Wide Receiver Projections: Over/Under (2021 Fantasy Football)
Rankings are typically the most notable form of information utilized within the fantasy football community. They’re a quick and dirty look at which players our consensus views as more valuable than others. How, though, do we arrive at rankings? The best way to set rankings is to make projections and compare them. As we know, projections aren’t always accurate, and diligent fantasy managers should scrutinize them.
That’s just what I did here. Using FantasyPros Consensus Wide Receiver Projections, I highlighted two players who I like to beat their projections and two who I like to fall short of their projections.
Players Who Will Exceed Projections
CeeDee Lamb Projections: 83.9 receptions, 1,090.4 yards, 6.6 TDs
Lamb burst onto the scene as a rookie, going 74/935/5 and making some acrobatic catches along the way. Though he had a superb inaugural campaign, it could have been so much better. Lamb opened the year with 309 yards and two scores through the first four games. In that span, he averaged 77.25 yards per game. Over the final 12 games of the season, he went for just 626 yards and three scores. In that span, his receiving averaged dropped to 52.2 yards per game.
If we take those numbers a step further, his hot start came with Dak Prescott under center, and after Dak went down in Game 5, Lamb’s production fell off a cliff. Dak played only part of Week 5, but in games where he didn’t play at all (Weeks 6-17), Lamb went for just 502 yards, 45.6 per contest.
Lamb was on pace for over 1,200 receiving yards before Dak’s injury, and if the franchise quarterback can stay healthy in 2021, Lamb looks like an easy bet to blow away his projections. He’s only projected to minimally improve in his receiving numbers? Give me a break. This is easy money.
My projections: 86 receptions, 1,247 receiving yards, 10 receiving TDs
Robert Woods Projections: 98.0 receptions, 1,088.2 receiving yards, 6.0 receiving TDs
I’m hesitant to bet the over on Woods’ receptions at the current projection of 98, but he’s grabbed 90 receptions in each of the last two seasons and at least 86 in three of four since arriving in Los Angeles. He’s eclipsed the yards total in two of his last three, and the projected touchdown number matches his career high in receiving scores.
With Matthew Stafford under center and Cam Akers out for the season, Los Angeles’ passing attack should flourish. Woods should be the primary beneficiary, and it wouldn’t be surprising for him to set career marks across the board.
My projections: 99 receptions, 1,285 receiving yards, 8 receiving TDs
Players Who Will Fall Short of Projections
Justin Jefferson Projections: 93.5 receptions, 1,391.7 receiving yards, 7.9 TDs
Only two players in NFL history have gone for at least 2,700 receiving yards in their first two seasons – Odell Beckham (2,755) and Randy Moss (2,726). Jefferson’s rookie season was incredible, but can he continue on this ridiculously historic pace? If Jefferson hits his projected receiving yards, he’ll break that record, but I think that’s bullish.
Minnesota ranked 27th in pass attempts and eighth in rush attempts in 2020. That Jefferson was able to rack up such a lofty receiving total as a rookie is nothing short of remarkable. Minnesota’s defense was dreadful last season, allowing the 27th most yards (fun fact – Minnesota was the only team in the NFL to allow exactly the same number of yards as it put up).
The Vikings made improvements on defense, and while Kirk Cousins remained efficient and high-scoring, this team’s gameplan will likely center on Dalvin Cook. Jefferson can still be a great fantasy receiver, but expecting him to go for almost 1,400 yards again is not realistic.
My projections: 89 receptions, 1,220 receiving yards, 8 receiving TDs
Terry McLaurin Projections: 91.6 receptions, 1,235.2 yards, 6.5 TDs
I’m totally fine with the scoring projection here, as McLaurin should be able to match or exceed the seven touchdowns he scored as a rookie in 2019. The receptions and receiving yards? They’re a bit inflated for my taste.
McLaurin went 87/1,118/4 last season with poor quarterback play. Ryan Fitzpatrick can potentially support a top-tier fantasy receiver, but did Washington really bring him in to play gunslinger like he did in Tampa Bay or Miami?
Ron Rivera’s team was perfectly fine to rely on elite defense and a solid running game in 2020, and there’s no reason to change that blueprint in 2021, especially with expected improvements from both the defense and Antonio Gibson.
My projections: 83 receptions, 1,120 receiving yards, 7 receiving TDs
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.