The 2021 wide receiver rankings see a lot of familiar faces in the top group. However, pass-catchers such as Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, and Justin Jefferson join the top tier in standard and PPR leagues heading into this season. We know those guys are going to be early-round picks, but as always, the wideout position is the deepest in fantasy football and players further down the rankings will emerge as weekly studs. Getting a grasp of the potential who will be available sleepers later in your fantasy draft is more important at this position than any other.
When assessing the position, it’s important to consider target share and passing volume from said player’s offense. In standard formats, players who draw deeper targets and red-zone targets are especially attractive. A stat like aDOT (average depth of target) is useful in assessing wideout targets. aDOT is calculated by dividing air yards by targets, painting a picture of how deep an average target is for a given wide receiver.
Why is this important?
Let’s use JuJu Smith-Schuster as an example. He was 12th in the NFL with 128 targets last year. However, his aDOT was a mere 5.49, meaning his average depth of target was only 5.49 yards down the field. Despite the constant targets, he finished the season with 831 yards, good for 38th in the league. Among the 20 WRs who saw 110-plus targets, Smith-Schuster was the only player who finished below the 900-yard threshold. Had he not scored nine touchdowns, which accounted for nearly 40 percent of his fantasy points in standard leagues, he likely would’ve finished way outside of the top 25. Touchdowns are difficult to project year-to-year, so they’re not quite as reliable as other stats. With the emergence of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, this raises red flags for Smith-Schuster’s prospects in 2021 without a PPR floor.
A seven-catch, 60-yard receiving day will net just six fantasy points in standard leagues versus a more acceptable 13 points in PPR. Thus, touchdowns, yards per reception, and yards after catch matter that much more in this setting. But again, touchdowns are tough to predict, so it’s more important to at least gauge opportunity in the red zone if weighing touchdowns.
We’ll be adjusting these WR rankings and providing further analysis until Week 1, so check back for updates!
2021 Fantasy WR Rankings
Rankings based on standard, non-PPR scoring
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