Wide Receivers to Avoid (2021 Fantasy Football)
The wide receiver position is one of the deepest positions in the NFL, giving fantasy football fans plenty of options throughout the season. Some guys are surefire talents at the position, and barring injury, they will finish the 2021 season as a top performer at wide receiver. At the same time, there are wide receivers that are poised to dissatisfy their managers next season.
Over the course of the offseason, the outlook on certain wide receivers has been altered, leaving us a better glimpse of what to expect from them. Some wide receivers have changed teams, had a teammate leave in free agency, a new quarterback come into town, or had a new system implemented into the offense. By taking a look at all of the aspects that could lead to a successful situation for a wide receiver, there are a few wideouts I’m straying away from this offseason in fantasy football. The ranks on each wide receiver listed are from FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings for half-PPR formats.
Julio Jones (ATL): WR13
It doesn’t take a genius to realize how special Julio Jones has been throughout his illustrious career with the Atlanta Falcons. Jones is the all-time leader in receiving yards per game with 95.5 yards, and he is second among active players (if you count Larry Fitzgerald as an active player) in all-time receiving yards with 12,896. But as exhilarating as Jones has been to watch since he came into the NFL in 2011, father time is seemingly catching up to him.
During the 2020 season, Jones was limited to nine games due to a nagging hamstring ailment. While he could still show glimpses of his former self, Jones is 32 years old, and there’s no guarantee that he remains on Atlanta’s roster this offseason. With the Falcons adding Kyle Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft, along with the emergence of Calvin Ridley in 2020, Jones could be traded due to his high cap-hit of $23 million next season.
Regardless of where he plays in 2021, it’s tough to envision a scenario where Jones warrants being taken as WR13, especially with his lack of touchdown production (he has scored six or fewer touchdowns in four out of the past five seasons). It would be wondrous to watch Jones get an opportunity to prove he’s still an elite talent alongside the likes of Ridley and Pitts in Arthur Smith’s offense. Given his current situation, I’m much more enticed to take Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Amari Cooper, Robert Woods, and D.J. Moore in the same range as Jones.
Will Fuller (MIA): WR32
There is a definitive argument to be made that the Miami Dolphins did the best job among all 32 teams to revamp their wide receiving corps this offseason. With Miami eager to put Tua Tagovailoa to succeed under center, they elected to sign Will Fuller in free agency. Fuller wasn’t the only wide receiver they brought in this offseason, as the Dolphins used the No. 6 overall selection on Jaylen Waddle.
Both Fuller and Waddle add another dimension to Miami’s offense, giving them two capable vertical threats in their aerial attack. But with the Dolphins using high draft capital on Waddle, there is reason to believe that he’ll have a prominent role immediately. Also, besides missing the first game of the season due to last season’s suspension, there’s no guarantee that Fuller remains healthy again as he did in 2020. He also isn’t catching passes from Deshaun Watson in 2021, which allowed him to haul in a career-best eight touchdowns last season.
It’s dangerous to play the hypothetical game in fantasy football, but it’s hard not to be concerned with a possible injury to Fuller. Not to mention, aside from Fuller and Waddle, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and Myles Gaskin figure to have roles in an uncertain passing game led by Tagovailoa at quarterback. Unless there’s news we receive out of training camp that could sway my thinking, if I’m taking a chance on a wide receiver on the Dolphins, I’ll be taking either Parker (WR42) or Waddle (WR53) at lower prices than Fuller.
Deebo Samuel (SF): WR34
Ever since the end of the 2020 campaign, a popular discussion has been instituted on whether Brandon Aiyiuk or Deebo Samuel is the wide receiver to have on the San Francisco 49ers. As much as I like both of them as players, Kyle Shanahan’s offense that is predicated on running the ball lowers their ceilings a bit. However, his system could look a little different once Trey Lance is deployed as the starting signal-caller.
But until we get a preview of what an offense with Lance looks like, Aiyuk seems like the safer bet to me. Samuel was doomed before the 2020 season even began after he suffered a broken foot during the offseason. The foot injury lingered into the regular season, and he dealt with a hamstring problem, causing him to miss nine games. Even when Samuel did suit up for the 49ers, he produced an alarming aDOT of 2.2 yards, and he only saw eight rushing attempts for 26 yards after logging 159 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns as a rookie in 2019.
Amid the injury woes that Samuel and George Kittle experienced in 2020, Aiyuk led the team in receiving as a rookie with 748 receiving yards on 60 catches. For Samuel to return to being a consistent threat in fantasy football, he needs his usage in the running game to return, along with a steadier diet of targets in the passing game. Will he remain healthy is a fair question after the injury-riddled year he had in 2020. Give me Tyler Boyd (WR35), Robby Anderson (36), and Curtis Samuel (WR38) over Deebo in the same range.
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