NFL - Fantasy

Top 5 Rookie Wide Receivers for 2021 Fantasy Football Season

Jason Schandl
Fantasy football's best rookie wide receivers in 2021, including Ja'Marr Chase and Devonta Smith.
Fantasy football's best rookie wide receivers in 2021, including Ja'Marr Chase and Devonta Smith. / Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL Draft was an incredibly exciting one at the wide receiver position.

Three wideouts went off the board in the top 10, with another three off the board as top-35 picks. With so many potential stars, fantasy football managers are on the lookout for the next Justin Jefferson.

Here are the top five rookie wide receivers for the 2021 fantasy football season.

Best Rookie Wide Receivers for Fantasy Football

5. Elijah Moore, New York Jets

The New York Jets' offense is a little scary to trust after their disastrous 2020 campaign, but Zach Wilson brings some hope and potential upside. Joining Wilson in forming a new rookie core to this offense, Elijah Moore will be competing with Jamison Crowder in the slot. If Moore beats out Crowder, he could slide into a high-volume role, which makes him especially interesting in PPR leagues.

4. Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens

Rashod Bateman may not have been in the top rookie prospect conversation like the next three guys, but the Baltimore Ravens still made him a first-round pick, suggesting they think he's a crucial piece to their offense. Lamar Jackson has not targeted his wide receivers much at the NFL level, but he also hasn't exactly been surrounded by talent at the position. Bateman averaged 20.3 yards per reception in his breakout 2019 campaign, and that splashy big-play ability makes him a natural fit in Baltimore's vertical passing attack.

3. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

Reuniting with Tua Tagovailoa puts Jaylen Waddle in a very interesting spot. He'll face plenty of competition for targets with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller playing on the outside, but Waddle is the type of playmaker that can thrive in the slot and on screens and jet sweeps. Having already established a rapport with Tua in college, Waddle could end up seeing some serious volume in 2021.

2. DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

We didn't get much of a look at Jalen Hurts as a passer in his 2020 rookie season, throwing only 148 times, but he did show something interesting for fantasy football purposes. His 52.0% completion rate was poor, but he did average 7.2 yards per attempt and posted an average depth of target (aDOT) of 9.1 yards. That means he was pushing the ball downfield, which helps alleviate some of the concern around his completion percentage. He was also throwing to an abysmal array of receivers, and DeVonta Smith immediately steps in as the team's clear WR1. If Hurts shows any growth as a passer, Smith could feast.

1. Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Another major reunion, Ja'Marr Chase joins his college quarterback Joe Burrow in the Cincinnati Bengals' offense. The last time the two played together they set records, and Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards and 20 TDs. Chase has the size and speed to be a true WR1 at the NFL level, and there's a reason that he went off the board as a top-five pick. He will be competing for targets with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but this is the same offense that had Joe Burrow attempt 404 passes in just 10 games in 2020. There should be plenty of volume to go around for the Cincy wideouts.
Chase is the top rookie wideout and checks in at WR30 overall in The Duel's 2021 fantasy football rankings.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.