2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball Underrated Wide Receivers

by Davis Peng
2021 Fantasy Football Week 5 Trade Targets

Welcome everybody to my 2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball Underrated Wide Receivers articles for Best Ball.

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Let's talk wide receivers. The high-flying acrobats of the league! Here are my 2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball Underrated Wide Receivers that I feel are under-drafted. These players are the ones I see that are currently undervalued and that you should get more exposure to.

2021 Fantasy Football Best Ball Underrated Wide Receivers

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Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (ADP 28 - WR9)

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The first person on this list for me is the most prominent NFL diva Michael Thomas. Off the field, I am not the biggest fan of Thomas, but on the field, he is by far one of the best wide receivers in the league. Coming off his worst season plagued with injuries with the combination of negative narratives caused Thomas's ADP to plummet. Out of all the current wide-receivers outside the top five in ADP. I have the utmost faith in Thomas to finish as a top-five wide receiver.

Why I'm Buying Michael Thomas

Before I gush over Thomas's stats, I would like to reiterate that I am not a fan. I, in turn, have coined the nickname "Infomercial" for him due to his diva ways. Taking minor problems and making them more significant than they are.

Since entering the league in 2016, Thomas has never finished under 90 receptions and 1,100 receiving yards. This was even with having Brandin Cooks for competition in his rookie year. Thomas is one of the few receivers in the league with a career floor average of 100+ receptions, 1,200 yards, and eight touchdowns.

Thomas's minimum projected season points in a sixteen-game span are 218 points in a half-PPR scoring format. Since 2016 that would be a wide receiver season finish of WR6, WR4, WR11, WR5, and WR8. Thomas's actual average is 242.425. This average score would make him a yearly top-three finish.

The narrative of Drew Brees no longer being the QB for the Saints, thus hurting Thomas upside, is a false narrative. Thomas's best year included six games with Teddy Bridgewater. In three of those six games, Teddy threw for under 200 yards per game.

Yet, Thomas still went on to have his best season with 1,725 total receiving yards. Before you think those low-yardage games were all "dud games." Thomas was at approximately ninety-plus yards every game besides one.

"Well, if Taysom Hill plays over Jameis Winston, then he's going to suck." It doesn't matter who plays, whether it be Hill or Winston. Thomas is QB proof in the way Deandre Hopkins or Terry Mclaurin is. In the 2020 season, Thomas, while injured, played four games with Hill.

Thomas had eight or more catches in three of those games and average ninety yards or more per game. This would have put Thomas at approximately 128 reception and 1,440 yards or more by season end. Go draft Thomas.

Brandin Cooks - Nico Collins, Houston Texans (ADP 93/207 - WR44/93)

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The Houston Texans are coming off a terrible season, lost their star quarterback in Deshaun Watson, and their defense got worse by losing MLB Benardrick Mckinney and DE JJ Watt. The team is now lead by journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The same Taylor has been given two starting positions in the last three and lost it to rookies. Why am I recommending two Texans receivers in Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins then?

One Reason I'm Buying Cooks and Collins

There are two reasons why I am considering buying Cooks and Collins. The first reason is because of the combination of ADP, talent, and value it could present. Since his rookie year, Cooks has only had one season where he finished under 1,000 yards. This is including seasons where he played 12 games or less.

Cooks is a talented wide receiver who is proficient in route running and has the elite speed to top it off. Cooks' only primary concern for me is his ability to stay injury-free. Coming into the season as a WR4, you have more to gain than you do to lose.

Regarding Collins, to remind everybody, the Texans traded up with the Carolina Panthers to get him. Collin is a receiver that is considered a bit "raw" coming into the NFL, but he is currently creating some hype out of OTAs.

He was graded out as a second-third round receiver, 6"4, plays big, and has excellent speed for his size. Averaging nearly 20 yards per catch in 2019, he is a deep threat receiver that can fight defensive backs in contested situations. Collin fits the profile of receiver type Taylor tends to favor receivers such as Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins.

Another reason I'm Buying Cooks and Collins

The second reason why I want these receivers is because of Taylor being the quarterback under center. I know this concept is insane, but he can produce fantasy-relevant players if you look at Taylor's body of work outside of his 2018 Browns season. Sammy Watkins's career year came under Taylor in 2015. Playing a total of thirteen games in 2015, Watkins finished with 1,047 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Taylor isn't a world-beater, but he isn't bad, especially for Fantasy Football purposes. He is mobile enough to keep a play alive, willing to take deep shots, and has an above-average accuracy level throwing deep. In addition, Taylor is a quarterback who has no problems throwing to perimeter receivers in coverage.

In Taylor's last start, out of twenty-five pass attempts beyond the line of scrimmage, seventeen of them were to the perimeter, with only eight being over the middle. Charger's receiver Mike Williams received his second-most pass attempts in Week 1 with nine targets while Taylor was under center.

If it weren't for multiple pass interferences and a deep pass where Williams did a corkscrew catch that was nearly inbounds, he would have had over 110+ receiving yards. This would have been his best receiving week all season long.

The Texans will continually be playing from behind. Expect Taylor to be throwing a ton in garbage time. You will want these players; we've seen what garbage time kings look like before in players such as Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. This is reminiscent of the 2015 Jacksonville Jaguars but with a better quarterback at the helm.

Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins (ADP 110 - WR 50)

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Devante Parker's 2020 season was riddled with injuries, and fantasy perspectives for Devante Parker have plummeted once again. Parker is now obtainable at the WR5 range, and at that price, he's a steal. The Miami Dolphins did a complete glow-up to their wide receiver corps with the addition of two speedsters in Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle.

The expectation is that Parker is now the third option on his team. I do not expect the dolphins to push the only proven veteran on their team down the depth chart.

Why I'm Buying Devante Parker

 

The Dolphins aren't shy about moving on from players that they don't want. Players such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Laremy Tunsil, Bobby Mccain, Ereck Flowers, Shaq Lawson, and many more. Each of these players was either high draft picks, veteran players, or recent free-agent acquisitions.

The Dolphins just let them go all within these last two seasons, some of which were let go within one season. Out of all the roster reconstructions, Parker is the lone survivor on the team. There isn't one player who has been on the current Dolphins team longer than Parker.

The Dolphins still have plans for Parker and are going to utilize him to his strengths. At first glance, the wide receiver additions seem like a problem to Parker, but on the contrary, it helps him. This allows Parker to face one on one coverage in which he excels at. Analysts say, "Parker is only good at contested catches" Parker isn't just good at it he's top five in it.

In all categories pertaining to contested catches, Parker leads in every list possible. Categories such as total yards in contested catches, contested catch rate percentage, total contested catches in the league. No, Parker doesn't create great separation but does it matter if he's going to catch it anyway? 

Devonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP 73 - WR 33)

It is time to talk about one of my favorite receivers this season, the Heisman awardee Devonta Smith. In my overrated articles, I crapped on Ja'Marr Chase going in the WR2 ranges due to the talent surrounding him. Smith is someone I am all about this year and is my pick for a lead rookie receiver this season.

Smith is coming into the NFL as the highest-graded rookie receiver since the combine scoring change in 2014. I will say that the range of outcomes is varied due to Jalen Hurts under center, but this isn't a good enough reason to deter me from drafting him.

I have projected Smith to be one of the most consistent WR3s in the league this year with a good chance of making it into the WR2 range. 

Why I'm buying Devonta Smith

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In my overrated articles, I crapped on Ja'Marr Chase going in the WR2 ranges due to the talent surrounding him. Unfortunately, Smith isn't facing the same level of competition that Chase is. He is the defacto WR1 on the team and will be peppered in targets. As an NFL prospect, Smith is considered the complete wide receiver to enter the NFL since AJ Green. Smith is an elite-level talent from route running, catchability, body control, and every other feasible metric you want to use.

Smith is a historical wide receiver, and he shattered every record in Alabama history besides total receptions in a single season. He placed second in that category. The player's record that he broke was Amari Cooper. While playing with growing QB Derek Carr in Cooper's rookie year, he finished as WR22 in the 2015 season in half-PPR scoring. Smith may not light up the scoreboards this season, but he will be the player that finds his way into your WR3/flex spot every week. At his current price, you can obtain him as your third/fourth receiver.


Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers!

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