left to his name.  

Written by Keith James

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