2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Fantasy Rankings: Wide Receiver

Fantasy projections for the 2021 draft class's top wide receiver prospects
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The wide receiver position was one of the deepest in the 2020 NFL Draft and it looks like we are set to see another incredible group of wide receivers in 2021. The similarities don’t stop there either, as once again, the wide receiver group is headlined by a trio of players with exceptionally high expectations from day one. As exciting as the top-end of the class is, there are plenty of prospects at the wide receiver position that can benefit your fantasy roster despite being selected later in drafts. Whether you’re looking for a big-bodied alpha receiver or a smaller, shifty PPR receiving machine, this class has a little bit of everything.

Tier One: The Elite

Despite not playing a game in the 2020 college football season, Louisiana State University’s Ja’Marr Chase remains the top wide receiver in the draft. The winner of the 2019 Biletnikoff Award, Chase is an incredibly polished prospect capable of winning at every level of the field. After erupting for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore, Chase should slide in as a team’s lead receiving option and see fantasy relevance from day one. The University of Alabama has been a factory for wide receiver talent recently and 2021 is no exception. A unique combination of top-end speed and acceleration, Jaylen Waddle will draw comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill thanks to his explosive ability. Not only is he capable of being a deep threat but he will thrive in the short and intermediate game in addition to being an electric return specialist. For the first time since 1991, a wide receiver won the Heisman Trophy and Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith was undoubtedly deserving of the honor. While some will knock him for his slight frame, he has proven to be a smooth operator and reliable option across multiple collegiate seasons. Expect him to find early success in the NFL and fantasy football alike despite concerns over his stature.

Tier Two: Tantalizing Upside

A teammate of Ja’Marr Chase, LSU’s Terrace Marshall Jr. has a rare combination of traits that NFL clubs are bound to covet. He’s a size-speed phenom with sticky hands that is reminiscent of New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims and should see himself drafted early on day two of the draft at the latest. After scoring double-digit touchdowns in his previous two seasons, look for Marshall Jr to get into the end zone early and often for your fantasy roster. The upside receivers in the second tier aren’t all big guys, as Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore only measures in at 5’9” and weighs 184 pounds. There is no question regarding Moore’s toughness and his explosive ability after the catch makes him a genuine home run threat. A proven slot receiver that will see a massive boost in PPR formats, Moore can play on the outside as well. His reliable hands will make him a trustworthy target for whichever quarterback he is paired with and will only help him find a consistent starting spot on fantasy rosters.

Tier Three: Steady Contributors

The three receivers in tier three all have the potential to be tremendous values in rookie drafts, whether that’s late in round one or early in round two. University of Southern California wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown can be an immediate red zone contributor in his rookie season. He thrives in the short and intermediate game but has plenty of speed to win deep. His toughness will allow him to be a reliable target to help move the chains for the team that selects him. Another prospect whose toughness should not be taken for granted is Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace. After returning to school for his senior season following a torn ACL, Wallace flashed the big-play ability we became accustomed to throughout his collegiate career. He thrives in contested catch situations and plays much bigger than his size (5’11”, 193 pounds). Refinement as a route runner and a pro-ready set of releases off the line of scrimmage is what makes Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman so intriguing. The polish he shows while running routes is something many prospects lack entering the NFL. All three of the players in tier three can outperform their current average draft position in rookie drafts. They each can become the focal point of the passing attack for the NFL teams that select them.

Tier Four: Landing Spot Dependent

After a massive breakout as a true freshman, it was evident Purdue’s Rondale Moore has a jaw-dropping set of athletic traits. As exciting as he can be on the field, it’s going to depend on him landing in an offensive system that will manufacture touches for him in a variety of ways to get the most significant return on his value from a fantasy football perspective. As proven of a deep threat in the 2021 NFL Draft, North Carolina’s Dyami Brown is ready to come in from day one and win vertically for an NFL team. Suppose he lands on a team willing to give him the additional opportunity in the short and intermediate game. In that case, he could be a massive steal based on an increased opportunity to go with his home run ability on the deep ball.

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