Did everyone catch the season finale of Naked and Afraid XL last night? Spoiler alert: they were all still naked on day 60, but more hungry than afraid. Seven adult humans rationing scraps of armadillo meat, what a way to live! I know exactly how the competitors must have felt. Each time I compose a new set of fantasy rankings I like to post them over on the Fantasy Football subreddit to get some feedback and constructive criticism from the knowledgeable masses over there. Many times I’m forced to reconsider my thought processes. Other times I’m left feeling lonely and naked, without even a morsel of armadillo fat to soothe my soul. But the show must go on. Lists must be compiled and players must be ordered and reordered based only on shirtless pics and/or shirtless TikTok videos. Anyway, here’s my top 10 wide receivers for 2021 PPR fantasy football with projections:
See all 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings here.
*Note: These rankings are geared toward half PPR scoring. Projections provided in this season’s rankings are NOT my own, they come from Rudy Gamble’s 2021 Fantasy Football Projections. These preseason projections are available free of charge, while Rudy’s in season weekly projection subscription is currently available until July 31st at an early bird discounted price of only $17.99 for the entire season! These are the same weekly projections which have won Rudy Gamble the FantasyPros designation of “Best Bold Ranker” for the years 2017-2019 (and likely 2020!).
1. Davante Adams – I’m hoping Packers fans are too busy with breathing exercises calming their anxiety over Aaron Rodgers future to notice how low I’ve ranked the best receiver in the game over the past two seasons. Let me state the obvious here before the angry mob murders me, ahhhhh too late! I’m dead. *Donkey Teeth’s twin brother, Honkey Teeth, picks up rankings post where DT left off* So what my brother Donkey was about to say is that he does not believe Aaron Rodgers will play in 2021, which would obviously be an enormous hit to Davante Adams’ fantasy value. For what it’s worth, if Rodgers does play then Adams moves all the way up to the number one slot.
UPDATE 8/4/21: I’m stupid. You’re smart. I was wrong. You were right. You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re very good looking. I’m not very attractive. Turns out Aaron Rodgers was all talk and will be playing in 2021. Adams is my #1 and I’m tempted to put him in his own tier. The connection between Rodgers and Adams is unmatched.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 126 Receptions, 1,671 Receiving Yards, 11 Total Touchdowns
2. Tyreek Hill – I made the mistake of slightly devaluing Hill in my rankings last year due to his boom or bust nature—at least perceived by me as boom or bust—and a mediocre finish to the 2019 season. I had this minor concern that Tyreek might not be able to match the PPR production of the elite target hogs after seeing double digit targets in only two 2019 games. Lesson learned: Don’t fade Patrick Mahomes’ #1 option. Hill has now joined the target hog club after getting 10+ targets seven times in 2020 as he finish top 10 among receivers in targets with a whopping 135.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 90 Receptions, 1,314 Receiving Yards, 10 Total Touchdowns
3. DeAndre Hopkins – Some might have strong opinions regarding the ordering of this tier, but I don’t. Any one of these top six receivers finishing the 2021 season as the #1 fantasy receiver wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest. So the order of this tier mostly comes down to personal preference, and if you read my top 10 QB rankings for 2021 fantasy football then you know I have strong feelings for Kyler Murray. I’m excited to see how the chemistry with Hopkins develops in year two. Bobby also wrote a great piece recently analyzing how wide receivers tend to age. My biggest takeaway was that Hopkins likely has several years of top end fantasy production left in the tank.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 113 Receptions, 1,500 Receiving Yards, 7 Total Touchdowns
4. Stefon Diggs – I hate to toot my own horn but I ranked Diggs higher than any other expert in the FantasyPros ranking contest last preseason. So I’m pretty much the Stefon Diggs expert. Ask me anything about Diggs. Favorite color? Magenta. Guilty pleasure? Chai lattes. Anyway, he led the league in targets, receptions and yardage in his first season with Josh Allen. Could Diggs actually produce even better fantasy numbers in year two? I think so. He may have hit near his ceiling as far as receptions and yardage goes, but only catching eight touchdowns with all that volume was a little fluky if you ask me. 12-15 trips to the end zone in 2021 wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 109 Receptions, 1,510 Receiving Yards, 9 Total Touchdowns
5. D.K. Metcalf – If it weren’t for the very weak finish to the season by the Seahawks offense, Metcalf would be #1 on this list. He’s still #1 in my heart, but there’s enough uncertainty about whether or not Russ with be allowed to cook in 2021 that I wouldn’t blame anyone for moving D.K. down to tier two. But he remain solidly in my top tier for one reason: UPSIDE. If we see the unchained Russell Wilson from the first half of 2020 then Metcalf could catch 20 touchdowns, and that’s not hyperbole. The floor is also decently high since Wilson throws 30 touchdowns every season.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 86 Receptions, 1,324 Receiving Yards, 10 Total Touchdowns
6. A.J. Brown – How does the arrival of Julio Jones in Tennessee impact the fantasy outlook for AJB? I think it could be great. Consider when former aging superstar receivers relocated, like Randy Moss to the Patriots, Jerry Rice to the Raiders and Antonio Brown to the Raiders and Patriots. I kid. But when Rice landed in Oakland, Tim Brown caught 91 passes for 1,165 yards and 9 touchdowns. When Moss arrived in New England, Wes Welker went off for 112 receptions for 1,175 yards and 8 touchdowns. Of course there’s many more variables at play—Tannehill isn’t exactly Brady and Julio isn’t exactly Rice—plus Julio needs to stay healthy. Point is, this at least shouldn’t detract from A.J. Brown, and there’s a chance he finds himself a lot more room to roam in the secondary this season.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 84 Receptions, 1,311 Receiving Yards, 9 Total Touchdowns
7. Keenan Allen – It seems like Keenan Allen has been around since the Bush Administration, but he only just turned 29 years old. He also got slapped with an injury prone label early in his career, but has now only missed two games over the past four seasons. There’s a decent argument for moving Allen up into tier one based on the stability he’s shown over the past four seasons—100 receptions per season and 70+ yards per game—now combined with the addition of his blossoming young QB. I love the idea of starting drafts RB/RB this season while snatching up Allen as my first WR in the third round.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 100 Receptions, 1,115 Receiving Yards, 5 Total Touchdowns
8. Calvin Ridley – One of my biggest wide receiver ranking whiffs last year was Ridley. I never thought he would be more than a solid WR2; I was wrong. Julio’s departure doesn’t exactly open up a heap more targets for Ridley since, ya know, Julio hardly played last season. But on the plus side, we’ve now seen a glimpse of what Ridley can do as the alpha in this offense and it was very impressive. He finished last year as the #4 fantasy receiver and it’s quite possible we see a repeat performance—#4 is also the price you’ll have to pay for him in drafts. I just like the tier one players above slightly more, nothing against Ridley but I don’t see myself drafting him with the current price tag.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 85 Receptions, 1,261 Receiving Yards, 8 Total Touchdowns
9. Justin Jefferson – J-Jeff had an incredible rookie season, smashing a couple of Randy Moss’s Viking rookie records. I hesitate to predict regression after such a special rookie season. The stat that really tickles me is Jefferson’s 11 targets per game over the final six weeks. Thielen averaged only six targets per game over that same stretch. That’s impressive considering the chemistry and track record Cousins and Thielen have together. Don’t be shocked if Jefferson is the #1 overall fantasy receiver in 2021.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 90 Receptions, 1,380 Receiving Yards, 7 Total Touchdowns
10. Terry McLaurin – Is anyone else excited to see what Terrence of Scarabia can do with Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center? He just went for over 1,100 receiving yards with a combination of Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen and Ed from Lion King at QB. Curtis Samuel’s arrival does mean the first legitimate competition for targets for Terry during his time in Washington, but something tells me the gunslinger Fitz will be looking McLaurin’s way plenty—sometimes even when he shouldn’t.
Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 87 Receptions, 1,226 Receiving Yards, 7 Total Touchdowns