An Early Look at 2021 Wide Receivers

Caleb Pierson

In the fourth and final part of this series, we will look at the top ten devy wide receivers in my 2021 wide receiver ranks. This class looks loaded, and has some excellent players who have a chance to shake up the wide receiver landscape in dynasty leagues.

Click here to see part one, an early look at the 2021 quarterbacks, here to see part two, an early look at the 2021 running backs, and here to see part three, an early look at the 2021 tight ends.

1. Rondale Moore, WR Purdue

This may come as a surprise to some given the success of LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase this past season, but I am sticking with Rondale Moore as my devy WR1. We quickly forget how good he was not long ago in 2018 when he recorded 114 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns. Moore recorded nearly a 26% dominator rating that year and has a breakout age of 18.2.

Not only does he check analytical boxes but he also passes the eye test. His speed and quickness are second to none and he can start and stop on a dime, which plays a big role in his good route running. There is, of course, some concern for his smaller size, 5’9”, but he is a tough athlete and I am not letting his size scare me away.

2. Ja’Marr Chase, WR LSU

Do not worry, you won’t have to look far to find the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner, which is awarded to the best receiver in college football. Chase exploded in 2019 with teammate Joe Burrow at quarterback. Recording over 1,700 receiving yards and scoring 20 touchdowns vaulted Chase up devy ranks.

He falls in at two for me, which is a testament to how top-heavy this 2021 could be. He does everything you could want from a number one wideout, he has good hands, runs crisp routes, and can make a play on any throw. He can cement himself as an elite devy asset if he can continue to produce next year without Burrow.

3. Rashod Bateman, WR Minnesota

It seems like we were just talking about a different Minnesota wide receiver at this time last year who we were projecting to be at the top of their class in Tyler Johnson. This year though, it is his teammate Rashod Bateman. He was another big riser this year for me as he put up fantastic numbers playing alongside Johnson, showing that he can command targets and produce regardless of the talent lined up opposite of him.

At 6’2” and 210 pounds, he has plenty of size to go up and win on 50/50 balls, which he does very well. But also is smooth enough to be a deadly route runner. He belongs in tier one of devy wide receiver rankings.

4. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR USC

Possibly the first surprise on this list is someone I have been banging the drum for – for quite some time. While St. Brown hasn’t produced at the level of the top three players on this list in terms of stats, he has just as much NFL upside. He is one of the most polished route runners in college football and looks the part to become a top-tier slot wide receiver in the NFL.

St. Brown has a high football IQ and can identify openings in zone coverages to get open in addition to getting open using his route running. With him expected to see more targets than he ever has in 2020, we could see a huge breakout season coming for the talented Trojan wide receiver.

5. Seth Williams, WR Auburn

I feel Williams, WR10 in DLF ADP, is flying under the radar and can be had for good value. Despite only recording 830 receiving yards on 59 catches in 2019, Williams still produced an incredible 38% dominator rating. His 830 receiving yards were nearly double the number of yards of the wide receiver who finished second on the team (440).

He is the clear WR1 on his team and plays like it. He is physical, has a big catch radius, and has very good body control on deep shots down the field. He checks all the boxes of a prototypical “X” wide receiver and will look to build his chemistry with quarterback Bo Nix in 2020 to further make his case as a top wideout in this class.

6. Jaylen Waddle, WR Alabama

Waddle may be the only player on this list who can rival Moore in terms of explosiveness and speed. Waddle is one of the most dangerous players in all of college football with the ball in his hands. While he may be a smaller prospect compared to most wide receivers, he still has a ton of upside.

Using his blend of speed, quickness, and his ability to effortlessly move laterally, Waddle is a matchup nightmare in the slot. He will need to build his case as one of the top players in this class by stepping up and filling the role of Alabama’s WR1. His biggest knock as of now is his analytics profile.

7. Justyn Ross, WR Clemson

It seems like just yesterday Ross was at the top of devy ranks after an impressive freshman season for the Tigers. His 2019 season was still nice, but he saw a big dropoff in receiving yards and average yards per catch. In 2018, he recorded 46 catches for 1,000 yards. In 2019 he caught 20 more passes but finished with just 865 yards, a drop from 21.7 yards per catch in 2018 to 13.1 in 2019. Regression was expected but it still wasn’t quite the season you expected from him.

At 6’4”, he still possesses the big size to bully opposing defensive backs. He knows how to properly use his size to win 50/50 balls and high-point the ball. Ross is a fantastic big body on the outside but lacks the explosiveness and route-running you want to see. He will have every chance to improve on this in 2020 playing with quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

8. Tamorrion Terry, WR FSU

Terry has been gaining a lot of attention on social media and appears to be rising on all boards. He is a 6’3” wide receiver but can move like someone much smaller. His intriguing blend of size, speed, and strength make him someone who could continue to climb this list.

He will need to develop the more technical side of his game with his release and route running but remains a great bargain at the end of the second/beginning of the third round in devy startup drafts.

9. Tylan Wallace, WR Oklahoma State

Wallace finds himself just inside the top ten after many thought he may declare and be a top receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, his ACL tear in 2019 led him to return to school in 2020 for his senior year. Wallace is a terrific deep threat with speed to beat defensive backs deep and take the top off of defenses.

He isn’t super polished yet as a route runner and depends a lot on his speed. However, he does track the ball well downfield and will definitely have a skill set that will get him drafted early in the NFL. He may not be on track to become a team’s number one but has the talent to develop into a fantasy-relevant wide receiver.

10. Devonta Smith, WR Alabama

Rounding out my top ten is the second Alabama receiver on this list. Smith was the Tide’s leading receiver in 2019, finishing with 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns on 68 catches. The reason he finds himself here is the fact that he doesn’t have the upside some of these others have. He does a lot of things well but doesn’t project as a team’s WR1.

He is a good role player who runs routes well. However, his analytics and size leave him with a bad profile when projecting him to the NFL. He still has upside as a good WR2/3 and will excel with a more dominant presence around him, similarly to what he saw in 2019 with Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy both sharing the field with him.