In a passing-heavy league like the NFL, it’s all about the quarterbacks. But those quarterbacks are useless if they don’t have anyone to catch the ball. That’s where having one of the best wide receivers in 2021 can come in handy for a team. Those teams that have an elite receiver who can get open easily and make plays after the catch tend to fare a lot better, making this one of the most important positions in the NFL.
Best Wide Receivers in 2021
Of course, there is no shortage of quality receivers in the NFL nowadays. Every team seems to have at least two or three who can make big plays, which means competition to be among the best wide receivers in 2021 is stiff.
To be honest, you almost can’t go wrong with any of a dozen or more receivers. However, we’ve managed to compile a list of the 10 best wide receivers in 2021.
10. Calvin Ridley, Falcons
He’s already answered most of the questions about his ability to be the no. 1 receiver on a team. Even if those questions linger, Ridley’s athleticism and ability to get behind the defense make him something special.
9. Julio Jones, Titans
It’ll be interesting to see if a new team and being 32 has any impact on Julio Jones.
Injuries also limited him to just nine games last season, so there are surely some questions. However, this is a guy who currently holds the NFL record with 95.5 receiving yards per game over his career, so it’d be foolish not to list him among the best wide receivers in the NFL heading into 2021.
8. Michael Thomas, Saints
An ankle injury limited Michael Thomas to just seven games last year, so we’ll give him a little bit of a pass.
Remember that he set an NFL record with 149 catches in 2019 while also leading the league with over 1,700 receiving yards. If he’s healthy, there’s no reason to think that Thomas won’t be one of the elite receivers in the league. Of course, whether he’ll have the same chemistry with a new quarterback that he had with Drew Brees still remains to be seen.
7. A.J. Brown, Titans
Just two seasons into his career and we know for sure that Brown is the real deal. He only started 12 games last season but still racked up over 1,000 receiving yards.
Obviously, it’ll be tough for him to match the 20 yards per catch he averaged as a rookie in 2019. But A.J. Brown still has big-play ability and is a nightmare for opposing cornerbacks.
Read more: The 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL in 2021.
6. Justin Jefferson, Vikings
We’re projecting a little bit with Justin Jefferson playing just one season in the NFL. But he was just that good as a rookie in 2020, amassing 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns.
We need Justin Jefferson vs Jalen Ramsey ASAP 🍿 pic.twitter.com/A3Q5hyPGw0
— PFF (@PFF) August 17, 2021
He came to the Vikings needing to fill the shoes of Stefon Diggs, and he did just that. If his rookie season is any indication, the sky is the limit for the former LSU standout.
5. Allen Robinson, Bears
Allen Robinson is one of the few wide receivers who’s excelled over the past few years despite not having an elite quarterback throwing him the ball.
Only time will tell if that changes in 2021. But in his last two seasons with the Bears, Robinson has 200 catches and nearly 2,400 yards receiving. Think about the quarterbacks Chicago has had during that time and those numbers become even more impressive.
4. Stefon Diggs, Bills
If you thought Stefon Diggs was good in Minnesota, he took things to another level during his first season in Buffalo.
Stefon Diggs is a route artist 🎨 pic.twitter.com/sNtsxaId4K
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 21, 2021
While his yards per catch average was one of the lowest of his career, Diggs was uncover-able, hauling in a league-high 127 catches for a league-high 1,535 yards. If he can come close to replicating those numbers in 2021, he’ll be among the elite receivers in the NFL.
3. Davante Adams, Packers
He was close to unstoppable in both 2018 and 2020, combining for 226 catches and 31 touchdowns over those two seasons. While he still doesn’t have the track record to match some other receivers, if you look at the last three seasons, there’s been nobody better.
2. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs
Speed is the name of the game, and that’s exactly what Tyreek Hill brings to the table. He’s so fast that the Chiefs always find a way to use him in the running game because he can be dangerous if he gets into open space.
Hill also has far better hands than people realize and has been incredibly consistent over the last four seasons, scoring 41 receiving touchdowns and averaging just shy of 1,200 receiving yards per season during that span.
1. DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
DeAndre Hopkins has become a virtual lock to make the Pro Bowl in recent years.
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) August 14, 2021
A change of scenery in 2020 resulted in one of the best seasons of his career, which is a strong indication that he’s one of the best in the business.
Hopkins has caught over 100 passes in three straight seasons and has gone over 1,000 yards in six of his eight seasons, all while barely missing a game. There just aren’t many receivers in NFL history who can match that level of consistency.
Find more preseason NFL position rankings here.