Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) was the No. 1 fantasy football wide receiver in 2020 and should be among the leaders at the position in 2021. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers leads my Top 100 wide receiver rankings for the 2021 fantasy football season. DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and D.K. Metcalf are among my other elite options for the season, which starts in three weeks.
Fantasy football team owners should enter their drafts with several factors to prioritize when they target wide receivers. I consider players who will likely receive a lot of targets, have good quarterbacks and are consistent threats to score touchdowns.
I prefer selecting wide receivers earlier than running backs in my fantasy football drafts due to their safer level of production. This season, which features an additional game for each team, could put an even greater physical strain on running backs and make selecting the position early riskier in fantasy football leagues.
Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen and A.J. Brown are among the other players I would consider as great bets to post consistent WR1 statistics in 2021.
I split my top targets into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers). The Top 100 positional rankings are below.
Hall of Fame
1. Davante Adams, 2. DeAndre Hopkins, 3. Tyreek Hill
Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins and Tyreek Hill each share a common trait: They are the most-prolific offensive weapons for their respective teams, which are led by star quarterbacks.
Adams reunites with reigning NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers this season. Adams hauled in an NFL-best 18 touchdowns and averaged a league-high 98.1 receiving yards per game in 14 games in 2020.
Adams, who led the league in targets per game last season, is as safe as it gets for a mid-to-late first-round pick. He should post at least 1,400 yards and 15 scores from the All-Pro.
Hopkins tied with Adams for the second-most catches (115) in the NFL last season. He also ranked second among wide receivers in receiving yards in his first season with the Arizona Cardinals. Hopkins and quarterback Kyler Murray should have even more chemistry in 2021.
Hopkins is another safe first-round pick. With just two missed starts in his eight-year career, you can count on him to be in your lineup every week. He also is the unquestioned top target in the Cardinals offense. Hopkins' yardage totals eclipsed 1,100 in each of his past four seasons.
I expect the Cardinals wide receiver to gain at least 1,500 yards this season and score at least 10 touchdowns. He should challenge Adams as the top fantasy football option at the position.
Hill, my No. 3 wide receiver, plays with arguably the best quarterback in football in Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes. That alone gives him a bump as a surefire WR1. Hill's ability to make plays in a variety of ways also increases his value. The Chiefs prioritize putting the ball in Hill's hands, even if he isn't catching it.
Hill scored a career-high 17 touchdowns and averaged a league-high 14 yards per touch last season. Nearly every Chiefs skill player should be considered for your fantasy football team, starting with Hill, Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce.
4. D.K. Metcalf, 5. Stefon Diggs, 6. Mike Evans
I suggest selecting Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf higher than his current average draft position, which is late in the second round. Metcalf is one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in the NFL. He also plays with Russell Wilson, one of the league's top passers.
While fellow wide receiver Tyler Lockett is also a main factor in the Seahawks passing game, Metcalf's ability and emergence make him a WR1 fantasy football play all season long. I expect Metcalf to post at least 1,200 yards.
Wilson said earlier this off-season that he hopes to combine with Metcalf for 20 touchdowns in 2021. I predict that the duo connects for at least 15 scores.
You might need to pick Metcalf late in the first round or early in the second round if you don't want to miss out on a breakout season. He is my No. 4 wide receiver.
I don't expect Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs to repeat his 2020 season, but he still deserves to be selected as an elite WR1. Last season, Diggs led the NFL with 127 catches and 1,535 yards receiving yards. He also scored eight times.
Diggs remains the top target in the Bills offense. He should earn another 100 receptions this season, but I can see closer to 1,200 yards in 2021. Diggs could be overdrafted in your league based on last year's production. I would wait until late in the second round to add him to your team.
Diggs is my No. 5 wide receiver.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans catches footballs from Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in history.
Evans' resume speaks for itself as far as consistency. The 6-foot-5 pass catcher earned at least 1,000 receiving yards in every season since he was drafted in 2014. He scored at least eight touchdowns in five of those seasons.
Evans, my No. 6 option, should post similar statistics to his 70 catches for 1,006 yards and 13 scores from last season. He should improve on his yardage total and score at least 10 times if he plays in 17 games. Evans is another solid WR1 selection you should target in the second round.
"I feel like each year I get better," Evans said earlier this off-season. "I improve in my route running. My body has more juice. I'm healthier every year. I feel lighter."
7. Calvin Ridley, 8. Keenan Allen, 9. Adam Thielen
Calvin Ridley of the Atlanta Falcons could be in line for a huge 2021 fantasy football season. Ridley emerged as the Falcons' top pass catcher last season. He should get a boost in production in 2021 due to the departure of former Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.
Ridley, my No. 7 wide receiver, is an easy bet for at least 100 catches for 1,400 yards and 10 scores from Ridley in 2021. I wouldn't pick Ridley earlier than the second round, but don't be shy about using him as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2.
Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers and Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings are two players I would select earlier than their average draft position, which is in the third round. These are two players you should select if you picked a great running back in the first round or want to pair with an elite WR1.
Allen and Thielen will catch passes from quarterbacks who are a tier below the passers for the aforementioned elite wide receivers. Allen is my No. 8 option. Thielen is No. 9 in my rankings.
Allen still ranked second in targets per game in 2020 and should get a boost in production in Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert's second season. Allen is a near-lock for at least 100 catches for 1,100 yards and 10 scores. I would target the Chargers' top target late in the second round.
"[Allen] is the best at what he does," Herbert told reporters last week at Chargers training camp. "He's just able to win so many routes. His explosiveness, his I.Q., his ability to kind of defeat the leverage of the defenders.
"I think he knows it just as well as anyone. He's super smart. He's going to do really well this year."
Thielen was as consistent as it gets in 2020, but is being drafted later than he should be. This is likely tied to the emergence of fellow Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. I would still plug Theilen in as a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2.
Thielen scored in 10 of his 15 starts in 2020. He also scored 10 times over a stretch of nine games. Thielen is obviously a scoring threat and remains an integral part of the Vikings offense. Don't miss out on another stellar season from the two-time Pro Bowl selection.
16. Terry McLaurin, 17. Odell Beckham Jr., 18. D.J. Moore
Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns is one of my boldest calls for a rebound year in 2021. Beckham missed nine games due to injury in 2020 and struggled to produce in his seven appearances.
I see Beckham posting at least 1,000 yards and seven scores in 2021. I view the Browns playmaker as a low-end WR2. You also can wait to snag him as his average draft position is after the seventh round.
Beckham is my No. 17 wide receiver.
32. Will Fuller, 33. Antonio Brown, 37. Devonta Smith, 65. Russell Gage
The Miami Dolphins ranked in the bottom half of the league in passing in 2020, but made several off-season acquisitions to try to improve.
One of those moves was signing free agent Will Fuller. The former Houston Texas playmaker is one of the most-explosive pass catchers in the NFL, when healthy.
Fuller should be the best fantasy football option among Dolphins wide receivers, at least early in the season. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins said this off-season that they prioritized improvements in the deep passing game and Fuller should benefit from that most.
I expect at least 1,000 yards and 10 scores from Fuller if he plays in at least 14 games. He is a low-end WR3, but a boom-or-bust option who should only be played in good fantasy football matchups.
"It's something he's placed an emphasis on, and we've placed an emphasis on," Dolphins coach Brian Flores told reporters earlier this month when asked about Tagovailoa's work on his deep passes.
"Not pushing the ball downfield, but taking advantage of those opportunities if they're there. ... We're not going to make them if we don't throw them. I think he's taking more shots downfield and I think hopefully he's gaining more confidence that he can make some of those throws."
Fuller is my No. 32 option.
Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith is one of my favorite sleeper candidates for the 2021 fantasy football season. The former Alabama star won the Heisman Trophy and was the most productive wide receiver in college football history last season, but dropped in the 2021 NFL Draft due to his small stature.
I view Smith as an elite playmaker. His average draft position is in the eighth round, but I think you can still target him even later. He should become the top option in the Eagles passing game at some point this season. He should make at least 85 catches for 1,000 yards and five scores from Smith in his rookie campaign.
Smith is my No. 37 wide receiver.
Top 100 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for 2021
1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 13
2. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12
3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12
4. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 9
5. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
6. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 9
7. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 6
8. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 7
9. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 7
10. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 13
11. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 7
12. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 10
13. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 11
14. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 9
15. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 7
16. Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team, Bye Week 9
17. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 13
18. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 13
19. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 7
20. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 9
21. Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10
22. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 11
23. Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 13
24. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 11
25. Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 10
26. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7
27. Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 13
28. Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 11
29. Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 6
30. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 10
31. Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7
32. Will Fuller, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 14
33. Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 9
34. Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 7
35. Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12
36. D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 7
37. DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 14
38. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 10
39. Kenny Golladay, New York Giants, Bye Week 10
40. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 14
41. Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 7
42. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 7
43. Corey Davis, New York Jets, Bye Week 6
44. Curtis Samuel, Washington Football Team, Bye Week 9
45. Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8
46. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 6
47. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 13
48. Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 8
49. Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 6
50. Marvin Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 7
51. Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 14
52. Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 14
53. Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 14
54. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 6
55. Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12
56. Tyrell Williams, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 9
57. Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots, Bye Week 14
58. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants , Bye Week 10
59. Elijah Moore, New York Jets, Bye Week 6
60. Jamison Crowder, New York Jets, Bye Week 6
61. Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 10
62. Darius Slayton, New York Giants, Bye Week 10
63. Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
64. Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots, Bye Week 14
65. Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 6
66. Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 14
67. Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12
68. Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
69. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 13
70. Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 13
71. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 14
72. A.J. Green, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12
73. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 13
74. Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 6
75. Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 7
76. Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 13
77. Josh Reynolds, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 13
78. DeSean Jackson, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 11
79. Kadarius Toney, New York Giants, Bye Week 10
80. James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7
81. Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 8
82. Keke Coutee, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10
83. Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 11
84. K.J. Hamler, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 11
85. Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 11
86. Amari Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 13
87. Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 14
88. Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots, Bye Week 14
89. Sammy Watkins, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8
90. Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8
91. Rashard Higgins, , Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 13
92. Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 8
93. Quez Watkins, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 14
94. Byron Pringle, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12
95. Anthony Miller, Houston Texans, Bye Week 10
96. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 9
97. Jakeem Grant, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 14
98. Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 6
99. John Brown, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 8
100. Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 14