(Image Credit: Brett Carlsen/AP)
Written By: Matt Di Domenico
Flashing and dashing playmakers that have straight speed to take the top off the defenses. Some of these WRs are very similar and some are very different within the styles of their play. What is true for all is that they will make highlight plays for their football teams. Below are the top 10 WRs entering the 2021 NFL season.
10. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
147 Targets, 100 REC, 9.9 AVG, 992 REC Yards, 8 Total TDs, Longest REC (28 Yards), 3 FUM
One of the most underrated route runners in the entire NFL is Keenan Allen. Allen was able to have a very good 2020 regular season even though he missed 2 games because of injury. Allen was also working with a rookie QB in Justin Herbert and had to adjust on the fly. Even with the rookie, Allen was still able to put up almost 1,000 yards on 100 receptions and had 8 TDs. Herbert looked great in his rookie season, and he will be looking to improve even more in his 2nd season as the Chargers single caller. For the Chargers #1 WR, he will be looking to work the middle of the field from the slot WR position. Allen will be a complete mismatch in the slot because of how quick his feet are when coming in and out of breaks. Being Herbert's go-to guy in 2021 is what Allen will most likely be.
9. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
125 Targets, 88 REC, 15.9 AVG, 1,400 REC Yards, 7 Total TDs, Longest REC (71 Yards), 1 FUM
After a dominant rookie campaign in 2020, Justin Jefferson put everyone on notice that he is one of the top up and coming stars in the NFL. Jefferson had big shoes to replace after being selected with the pick that was received from the Stefon Diggs trade. #18 was able to get open early and often when facing one on one matchups out wide. Jefferson had 1,400 receiving yards on 88 catches with 7 TDs which is just jaw-dropping to do as a rookie WR in this league. The Vikings are not even considered a pass-first team and usually rely a lot on their superstar RB in Dalvin Cook. For Jefferson, he will be looking to improve even more in year two with the Vikings. Making big plays happen deep down the field is what Jefferson is going to do in this offense. QB Kirk Cousins must get Jefferson involved as much as possible because his YAC ability is very electric and needs to be utilized much more.
8. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
106 Targets, 70 REC, 15.4 AVG, 1,075 REC Yards, 11 Total TDs, Longest REC (73 Yards), 2 FUM
A.J. Brown is a WR that plays the game with toughness and is not afraid to attack the opposing defense. Brown runs great routes and is a physical runner after the catch is made. This is a very stout WR that the Tennessee Titans have and what goes unnoticed is the amount of outstanding run blocking this WR does. Brown missed 2 games in his second season as a pro and was still able to score 11 times for the Titans. What is even better for this upcoming season is that Brown will now be playing with his favorite WR growing up in Julio Jones. Jones will draw a lot of attention from defenses so Brown will be receiving a lot of one-on-one mismatches. What will give Brown even more chances to make plays is having the great Derrick Henry lined up behind him. When you have a great running game, it opens up a lot of opportunities for your passing offense. That was clear for Brown last season and will be looked to be enforced even more in 2021.
7. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
143 Targets, 90 REC, 15.3 AVG, 1,374 REC Yards, 9 Total TDs, Longest REC (63 Yards), 1 FUM
Even though the Atlanta Falcons lost one of their best players of all time and probably their best WR of all time in Julio Jones, they still have a very talented guy here in Calvin Ridley. Ridley is a do it all WR that can run every route in the route tree and can lead this WR core for Atlanta. Ridley was able to put up some big-time numbers when Jones was out of the line-up in 2020. Ridley had 1,374 receiving yards on 90 receptions and 9 TDs. Ridley has turned into the WR1 for Matt Ryan and this Falcons team. For the 2021 season, the challenge for Ridley is to put up monster numbers again even though this Falcons team is in the rebuilding process. Expect there to be a lot of frustration coming the Falcons way again, but Ridley will have to show up or he could drop out of the top 10 by the end of next year.
6. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
109 Targets, 70 REC, 14.4 AVG, 1,006 REC Yards, 13 Total TDs, Longest REC (50 Yards), 0 FUM
An absolute monster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is Mike Evans. Evans was able to battle through injuries the entire 2020 season and play in all 16 regular-season games. This is probably the toughest WR in the entire NFL. In those regular-season games, Evans was able to have 13 TDs with over 1,000 receiving yards. You can tell that QB Tom Brady trusts Evans and has a lot of respect for him. Brady and Evans developed very good chemistry that clearly showed off when Tampa went on their run in the playoffs. Evans is one of the league's best run-blocking WRs and he has the ability to win a lot of one-on-one jump balls in the red zone. There are a lot of weapons in this Tampa offense, but Evans is clearly the go-to guy for Brady. Expect Evans to put up double-digit TD numbers if he stays healthy in 2021.
5. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
129 Targets, 83 REC, 15.7 AVG, 1,303 REC Yards, 10 Total TDs, Longest REC (62 Yards), 1 FUM
The superhuman WR that chases down opposing football players from behind is DK Metcalf out of Seattle. Metcalf was able to put on a show in 2020 where he was able to rack in 83 balls for 1,303 receiving yards. Metcalf was also able to get into the endzone 10 times for this Seahawks team. This is a dominant deep threat receiver that will still be improving for the following seasons to come. You can tell that Seahawks QB Russell Wilson loves getting the football to Metcalf because he simply makes plays happen. His gigantic size of 6’4” and 235 pounds makes it frightening for DBs to tackle him in the open field. Metcalf's route running has improved greatly from year 1 to year 2. In 2021, Metcalf will look to have an even better season and no doubt will be getting fed the ball from Wilson. Metcalf could be a candidate to stake his claim as the best WR in the NFL if he has another dominant year.
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
160 Targets, 115 REC, 12.2 AVG, 1,407 REC Yards, 6 Total TDs, Longest REC (60 Yards), 3 FUM
The Arizona Cardinals were able to land WR DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans in the 2020 offseason. In the trade, Arizona sent RB David Johnson, a 2020 2nd round pick, and a 2021 4th round pick for Hopkins. So far it has shown that the Cardinals clearly have won that trade. Hopkins was an absolute beast for Arizona this past season where he was able to haul in 115 catches for 1,407 receiving yards. Hopkins only did score 6 TDs in 2020 but to his credit, it was his first year with QB Kyler Murray. Hopkins can run any route in the route tree and makes human highlight plays like his game-winning catch over 3 Buffalo Bills defenders in week 9. Many expect Hopkins to have a huge season in 2021 and develop even more chemistry with Kyler Murray. The Cardinals roster has improved drastically and looks to make a Super Bowl run.
3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
135 Targets, 87 REC, 14.7 AVG, 1,276 REC Yards, 17 Total TDs, Longest REC (75 Yards), 0 FUM
No doubt the fastest man in the NFL is Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. Hill has proven that he is probably the best deep-threat WR that the game has right now. A lot of CBs are not able to cover him one-on-one. Having Patrick Mahomes as your QB helps out a lot but Hill has been putting up these dominant numbers for consecutive years now. Even before Mahomes was in the fold, Hill was able to make flashy plays for the Chiefs. What goes unnoticed is the route running talent that Hill has. Everyone gets caught up in Hills’ electric speed, but it is his elite route-running ability that allows him to make so many spectacular plays. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy also does a really good job at lining up Hill in different locations on the field. The Chiefs also do a great job at utilizing Hills’ talent on end-arounds or jet sweeps. Hill will still be one of the top WRs in 2021 and will look to throw up the peace sign at least multiple times this season.
2. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
166 Targets, 127 REC, 12.1 AVG, 1,535 REC Yards, 8 Total TDs, Longest REC (55 Yards), 0 FUM
The Buffalo Bills were able to trade for WR Stefon Diggs in the 2020 offseason and it helped in a major way for this Bills offense. Buffalo sent the Minnesota Vikings their 2020 1st-round pick, a 2020 6th-round pick, and a 2021 4th-round pick for Diggs. Diggs helped QB Josh Allen evolve into one of the league's best QBs. The Buffalo Bills were also able to get all the way to the AFC Championship but fell short to the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2021, Diggs will look to repeat his amazing performance of 1,535 receiving yards on 127 receptions. What is scary for opposing defenses playing against this Buffalo offense is that Allen and Diggs are still building chemistry together. Diggs is one of the best route runners in the NFL and can put any DB on skates. Expect Diggs to increase his TD numbers in 2021 and be more of a red-zone threat when a stronger chemistry is formed with Allen. Allen no doubt will target Diggs so expect another huge year for #14.
1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
149 Targets, 115 REC, 11.9 AVG, 1,374 REC Yards, 18 Total TDs, Longest REC (56 Yards), 1 FUM
Davante Adams has to be named the best WR coming into the 2021 NFL season. This is a route running magician that has so much talent on the football field. Adams put on a complete show this past season where he was able to have 115 receptions for 1,374 receiving yards and 18 TDs. Keep in mind that Adams did all this in just 14 games due to injuries. Because of his crazy numbers, he has to be named the #1 WR on this list. Besides all of that, the unanswered questions of if QB Aaron Rodgers will be back playing with the Packers in 2021. The Rodgers situation certainly hurts Adams' stock. If Rodgers is not present when the regular season begins, then it is unclear how Adams will play the first couple weeks with Jordan Love at QB1. Recently Adams has also stated his frustration with Green Bay's front office because they have not been able to agree on a contract extension for himself. The Packers are just a mess right now but if Rodgers and Adams are both playing, then it is hard to say that they will not put up monster numbers. The two have too much chemistry and both think the exact same when a play is breaking down.