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Fantasy football rankings 2021: Top 25 WRs in your draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
Running back is the most important position in fantasy football, but wide receiver isn't far behind.
The NFL continues to be a pass-focused league on offense, so if you want to put your team in a strong position to win a fantasy football championship, drafting well at the wide receiver position is very important.
The first thing to consider when analyzing the wide receiver group is whether your league uses PPR scoring or a standard scoring format. That will have a major impact on which receivers you should target come draft time.
For the purposes of our rankings, we have based our list on a standard scoring format.
So, which wide receivers could help you win a fantasy championship in 2021? Here are our rankings of the top 25 WRs in fantasy heading into the season.
1) Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye Week: 12)
It's hard to go against Patrick Mahomes' top wideout. Hill tied a career-high with 87 receptions last season, while setting a new personal best with 15 receiving touchdowns. He posted 1,276 receiving yards, too. Hill always is a big play threat, whether it's as a wide receiver or a kick returner.
2) Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week: 13)
Adams is a dominant player and 2020 was his most productive season. He posted career highs with 115 receptions and 18 receiving touchdowns, along with 1,374 receiving yards. Those 18 touchdowns also led the league. The only concern with Adams is whether he'll play a full season -- something he hasn't done since 2016. That said, you can't go wrong drafting Aaron Rodgers' top receiving threat.
3) Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills (Bye Week: 7)
Diggs' first season in Buffalo was a massive success. He led the league in both receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535), in addition to eight touchdowns. There's no reason Diggs can't produce similar numbers in 2021 with Bills quarterback Josh Allen continuing to improve.
4) Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 6)
Ridley is hopeful of finishing his rehab from offseason foot surgery by the start of training camp. If he's OK in camp and the preseason, expect him to be among the first wideouts drafted in fantasy leagues. The departure of Julio Jones makes Ridley the undisputed top target in Atlanta. Ridley enjoyed a breakout season in 2020 with 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. He could surpass those numbers in 2021 if he stays healthy for the full season.
5) D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 9)
You won't find many pass-catchers in the NFL with more strength than Metcalf. He's also pretty fast and is able to win contested catches in the air with relative ease. After finishing seventh with 1,303 receiving yards in 2020, we should expect another 1,000-plus yard season and double-digit touchdowns from Metcalf in 2021. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will make sure Metcalf is heavily involved each week.
6) DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 12)
The only player targeted more times than Hopkins last season was Diggs. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray looks Hopkins' way often and you can't blame him. The superstar wideout has averaged 107.5 receptions and 1,380 receiving yards over the last four seasons. His touchdown totals have decreased in each of the last three years, though, including six scores in 2020 (his lowest in a season since 2016). Hopkins is pretty dependable, though. He's missed only one game in his eight NFL seasons.
7) A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 13)
Brown took a sophomore leap in 2020 and tallied 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing two games. Perhaps the arrival of Julio Jones in Tennessee will take some targets away from Brown, but he's still going to be an elite fantasy wideout if healthy.
8) Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye Week: 6)
The plethora of weapons at Tom Brady's disposal in Tampa Bay probably resulted in Evans tallying just 70 receptions for 1,070 yards in 16 games last season. However, Brady still looked Evans' way often in the red zone, evidenced by the wideout's 13 scores in 2020. It was a career high for Evans and his first double-digit touchdown output since 2016.
9) Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 7)
Few rookies were more productive than Jefferson last year. He ranked fourth in the league in receiving yards with 1,400, and his 15.9 yards per reception ranked ninth overall. He was a little boom-or-bust, though. Despite his impressive season totals, Jefferson did have five games with less than 50 receiving yards and eight games with four or fewer receptions.
10) Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team (Bye Week: 9)
McLaurin's stats were pretty impressive -- 87 receptions for 1,118 yards and four touchdowns -- when you consider how awful the quarterback play was for Washington at times in 2020. Ryan Fitzpatrick will bring a little more consistency to the position for Washington, and that should definitely help McLaurin. Don't be surprised if he approaches 10 touchdowns for the first time in his career.
11) Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (Bye Week: 6)
It's been several years since Thomas was ranked this low on preseason wide receiver rankings. But he had a disappointing 2020 campaign (zero touchdowns in seven games) that was derailed by injury. Saints quarterback Drew Brees also retired, and even though Jameis Winston has been a productive fantasy player in the past, it's unknown if he'll have the same chemistry with Thomas that Brees did.
12) Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 7)
Some of Thielen's stats last season were a little underwhelming for a player of his caliber. He posted 74 receptions for 925 yards. However, he did find the end zone often with 14 receiving touchdowns, which ranked third among all wide receivers.
Thielen feels pretty good entering his eighth season, and that's encouraging for the Vikings and potential fantasy owners.
13) Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye Week: 7)
Allen has tallied 100 or more receptions in three of the last four years. He's also posted 1,000-plus receiving yards in three of the last four seasons. After some injury problems earlier in his career, Allen has become a consistent and productive wideout for fantasy owners. This trend should continue as Chargers star quarterback Justin Herbert's talent improves and he gains more experience.
14) Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears (Bye Week 10)
Robinson tallying 102 receptions for 1,250 yards was an impressive feat considering the underwhelming quarterback play from the Bears last season. He also was targeted 151 times, which was the third-most in the league. He'll continue to get plenty more looks in 2021 as the Bears' undisputed top target in the passing game. One wild card for Robinson is the potential of rookie quarterback Justin Fields becoming the starter at some point. If he plays and performs at a high level, Robinson could become one of the better second-tier fantasy wideouts.
15) Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 7)
The return of a healthy Dak Prescott as quarterback for the Cowboys is great for Cooper's potential in 2021. Even without Prescott for most of last season, Cooper still put up 92 receptions for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns. That touchdown total should approach double digits with Prescott returning.
16) Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 13)
Jones had been pretty durable until last season when he missed seven games for the Falcons. If healthy, Jones still has plenty left to give, and he'll be playing in a Titans offense loaded with playmakers, including A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry. The veteran wideout hasn't scored a ton of touchdowns of late -- just one season (2012) with double-digit scores -- but his reception and receiving yardage totals have been consistently impressive for about a decade.
17) Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye Week: 9)
Godwin missed four games due to injury in 2020 and his stats suffered as a result. The 25-year-old wideout is still a very talented player and should get plenty of targets in a loaded offense led by Tom Brady. Godwin had 121 targets in 2019, and it wouldn't be surprising if he again saw more than 100 this coming season.
18) CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 7)
Lamb had a very good rookie campaign with 74 receptions for 935 yards and five touchdowns. He finished strong, too, tallying a touchdown catch in three of the last four games. A sophomore leap is a very real possibility for Lamb in 2021, especially with Dak Prescott returning from injury as Dallas' starting quarterback.
19) Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams (Bye Week: 11)
Woods is an underrated wide receiver and could have another impressive season with Matthew Stafford entering his first season as Rams quarterback. If healthy, he's an upgrade over previous starter Jared Goff.
Some of the facts in the tweet below might surprise you:
Woods doesn't rack up a ton of touchdowns -- just 31 in eight NFL seasons -- but back-to-back years of 90 receptions shows he's not only involved in the Rams offense but fully capable of performing at a high level in it.
20) D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 13)
Moore will be new Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold's top target. The 24-year-old star has posted back-to-back seasons with 1,000-plus receiving yards. Moore has never caught more than four touchdown passes in a season, so he's more of a PPR play than a standard scoring format threat.
21) Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 9)
Lockett is a reliable third-tier fantasy wide receiver. He posted career highs with 100 receptions and 132 targets in 2020, while also tying a personal best with 10 touchdowns. In fact, Lockett has averaged 9.33 touchdown receptions over the last three years. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will target Lockett quite often next season.
22) Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (Bye Week: 11)
Back-to-back seasons of 90-plus receptions make Kupp a strong play in PPR fantasy leagues. The addition of Matthew Stafford as the new Rams quarterback also should help Kupp's 2021 production. His touchdown total (three) last year was pretty disappointing from a fantasy perspective. There's reason to be optimistic that number will improve next season, though, just look at 2019 when he tallied 10 touchdowns.
23) Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns (Bye Week: 13)
Beckham's ACL injury recovery is going well, according to Browns teammate Jarvis Landry.
"Man, he looked amazing," Landry told reporters last weekend, per ESPN. "I can't wait for you guys to see him. I can't wait for him to get back out there. He's in fantastic shape and he's ready to go. He's only what, 6½ months [beyond surgery], and he's already doing some things that will blow your mind away."
If healthy, Beckham still is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. And with a top-tier quarterback in Baker Mayfield throwing Beckham the ball, the veteran wideout is very much worth considering in your fantasy draft.
24) Kenny Golladay, New York Giants (Bye Week: 10)
Injury derailed Golladay's 2020 campaign as he played in just five of 16 games for the Lions. He signed with the Giants in the offseason, and he will immediately become one of young quarterback Daniel Jones' top targets. Golladay tallied a career-high 11 touchdowns in 2019. Will he return to that form in 2021? It's unlikely, but he's still capable of being a quality fantasy wideout if healthy.
25) Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye Week: 10)
If you're looking for a rookie wide receiver to take a chance on in your fantasy draft, Chase is the best bet. He was the first wideout selected in the 2021 NFL Draft at No. 5 overall. He opted out of the 2020 college football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but his previous campaign in 2019 was nothing short of dominant. Chase tallied 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns as LSU went 15-0 and won the national title. His quarterback for that incredible season was Joe Burrow, who will be throwing him passes in Cincinnati. Their instant chemistry should give Chase an advantage over other rookie wideouts.