Top Wide Receiver Sleepers for 2021 Fantasy Football

By Anthony Haage in Fantasy Sports
| July 25, 2021 4:44 am PDT

Your 2021 fantasy football draft is almost here. If you haven’t done your research yet, it’s high time you single out some viable fantasy sleepers to target.

Provided you’re not taking advantage of the zero-RB fantasy draft strategy for 2021, it might make sense to hone in on some sleepers at the wide receiver position specifically.

With that, here’s a look at the best fantasy football wide receiver sleepers for 2021.

Amari Cooper – Cowboys

Dak Prescott is back. Amari Cooper’s value instantly gets a boost, and is my first wide receiver sleeper to target for 2021.

Cooper has gotten at least 75 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons, and yes, that includes last year with Dak Prescott missing 11 games.

The Cowboys have a potent receiving core with CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin. They also feature Ezekiel Elliott pretty heavily. There is potential for Cooper to have some not-so-impressive games because of all the other talented players in that offense, but Cooper remains the number 1 option as a receiver.

He is currently being drafted around the #45 to #50 range. That is a great price to pay for a wide receiver who is almost guaranteed to get 1,000 yards. You can grab Cooper as a strong WR2 or WR3/FLEX at this point in the draft.

Take a look at Amari Cooper’s last three seasons.

Year Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns
2018 107 75 1,005 7
2019 119 79 1,189 8
2020 130 92 1,114 5

Cooper could possibly have the best season of his career this year with a healthy Dak Prescott.

Look to grab Cooper in the middle rounds and reap the rewards.

Robert Woods & Cooper Kupp – Rams

With the swapping of quarterbacks in Detroit and Los Angeles, these Rams receivers are now great sleeper picks for this season.

Here is a breakdown of the acquisition of Matthew Stafford in LA.

Stafford is a massive upgrade from Jared Goff. Stafford is a more experienced quarterback and should be able to take Sean McVay’s offense to another level.

With that being said, the fantasy winners from this become Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Both of these receivers have been around the same from a fantasy production standpoint, but this year they can be even better.

Here are their recent finishes in their position for fantasy.

Year Robert Woods Rank Cooper Kupp Rank
2020 13th 34th
2019 22nd 4th
2018 10th 47th

Woods has been the more consistent of the two in the past three years, but Kupp has had the highest finish at WR4.

Kupp had an amazing year in 2019. He had 94 receptions, 1,161 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns, which was good for 270.5 PPR fantasy points and the #26 overall fantasy player.

In the season in which Kupp missed 8 games, he was on pace for another great year. He had 40 receptions, 566 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns.

If he had been able to keep that pace over a 16-game season, his stat line would have been 80 receptions, 1,132 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns. That would’ve been better than Woods’ WR10 season (86 receptions, 1,219 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns).

Woods may be the first to go in fantasy drafts due to more consistency over the past three years, but Kupp could still have a better season than him.

Both receivers are at a great price point in fantasy drafts and could provide a great return on investment.

Diontae Johnson – Steelers

Like Amari Cooper, Diontae Johnson has talented receivers around him. Juju Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool are great targets for Ben Roethlisberger, but Johnson can be a sneaky option because of that.

Johnson is entering his third year in the NFL, and he’s coming off an impressive 2020.

The thing you should be looking at for Johnson is his targets. He had the 8th most targets (144) in the entire NFL last season. He didn’t have a great receptions turnout for the number of targets (88), but as he enters his third season, he should get better at that.

Targets are the lifeblood of a great fantasy receiver. I would love to get any receiver on my team to have 140+ targets, and Johnson could reach that again this season.

His total stat line as WR27 in 2020 included 144 targets, 88 receptions, 923 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns.

The Steelers have been rumored to have a different-looking offense in the upcoming season, but Johnson should still be a big part of it.

Johnson could be a great pick around the 6th round or later.

D.J Chark Jr. & Laviska Shenault Jr. – Jaguars

The upgrade at quarterback should be the only thing you need to hear for these two receivers. Trevor Lawrence has been locked into the number one draft pick for a couple of years now, and his time has finally come.

The new-look Jags can turn some heads, especially in fantasy. D.J Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. have shown flashes of their potential, and now that the franchise quarterback is in town, they have a chance to shine.

In fact, he’s not just one of the best fantasy football wide receiver sleepers for 2021. There’s an argument he’s the top value pick out of everyone.

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Chark’s best season came in 2019 when he finished as fantasy’s WR16. That year, he had 73 receptions, 1,008 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns.

2020 was worse for Chark, but you can blame the lack of quarterback play to that. Minshew only started for half the season, and Mike Glennon and Jake Luton filled in for the other eight games. It would be very difficult for any receiver to produce in a year with terrible quarterback play.

Chark’s stat line was 53 receptions, 706 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns. That was good for WR48 in 2020, which obviously is not good at all.

Shenault started his career in that miserable season for the Jaguars and was able to have a stat line of 58 receptions, 600 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 18 times for 91 rushing yards. Shenault showed his big-play ability in that season, but his overall stat line wasn’t very impressive.

Both players are primed for bigger seasons in 2021 with the addition of the #1 overall draft pick, Trevor Lawrence. Chark and Shenault could be great bench stashes until Lawrence finds his footing in the NFL.

Tyler Boyd – Bengals

Tyler Boyd is Cincinnati’s version of Amari Cooper. The Bengals spent their #5 overall draft pick on wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, and they also have Tee Higgins, who was drafted 33rd overall in 2020.

With the talented young receivers now in Cincinnati, that could be a great smokescreen for Tyler Boyd. Boyd is the number one receiver, with Higgins and Chase filling out WR2 and WR3 (slot).

The Bengals passing attack can be lethal this year with Joe Burrow returning from injury. Boyd should be able to provide a solid season in his 6th year in the NFL.

Boyd has finished with 76+ receptions, 800+ yards, and 4+ touchdowns in each of his last three seasons. Last year was his worst season out of the three most recent, but if Joe Burrow played a full season, it could be a different story.

Year Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns
2018 108 76 1,028 7
2019 148 90 1,046 5
2020 110 79 841 4

Boyd can get right back into his 2018-19 form and be a nice, consistent fantasy option found in the later rounds of drafts.

If so, he’ll end up being one of the best WR fantasy sleepers in 2021.

DeVonta Smith – Eagles

The recent Heisman Trophy winner is now reunited with former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts. The QB-WR pair is back together again, but this time on the Philadelphia Eagles.

We got a taste of what Hurts can do at the professional level last year, with his 4 starts at the end of the year. Hurts threw for more than 300 yards in two of his starts but less than 170 in his other two.

After an offseason of development as a starter, Hurts will look to be more consistent.

The person who would benefit the most from Hurt’s development is DeVonta Smith.

Smith could be a sneaky option to win Rookie of the Year if his connection with Hurts is legit. Smith should be able to get tons of targets with the Eagles going through some roster turnover in the WR department.

Other receiving options on the Eagles include TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and WRs Jalen Reagor, J.J Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, and Travis Fulgham.

Smith can be the #1 option on this offense as early as Week 1.

Emmanuel Sanders – Bills

Sanders will probably not be a league winner here, but if there’s consistency in the later rounds of drafts, it would be smart to take it.

Sanders has bounced around the NFL in recent years, but his production has been solid. His average WR finish is within the top 30 WRs, and his highest finish was 5th in 2014.

There is almost no way he can finish that high this year, but he can still provide solid numbers for the Bills and your fantasy team.

Year Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns
2018 98 71 868 6
2019 97 66 869 6
2020 82 61 726 5

Sander’s stats in the past three years aren’t going to blow anyone away, but they are consistent. He should be able to get another 800 yards and 5 touchdowns, or maybe even more.

Josh Allen and the Bills are built around the pass. Stefon Diggs is the clear number one option there, and John Brown is now in Las Vegas. Sanders can be a nice compliment to Diggs with Cole Beasley in the slot and Gabriel Davis as well.

Sanders will be dirt cheap when it comes to the draft, making him a nice sleeper, especially in deeper leagues.

Other 2021 Fantasy Wide Receiver Sleepers

  • Courtland Sutton – Broncos (Round 7)
  • Brandin Cooks – Texans (Round 9)
  • Mike Williams – Chargers (Round 10)
  • Darnell Mooney – Bears (Round 12)

There are even more 2021 fantasy football wide receiver sleepers to soak up. Sutton stands out as someone being overlooked due to an injury last year, yet he was WR17 in 2019.

Cooks is injury-prone and on a bad team, but Houston will likely have to throw a lot. Quietly the WR16 a season ago, Cooks may have the volume to be a surprising steal in round nine.

Williams is also getting loads of hype given a suspected bigger role with the Chargers. His volume isn’t always where you’d like, but we know he has upside (WR20 in 2018).

Mooney also deserves a look, as he has big-play ability. With Chicago’s quarterback room hopefully improved, fantasy owners could see his ceiling this year.

Overall, these 2021 fantasy football wide receiver sleepers could be solid options this year.

They all are not going to be drafted within the first three rounds, which means you can get other players to complement them in the earlier rounds.

The Wide Receiver position is pretty deep this year, and that means you don’t have to pay a high dollar for them, like a running back. Keep an eye on these players throughout the year because they could be interesting buy-low, sell-high players throughout the year as well.

Everybody is looking to gain an advantage in fantasy football; these sleeper wide receivers will help you do that.

Here’s some more fantasy football content that can help even more.

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