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Fantasy Football Tiers (2021): Wide Receiver Rankings Explained

Ranking wide receivers in tiers will help you make better decisions during your fantasy football drafts

UPDATED: September 3, 2021

We are inching closer to the start of the 2021 NFL season, and with that, we're seeing an obvious increase in the number of fantasy drafts. That makes it more important than ever to put your players into positional “tiers.” Unlike my regular player rankings, which you can also find on Sports Illustrated, tiers group players of similar value together. So, if you miss out on a particular player, you can see others on his tier.

Fantasy Football Tiers
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

We’ve already looked at the quarterbacks and running backs, so the wideouts are next.

Tier 1 – The Elite

  • Davante Adams, Packers
  • Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
  • Stefon Diggs, Bills
Green Bay Packers Davante Adams

A season ago, Adams, Hill, and Diggs finished 1-2-3 in fantasy points among wideouts, and they're the consensus top three receivers in most 2021 fantasy drafts. Adams will retain the top spot with the return of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, and Hill has averaged more than 20 fantasy points in two of his last three seasons. Diggs had a career campaign in 2020, and his prominent role in the Buffalo pass attack keeps him among the elite players at his position. He'll be a high second-round selection in drafts.

Tier 2 – High-End WR1s

  • DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
  • Calvin Ridley, Falcons

Hopkins has averaged 17.9 or more fantasy points in four straight seasons, and his first year in Arizona resulted in a 1,400-yard campaign. He's an absolute target machine, and he won't last beyond the middle of the second round in most drafts. The same holds for Ridley, who jumped into the high-WR1 conversation after busting out in 2020. With Julio Jones now in Tennessee, Ridley should easily see 140-plus targets once again.

Tier 3 – Mid WR1s

  • D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks
  • Justin Jefferson, Vikings
  • Keenan Allen, Chargers
  • A.J. Brown, Titans

All four of these wideouts could finish the season in Tier 2, but for now, they're all being selected as mid-WR1s in most drafts. Metcalf and Jefferson both finished in the top seven among wideouts last season, and both Allen and Brown averaged more than 17 fantasy points for their respective teams. The quartet will be third or fourth-rounders.

Tier 4 – Low WR1s/High WR2s

  • Allen Robinson, Bears
  • Terry McLaurin, Football Team
  • CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
  • Robert Woods, Rams
  • Amari Cooper, Cowboys
Allen Robinson with the Bears.

Robinson has finished in the top 10 among fantasy receivers in two straight years, but he can still be had as a third or fourth-rounder. McLaurin's stock is rising with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, and Lamb might be the hottest breakout candidate at the position. He's going in the third round in drafts. His teammate, Cooper, won't be that far behind in most leagues. Woods has put up an average of more than 15 fantasy points in each of the last three seasons, and now he'll be catching passes from Matthew Stafford.

Tier 5 – Mid WR2s

  • Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
  • Dionate Johnson, Steelers
  • Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
  • D.J. Moore, Panthers
  • Mike Evans, Buccaneers
moore thumb

Lockett was enormously inconsistent last season, but he did finish as the WR8 in PPR formats. He could push for low WR1 totals if the Seahawks let Russell Wilson cook. Johnson led the Steelers in targets a season ago and has emerged as the top option for Ben Roethlisberger. Evans finished 21 spots ahead of Godwin at wideout in 2020, but Godwin averaged more points. Both are in the WR2 range in what should be a high-octane Buccaneers offense. Moore, who ranked 25th last season, should see more targets with Curtis Samuel now in Washington and Sam Darnold under center.

Tier 6 – Low WR2s/High WR3s

  • Julio Jones, Titans
  • Adam Thielen, Vikings
  • Cooper Kupp, Rams
  • Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
  • Tee Higgins, Bengals
  • Chase Claypool, Steelers

Jones has long been ranked as a WR1, but his age, durability questions, and a move to Tennessee have dropped him into the WR2 conversation. Kupp and Thielen have both been WR1s in the past and could be good values in drafts. Higgins, Aiyuk, and Claypool are more in the high-end WR3 discussion, but the trio could all push for WR2 value.

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Tier 7 – Mid WR3s

  • Robby Anderson, Panthers
  • Tyler Boyd, Bengals
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
  • Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
  • Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
  • Odell Beckham Jr., Browns
Broncos Jerry Jeudy Fantasy Football

Anderson is coming off a 95-catch season, and now he'll be reunited with Darnold in Carolina. In recent weeks, Boyd's stock has risen with the early struggles of rookie Ja'Marr Chase, and Jeudy could bust out in the stat sheets for fantasy managers with Teddy Bridgewater under center. Smith-Schuster is likely to see a decline in targets and catches, but he's still a viable WR3 in PPR formats. Chase is one of the most talented wideouts to come out of college in the last decade, but he hasn't looked great in the preseason. Regardless, his talent and built-in rapport with Joe Burrow make him an attractive WR3 who could push for WR2 value this year.

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Tier 8 – Low WR3s/High WR4s

  • Courtland Sutton, Broncos
  • Brandin Cooks, Texans
  • Antonio Brown, Buccaneers
  • Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars
  • DeVonta Smith, Eagles
  • Corey Davis, Jets
  • Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins
  • Kenny Golladay, Giants
Texans Brandin Cooks Fantasy Football

Sutton is a risk-reward No. 3 receiver who could be a bargain. Cooks and Brown should all be considered No. 3  wideouts in drafts, though you will see Cooks and Brown going as No. 4s in some drafts. Both would be steals in that scenario. Brown could be the best value among the Buccaneers top three wideouts. Shenault, Smith and Waddle have sleeper appeal and are worth a mid to late round selection. Golladay's stock has fallen after missing most of last season and the start of the 2021 training camp due to multiple injuries. The Giants should pepper him with targets when he's out on the gridiron, but Golladay does come with some risk.

Tier 9 – Mid WRs4

  • D.J. Chark, Jaguars
  • Jakobi Meyers, Patriots
  • Michael Thomas, Saints
  • Deebo Samuel, 49ers
  • Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
  • Darnell Mooney, Bears
  • Marquez Callaway, Saints
  • Curtis Samuel, Football Team
  • Marvin Jones, Jr., Jaguars
Philadelphia Eagles Devonta Smith

This tier includes several veteran receivers who will be competing for prominent roles on their respective teams.  Curtis Samuel looks locked into the No. 2 spot in Washington, while  Chark, Pittman Jr. and Jones could become the top wideouts for their respective teams. Thomas is on the PUP list and will miss the start of the season (at least) after a procedure on his ankle, but he's worth an add-and-stash move within this tier. Consider him in the eighth to 10th rounds in most drafts, depending on the size of your fantasy league.

Tier 10 – Low WR4s/High WR5s

  • Jarvis Landry, Browns
  • DeVante Parker, Dolphins
  • Russell Gage, Falcons
  • Will Fuller, Dolphins
  • Mike Williams, Chargers
  • Sterling Shepard, Giants
  • Michael Gallup, Cowboys
  • Elijah Moore, Jets
  • Tyrell Williams, Lions

This tier includes many players who are projected to or are competing for secondary roles in their offenses. It also includes prominent sleepers like Gage and Moore, who are both quickly moving up draft boards. Moore, who has drawn positive reviews in Jets camp, has become a nice late-round choice as a fifth wideout on fantasy teams.

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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!

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