Well it feels like fantasy championships were just a week ago, but as the old adage goes, “there ain’t no rest for the wicked.” With 2020 and a whole lot of recency bias still ripe on my mind, I aim for these positional rankings to give you a premature preview of 2021, a season hopefully devoid of COVID complications among other things.
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- Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts
- Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
- Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles
- Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
- Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
- Henry Ruggs, Las Vegas Raiders
- Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
- Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
- Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
- Denzel Mims, New York Jets,
- LaViska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars
- Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
- T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
- Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
- Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
- Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions
- Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
- Josh Reynolds, Los Angeles Rams
- Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons
- Sterling Shephard, New York Giants
- Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers
Late in drafts, looking for upside and a league winner may be the icing on the cake. My strategy is to look for WR1s on teams with poor offenses. Last year, you may have found the likes of Jamison Crowder, Darius Slayton, and other serviceable names who saw an attractive target share for portions of the season. This year, look no further than Michael Pittman who I foresee taking over the job from T.Y. Hilton. One touchdown in the nine games after his injury stint leaves much to be desired, especially when Indy understandably leans towards the run, but somebody will have to catch (and throw) the ball, making Pittman an attractive flyer. See Jalen Reagor as well for this strategy.
Maybe you took some early round risks with guys in new programs or coming back from injuries or dealing with other matters that cause their ADP to drop. If you’re looking for somebody who you want to be able to predict week in and week out, look no further than steady Cole Beasley. WR21 last year, Beasley only scored four touchdowns, yet logged almost 1,000 yards, being a chain-mover for the Buffalo Bills and their newfound explosive offense. Beasley will continue to get disrespected by drafters across the board, but I’ll be happy to give him a home in most of my leagues; you should too.
Picking the third-best wide receiver in an offense always comes with a grain of salt to me, but if there’s anybody who may still have value, it’s likely Michael Gallup. Dak Prescott was on pace to lead a prolific passing attack that may have supported three wideouts, much like Pittsburgh’s offense in 2020. He built chemistry with both Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton, evidenced by mini stretches of top-caliber wide receiver performance, but he will ultimately fall lower on the totem pole in a high-octane offense.
Denzel Mims and Laviska Shenault both may see huge jumps as a result of an evolving offensive situation, grouped with a leap due to another year of offseason training and honing their skills. As for Mims, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Jets started playing better football (by their standards) down the stretch when he was on the field for the majority of offensive snaps. His production matched what you would expect for the #3 receiver on a ridiculously bad offense, but things are changing in New York. Penei Sewell may be in line if the Jets opt out of the quarterback route, but one way or another, the offense will have more of a chance in 2021, through more protection, better quarterback play, and oh, hopefully better coaching. The same can be said of Shenault who figures to benefit from the emergence of Jacksonville’s heir apparent, Trevor Lawrence. Everything I said about D.J. Chark can be applied to this to-be sophomore wideout.
Ah Jules, without diving into the special place Edelman holds in my heart, the Patriot vet will certainly have a lot to prove. Father time is undefeated, but 35 may look good on Edelman. Pre-injury, 2 of his past three seasons included 1,000 yards and 6+ touchdowns. Obviously, the Patriots will have to figure a lot out between now and their first game, but one can expect a pass catcher taken early, noticeable quarterback reform, and anything else to wash the sour taste of 2020 out of their mouths.
Last but not least, we have Allen Lazard slotting in. It’s very hard to believe, but there’s only two serious fantasy pass-catchers in Green Bay’s high-volume offense, Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan. The rest is a hazy mystery between Equinameous St. Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and of course, Allen Lazard. I fell in love with him early season when he was WR7 in the first three weeks before his injury. Unfortunately, even with him returning later on, his reps have been capped and he hasn’t looked himself, ceding reps and allowing players like… Tavon Austin to get back into the fold. I predict this offseason will do Lazard well and if he takes over as the clear cut number two, he’ll have an incredible season.