2021 Fantasy Football Preseason WR Rankings

Hello, fantasy friends. It’s year three of TDN’s fantasy football rankings and this season they’re out earlier than ever. If this is your first time coming to TDN for fantasy content, or if you just want a refresher, here is some background on how these rankings were determined. 

More than 40 hours of research went into the ranking process, starting with custom stat projections for more than 250 NFL players—those projections will be publicly available here on TDN in mid-June. After making those projections, I determined the order you’ll see below based on potential upside, injury risk, likelihood of reaching the projected total, how many games they’ll play, etc. Please keep in mind that the rankings below are not simply in descending order of projected fantasy points—although the rankings are very heavily weighted by those projections.

All of my rankings reflect the order in which I would take players if I were drafting today in a 12-team, full-PPR, single-QB league with ESPN scoring and no bonuses.

If you have any specific questions or want to know more about what I think of certain players, follow me on Twitter (@JaimeEisner) or Instagram (@JaimeEisnerTDN). I’d be happy to chat with you! Also, be sure to tune in to the TDN Fantasy Podcast for in-depth audio breakdowns of these rankings, my projections, and all the latest fantasy football news throughout the 2021 football season. 

Let’s get into the rankings! Here are my top 100 wide receivers, broken down into tiers:

Other Rankings: QB | WR TE

TIER 1

1. Davante Adams (WR - GB)

2. Stefon Diggs (WR - BUF)

3. Calvin Ridley (WR - ATL)

4. Tyreek Hill (WR - KC)

5. A.J. Brown (WR - TEN)

6. DeAndre Hopkins (WR - ARI)

While I much prefer a running back-heavy opening round in fantasy drafts, all six of these wide receivers need to be in the first-round conversation. Adams—assuming Aaron Rodgers remains in Green Bay—is the clear WR1 and should be a 20-plus fantasy points per game player in 2021. His insane target and touchdown volume make him the clear belle of the wide receiver ball.

The next four players are fairly interchangeable in my estimation, so defer to personal research and preference. Diggs had the best fantasy season of his career in 2020 and not much has changed in Buffalo to lead to any concern he can not come close to repeating his excellent efforts. Ridley is poised to see a jump in target volume this season given the departure of Julio Jones. Speaking of Jones, I don't think he'll hurt Brown's fantasy stock too much. Hill is the top wide receiver on arguably the best offense in football and wasn’t “boom-or-bust” last season, as some people like to label him—he had 14.8 fantasy points or more in 13 of his 15 games in 2020.

Hopkins is a player that gets caught in between tiers a bit. I don’t think he has overall WR1 potential like the top five players on this list, but he’s a step above the Tier 2 players below. He’ll still get a ton of targets and be highly productive, so he can stay at the bottom of this tier.

TIER 2

7. Justin Jefferson (WR - MIN)

8. Keenan Allen (WR - LAC)

9. Mike Evans (WR - TB)

10. D.K. Metcalf (WR - SEA)

11. Terry McLaurin (WR - WSH)

12. Amari Cooper (WR - DAL)

13. Allen Robinson (WR - CHI)

14. Tyler Lockett (WR - SEA)

15. Chris Godwin (WR - TB)

All eight of these players are worthy of WR1 consideration and are projected to have between 16-17 fantasy points per game. This tier is a mix of young ascending stars (Jefferson, Metcalf, McLaurin), highly productive veterans (Allen, Evans, Cooper, Robinson, Lockett), and a player who is a little bit of both (Godwin). Any fantasy manager should be happy starting a WR corps with any of the players above.

TIER 3

16. Michael Thomas (WR - NO)

17. Cooper Kupp (WR - LAR)

18. Adam Thielen (WR - MIN)

19. Robert Woods (WR - LAR)

20. CeeDee Lamb (WR - DAL)

21. Ja’Marr Chase (WR - CIN)

This tier will be a bit controversial because it includes such a wide variety of players—from an age and potential floor perspective. Half of this tier will have a new quarterback throwing them the ball, one (Thielen) is due for some touchdown regression, one is a second-year player who we hope picks up right where he left off with Dak Prescott prior to the passer’s injury (Lamb), and one is a rookie who’s reunited with his college quarterback. Fantasy managers will be asked to take some chances here, but the payoff could be enormous. 

TIER 4

22. Tyler Boyd (WR - CIN)

23. Diontae Johnson (WR - PIT)

24. Antonio Brown (WR - TB)

25. D.J. Moore (WR - CAR)

26. Marvin Jones (WR - JAX)

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR - PIT)

28. Brandon Aiyuk (WR - SF)

29. Deebo Samuel (WR - SF)

30. Julio Jones (WR - TEN)

31. Tee Higgins (WR - CIN)

This is my favorite tier so far in terms of potential ADP value. If I can leave a draft with one of these players as my WR3/Flex, I’d be thrilled. Volume is the name of the game for a handful of these players. Boyd, Johnson, Brown, and Smith-Schuster should all see enough targets to be in WR2 contention. Moore has an abundance of talent, but can’t be any higher than WR26 until significant improvement is seen from Sam Darnold. Marvin Jones is one of my favorite sleeper candidates and should have plenty of success with an offensive coordinator that knows him well drawing up plays in Jacksonville. Aiyuk and Samuel will have an upgraded quarterback situation over last season (a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance), while Higgins will still get plenty of work in a pass-heavy Cincinnati offense after having a lot of chemistry with Joe Burrow in 2020. Jones' ranking is more reflective of a dip in volume than a dip in production—a key factor fantasy managers must consider as he heads from Atlant's offense to Tennessee

TIER 5

32. Curtis Samuel (WR - WSH)

33. Corey Davis (WR - NYJ)

34. Kenny Golladay (WR - NYG)

35. Chase Claypool (WR - PIT)

36. Robby Anderson (WR - CAR)

37. Cole Beasley (WR - BUF)

38. Will Fuller (WR - MIA)

39. Jarvis Landry (WR - CLE)

40. Odell Beckham Jr. (WR - CLE)

41. Marquise Brown (WR - BAL)

42. Courtland Sutton (WR - DEN)

43. Sterling Shepard (WR - NYG)

44. Gabriel Davis (WR - BUF)

45. Brandin Cooks (WR - HOU)

46. DeVonta Smith (WR - PHI)

47. Laviska Shenault (WR - JAX)

Some of the bigger names in this tier may surprise you given how low they are (Golladay, Beckham Jr.), but name value doesn’t mean a thing in fantasy. Any one of these players could pop into the top 20 on a weekly basis, but either lack consistency, elite upside, solid quarterback play, or injury stability. There are a lot of good players in this large tier, just don’t overpay too much for your favorite.

TIER 6

48. D.J. Chark (WR - JAX)

49. T.Y. Hilton (WR - IND)

50. DeVante Parker (WR - MIA)

51. Jerry Jeudy (WR - DEN)

52. Tyron Johnson (WR - LAC)

53. Tre’Quan Smith (WR - NO)

54. Mecole Hardman (WR - KC)

55. Russell Gage (WR - ATL)

56. Michael Gallup (WR - DAL)

There are some really fun names in this tier, but no sure things. Chark and Hilton could make me look foolish for having them this low, but I would not be surprised if they ended up as WR5s and don’t play a full season. Parker and Jeudy need to see some progression from their young QBs to move up a tier. Johnson is another sleeper candidate of mine, as there is room for whoever ends up as the Chargers’ WR3 to be highly productive. Smith and Hardman are boom-or-bust players that will be more fun to roster in best ball as opposed to redraft leagues. Gage and Gallup should see enough volume to be fantasy-relevant weekly, but will likely need to have a great matchup or be bye week fill-ins to crack your lineup.

TIER 7

57. Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR - DET)

58. Michael Pittman Jr. (WR - IND)

59. Nelson Agholor (WR - NE)

60. Emmanuel Sanders (WR - BUF)

61. Allen Lazard (WR - GB)

62. Mike Williams (WR - LAC)

63. Rashard Higgins (WR - CLE)

64. Tyrell Williams (WR - DET)

65. Darnell Mooney (WR - CHI)

66. Elijah Moore (WR - NYJ)

67. Jaylen Waddle (WR - MIA)

68. Jamison Crowder (WR - NYJ)

69. Zach Pascal (WR - IND)

70. John Brown (WR - LV)

Each fantasy manager will likely have a favorite or two in this tier. You’re hunting for upside at this point and a case can be made that any of these 14 players have the best chance to succeed relative to the rest of the list. The players who serve as the WR2 for their real-life teams (Mooney, Pittman Jr., Lazard, Williams, Brown) really intrigue me in this tier, as do the promising rookies (St. Brown, Moore, Waddle).

TIER 8

71. Keke Coutee (WR - HOU)

72. Hunter Renfrow (WR - LV)

73. Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR - CAR)

74. Adam Humphries (WR - WSH)

75. Christian Kirk (WR - ARI)

76. A.J. Green (WR - ARI)

77. Olamide Zaccheaus (WR - ATL)

78. Henry Ruggs III (WR - LV)

79. Jalen Guyton (WR - LAC)

80. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR - GB)

81. Randall Cobb (WR - HOU)

82. Van Jefferson (WR - LAR)

83. Jakobi Meyers (WR - NE)

84. Kadarius Toney (WR - NYG)

85. Anthony Miller (WR - CHI)

All of these receivers should get significant playing time and it’s up to them to make the most of it often enough to avoid the waiver wire. All of these pass-catchers should begin the season on your bench in the hopes you find a flex-worthy player by mid-season when bye weeks roll around.

TIER 9

86. Breshad Perriman (WR - DET)

87. DeSean Jackson (WR - LAR)

88. Rashod Bateman (WR - BAL)

89. Darius Slayton (WR - NYG)

90. Tim Patrick (WR - DEN)

91. Marquez Callaway (WR - NO)

92. Jalen Reagor (WR - PHI)

93. Josh Reynolds (WR - TEN)

This is the last tier that doesn’t feel like 100% pure guessing. After this you’re really just throwing darts and hoping you find someone who averages more than five fantasy points per game.

TIER 10

94. KJ Hamler (WR - DEN)

95. James Washington (WR - PIT)

96. D’Wayne Eskridge (WR - SEA)

97. Amari Rodgers (WR - GB)

98. Rondale Moore (WR - ARI)

99. Sammy Watkins (WR - BAL)

100. Denzel Mims (WR -

We round out our top-100 list with the final eight wide receivers. These players are the equivalent of priority UDFAs for the fantasy football world.

TOP 100 WRs

  1. Davante Adams
  2. Stefon Diggs
  3. Calvin Ridley
  4. Tyreek Hill
  5. A.J. Brown
  6. DeAndre Hopkins
  7. Justin Jefferson
  8. Keenan Allen
  9. Mike Evans
  10. D.K. Metcalf
  11. Terry McLaurin
  12. Amari Cooper
  13. Allen Robinson
  14. Tyler Lockett
  15. Chris Godwin
  16. Michael Thomas
  17. Cooper Kupp
  18. Adam Thielen
  19. Robert Woods
  20. CeeDee Lamb
  21. Ja'Marr Chase
  22. Tyler Boyd
  23. Diontae Johnson
  24. Antonio Brown
  25. D.J. Moore
  26. Marvin Jones
  27. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  28. Brandon Aiyuk
  29. Deebo Samuel
  30. Julio Jones
  31. Tee Higgins
  32. Curtis Samuel
  33. Corey Davis
  34. Kenny Golladay
  35. Chase Claypool
  36. Robby Anderson
  37. Cole Beasley
  38. Will Fuller
  39. Jarvis Landry
  40. Odell Beckham Jr.
  41. Marquise Brown
  42. Courtland Sutton
  43. Sterling Shepard
  44. Gabriel Davis
  45. Brandin Cooks
  46. DeVonta Smith
  47. Laviska Shenault
  48. D.J. Chark
  49. T.Y. Hilton
  50. DeVante Parker
  51. Jerry Jeudy
  52. Tyron Johnson
  53. Tre'Quan Smith
  54. Mecole Hardman
  55. Russell Gage
  56. Michael Gallup
  57. Amon-Ra St. Brown
  58. Michael Pittman Jr.
  59. Nelson Agholor
  60. Emmanuel Sanders
  61. Allen Lazard
  62. Mike Williams
  63. Rashard Higgins
  64. Tyrell Williams
  65. Darnell Mooney
  66. Elijah Moore
  67. Jaylen Waddle
  68. Jamison Crowder
  69. Zach Pascal
  70. John Brown
  71. Keke Coutee
  72. Hunter Renfrow
  73. Terrace Marshall Jr.
  74. Adam Humphries
  75. Christian Kirk
  76. A.J. Green
  77. Olamide Zaccheaus
  78. Henry Ruggs III
  79. Jalen Guyton
  80. M. Valdes-Scantling
  81. Randall Cobb
  82. Van Jefferson
  83. Jakobi Meyers
  84. Kadarius Toney
  85. Anthony Miller
  86. Breshad Perriman
  87. DeSean Jackson
  88. Rashod Bateman
  89. Darius Slayton
  90. Tim Patrick
  91. Marquez Callaway
  92. Jalen Reagor
  93. Josh Reynolds
  94. KJ Hamler
  95. James Washington
  96. D'Wayne Eskridge
  97. Amari Rodgers
  98. Rondale Moore
  99. Sammy Watkins
  100. Denzel Mims

Written By:

Jaime Eisner

Managing Editor

Managing Editor of The Draft Network. He’s a former editor for Sports Illustrated, FanRag Sports and Arizona Sports. He’s the co-host of the TDN Fantasy Podcast and has an extensive background covering fantasy sports and sports betting.

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