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The Fantasy Ferret’s Rookie Wide Receiver Tiers 2021

Chase is pretty much locked in as the top receiver. Bateman has made some headway, and the public is starting to take notice. Nobody loves Smith due to his BMI (according to Twitter at least). Waddle is supposed to be a world beater. What about all the others though? That third round rookie steal that will blossom into a star in the NFL. Well let’s take a look at them and see.

Matthew Walters

Here we go with the rookie receivers this time out. Most people by now know who makes up the cream of the crop. Chase is pretty much locked in as the top receiver. Bateman has made some headway, and the public is starting to take notice. Nobody loves Smith due to his BMI (according to Twitter at least). Waddle is supposed to be a world beater. What about all the others though? That third round rookie steal that will blossom into a star in the NFL. Well let’s take a look at them and see. 

Once again, I have them sectioned off into tiers. I will be using dynastyleaguefootball.com for the ADP data which will be in parenthesis by the name of the player. I’m sure there will be some surprises along the way and maybe even a few moments that I’m sure are so far off consensus that people will feel the impulsive need to roast me for them. Unfortunately, only time will tell who is right, and if I end up being wrong on a prospect, I will gladly admit it and fine tune my process to get it right in the future. Without further ado, here we go!

Tier 1

  1. Ja’Marr Chase (WR1) – Look, everybody loves Ja’Marr Chase including myself. He was a stud on the field last time we saw him when he went for 1780 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns during his sophomore year. He was one of Burrow’s go to men. I know we did not get to see him for a junior year because he opted out. Honestly, I thought about putting him into a tier of his own, but I think too highly of the other two receivers in this tier to short them. There is really nothing that worries me about Chase. He is about as close to a consensus top receiver that I have ever seen.
  1. Rashod Bateman (WR2) – Bateman has grown on me during my ranking process. What Bateman did during his sophomore season was amazing. He had 1219 yards and 11 TDs that season. While this is not nearly to Chase’s level, it was with a team that did not nearly have as much fire power as LSU. Opponents knew who they were going to throw the ball to and still could not stop it. I pretty much have him locked into my WR 2 in this class. He also reportedly ran under a 4.4 at the EXOS combine. Even if that is mid 4.4s, that is still incredible. One thing I really noticed was his ability to get two feet down while making catches. I know that does not seem like much, but any little thing can make a huge difference. He is currently going as the WR2 in rookie drafts.
  1. Devonta Smith (WR3) – But his BMI! Look, I do not care about his BMI or his age. This man is a beast. I just cannot have the Heisman winning receiver lower than 3 in my rankings. I get that winning the Heisman does not guarantee NFL success, but Devonta is a freak. Everyone wants to pretend that he did not have an excellent year his junior year with Jeudy and Ruggs on the field as well. His college dominator percentage was over 50! Everyone wants to find the diamond in the rough, but sometimes it is as simple as a guy is just really good at football. Others can fade Smith if they want to. I will not be a part of that group. 

Tier 2 

  1. Rondale Moore (WR4) – Honestly, I thought for a while about putting Moore in tier 1. There were 2 main reasons that I could not do it. He’s only 5’9” and he has been injured the past two seasons. Now I’m not saying he is injury prone as I do not believe that to be a real thing, but there is some concern there. Nonetheless, Rondale is simply electric with the ball. He burst onto the scene as a true freshman recording 114 catches for 1258 yards and 12 TDs. Even in the 2020 season, when he only played in 3 games, he still had 35 catches. I think this man will be a PPR machine at the next level. Moore is currently going as the WR 4 in rookie drafts
  1. Dyami Brown (WR11) – This is probably the moment in this list that will make people say, “ummm this guy is dumb”. I get it. I disagree with consensus a lot here. I’m higher on Dyami than most. He dominated at UNC, but they had other weapons that made it not necessary to completely rely on his services. Yet, he still had above a 30% college dominator. He looks to have the speed and agility to get open, and he can make those difficult catches in traffic as well. He is also only 21 years old. I understand Dyami will probably not be drafted this highly come rookie drafts, but I contend that he should. I really think he’s going to be a steal for people in their rookie drafts. I am going to be happily taking Dyami in the second round of rookie drafts and not thinking twice about it.
  1. Jaylen Waddle (WR5) – Another moment in this list that I’m sure people are going to hate me for. Let’s not pretend like I hate Waddle. I mean, I have him at 6 and he’s being drafted at 5 according to ADP data. I’m just not super in love with him like everyone else. He seems to be a guy that’s destined to be boom or bust in the NFL. He’s super explosive and can score from anywhere on the field. I understand the love for him, I’m just not convinced he will translate to fantasy success at the next level. Too often I’ve seen under six foot speedsters flame out at the next level. Maybe Waddle is different. He very well could be. I’m just probably not going to have him on my teams and taking that chance based upon what his consensus is right now.  
  1. Tamorian Terry (WR13) – Are we just forgetting what Terry did his sophomore year? I know there were issues his Junior year, but he put up 60 catches for 1188 yards and 9 TDs as a sophomore for a pretty terrible Florida State team. He is a little on the older side at 23 years old so maybe that’s another reason people are fading him. However, he is a big man that can go get up and get the ball and has breakaway speed. It’s not often you see 6’4” people out running everyone on the field, but that’s exactly what Terry seems to do. He also makes some tough contested catches. I understand the concerns with Terry, but the talent seems to be one that can make him a huge steal come draft time. 
  1. Tylan Wallace (WR7) – I’ve fallen in love with Wallace. I had forgotten just how dominant he can be. He broke out when he was 19 years old and had a 47% college dominator. I have brought up some other big sophomore years so far and boy did Wallace have one. As a sophomore he put up 1491 yards and 12 TDs. His junior and senior years were not quite as good, but still not bad. He’s currently going in the late second of superflex mocks, and another player that could end up being a steal.  
  1. Terrace Marshall (WR6) – Here is a player that seems to be rising up draft boards quite quickly. He didn’t have a giant season in LSU’s offensive explosion year while he was a sophomore. I feel like this is justified since he was playing behind Jamar Chase and Justin Jefferson. Then, when being the go to guy as a junior, he had 48 catches for 731 yards and 10 TDs in 7 games. Even playing behind those studs he still broke out as a 19 year old. He ended up with a 46.5 % college domnator. He also is not even 21 years old. I should honestly be higher on him, but that’s just how much I believe in everyone these first two tiers. 

Tier 3 

  1. Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR9) – He seems solid to me but is more so one that is going to be dependent on where he lands in the draft. He had a breakout age of less than 19 which is tremendous for a receiver. He’s a receiver that had an excellent sophomore season going for 77 catches for 1042 yards. He disappointed a little his junior year but did have 41 catches in 6 games. I probably won’t be drafting as high as some others are but definitely wouldn’t hate taking him in the second round of rookie drafts. He is one that I could see jumping up boards if he lands on a good team though. 
  1. Elijah Moore (WR8) – He really seems like Rondale Moore lite. I like Elijah’s game and if given a good opportunity at the next level could be a stud. The main reason I have him so much lower than Rondale is that Elijah did as a junior what Rondale did as a true freshman. He had 86 catches for 1193 yards and 8 TDs as a junior. I like Elijah and I hope I am able to draft him in some leagues. I really can’t argue much with his WR8 ADP, I just like a few receivers more than him. 
  1. Sage Surrat (WR16) – Another forgotten man this year mostly due to him opting out. Last time we saw him, he went for 66 catches for 1001 yards and 11 TDs in 9 games. He just does not seem to have that breakaway speed to me that can really turn him from good to elite. He can make some great contested catches though which is why I still believe he will have a role at the next level. I don’t see him as ever being a top 12 receiver but he definitely could end up being one of those fringe plays week in and week out. 

Tier 4

  1. Jonathan Adams (WR 25) – I already know your first though. Who? Let’s start with the bad. He does have a late breakout age. He didn’t really produce until his junior year and more realistically his senior year. Oh what a good senior year it was though. He had 79 catches for 1111 yards and 12 TDs. Now the competition wasn’t always steller being a small school guy from Arkansas State. However, he did produce against teams like Kansas State. He had 8 catches for 98 yards and 3 TDs that game. Look I know Kansas State is no Alabama, but it is just showing that it wasn’t just small schools he put up numbers against. Watching him, he reminds me a ton of watching Dez Bryant play. I’m not saying he is going to be Dez Bryant, but there are some eerily similarities in my opinion even down to their height and weight. There’s more good news too! It is most likely that you will be able to take Adams in the 4th or 5th round in your rookie drafts. He may never do anything at the NFL. At that point in rookie drafts I’m swinging for the fences on prospects I believe in and boy do I believe in Adams. 
  1. Damonte Coxie (WR32)  – So we are definitely in the tier of players that could become something but give me enough of a pause to not be so sure of them. Coxie definitely fits the bill. He never seemed like the fastest guy on the field but had a knack for getting open and made some tough catches. He had a great junior year with an almost identical sophomore year. He had 76 catches for 1276 yards and 9 TDs that junior year. He was a little on the older side for breaking out at 20.8 years old. He sits at 23 years old coming into the draft. Depending on landing spot though he could find himself a role at the next level. 
  1. Tutu Atwell (WR 15) – He is electric with the ball. He constantly made defenders look silly even at a young age as you can tell with his breakout age of 18.9. As a sophomore he had 69 catches for 1272 yards and 11 TDs. Now his size is a concern at the next level. He is only 5’9”. He could find himself being a great playmaker out of the slot. Given the right team to utilize him, he may have a very nice role in the future. 
  1. Amari Rodgers (WR14) – It’s not often you see someone go all four years in college and still only be 21 years old come draft time, but that is exactly what we got with Rodgers. My knock on him is the same as many others in this tier. He did not break out until his senior year. He is explosive though and probably worth the chance judging by where he is falling in rookie drafts
  1. Seth Williams (WR12) – I bet I’ll be roasted for this one. Look, I understand the love for him and he has a decent breakout age at 19.4 years old. He makes some tough catches, and he is big. My honest thought though is he reminds me of N’keal Harry only without the actual production that goes with it. I felt like he never separated from anybody. He had a good sophomore season and then just did not improve at all his junior year. He very well may prove me wrong and end up being something. All I know is that I won’t have him on any of my teams with where he is going in rookie drafts right now. 
  1. Kadarious Toney (WR10) – I’m sure that I will be roasted for this one as well. Honestly though, I do not understand what Toney has accomplished in order to be so high up peoples boards. He’s an easy fade for me. He did not breakout until his senior year and didn’t even have over 300 yards in a season until that year. Don’t get me wrong the guy is explosive, and he may very well end up being something. However, if you are going to wait until your senior year to produce, I want it to be better than 70 catches for 984 yards in 10 games. 

Tier 5 

  1. Jaelon Darden (WR20) – Another small guy, but man this guy is explosive as well. He had 19 TDs in 9 games as a senior. I do not care who you are, that’s pretty dang good. He also had a college dominator of 61.1% which is honestly one of the highest I have ever seen. The problem is, I’m not sure he can get it done at the next level. Between his size and late breakout. He’s definitely one that could prove the doubters wrong but just isn’t worth taking a shot on until later in your rookie drafts which luckily is where he is falling.
  1. Marquez Stevenson (No data)  – Another smaller guy that is electric. He really burst onto the scene as a sophomore. He’s a good return man as well so maybe he can get onto a team and work his way into a role. He is super explosive and can score from anywhere on the field. This is definitely one to wait and see where he is drafted but could end up being a sneaky 4th or 5th round pick during your rookie drafts. You might even just be able to pick him up off waivers after the draft based upon how he is not being drafted right now. 
  1. Warren Jackson (WR29) – This guy is huge. No really, he is 6’6” tall! Now size doesn’t mean everything and he played against some weaker competition while at colorado state. Also he is kind of slow. He is great at going up and getting the ball though. He had 77 catches for 1119 yards and 8 TDs as a junior. Not sure if he will become anything at the NFL but i’m sure some team will take a shot on that size. 

Tier 6 

  1. Anthony Schwartz (WR18)  – This dude is young and fast! He had 54 catches for 636 yards and 3 TDs as a junior. He’s only 20 years old entering the draft. I like to see stats be a little better than he has which is why he is in this Tier. His best season was as a junior with 54 catches for 636 yards and 3 TDs. He has definitely shown flashes of what could be at the next level. 
  1. Dazz Newsome (WR21) – Another speedster that can make some plays. I just don’t believe in Newsome in the NFL. He’s not a bad player by any means just never really grabs my attention like his other UNC buddies do. He had a good junior season with 72 catches for 1018 yards and 10 TDs and then was kind of a let down his senior year. 
  1. D’Wayne Eskridge (WR17)  – I’m going to be honest in the fact that I will probably have zero shares of him unless I take him as a round 5 flyer in rookie drafts. This was a grown man that was playing last season. He is already 24 years old! Now that doesn’t mean he can’t be an asset to a team but it does give some insight to why he may have been dominating. Heck, even Terry Mcluarin was younger than him as a rookie. Now he is fast though and can make some plays. I’d just rather take a chance on some higher upside young guys.
  1. Nico Collins (WR19)  – He broke out at 19.5 years old but never really improved after that. He can high point it and get open a little. However, dude is slow. He just seems like he is running with concrete strapped to his feet. It’s really for that reason that I’m out on him. I feel like I can run as fast as him.
  1. Dax Milne (No data) – He has really flown under the radar. For as much love as Zach Wilson is getting, I’m actually kind of surprised that Dax Milne isn’t getting any love. Odds are he won’t do anything at the NFL level, but he made some big plays in his last year at BYU to the tune of 70 catches for 1188 yards and 8 TDs. Not saying he will be great but as a 4th or 5th round flyer in rookie drafts you can sure do a lot worse. 

There are plenty of players that I left off this list due to one reason or another. These are all the ones that I felt comfortable listing and believe could have a shot at possibly becoming fantasy relevant. Obviously the name of the game is winning fantasy football championships. Some of these guys may find themselves with nice careers and roles in the NFL that just never end up being fantasy relevant. That’s not a knock on them, but it does not help us fantasy players win championships.

Good luck to you fantasy players with your rookie drafts, and I hope this list gives you some help along the way. Whether you think I’m a genius or an idiot or somewhere in between, hopefully this can at least give you some different perspective. 

Matthew Walters – Writer
Ride or Dynasty
Twitter: @fantasyferret

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