esny fantasy football rankings update wr
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the top 40 fantasy wide receivers in the NFL with the 2021 regular season beginning this Thursday night?

If you’ve been following along with this recent series of posts, you know the drill.

We put together the top 40 fantasy wide receivers for this coming football season back in August, and now, we must make alterations thanks to injuries, roster moves, and preseason performances.

But before we get into that, let’s take a look back at the original list.

  • 40. Antonio Brown (TB)
  • 39. Curtis Samuel (WAS)
  • 38. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (BAL)
  • 37. Kadarius Toney (NYG)
  • 36. DeVante Parker (MIA)
  • 35. Michael Thomas (NO)
  • 34. Brandin Cooks (HOU)
  • 33. Marvin Jones (JAX)
  • 32. Cooper Kupp (LAR)
  • 31. Robert Woods (LAR)
  • 30. Jarvis Landry (CLE)
  • 29. DeVonta Smith (PHI)
  • 28. Tyler Boyd (CIN)
  • 27. Julio Jones (TEN)
  • 26. Cole Beasley (BUF)
  • 25. CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
  • 24. Corey Davis (NYJ)
  • 23. Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)
  • 22. JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)
  • 21. Courtland Sutton (DEN)
  • 20. Chris Godwin (TB)
  • 19. D.J. Moore (CAR)
  • 18. Ja’Marr Chase (CIN)
  • 17. Terry McLaurin (WAS)
  • 16. Robby Anderson (CAR)
  • 15. Kenny Golladay (NYG)
  • 14. A.J. Brown (TEN)
  • 13. Adam Thielen (MIN)
  • 12. Mike Evans (TB)
  • 11. Keenan Allen (LAC)
  • 10. Tyler Lockett (SEA)
  • 9. Amari Cooper (DAL)
  • 8. DK Metcalf (SEA)
  • 7. Calvin Ridley (ATL)
  • 6. Allen Robinson (CHI)
  • 5. Justin Jefferson (MIN)
  • 4. Tyreek Hill (KC)
  • 3. DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)
  • 2. Davante Adams (GB)
  • 1. Stefon Diggs (BUF)

No. 40-21

40. Curtis Samuel (WAS)

39. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (BAL)

38. Brandin Cooks (HOU)

37. KJ Hamler (DEN)

36. Marvin Jones (JAX)

35. Brandon Aiyuk (SF)

34. DeVante Parker (MIA)

33. Cooper Kupp (LAR)

32. Robert Woods (LAR)

31. Cole Beasley (BUF)

30. Marquez Callaway (NO)

29. DeVonta Smith (PHI)

28. Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)

27. Tyler Boyd (CIN)

26. JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)

25. Rondale Moore (ARI)

24. Julio Jones (TEN)

23. Jarvis Landry (CLE)

22. Courtland Sutton (DEN)

21. Kenny Golladay (NYG)

20. Corey Davis (NYJ)

Corey Davis will be working with a first-year quarterback who’s starting right out of the gate, so the Jets offense may be slow to commence the season (which is why I have Davis this far down the list).

Expect the new Jets wideout to put up big numbers once the young unit finds a rhythm though.

19. Chris Godwin (TB)

Chris Godwin would be higher on this list, but thanks to a number of alternative talented targets additionally residing on Tampa’s roster, the fifth-year receiver finds himself at No. 19. Expect Godwin to produce this year, but Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, and O.J. Howard should take targets away from him.

18. Terry McLaurin (WAS)

Terry McLaurin is a highly talented receiver but is this far down the list because I’m concerned about the quarterback situation in the nation’s capital.

Is Ryan Fitzpatrick capable of producing on a consistent basis?

17. D.J. Moore (CAR)

D.J. Moore was a 1,000-yard receiver each of the last two years and can be decent in a PPR league (he recorded 153 combined receptions in 2019 and 2020).

Now, you could possibly argue he’ll be performing with a better quarterback — there’s a chance Sam Darnold could develop into a superior option than veteran Teddy Bridgewater.

16. Robby Anderson (CAR)

Robby Anderson would be a good flex option in your league — he caught a career-high 95 balls last year for a career-high 1,096 yards. And in 2021, he’ll be playing with a familiar face in Darnold (the two played with one another while with the Jets).

15. CeeDee Lamb (DAL)

CeeDee Lamb is set to have a great year for the Cowboys and it really helps that he has Dak Prescott back.

Prescott remaining healthy would be crucial for the second-year receiver, but I won’t rank him higher than No. 15 until I see what he can do on a consistent basis during this season.

14. A.J. Brown (TEN)

The Titans will be running the ball a notable amount with Derrick Henry, which will then help open up the play-action.

From there, you should see A.J. Brown earn a superb number of opportunities to produce.

His quarterback can be relied on to get him the ball as well — Ryan Tannehill completed 65.5% of his throws last year. Brown was also targeted a team-high 106 times.

13. Adam Thielen (MIN)

Adam Thielen is on the wrong side of 30, but his knack for the end zone intrigued me last year (14 touchdown receptions in 2020).

Opposing secondaries also won’t be totally focused on him due to the presence of Justin Jefferson. This should free Thielen up for fantasy scoring opportunities.

12. Tyler Lockett (SEA)

Do not sleep on Tyler Lockett whatsoever.

Despite the fact DK Metcalf will take targets away from him, the veteran receiver is still capable of putting up significant numbers due to his long-lived connection with quarterback Russell Wilson.

Lockett caught 100 balls (career-high) for 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns (tied for a career-high) last year — those are superb numbers in a PPR league.

11. Mike Evans (TB)

Mike Evans slips out of the top 10 because of the number of alternative passing-game options in Tampa Bay who can take targets away from him.

Don’t think he wouldn’t be a good draft pick though — his knack for the end zone (13 touchdowns in 2020) can’t be overlooked.

10. Keenan Allen (LAC)

Keenan Allen proves time and time again to be one of the league’s more underrated wide receivers.

In 2021, he should continue to put up big numbers.

He’s crucial in a PPR league (he’s caught at least 100 balls in three of the last four seasons) and has an up-and-coming star quarterback in Justin Herbert throwing him the ball.

9. Amari Cooper (DAL)

Amari Cooper will be getting his top quarterback back from injury, which will be great news for him, Cowboy fans, and potential fantasy owners.

Cooper has exceeded 1,000 receiving yards each of the last three seasons and also caught 92 balls during Dak Prescott’s injury-ridden 2020 campaign.

8. Allen Robinson (CHI)

I don’t question Allen Robinson’s talent, but I lower his ranking from No. 6 to 8 because I’m skeptical of the quarterback situation out in Chicago.

Who knows if Andy Dalton can be consistent? Who knows when the Bears will even make the (much-needed) switch to Justin Fields?

7. DK Metcalf (SEA)

DK Metcalf moves up one spot to coincide with the drop-off in Allen Robinson’s ranking.

Metcalf is certainly a WR1 in any fantasy league — he’s crucial in a PPR league (83 receptions last year) and has a knack for the end zone (10 touchdowns).

Not to mention, no one is questioning the talent of the quarterback getting him the rock.

6. Calvin Ridley (ATL)

Calvin Ridley is assuming the No. 1 wide receiver role full time with Julio Jones now in Tennessee and should put up big numbers in Arthur Smith’s offense.

Ridley caught 90 balls for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games last year.

5. Justin Jefferson (MIN)

One of the top young receivers remains in the top five on our fantasy wide receiver list.

Justin Jefferson will only continue to grow as an NFL wideout and possesses a quarterback who can put up notable numbers despite what fans may think of him — Kirk Cousins completed 67.6% of his throws last year for 35 touchdowns and over 4,200 yards.

4. DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)

I’ll tell you in a little why I swapped Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins. Nonetheless, Hopkins is still a top-five fantasy wideout who’s primed for another big year with a talented quarterback in Kyler Murray by his side.

3. Tyreek Hill (KC)

I decided to put Tyreek Hill over DeAndre Hopkins this time around because I feel better about Cheetah’s quarterback, offensive situation, and dynamic talent in comparison to those of Hopkins.

Expect Hill to absolutely be an early-round pick in all of your drafts.

2. Davante Adams (GB)

The Packers will be a passing team through-and-through — expect Davante Adams to once again be a big part of that development.

Of course, if Aaron Rodgers didn’t return to Green Bay, Adams’ ranking on this list would’ve been different. But he did return, so why even bring it up?

1. Stefon Diggs (BUF)

No changing the top receiver on this list.

Stefon Diggs was the most productive wideout in the league last year and has one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks throwing him the football.

Barring any sort of injury, expect the Diggs-Josh Allen connection to continue thriving in 2021.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.