(CBS Local)-The 2021 NFL season is on the horizon and that means it’s time to prepare for your fantasy football draft. After an offseason and summer of transactions and changes around the league, it can take a minute to refresh your memory before you’re on the clock.
With that in mind, we took a look at the CBSSports.com expert rankings for each position from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and Heath Cummings and have compiled top 10 lists for each based on what a player’s average ranking was across the three lists. Today it’s time to look at the wide receivers where it’s a tight battle for the top spot.READ MORE: Atlanta Underground Film Festival draws fans to RoleCall Theater at Ponce City Market through Aug. 21
1) Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (Avg. Rank 1.3)
Projected Fantasy Points: 226, 13.3 per game
Hill and Adams are basically the 1A and 1B options at the wide receiver spot and that was borne out by their stats last season as Adams finished with 243 total fantasy points and Hill finished with 241. The reasons to expect another strong season from Hill are laid out in our quarterbacks piece, but to make it quick, the Chiefs significantly upgraded their offensive line which should allow more time for Mahomes to operate and allow Hill to use his speed to burn defenses.
Hill is projected to grab 102 receptions for 1,480 yards and 13 touchdowns this season again putting him right behind Adams in projections, but the CBSSports.com experts have him ranked first in two of three rankings.
2) Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (Avg. Rank 1.6)
Projected Fantasy Points: 237, 13.9 per game
Adams and the Packers didn’t come to an agreement on a contract extension prior to training camp meaning he heads into 2021 on the final year of his deal. As if Adams in a normal year wasn’t scary enough, now he’s looking to cement himself as deserving of the highest pair receiver contract in the league in what becomes an audition for all teams this season.
He missed two games last year, making it three of the last four years in which he has missed at least two games due to injury. Still, even missing time, he was wildly productive (115 catches, 1,374 yards 18 TD) and is expected to be so again projected for 133 grabs, 1,568 yards and 15 TDs.
3) Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons (Avg. Rank 3.6)
Projected Fantasy Points: 193, 11.4 per game
With the trade of Julio Jones to Tennessee, Ridley becomes the new go-to target for Matt Ryan in Atlanta. That status, combined with his breakout season in 2020 has him high on the list of top receivers this year. After pulling in 90 catches last season, the CBSSports.com projections expect that number to increase to 98 with 1,420 yards and 10 touchdowns.
4) Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills (Avg. Rank 4)
Projected Fantasy Points: 202, 11.9 per game
Diggs being traded to Buffalo prior to last season was pointed to as a big reason for Josh Allen’s improvement as a quarterback and it’s easy to see why. He led the league in targets (166), catches (127) and yards (1,535) last season. With a full offseason being able to work out together this year, one would expect that the timing and chemistry between Allen and his quarterback would be even better. The projections have Diggs being targeted 161 times with 114 catches, 1,583 yards and 9 touchdowns.
5) DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals (Avg. Rank 5.3)READ MORE: Marvin Sapp attends Atlanta red carpet premiere of “Never Would Have Made It” biopic
Projected Fantasy Points: 181, 10.6 per game
Like Diggs, Hopkins immediately became the most reliable target for his new quarterback after being traded last offseason. Kyler Murray targeted Hopkins 160 times (second only to Diggs) and that resulted in 115 receptions, 1,407 yards and six touchdowns. In standard leagues, Hopkins is still a top flight option, but in PPR leagues he might be your best choice considering his targets are expected to increase to 190 with 134 catches which is the highest projected total for any wide out.
6) A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans (Avg. Rank 5.3)
Projected Fantasy Points: 180, 10.6 per game
Brown was a Top 10 fantasy wide receiver last year after putting together his second straight 1,000+ yard season. His running mate, Corey Davis, decamped for New York in free agency, but the team brought in Julio Jones in a trade with the Falcons. The addition of Jones offers two schools of thought. One, having Jones on the opposite side is going to pull more focus away from Brown than Davis did, allowing him more room to operate an potentially more production. Or, Jones becomes the number one target for Tannehill and Brown sees less targets, though not significantly less, than last season.
The projections see it as more of a split the middle between the two as with a 17th game factored in, Brown is expected to get 114 targets (up from 102) with 72 catches (down from 75) and an increase in yards (1,228) and an equal number of touchdowns (11).
T-7) D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks & Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (Avg. Rank 7.3)
Projected Fantasy Points Metcalf- 176, 10.4 per game
Projected Fantasy Points Jefferson- 188, 11.1 per game
Metcalf and Jefferson were separated by just two fantasy points at the end of last season (188 for D.K., 186 for Justin). It was a stunning season for Jefferson who proved capable of being a number one option immediately as a rookie. The projections expect him to take another step forward in year two increasing his receptions from 88 to 93 and yardage from 1,400 to 1,555 with the extra game factored in.
Metcalf is expected to have another strong season as well operating as one of Russell Wilson’s two main targets in Seattle. He’s slotted in for 84 receptions for 1,285 yards and 10 touchdowns.
9) Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team (Avg. Rank 9.6)
Projected Fantasy Points: 154, 9.1 per game
The man known as Scary Terry should have slightly better quarterback play in his favor this year as Ryan Fitzpatrick steps in under center taking over for the trio of Kyle Allen, Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins who started games for Washington last season. That uncertainty hurt McLaurin in fantasy last year as he finished 22nd among receivers with 136 total points largely because he finished with just four touchdown grabs. The projections have him improving to 14th at the position with that touchdown number getting up to 7.
10) Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears (Avg. Rank 10.6)
Projected Fantasy Points: 164, 9.6 per gameMORE NEWS: Local LGBTQ+ advocates, health official respond to increase in monkeypox cases
Robinson, like McLaurin, has suffered from average at best, below average mostly quarterback play throughout his career. The Bears made an aggressive move up in the draft to add Justin Fields in the first round this year. The line out of Chicago has been that Andy Dalton will be the starter to begin the year, but we’ve heard that before and rookie QBs tend to start sooner than coaches say. With that in mind, plus it being a contract year for Robinson who’s playing on the franchise tag, he’s seen by projections as set to have the 10th best season among receivers with 102 catches for 1,270 yards and eight touchdowns.