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2021 Fantasy Football: 3 Wide Receivers to Avoid

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The guys tell you who to fade at wideout this year.

Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The wide receiver position is a deep one in fantasy football. As such, there’s no reason to go taking unnecessary risks. Life is full of risk already, right?

Anyway, today we highlight one guy each that we are sour on. This may not mean that said commodity is a bad football player. It could mean the situation around said player is murky, or it could mean the price point is unsavory. It could be something else entirely. Read on...

Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears (Mark Abell)

ECR: WR10

A top 50 pick for Allen is one of the items that has me nervous. A new quarterback—or potentially quarterbacks, depending on how the Bears decide to play Andy Dalton and Justin Fields—mixes in with a rather tough schedule for Chicago (49ers, Giants, Ravens, and Steelers all have strong secondaries). The optics of A-Rob alone are strong, with an increase in yards and catch rate last year. It’s the outside pieces (QBs, schedule, and the loss of a few offensive lineman putting them among one of the worst offensive line teams in the NFL this season) that has me nervous.

Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers (Heath Capps)

ECR: WR24

He’s in a crowded wideout room (Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster) and on a team that typically employs a hard-nosed, run-first mentality (see this year’s first-round pick: Harris, Najee). The Steelers also added second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth in this year’s draft, to add to an underrated Eric Ebron. In short, it’s a crowded offense, one that didn’t look too narrow in 2020—all three wideouts topped 100 targets, and Johnson’s 108 looks trailed Smith-Schuster (132) and Claypool (124). Johnson also managed six scores compared to nine apiece for the other two receivers, and he ranked fourth on the team in red zone looks. Sure, the tea leaves say that Johnson is a man on the ascent, and he did miss a game last year, which hurts a little of his overall numbers from 2020. However, Johnson topped the NFL with 10 drops last year, a concerning number to me for a guy who should operate as his team’s primary receiver.

Add it all up, and I view him as more of a floor option—a very safe WR2—than a guy that seems primed to be a league-winner. It’s just a crowded room, and a team that is going to try to employ Harris early and often (which could siphon away some of the short dump-offs that added to Johnson’s volume last year). Add in Ben Roethlisberger’s continued decline, and I’m just not that into the Steelers receiver group as a whole, which seems overvalued to me.

Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (Skyler Carlin)

ECR: WR26

Everyone would love to find the next rookie wideout like Justin Jefferson that lights it up in his inaugural season. Some people believe the next first-year wide receiver that is poised to be a consistent source of production in fantasy football is Jefferson’s former teammate at LSU in Ja’Marr Chase. Chase landed with the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, reuniting him with Joe Burrow. While the long-term outlook on Chase is positive for me, I recently wrote about why I believe Chase is being overvalued by the consensus. The biggest gripe — or gripes — I have with Chase is his current ADP, that has him being taken before Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in the majority of drafts. He’s also going before the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, D.J. Chark, and Deebo Samuel (who are all guys I’d rather have than Chase in 2021). The other issue I have with Chase is that he’ll be catching passes from a quarterback that is returning from a torn ACL, a torn MCL, a partially torn PCL, and a partially torn meniscus. Burrow is going to need time to get comfortable moving around in the pocket again as he works his way back from a serious knee ailment. Even though Chase has the ability to evolve into a talented wide receiver in the NFL, I’m out on the rookie wide receiver in redraft this season.