2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers

by Dennis Sosic
2022 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers

Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to my latest contribution to the Fantasy Six Pack's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit as I take a look at the 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers.

Last season, we saw the breakout rookie seasons with Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings and CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys.  There is plenty of talent coming into the league at wide receiver this season. Who will be the breakout rookie wide receivers in 2021?

Do any of the QB-WR reunions result in a breakout season for the rookie wideouts? Does the Heisman Trophy winner explode in the NFL? Do any of the NFL teams looking for their WR1 result in a rookie WR being a Fantasy darling?

Find out the answers to those questions and a whole lot more in the 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers.

2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers

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Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

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The Cincinnati Bengals fans might be disappointed that the Bengals didn't select left tackle Penei Sewell with the fifth selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, Fantasy managers are electrified by the Fantasy prospect of wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and his former LSU teammate quarterback Joe Burrow's reunion.

Chase did opt out of the 2020 season after suffering an awful case of COVID-19, but that did not affect his draft stock as being the top receiver of the 2021 NFL Draft. In fact, Chase was very impressive at LSU's pro day and showed that the time off would not be an issue for his NFL team. He confirmed that he was far and away the most talented receiver in this rookie class.

In 2019 with Burrow at his quarterback, Chase put up mammoth numbers. He caught 84 passes for an FBS-best 1,780 yards and a whopping 20 touchdowns that season. In addition, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner broke 22 tackles and attained nearly 700 yards after contact.

Chase has the speed (4.34 40-yard dash) to be a downfield threat. His physicality will allow him to dominate in contested catch situations. His route-running ability will make him a reliable chain mover. He is a game-changer whose body control and the ability to high point the ball will result in Chase developing into a superb touchdown-maker in the NFL.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

Joe Burrow got his wish with the Bengals selecting Chase in the 2021 NFL Draft. The opportunity to play alongside Chase allows Burrow to lead a Bengals offense that should be fantastic for Fantasy this season.

Chase will claim the top spot on the depth chart but will have to battle excellent targets in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Each receiver will make the other receivers better and should produce career-best numbers. The Bengals offense is filled with Fantasy gold which also includes running back Joe Mixon, who will look to benefit from the addition of Chase to this offense.

The Bengals offense will move to the next level and Chase will live up to all of the hype. Chase will be an NFL and a Fantasy superstar. He is currently being drafted as the WR27 who will be worth the draft capital, predicting to rack up 1,000+ receiving yards and eight-to-ten touchdowns.

DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

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The 2021 Heisman winner led the nation in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in the 2020 season. He possesses elite body control with great hands and vision. In addition, Smith is a surgical route runner and is a weapon with the ball in his hands. His only weakness is his thin and small physical frame at 6' 1" and 166 lbs, which could cause issues with big NFL corners.

Smith was magnificent in the college playoffs. He had 34 receptions for 529 yards and eight touchdowns against three top-ranked college teams.

The Philadelphia Eagles moved up in the 2021 NFL Draft to select the Alabama receiver with the tenth overall selection. Smith will be reunited with former Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts and will instantly impact the Eagles' offense.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

Smith has electrifying speed with big-play ability, a significant chess piece for new head coach Nick Sirianni.

He will the Eagles' No.1 WR, whose stretch field ability should help open up the field for running back Miles Sanders and tight end Dallas Goedert. He will also assist in the development of Jalen Hurts, who will take over as the full-time signal-caller in Philadelphia.

DeVonta Smith will become the first Eagles' rookie ever with a 1,000-yard season. He will be drafted in the WR3 range, but I can easily see his production be worthy of WR2, especially in full PPR leagues.

Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

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The Miami Dolphins decided to trade out of the No. 3 overall selection down to the No. 6 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft to accumulate more draft picks, a decision that has been widely debated. However, the Dolphins emphasize that they still got the player they always wanted to pick, former Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle.

Waddle played just six games last season but finished the season with 28 catches, 591 yards, four touchdowns, and an impressive 21.1 yards per catch. In three seasons at Alabama, Waddle had 106 catches, 1,999 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 18.9 yards per catch.

Waddle will aid in the development of Tua Tagovailoa when the second-year quarterback targets his former college teammate. In addition, he erased any concerns about his injured ankle when he ran a 4.38 40-yard dash on this pro day.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

Waddle will check into the slot while playing alongside DeVante Parker and newly acquired Will Fuller at wideout for the Dolphins. The speedy playmaker will bring a game-changing component that has been missing from the Miami offense.

His familiarity with Tua will assist his transition to the NFL game. In addition, the combination of speed and shiftiness in Waddle's game will make him an all-purpose player, and he will be utilized all over the field, including special teams.

The Dolphins No. 6 overall pick is a game-breaker who will be a Fantasy asset in PPR leagues and should lead the Dolphins in targets in 2021.

Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens

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After finishing dead last in passing offense last season, The Baltimore Ravens looked to the 2021 NFL Draft and selected the former Minnesota star, Rashod Bateman, with the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft. Bateman only played 31 career college games but racked up 2,395 receiving yards and 147 receptions, and 19 touchdowns.

He is a complete possession wide receiver who is an excellent route runner with elite hands. Bateman was responsible for 40% of his team's receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in college. One concern with Bateman is his size, or I should say lack thereof. His listed size was 6'2" and 210 lbs. However, the measurables on his pro day have him as 6' and 190 lbs.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

The 21-year-old looked like a future star at wide receiver during OTAs and minicamp, and the Ravens were gushing over Bateman.

Bateman joins a run-committed team, so there is a built-in concern with limited volume. He is also unlikely to enjoy the target volume required based on competition for targets. Newly acquired Sammy Watkins and speedster Marquise Brown will create a trio of wideouts that Lamar Jackson will help elevate the Ravens' passing game. Not to mention his favorite target tight end Mark Andrews, who shared the most receiving touchdowns with Brown last season with seven.

Bateman will be a boom or bust wideout as a rookie. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman expressed that he wants to throw more this season, music to the wide receiver's ears. The broad receiver group saw only 50% of the team's targets last season, per Sharp Football Analysis.

His Fantasy upside is limited regardless that he is projected to be the top receiver on the Ravens' depth chart.

Elijah Moore, New York Jets

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The New York Jets were thrilled at the opportunity to select Elijah Moore with the second pick of the second round in the 2021 NFL Draft. The former Ole Miss standout finished 2020 with an FBS-leading 149.1 receiving yards per game and 10.8 receptions per game.

Moore is known for being an exceptional route-runner with game-breaking speed with the ability to make yards after the catch. His skill set and work ethic is apparent, and the hype train for Moore has left the station.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

The coaches have raved about Moore at OTAs, and his versatility allows him not to be limited to a slot receiver role. Instead, he joins a crowded broad receiver group with the Jets. The Jets signed Corey Davis in free agency and sophomore Denzel Mims and veteran slot receiver Jamison Crowder.

Moore will create chemistry with fellow rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, but his role is not exactly clear as we head into the season. The Jets will be passing a ton this season, so the rookie connection should get many reps while they are playing from behind.

Presently, his ADP of 140th overall and WR43 off the board is too rich for me. However, if Fantasy managers can get Moore later in drafts, I would go all in. Dynasty owners should be drooling to get Moore.

Terrace Marshall, Jr., Carolina Panthers

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The Carolina Panthers drafted a big-bodied wide receiver in LSU’s Terrace Marshall Jr. in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Marshall will be called upon to take over the production of Curtis Samuel, who signed with The Washington Football Team this offseason. Marshall will fill the No.3 role behind starters DJ Moore and Robby Anderson.

The former LSU Tiger is elusive and is a home-run threat each time he gets the ball in his hands. In addition, he should pose a threat in the red zone with his route-running skills and impressive catch radius.

He walks into a massive advantage with his familiarity with the offense coached by Joe Brady at LSU. The LSU offense was overloaded with talent and put up video-game numbers. Marshall did a phenomenal job as the third option for LSU back in 2019. He finished the 2019 season with 46 receptions for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

Marshall will make a smooth transition to the No.3 role while Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady leads the Panthers offense. Marshall is currently basically free in Fantasy drafts now, but ownership will increase as the camp reports provide assurances of his role in the Panthers' offense. As a result, fantasy managers should ensure that they keep Marshall's name in their queue.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

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The Detroit Lions are in rebuild mode. Gone are quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Jr., and Danny Amendola.

The Lions traded for Jared Goff and signed veteran wideouts Tyrell Williams and Breshard Perriman, but the Lions were still looking to add WR help in the 2021 NFL Draft, and they think they found a boost in the fourth round with USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

St.Brown racked up 41 receptions totaling 478 yards and seven touchdowns for the Trojans in just six games. During his career at USC, he tallied 2,270 yards and 16 touchdowns over 30 games.

The Lions rebuild provides the ideal opportunity for St. Brown to make an immediate Fantasy impact. He walks into one of the worst receiving groups in the league, led by a new quarterback and coaching staff led by new head coach Dan Campbell.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

St. Brown displays his versatility in playing both wide and in the slot, but he is projected to handle the slot the majority of the time this season for the Lions. His path to the volume is clear, and St. Brown should have enough PPR value to be an excellent final-round target.

Goff loves the slot, as evidenced by how much Cooper Kupp was peppered with targets. Kupp averaged 129 targets over his last full seasons with Goff. St. Brown won't produce that level of numbers, but a high volume of work could result in St. Brown being Fantasy relevant immediately in his rookie season.

Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

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The New York Giants traded back from No. 11 overall to No. 20 and selected one of the most electrifying receivers in the draft in Florida wideout Kadarius Toney. Toney racked up 1,145 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

The Giants made a draft capital investment with this selection, but it pales compared to the financial investment in their new No.1 wideout Kenny Golladay. Toney will also be looking up the depth chart on the veteran slot receiver Sterling Shepard and big-play threat Darius Slayton.

This season's role will be limited to gadget plays, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett needs to find ways to get the ball in his hands and in space.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

Fantasy managers should be excited about Toney's Fantasy future. He can score from anywhere on the field. However, his Fantasy role in 2021 will be disappointing in the Giants' offense.

The Giants are not short of options in a deep, talented receiver room, so this season's most significant contribution will be as a returner on special teams. We might see some splash plays, but he will be hard to start in your Fantasy lineups with confidence consistently.

Amari Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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Holy Cow! The Green Bay Packers drafted a wide receiver! The Packers selected Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers in the third round in the 2021 NFL Draft. Rodgers is built more like a running back at 5'9" and 212 lbs, but he is projected to fill the void of slot receiver for the Packers.

Rodgers finished the 2020 season with 77 catches for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns while also handling punt returns. His ability with the ball in his hands makes him the ideal candidate to fill the Randall Cobb role in Green Bay.

2021 Fantasy Outlook

Rogers is a sleeper that Fantasy managers should take a flyer as one of your last selections. He is currently being drafted as the WR95, according to FantasyPros. But, of course, if the Aaron Rodgers' drama never ends in Green Bay and he doesn't play, Amari Rodgers should be avoided.

That's all for the 2021 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers! I hope you enjoyed it!


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