A lot can happen between now and September when the 2021 NFL and fantasy football season officially begin, but it’s never too soon to start planning out your fantasy draft strategy. I like to peruse early ADPs to get a sense of which players the fantasy community are undervaluing and who they might be overvaluing.
Last week I wrote about overvalued running backs, this week it’s all about the wide receivers.
Here are four wide receivers who’s current ADP (via Fantasy Football Calculator) I think is too high and could be setting them up to bust in 2021. Is bust too strong a word with these guys? Probably. But calling them “receivers who might not live up to their ADP” isn’t quite as sexy.
D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks — ADP: 2.04, WR5
It was a hell of a sophomore year for Metcalf as he racked up 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns and finished the WR7 in .5PPR. With Russell Wilson still in Seattle—despite his best efforts—and Metcalf still scratching the surface of his potential, who says he can’t finish a top five fantasy receiver this year?
Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll says he can’t.
During the #LetRussCook movement (I’m calling this through Week 9), Metcalf was unstoppable. Only Tyreek Hill scored more total fantasy points during that time. However, Week 10 brought upon Carroll’s #FreezeRussesCooking movement as the Seahawks once dominant passing attack suddenly was thwarted by Carroll’s play calling. After starting the year WR2 in fantasy, Metcalf finished the year (Week 10 through Week 17) the WR25 in .5PPR. TWENTY. FIVE.
I hope that Carroll lets Russ and the offense opens the passing game back up in 2021, but firing then-offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer this offseason doesn’t really fill me with hope. I’m happy drafting Metcalf as WR1 this year (top 12) but top 5 is too rich for me.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints — ADP: 2.11, WR7
Even though this might be the cheapest Thomas has ever gone in fantasy drafts since his rookie year, I’m still not comfortable drafting him here. Obviously the Saints offense is a mild unknown for 2021 with Drew Brees retiring. We kinda know what the offense will look like if Taysom Hill is the Saints’ Week 1 starter—Thomas was the WR23 in .5PPR during the time Hill started for the Saints last year—and we have no idea what the offense will look like if Jameis Winston starts. Neither bodes particularly well for Thomas.
With Keenan Allen, A.J. Brown, Justin Jefferson, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Terry McLaurin all going after Thomas, I can say with confidence I will not be having any Thomas shares in 2021.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings — ADP: 4.05, WR16
You were pretty happy last year to have a part of the Vikings passing game as both Thielen and Justin Jefferson finished top eight fantasy receivers. You might then ask yourself why in the world would I have Adam Thielen here as a potential bust after finishing so high in 2020 and then being drafted outside the top 15 in 2021!
From Week 13 onward last year, Thielen averaged only six targets per game after averaging almost eight per game to start the year. During the last five weeks of the season, Thielen was the WR24 in .5PPR. He finished with 57 yards or fewer in three of those five games and relied on touchdowns to proved solid fantasy return. Meanwhile, his running mate Jefferson saw 10+ targets per game and had three games with over 100 yards receiving. This could be a sign for how the offense will look and operate in this season.
Of the names on this list, Thielen is the guy I’m most likely to still draft at their position given that the least has changed about his situation. However, there’s risk taking a 31-year-old wide receiver who’s production and role in the offense dropped at the end of last year, especially on a team that emphasizes rushing the ball—the Vikings finished with the 6th fewest passing attempts last season. There are receivers going after Thielen that I’d rather draft as my WR2/maybe even WR1 (looking at you Robert Woods).
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers — ADP: 7.06, WR32
Last year was a weird year for the 49ers offense as literally everyone was injured (hell, even Aiyuk missed four games). Aiyuk certainly took advantage of all the injuries, leading the team in targets (96), receptions (60), yards (748), and touchdowns (5) last year. Even with the passing game more or less funneling through him, Aiyuk still finished outside the top 30 last year in .5PPR.
I have a hard time believing that Aiyuk going to give you top 30 production with a healthy George Kittle and Deebo Samuel back in the mix. Kittle will almost certainly return as the Niners top pass catcher as he’s seen over 100 targets in each of his last two seasons and Samuel had 961 total yards and 6 total touchdowns in 2019, his rookie year. The trio, along with whatever quarterback Kyle Shanahan selects at no. 3 overall (PLEASE DON’T LET IT BE MAC JONES), will certainly make the 2021 Niners’ passing game much more explosive in real football, but I don’t have a ton of confidence in it for fantasy, outside of Kittle of course. Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson, and Courtland Sutton are just a few receivers going after Aiyuk. I’d rather have those guys no questions asked.
Which receiver’s ADP is too high for your liking as we get ready for the 2021 fantasy season?