The new NFL season is around the corner, and so is fantasy season. Fantasy Football enthusiasts have already gone to work, putting in the research to give them an advantage over competitors when things kick-off. So if you’re keen on some fantasy advice, you’re in the right place.
When making your draft pep, it’s worth noting that taking a look at advanced stats could leave you in a much better position. There are plenty of metrics to take into account heading into fantasy season, with tech to that effect improving on a yearly basis
In any case, below are some of the best wide receivers you could pick for your team heading into 2021/22.
Robert Woods – Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams have made a significant upgrade at quarterback, trading Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford during the offseason. Robert Woods should find that the trade is probably more to his benefit than any of the Rams’ catchers.
Woods’ aDOT and average route depth went down with Goff running things over the last two campaigns but, with Stafford having come in as a replacement, things are looking good for the 29-year-old wide receiver.
Based on his numbers from 2018, it certainly appears Woods will be the chief downfield target for the team’s new QB. Woods had an aDOT of 11.4 yards in 2018 – that went down to 7.0 in 2020, with Goff recording one of the lowest aDOT figures among quarterbacks in the league. Stafford, on the other hand, was one of the best. Woods has been the most effective wide receiver for the Rams when it comes to catching deep and is certainly a top prospect for fantasy affairs.
Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals
The rookie, selected as the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, was thought to be the best wide receiver in his class. Putting him to play alongside former LSU teammate Joe Burrow can only produce good things for the team.
Burrow’s air yardage was 33 when the two played together two years ago. He comes in for A.J. Green. The latter recorded an air yardage percentage of 32 and finished just outside the top 10 in the league where it pertains to the category. Green had over 100 targets last term and, with Chase expected to function similarly, he could make an immediate impact coming in as a first-year man.
John Brown – Las Vegas Raiders
It wouldn’t surprise if many fantasy players overlook the Raiders as a passing team but expert players probably won’t. John Brown’s arrival could make for some exciting downfield play as the WR’s route mapping points to just that. There’s not much talk going around at the moment as the season hasn’t yet kicked off but it’s safe to assume the above.
Nelson Agholor leaving appears to have set Brown up for success. The former averaged 15.5 yards per catch last year, putting him amongst the top five in the league. He also had a 30.3 air yardage percentage. Brown, on the other hand, recorded 23.3 with the Buffalo Bills last season and will be glad to take advantage in a new environment.
Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
It helps when you’re playing with the best quarterback in the game but Tyreek Hill would thrive anywhere in this league. Hill is legitimately the most dangerous deep threat in the league right now and many would argue he’s the best there ever was in that regard. Not only is Hill a great pick for your fantasy team, but he’s also a player worth betting on in most categories, which is one of the reasons the Chiefs are favored to win by bookies.com
Hill has recorded 56 receptions, 2,240 yards, and 25 touchdowns on targets of 20-plus yards downfield over the past four seasons. Pair that with the most skilled thrower in the league and you have a fantasy point machine.
Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams is really the best you could do for your fantasy football team at WR. The 28-year-old might be without Aaron Rodgers next season as the QB is contemplating a change of scenery but he’s still the real deal.
Adams was the most productive wide receiver last term. No WR has scored more touchdowns or been graded higher since PFF began tracking single coverage data in 2017. Of course, a lot of that is down to having Rodgers as a teammate but it would still be silly not to pick him just because Rodgers might be leaving town.
The Atlanta Falcons’ Calvin Ridley is one of the safest wide receivers one can draft heading into next season. The player’s average draft position is 24 so he’s definitely not going to be one of the strong pickups folks manage to get in the second round.
Ridley ended last season as the fourth-best fantasy WR in standard scoring and the fifth-best in PPR scoring although he had to share the spotlight with Julio Jones for half the season and even missed a game. On the flip side, Ridley will be playing in a new offensive system so there are concerns over just how much he will be benefitting from Matt Ryan’s throwing.
Despite Jones having left, he will face competition in the form of tight end Kyle Pitts, who is projected to play a significant offensive role. There’s also the fact that both Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst are still around. Given all of this, Ridley’s stats could take a hit next season but he’s certainly not one of the wide receivers anyone should overlook.
Ridley insists he feels no pressure to step up as the replacement for Jones.
“I played with Julio, Mohamed Sanu, since Day 1, those guys, I feel like I’ve been moving toward that way of I can do it by myself,” he said last week, per ESPN. “Obviously I’m not by myself, we have other players who are really good, but I feel like I’ve been ready and I just needed an opportunity to get in those positions.”
The factors noted are serious enough to sway one’s decision and it’s likely that gut feelings will come into play if there is a choice to make over selecting Ridley. The former Alabama star put his repertoire on display when Jones got injured last season, showing just what he can do as the main man in an offense. He’s almost certainly going to get 100 targets this year; passing up on him would be a mistake.