There may not be a more important set of players to your fantasy teams than at wide receiver.
WR tiers are an important weapon in your fantasy football arsenal. Instead of the rigid approach of fantasy football rankings, tiers allow you more flexibility on draft day, which is key to dominating your opponents. With a tier-based approach, you can see how each player stacks up at his respective position.
Wide receiver is extremely deep this season. As you’ll see in the tiers below, there are a lot of strong options who will likely come off the board in the first four rounds. The good news is that you’ll still have plenty of upside options in the middle and later rounds. Let’s take a look at the 2021 fantasy wide receiver tiers. Of course, don’t forget that you can check out all of our fantasy football rankings and fantasy football projections.
With everything settled down in Green Bay, Adams is solidified as the top dog, though Hill and Diggs aren’t too far off. Hill has one of the highest weekly ceilings of any player in fantasy football, and he showed that against the Bucs last season. And Diggs is coming off a massive 2020 campaign in his first season with the Bills.
We have only the slightest drop off from the top tier to this group. Hopkins showed last season that his floor is just as high as ever with Kyler Murray in Arizona. Ridley is coming off a breakout year and is now cemented in the mid-range WR1 conversation with Julio Jones out of the mix in Atlanta.
The beauty to running backs going early and often this year is the fact that you can likely still get WR1s spilling into the third round of 12-team drafts. Some of these guys will still be on the board when you’re up for your third pick. But I am subdividing this tier because there are really two types of wideouts going between the mid-second and mid-fourth rounds.
This group is certainly more risky, but you have the potential to get more bang for your buck. Metcalf took a big step forward last season and showed he can be a dominant force on the football. Of course, he does play in a run-heavy offense. Likewise, both Jefferson and Brown are in run-heavy systems, but even so, both offer massive fantasy potential. McLaurin doesn’t look like a prototype WR1, but he’s coming off an 87-catch season and gets a healthy upgrade at quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
This group will give you a slightly higher floor with more consistency over the course of the season. Allen and Robinson don’t necessarily come with massive ceilings, but both are viable threats for 100-plus catches in 2021. Robinson topped that threshold last year despite suspect quarterback play. He’ll get a boost when Justin Fields takes over the job for the Bears.
These tw0 are neck-and-neck and essentially come in as a coin flip at the front end of the WR2s. Cooper may be a polarizing pick here, but let’s not forget that he was fantasy’s No. 2 wide receiver with Dak Prescott healthy over the first month of the season last year. Even as the second option in the Cowboys passing game, Lamb still screams upside. Of course, we can’t rule out him leapfrogging Cooper in the pecking order, especially with all of the buzz surrounding his performance in camp.
Yet again we really need to subdivide the wideouts you’ll find in the WR2 range. There’s a big chunk of them who come with some question marks or who may not be the most consistent options. I would go crazy and select multiple players from this tier, but all of these guys have a top-10 ceiling.
He may not be the most consistent receiver on a weekly basis, but Evans is coming off his seventh-straight 1,000 yard season and also found pay dirt 13 times last year. As for Moore, he’s surprisingly been top-10 among wideouts in receiving yards in each of the last two years. Johnson emerged as Ben Roethlisberger’s new favorite target last season, and is set up for another big workload.
Daniel Jones is a sizeable downgrade for Golladay, and we also has his recent injury history to consider. With that being said, he’s still positioned well as the No. 1 option for the Giants. While Aiyuk will be the No. 2 target in San Francisco behind George Kittle, he’s still a high ceiling option especially when Trey Lance takes over. Chase is reunited with Joe Burrow. Both he and Higgins figure to hit the ground running in 2021 for the Bengals.
You may not get a “nice pick, bro” when you put these names on the draft board, but that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at good value. These unsexy options may end up falling further than they should on draft day. Both Woods and Kupp get a quarterback upgrade with Matthew Stafford in the mix.
Godwin already got his upgrade last season and will likely be playing for a long-term deal this season. Jones won’t have to be “the guy” any longer with AJ Brown projected to lead the Titans in target, but he’ll still be heavily involved in the offense. Thielen passed the torch to Justin Jefferson last season, but he also caught 14 touchdowns in the process.
Fantasy drafts keep giving wide receiver value this year, as this group of wideouts will be on the board in the middle rounds of your drafts. Some of these players have post-hype sleeper appeal (Golladay, Beckham, and Chark) while others are viable breakout candidates (Claypool, Sutton, Jeudy, and Deebo Samuel). You also have plenty of underrated values in Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Fuller and Gallup. As for Thomas, he’s trending back in the right direction after reportedly mending fences with Sean Payton and progressing well in his recovery from ankle surgery.
At the same time, you have this group of wideouts going in this range. A lot of these options are fantasy mainstays who are past their prime or who simply offer no upside whatsoever. While they’re name-brand recognition will get them drafted ahead of some of the upside options in Tier 5, their low fantasy ceiling makes them less-than-desirable fantasy options.
Tier 6a – Opportunity knocks for these WRs in fantasy
All of these receivers are in a position to seize the opportunity available to them heading into this season. Smith, Waddle, Rondale Mooore, Elijah Moore, and Marshall are all rookies who are dripping with upside. Shenault, Pittman, Mooney, Ruggs, Meyers, Reagor, Davis and Edwards all flashed potential last season and are position well to take a step forward this season. And we still don’t know what Campbell can be on an NFL field after the Ohio State product managed to play just nine games in his first two season. Still, his speed and athleticism are appealing.
Unlike running back, you still have a number of intriguing late-round options this year. Davis was busy in the Jets’ first preseason game and figures to be the clear No. 1 receiver. Williams has yet to put in all together as a pro, though his ceiling is very appealing with Justin Herbert under center. Hardman remains a question mark in terms of his ability to be a 3-down option, but there’s no denying his upside in the potent Chiefs offense. Parker is behind Will Fuller and possibly Jalen Waddle in the pecking order, but he is capable of being a strong red zone asset for the Dolphins. Brown is one of the bigger boom-or-bust options on the board. While Jones is up there in age, he’s been one of the more productive red zone wideouts over the last half decade and should be a solid weapon for Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville.
You know these names if you’ve been around the fantasy block. Some of them have even been strong fantasy assets in the past. But you want nothing to do with these guys in the late rounds of 2022 fantasy drafts. Swing for the fences in the late rounds and draft for upside. Let someone else in your league draft these guys.
Tier 7 – Last-round WR sleepers in fantasy football