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Best Ball Strategy

Updated 2021 Best-Ball WR Tiers

by John Daigle
Updated On: June 18, 2021, 11:25 am ET

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Jump to: QB Tiers I RB Tiers

 

Tier One

 

Tyreek Hill (WR1) -- Jammed 10.7 targets per game across Kansas City's last 11 contests including 10.3 in three postseason tilts. Hill's volume from Patrick Mahomes in the Chiefs' pass-happy offense, aka the league's second-highest pass play rate in neutral game script over the second half of the season, cements the former as fantasy's unanimous WR1 even if Aaron Rodgers were to return to Green Bay (and keep Davante Adams afloat).

Stefon Diggs (WR2) -- Force-fed a career-high 166 targets under OC Brian Daboll, which resulted in a league-leading 127 catches and 1,535 yards. Diggs' 12.1 targets per game in seven starts without John Brown quietly paint an even higher ceiling for the former in 2021.

Davante Adams (WR3) -- Averaged 11.3 targets from Aaron Rodgers in 25 full games dating back to Week 9 of the 2019 season. This ranking is a hedge towards A-Rod's surrounding trade rumors just in case Adams is catching passes from Jordan Love in 2021.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR4) -- Doubled-up his next closest teammate (Christian Kirk, 79) with 160 targets and the league's second-highest target share (29.3%) in his first year from Kyler Murray. 150-plus targets in six consecutive seasons keeps Hopkins' floor as safe as any in his tier.

 

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Tier Two

 

Calvin Ridley (WR5) -- Qualified as a top-seven receiver whether Julio Jones was available (17.4 fantasy points in eight games) or absent (20.5 in seven games without) in 2020. Note Ridley's 31% target share and 51% air yards share with Jones officially out the picture.

A.J. Brown (WR6) -- Ceiling capped following the arrival of Julio Jones, but Titans still have the league's third-most available targets (224, 47.9%) missing from last year's production. Any injury to the latter would also vault Brown back into top-three territory at a moment's notice.

DK Metcalf (WR7) -- Metcalf carried the team with 64 targets (8.0 per game) and the league's third-most air yards (989) through Seattle's first eight games before its offense went run-heavy and kaput. Registered just one top-12 finish (and two top-20) over the second half of the season.

Justin Jefferson (WR8) -- Jefferson averaged the third-most Yards Per Route Run (2.66) by a rookie wideout with 50-plus targets since 2010 despite playing behind Bisi Johnson in Minnesota's first two games. The former's egregious margin in end zone targets to Adam Thielen's (20-8) is expected to regress simply by registering similar usage to one another for a full year.

Michael Thomas (WR9) -- 33.3% target share in Taysom Hill's four starts. Still likely to lead in targets (yet be far less efficient) if Jameis Winston wins the job.

Amari Cooper (WR10) -- Averaged a team-high 23.4% target share and 17.8 fantasy points in five games from Dak Prescott last year.

Keenan Allen (WR11) -- 28.8% target share in 11 full games with Justin Herbert. Injury concerns an afterthought after making 62-of-64 possible appearances the past four years.

CeeDee Lamb (WR12) -- Team-high in end zone targets (3) with Dak Prescott under center. Expected to be a full-time player in year two after frustratingly logging 58.7% of the team's snaps from Week 7 on.

D.J. Moore (WR13) -- Moore has quiely stacked the league's sixth-most receiving yards (2,368) from Cam Newton, Kyle Allen, Will Grier, and Teddy Bridgewater the past two years but has failed to finish any higher than 15th in fantasy points per game due to his lack of touchdowns (8). Encouraging that he still led the team with 10 end zone targets in 2020.

Terry McLaurin (WR14) -- McLaurin is poised to improve on last year's 14.9 FPPG by simply catching passes from the best signal-caller he's played with at any point in his career. 9.8 aDOT doesn't overlap with OC Scott Turner's past usage of Curtis Samuel, who was anchored underneath for 4.3 yards per target in the four games the former coordinated in 2019 with the Panthers.

Mike Evans (WR15) -- Evans sprayed himself in 'Old Spice: Touchdown' prior to taking the field without Chris Godwin last year, averaging two more targets (6.2 to 8.5) and 7.0 more fantasy points (13.8 to 20) in the four games the latter missed while hauling in a score for each of those contests. Tom Brady also looked to Evans inside the red zone even with Antonio Brown available, allowing the former to lead the team in targets (63) and end zone opportunities (8) in the eight games Brown played.

Allen Robinson (WR16) -- 150-plus targets in back-to-back seasons despite playing with Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel, and Nick Foles in that time. Justin Fields will be the best quarterback Robinson's ever played with the moment Andy Dalton is benched.

Robert Woods (WR17) -- Los Angeles' team leader in targets for three consecutive seasons, Woods' untapped ceiling is in range with Matthew Stafford after the former succeeded both from the slot (team-high 2.55 YPRR in 2019) and out wide (23% air yards share last year) of late.

Cooper Kupp (WR18) -- Sean McVay's go-to option in the money zone with 30 total red zone targets the past two years. Upgrade from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford, not to mention added speed on the outside with DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell, are all checks in favor of Kupp.

 

Tier Three

 

Julio Jones (WR19) -- Julio's highs were still worth chasing in his age-31 season, averaging 19 fantasy points and the fourth-most YPRR among wideouts in seven full games. League-winning weeks will be available from Ryan Tannehill, who has ranked second-overall in fantasy points per dropback since taking over as Tennessee's starter.

Tyler Lockett (WR20) -- Lockett is incorrectly being penalized for piling 6.0 fewer fantasy points than D.K. Metcalf (271.3-265.4) during a handful of games rather than offering a high floor weekly. Drafters should ignore his second half (failed to eclipse 100 yards from Week 8 on) and enjoy the smattering of league-winning starts he'll inevitably post alongside Metcalf yet again.

Adam Thielen (WR21) -- Trailed Justin Jefferson in targets (103-90) in 13 games together from Week 3 on. An obvious regression candidate after converting a league-high 13-of-20 end zone opportunities into touchdowns.

Chris Godwin (WR22) -- Low man on the totem pole with 55 targets in the eight games he played alongside Mike Evans (63) and Antonio Brown (62). Note Godwin's team-high 29 targets (to Evans' 12) in the four games the two played sans Brown in the event the latter's legal/knee issues carry over into the regular season.

Diontae Johnson (WR23) -- Team-high 26.3% target share and 10.4 looks per game in the 13 starts he avoided injury/being benched for.

Ja'Marr Chase (WR24) -- The unquestioned alpha among Cincinnati's receivers after producing 84/1,780/20 and 21.2 yards per catch as a 19-year-old sophomore in a receiving corps that featured Vikings first-rounder Justin Jefferson and 2020 classmate Terrace Marshall.

Odell Beckham (WR25) -- Led Cleveland's receivers in every salivating metric — 25% target share, 566 air yards, six red zone targets, five end zone looks — despite averaging just 14.4 fantasy points in six full games from Baker Mayfield last year. Beckham's lone blowup against Dallas (8/81/2 with 2/73/1 on the ground) is at the very least proof of a ceiling under Kevin Stefanski.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR26) -- Averaged 7.5 targets and 15.0 fantasy points in six games without Deebo Samuel and 15.7 plus 8.5 in six games without. Passing volume in a newly constructed offense with Trey Lance remains the only potential gap to inflated opportunity.

 

 

Tier Four

 

Tee Higgins (WR27) -- Higgins' 8.1 targets per game in eight full games with Joe Burrow are bound to diminish alongside Ja'Marr Chase, but the former's splashy 11.7 aDOT and 27% air yards share keeps him as a premier double-stack option in Cincinnati's offense.

Robby Anderson (WR28) -- Inexplicably used as Carolina's possession receiver in his first year under OC Joe Brady, Anderson's career-low 9.7 aDOT resulted in a team-high 25.8% target share and career-high in catches (95). Previous rapport with Sam Darnold is a plus for any change over in 2021.

Chase Claypool (WR29) -- The first rookie in NFL history to score 10 touchdowns across his first 10 games, Claypool played just 62% of Pittsburgh's snaps from Week 12 on, averaging a lowly 16.3% target share due to Mike Tomlin's belief in "the rookie wall." Anything resembling the six targets and three carries he received inside the 10-yard line to that point could solidify Claypool as the receiver to roster on his own team.

Tyler Boyd (WR30) -- Boyd's team-high 11 red zone targets and usage underneath (8.3 aDOT) in Joe Burrow's 10 starts arguably lend him the highest weekly floor among Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase. Interchangeable as a double-stack option with Burrow any time he's the last of that trio off the board.

Deebo Samuel (WR31) -- 8.2 targets per game in the five starts he played at least 60% of the team's snaps for last year. Consistent rushing opportunity from his own 'deadpool' package sneakily keeps Samuel's ceiling in earshot of Aiyuk's.

Michael Gallup (WR32) -- Volatile 16.8-yard depth of target from the boundary with Dak Prescott still produced one WR1 performance (Week 3, 6/138/1) in the four games the latter finished.

Will Fuller (WR33) -- In his first year without DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller tied A.J. Brown for the seventh-most FPPG (17.2) behind a career-high 21.3% target share until he was popped for PEDs after 11 starts; the fact it occured with a career-low aDOT (12.5) is terrific news for his versatility in meshing with Miami's offense.

Kenny Golladay (WR34) -- Golladay took a step back across the board in agreeing to join Daniel Jones and OC Jason Garrett after never having commanded a 23% target share in any season with Detroit. Fingers crossed his career 14.1 aDOT and red zone prowess stick in New York.

Courtland Sutton (WR35) -- Sutton's 14.9 aDOT the past two years has obviously been Drew Lock's kryptonite, finishing inside the top-38 among receivers just once in six games together. A changing of the guard to Teddy Bridgewater would be a welcome sight since Denver is projected to face the league's easiest schedule of passing defenses this year.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR36) -- Career-low 6.5 yards per target on 8.0 targets per game kept JuJu's floor high, but failure to record 100 yards receivng in any start was proof he lacked the ceiling to ever win a week for fantasy. Rumored move to the boundary would be a knock against him given his lowly (but comfortable) 5.5 aDOT. 

Jarvis Landry (WR37) -- The team's leader in targets with the Dolphins and Browns for six consecutive seasons, Landry questionably averaged just 5.5 targets in six full games alongside Odell Beckham in their first year under Kevin Stefanski.

Marquise Brown (WR38) -- Here's to hoping Brown's 2021 resembles his performance from Week 13 on (6.7 targets and 15.6 fantasy points per game) and not that through Week 12 (6.1 and 9.6). Additions of Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman as field stretchers sap any perceived uptick in volume for the 24-year-old.

Antonio Brown (WR39) -- Quietly spiked two top-10 finishes in eight games alongside Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Mike Williams (WR40) -- Historically a boom-or-bust weekly option with the type of targets his archetype garners, Williams has notably recorded 7/76/2, 5/109/2, 4/40, and 6/108/1 with a 25% target share in the four career games he's played without Keenan Allen.

D.J. Chark (WR41) -- The first bust on the left whenever you enter the Prayer Yards Hall of Fame, Chark garnered the league's third-most targets 20-plus yards downfield (31), a majority of which were deemed empty the moment the ball left Gardner Minshew's/Mike Glennon's/Jake Luton's hand. 25 in September, Chark is still expected to be the team's intermediate level receiver in OC Darrell Bevell's attacking scheme.

 

Tier Five

 

Jerry Jeudy (WR42) -- Jeudy's 12 drops, the second-most in the league, overshadow the fact only 58.2% of his targets were deemed catchable, anyhow. For reference, only A.J. Green finished with a lower catchable target rate among receivers with 50-plus targets.

Brandin Cooks (WR43) -- Opportunity isn't the question. It comes down to whether or not it even matters.

Laviska Shenault (WR44) -- Travis Etienne's arrival remains a detriment to Shenault's unique hybrid usage from the slot and backfield after the latter averaged more YPRR than D.J. Chark (1.55 to 1.48) all the while finishing third at his position in carries (18).

Curtis Samuel (WR45) -- Strides into Washington's slot role by default. Previous usage under OC Scott Turner — nine carries, 4.3 yards per target in the last four games of 2019 — potentially sinks Samuel's ceiling after he produced a career-high 851 yards and 14.1 FPPG under Joe Brady.

Nelson Agholor (WR46) -- Agholor went from meme to marvel practically overnight, leading Las Vegas in air yards (1,269) and end zone targets (13) as both an intermediate and deep threat from Derek Carr. Expected to be used similarly (with the potential to lead the team in targets) in transition with the Patriots.

Marvin Jones (WR47) -- 18 touchdowns the last two years under OC Darrell Bevell.

Cole Beasley (WR48) -- The overall WR37 (12.3 points) and WR31 (13.8 points) in FPPG in two seasons with the Bills.

Jaylen Waddle (WR49) -- Reportedly clocked with a 4.37 40-time ahead of National Signing Day, Waddle's four receptions of 75-plus yards and 19.3 yards per punt return (38/733/2) plus 26.8 yards per kick return (8/214/1) at Alabama are field-flipping traits that should transition into the slot with the Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa from day one.

 

Gabriel Davis (WR50) -- Ran a route on 97% of Buffalo's dropbacks in the seven games John Brown missed last year.

Mecole Hardman (WR51) -- Ran 88 routes to Byron Pringle's 74 in four games for Sammy Watkins prior to the team's Week 10 bye, but took a backseat to Pringle (82-69) in three postseason contests. Coin toss between the two to soak up Watkins' vacated 234 slot snaps from last year.

Rondale Moore (WR52) -- The missing piece underneath DeAndre Hopkins' heavy involvement from the intermediate level of the field (8.9 aDOT) and Christian Kirk's pop-a-shot targets thrown deep (11.8). Reminder 78% of Moore's collegiate receptions came within 10 yards of the line scrimmage.

Darnell Mooney (WR53) -- Mooney's 70.8 air yards per game are expected to be much more valuable from Justin Fields than they were from Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

Michael Pittman (WR54) -- 4.9 targets per game and an egg's worth of end zone targets in 12 starts sans Parris Campbell. The return of both T.Y. Hilton and the latter clearly limits Pittman's ceiling.

DeVante Parker (WR55) -- The inferior talent after Miami added both Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle to the mix, Parker has eclipsed 800 receiving yards in only one of six career seasons.

 

Tier Six

 

Breshad Perriman (WR56) -- 28 in September, Perriman will at the very least be asked to operate as Detroit's alpha receiver ahead of Tyrell Williams and the team's machination of names in the slot (Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St. Brown).

Jalen Reagor (WR57) -- Team-highs in targets (19, 19%) and air yards (210, 25.1%) in Jalen Hurts' three full starts last year. Slide to slot gifts the 22-year-old a higher floor for 2021.

Devonta Smith (WR58) -- Even if lining up from the boundary in year one, Smith's skillset should transition seamlessly since his 235 collegiate receptions, an Alabama school record, included just seven drops on 268 catchable targets and the nation's most receiving yards on screens (304) and downfield opportunities (589) last year.

Elijah Moore (WR59) -- Moore's elite 4.35 40, flat 4.0-second shuttle, and 91st percentile 3-cone (6.67 seconds) are expected to win him the nod over Jamison Crowder from the slot, where the former led the FBS in catches (10.8) and receiving yards (149.1) as an explosive mismatch just last year.

Terrace Marshall Jr (WR60) -- Reunites in an all-too-perfect situation with OC Joe Brady and negligent competition for Carolina's slot receiver from 11 personnel. Marshall fortuitously gained experience both from the boundary (73.7% in 2019) and slot (72.9% in 2020) in his last two years at LSU.

Corey Davis (WR61) -- Was 2020's outlier performance a fourth-year breakout or career anomaly across from a true alpha? He'll have the opportunity to prove which one as New York's No. 1/2 receiver with Denzel Mims.

Henry Ruggs (WR62) -- Two screens on 581 offensive snaps proves there's a better chance Jon Gruden signs another running back before figuring out how to properly utilize 2020's No. 12 overall pick.

Rashod Bateman (WR63) -- Those with Bateman ranked any higher are betting on talent, not the situation. While that's completely acceptable, it should be noted that Baltimore's wideouts saw the league's fewest (164) and second-fewest (199) targets the past two years.

Russell Gage (WR64) -- Strictly an opportunity-based floor play since Gage's eight targets per game without Julio Jones last year merely resulted in 10.5 fantasy points per contest. 

 

Tier Seven

 

Amari Rodgers (WR65) -- Middling straight-line speed (4.52 40) and subpar agility (7.0-second 3-cone) aside, Rodgers has a direct path to opportunity from the slot and remains the only Packers receiver behind Davante Adams under contract beyond 2021.

Jamison Crowder (WR66) -- One of the NFL's most capable slot receivers, Crowder is being discounted in drafts despite his wide range of outcomes which include him being cut to save the team $11.4 million against the cap only to land in a much better offense than New York's as a starter from 11 personnel.

Denzel Mims (WR67) -- Led the Jets with a 14.6 aDOT in nine games around a lingering hamstring injury, but has reportedly been playing with the second-string offense throughout OTAs.

Dyami Brown (WR68) -- Career 18.4 average depth of target (!) remains the utmost complement to Ryan Fitzpatrick's style of play.

Sterling Shepard (WR69) -- Back into the slot full-time after dumbfoundedly being kicked out wide for a career-high 67.1% of his routes last year.

Parris Campbell (WR70) -- Opened the year with 6/71 on nine targets before tearing both his MCL and PCL in Week 2. Only nine appearances the past two seasons.

T.Y. Hilton (WR71) -- The WR50 with 10.9 fantasy points per game across 15 appearances last year. 32 in November.

Byron Pringle (WR72) -- 82 routes to Mecole Hardman's 69 in the postseason despite being out-targeted 13-9 by the latter in that stretch.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR73) -- Available for 14 games in his age-33 season with New Orleans, recording a team-high in air yards (723) with 61/726/5 receiving behind Michael Thomas. Reportedly working across from Stefon Diggs as Buffalo's No. 2 receiver at OTAs.

John Brown (WR74) -- Now 31 with a full 16 games under his belt in just one of seven career seasons to date, Brown is still the leading candidate to replace Nelson Agholor as the team's pop-a-shot artist in 2021.

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR75) -- Stacked 77/1,042/6 from the slot, where he'll compete to start out of camp, in 2019 with the Trojans.

Tre'Quan Smith (WR76) -- 14 touchdowns in his first three seasons but only two catches per game (across 40 of them) to show for it.

Marquez Callaway (WR77) -- His receiving lines in games Callaway logged at least 50% of New Orleans' offensive snaps: 4/34, 8/75, 3/26, 3/51.

Josh Reynolds (WR78) -- Achieved a career-best 52 receptions in his final year with the Rams after hauling in 11, 29, and 21 catches through his first three seasons. Tennessee's de facto No. 2 if Julio Jones were injured.

Olamide Zaccheaus (WR79) -- 13.7 yards per catch with two top-20 finishes across 11 appearances last year.

D'Wayne Eskridge (WR80) -- One of only four FBS players to average 130-plus receiving yards per game in 2020, Eskridge's state championship sprinting background will presumably be leveraged to dust man coverage for splash outings from time to time.