2021 NFL Fantasy Football Tiers: Wide Receiver Rankings | Half-PPR Leagues

With the NFL shifting to a more pass-heavy approach in the last decade, NFL fantasy football has also adapted. More teams continue to implement three-receiver sets as their base formation. While more receivers put up productive seasons, fewer receivers tally elite WR1 seasons of the past. Despite being a deeper position overall, the elite assets are scarcer than ever. One way to help break down the position is breaking players into tiers. This creates an inherent way to rank and value players. With that said, here are the 2021 fantasy football tier rankings for wide receivers in half-PPR leagues on Yahoo, ESPN, CBS and more.

Fantasy Football Tiers: 2021 Wide Receiver Rankings

Tier 1

The two wide receivers in this tier combine elite target shares with elite offenses. They are the true difference makers at the position.

[table id=1483 /]

Stefon Diggs — WR1

Diggs led the NFL in targets (166), receptions (127) and yards receiving (1,535) last year. The Bills lost John Brown and only added Emmanuel Sanders. Last year Diggs had a 29.3% target share in one of the NFL’s pass-heaviest offenses. With Josh Allen playing at an elite level, Diggs has a clear path to WR1 status in 2021.

Tyreek Hill — WR2

Playing in a Patrick Mahomes-led offense, Hill easily eclipsed 1,000 yards last year for the third time. Hill has to compete with Travis Kelce, but the narrow target distribution still allowed him to see 23.2% of the targets. Losing Sammy Watkins without a clear replacement, Hill should be locked into elite volume and efficiency in 2021.

Tier 2

Receivers in the second tier possess elite talent but have some minor barrier to production. Any of these receivers could finish as the WR1. However, it is slightly less likely.

[table id=1484 /]

Davante Adams — WR3

Adams finished 2020 with 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 14 games. His 34.1% target share led the NFL when healthy. Green Bay added only rookie Amari Rodgers this offseason. However, Aaron Rodgers’ potential absence clouds his fantasy projection this year.

Calvin Ridley — WR4

Ridley had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns with Atlanta last year. With Julio Jones out of the picture, Ridley should now see his 25.1% target share rise. While the offense may be less efficient overall, Ridley’s efficiency actually rose without Jones.

DeAndre Hopkins — WR5

Hopkins produced 115 catches for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns in his first season with Arizona in 2020. While Hopkins is the clear WR1 in Arizona, does he see the same 29.4% target share again? Arizona added A.J. Green and Rondale Moore. While he still has a path to being the overall WR1, Hopkins likely will battle more target competition than those listed above.

A.J. Brown — WR6

Brown caught 70 passes for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns last year with Tennessee. While extremely efficient, Brown must now compete for targets with Jones. The Titans already ran the ball at the third-highest rate in football.

Keenan Allen — WR7

Allen caught 100 passes for 992 yards and eight touchdowns last year. Functioning as an underneath slot receiver, Allen likely does not have the upside of receivers listed above him. However, Hunter Henry‘s departure clears additional targets. Justin Herbert also enters his second year in the NFL.

D.K. Metcalf — WR8

Last year Metcalf caught 83 passes for 1,303 yards and ten touchdowns. Seattle historically prefers a run-first approach, but the narrow target distribution funnels passes through Metcalf and Tyler Lockett exclusively. At 6-foot-3, 228 pounds, Metcalf’s 4.33 speed presents unique problems for opposing defenses.

Justin Jefferson — WR9

As a rookie in 2020 Jefferson caught 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. More impressively, he barely played in the first two games. Minnesota plays run-first football, but a narrow target distribution between Jefferson and Adam Thielen keeps his ceiling high for 2021.

Tier 3

This wide receiver tier has elite upside but likely cannot contend for top-five status without injury or a significant jump in volume/efficiency. Still, these are every-week starters for fantasy football.

[table id=1485 /]

Amari Cooper — WR10

Positioned as a Dallas’ top wideout, Cooper has back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons with the Cowboys. Dallas should improve significantly with a healthy offensive line and Dak Prescott this year. However, Cooper looks locked into his 21.2% target share with the presence of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

Terry McLaurin — WR11

Fresh off a 1,118-yard, 87-catch season, McLaurin receives a quarterback upgrade in Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, Washington also added Curtis Samuel to the mix. Can increased efficiency offset a potential reduction in volume?

Allen Robinson — WR12

Locked into the franchise tag, Robinson will play 2021 with some combination of Andy Dalton and Justin Fields at quarterback. Robinson has back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons with Chicago despite being no stranger to poor quarterback play. Last year he received a 25.4% target share.

Mike Evans — WR13

Evans had at least 1,000 yards receiving in each of his seven NFL seasons. While he plays in an explosive offense, he must also compete with Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown targets.

CeeDee Lamb — WR14

Now entering his second NFL season, Lamb caught 74 passes for 935 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie. Lamb only received an 18% target share, but he has room for growth with a healthy Prescott.

Chris Godwin — WR15

Godwin caught 65 passes for 840 yards in 12 healthy games last year. Godwin had an 18.9% target share when healthy and will continue to compete with Evans and Brown. The offense creates a good floor, but target competition caps his ceiling.

Julio Jones — WR16

Limited to nine games last year, Jones still produced an efficient 51-catch, 771-yard season with Atlanta. In Tennessee, Jones will compete with A.J. Brown for targets. While Jones continues to age, his efficiency has not dropped off.

Tyler Lockett — WR17

Lockett now has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with Seattle. Lockett has upside for spiked week, but he will compete with Metcalf for targets in a run-first offense.

Tier 4

Receivers in Tier 4 play a consistent yet limited offensive role. They generally have significant target competition and have not produced an elite season. With that said, they can be penciled in as consistent WR2’s in fantasy football.

[table id=1486 /]

Robert Woods — WR18

Woods has at least 900 yards in three straight seasons with the Rams. He receives an upgrade at quarterback, moving from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford. This should lead to increased efficiency. However, Cooper Kupp presents significant target competition.

D.J. Moore — WR19

Moore has back-to-back 1,110-yards seasons with Carolina. However, his upside is limited with target competition coming from Robby Anderson, Christian McCaffrey and rookie Terrace Marshall. With Sam Darnold also coming in at quarterback, can Moore continue his ascent?

Cooper Kupp — WR20

Like Woods, Kupp benefits from Stafford’s insertion into the offense. Kupp saw a 23.7% target share last year, which equated to 974 yards on 92 catches. He is likely to see an efficiency increase, but he is still limited by the presence of Woods.

Odell Beckham Jr. — WR21

Beckham tore his ACL after seven games last year but has at least 1,000 yards receiving in every healthy season. Beckham saw a 21.9% target share and 33.4% air yards share when healthy last year. He is still positioned as the clear WR1 in a high-powered offense.

Adam Thielen — WR22

Usurped by Jefferson as the WR1 in Minnesota, Thielen still accounted for 74 catches and 925 yards in 15 games with Minnesota. The narrow target distribution kept Thielen at a 24.4% target share. Thielen is a surefire WR2.

Ja’Marr Chase — WR23

Drafted with the fifth overall pick, Chase enters an ascending Cincinnati offense. Chase recorded 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2019 before opting out of 2020. He will compete with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, but he may have the highest ceiling of any receiver in this tier.

Robby Anderson — WR24

Finishing with 95 catches for 1,096 yards, Anderson’s 25.9% target share actually finished higher than D.J. Moore. Anderson played the underneath role, while Moore worked downfield. Both could be limited by the presence of Darnold at quarterback.

Tee Higgins — WR25

As a rookie, Higgins caught 67 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns. Higgins will complete with Boyd and Chase for targets, but Cincinnati’s expected positive regression keeps him firmly in Tier 4.

Michael Thomas — WR26

After catching 149 passes for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019, injuries torpedoed Thomas’ 2020. When healthy Thomas still accounted for a 28% target share. New Orleans lost Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders this offseason, adding no one of consequence. However, reports surfaced that Thomas could miss the first month of the season. Even without the first four weeks, Thomas provides week-winning upside. He is a Tier 2 receiver when healthy.

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Tier 5

Tier 5 receivers face offensive barriers or significant target competition. While likely to provide multiple usable weeks, these receivers may struggle for week-to-week consistency.

[table id=1487 /]

Courtland Sutton — WR27

After eclipsing 1,000 yards in 2019, Sutton tore his ACL in Week 1 last year. He is expected to be fully healthy for Week 1 and will now compete with Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant for targets. With Teddy Bridgewater battling Drew Lock at quarterback, this situation could be ugly.

D.J. Chark — WR28

Chark notched 1,008 and 706 yards in back-to-back seasons. He receives a quarterback upgrade in Trevor Lawrence but now competes with Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault for targets.

Tyler Boyd — WR29

Boyd caught 79 passes for 841 yards last year. Joe Burrow‘s return bodes well for the offense, but Chase and Higgins present significant competition. As the underneath slot receiver, Boyd offers a higher floor and limited ceiling.

Kenny Golladay — WR30

Transitioning from Detroit to the Giants, Golladay is also coming off a season-ending injury. He should easily lead New York in targets, but a significant jump in efficiency should not be expected with Daniel Jones under center.

Will Fuller — WR31

Fuller moves from Houston to Miami after catching 53 passes for 879 yards. He will serve a one-game suspension and compete with DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle when healthy.

Diontae Johnson — WR32

By all indications, Pittsburgh wants to run the ball. Johnson will compete with Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster for targets. He looks unlikely to repeat his 144-target season from last year.

Chase Claypool — WR33

Claypool emerged down the stretch for Pittsburgh, finishing with 62 catches for 873 yards. Can he continue to hold off Johnson and Smith-Schuster as the WR1 in a run-first offense?

Marquise Brown — WR34

The Ravens run more than any team in football. Brown saw 100 targets on a 25.2% target share last year. What happens with Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman entering the picture?

Brandin Cooks — WR35

Deshaun Watson’s potential absence torpedoes any semblance of offensive efficiency. However, Cooks’ volume becomes valuable at some point.

DeVante Parker — WR36

Parker caught 63 passes for 793 yards in 14 games last year. He will now compete with Fuller and Waddle in an offense expected to take a step forward in Tua Tagovailoa‘s second year.

Jerry Jeudy — WR37

Jeudy caught 52 passes for 856 yards and three touchdowns with horrific quarterback play last year. The quarterback play has not improved, and Sutton returns from a season-ending injury.

Deebo Samuel — WR38

San Francisco will let Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance battle for the starting quarterback job. Samuel caught 57 passes for 802 yards as a rookie before injuries derailed his 2020. Can he see enough volume in a run-first offense with Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle in the picture?

Brandon Aiyuk — WR39

Aiyuk recorded 60 catches for 748 yards as a rookie. He did most of this with Kittle and Samuel injured. How does the offense look with all three healthy?

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Tier 6

Receivers in Tier 6 have limited production to this point in their careers but provide theoretical upside within their offenses.

[table id=1488 /]

JuJu Smith-Schuster — WR40

After his 1,426-yard season in 2018, Smith-Schuster has fallen behind Johnson and Claypool. Also functioning as the underneath receiver, Smith-Schuster plays a consistent, low-upside role.

Jarvis Landry — WR41

After five straight seasons with at least 976 yards, Landry finished with just 72 catches and 840 yards receiving last year. With Beckham back, Landry should take a backseat in an already run-heavy offense.

Mike Williams — WR42

After his first 1,000-yard season in 2019, Williams battled injury in 2020. He still managed 48 catches for 756 yards receiving. Hunter Henry’s departure opens target, but Williams will still play behind Keenan Allen.

Michael Pittman — WR43

Coming off a 40-catch, 503-yard rookie season, Pittman looks poised to take a second-year leap in Indianapolis. T.Y. Hilton will be 32 this year, but Carson Wentz will also be the new signal caller. This situation is volatile.

Henry Ruggs — WR44

Ruggs finished with 26 catches for 452 yards as a rookie, behind Nelson Agholor and Hunter Renfrow in yards. Still, he should receive every opportunity to take a second-year leap.

DeVonta Smith — WR45

Smith finished 2020 with 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns in a Heisman season. Jalen Hurts‘ insertion into the offense likely leads to more rushing attempts, but this receiver room is Smith’s for the taking.

Mecole Hardman — WR46

Kansas City moved on from Sammy Watkins this offseason and did not replace him with anyone of consequence. Hardman has been a role player to this point in his career, but he has at least 538 yards receiving in his first two seasons. He should improve on his 10.2% target share from last year.

Jaylen Waddle — WR47

Waddle went over 100 yards receiving in his first four games before suffering a season-ending injury at Alabama last year. Miami has a crowded receiving room, but Waddle has upside to lead the team in targets.

Curtis Samuel — WR48

Samuel moves from Carolina to Washington. He caught a career-high 77 catches for 851 yards last year. He now will battle just McLaurin for target instead of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.

Laviska Shenault — WR49

Shenault caught 58 passes for 600 yards last year. He also rushed 18 times. Trevor Lawrence now injects much needed efficiency into the offense, so Shenault is a second-year leap candidate.

Michael Gallup — WR50

Gallup caught 59 passes for 843 yards last year. He will play behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, but he has standalone value in an explosive offense.

Antonio Brown — WR51

Brown plays in a similar situation to Gallup. He will battle Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for targets, along with Rob Gronkowski. He had a 20.2% target share when active last year.

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Tier 7

Receivers in Tier 7 have an extended history of limited production or significant barriers to production. With that said, they still play an every-down role and provide the potential for growth in 2020.

[table id=1489 /]

Corey Davis — WR52

Davis recorded 64 catches for 984 yards with Tennessee. He now moves a Jets offense rebuilding with Zach Wilson. Davis has upside to function as the WR1, but he could also fall behind rookie Elijah Moore.

Russell Gage — WR53

Gage is the primary beneficiary of Julio Jones’ departure. With Kyle Pitts entering, Gage’s target share is still unsettled.

Jalen Reagor — WR54

Reagor finished an injury-plagued rookie season with 31 catches for 396 yards. The Eagles felt the need to take another first round receiver this year, which does not bode well for Reagor.

Emmanuel Sanders — WR55

Now 34 years old, Sanders caught 61 passes for 726 yards last year while Michael Thomas battled injury. He now enters a Buffalo receiving room with Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. He offers spiked week potential but little more.

Darnell Mooney — WR56

Mooney finished with 61 catches for 631 yards last year. He suffered through horrific quarterback play, which should improve this year. He is a candidate to jump a tier or two in Year 2.

Breshad Perriman — WR57

Perriman caught 30 passes for 505 yards in 12 games with the Jets last year. He now enters an equally inefficient Detroit offense but faces little target competition.

Tier 8

[table id=1490 /]

T.Y. Hilton — WR58

Hilton is 32 with replacements Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell emerging.

Elijah Moore — WR59

Moore should emerge sooner rather than later.

Parris Campbell — WR60

Campbell is coming off a severe injury but flashed big play potential when healthy.

Tre’Quan Smith — WR61

Smith benefits from the Michael Thomas injury, but he has never had more than 448 yards in a season.

Tyrell Williams — WR62

Williams missed 2020 and now plays in one of the NFL’s worst offenses in Detroit.

Demarcus Robinson — WR63

Robinson benefits from Watkins’ departure but still plays behind Kelce, Hill and maybe Hardman.

Gabriel Davis — WR64

Davis functioned as Buffalo’s WR4 last year but could take a step forward with only Beasley and Sanders ahead of him.

Marvin Jones — WR65

Jones has at least 779 yards in each of his last five seasons where he played double-digit games. However, Chark and Shenault could hurt Jones.

Christian Kirk — WR66

Kirk’s target projection is hurt with the additions of Moore and Green.

Byron Pringle — WR67

Pringle started playing meaningful snaps for Kansas City down the stretch last year. He needs to hold off Hardman and Robinson for snaps.

Cole Beasley — WR68

Beasley continues to threaten retirement. If he plays, he is a low-upside attachment to an explosive offense.

Nelson Agholor — WR69

Agholor moves from Las Vegas to New England, where he faces increased target competition in a run-first offense.

Tier 9

Receivers in Tier 9 face significant barriers to production. Injury or out-playing incumbents are the paths to production to this tier.

[table id=1491 /]

Sterling Shepard — WR70

Shepard will battle Golladay and Darius Slayton for targets. Fortunately, rookie Kadarius Toney cannot get on the field.

Allen Lazard — WR71

The presumed WR2 in Green Bay, Lazard’s 2021 projection relies on the status of Aaron Rodgers.

Auden Tate — WR72

Tate is the WR4 on a pass-heavy Cincinnati. He requires an injury to produce but still has more upside than receivers like Jamison Crowder.

Darius Slayton — WR73

Same analysis as Shepard

Rashod Bateman — WR74

Bateman has the first-round draft capital but enters the NFL’s run-heaviest offense. He may start slower than expected while competing with Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews for targets.

Rondale Moore — WR75

Moore must battle Hopkins, Kirk and Green for targets. Fortunately, Arizona uses an abundance or four-wide sets.

A.J. Green — WR76

Same analysis as Rondale Moore, except Green is past his prime.

Amon-Ra St. Brown — WR77

St. Brown is a Day 3 rookie. While these players do not usually produce in Year 1, he faces little competition for targets.

Dyami Brown — WR78

Brown could emerge as a starter during the year.

Terrace Marshall — WR79

Marshall was reunited with his college offensive coordinator Joe Brady. He could emerge as a starter at some point this year.

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Matt Gajewski
Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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