Bust-Proof WRs for 2021

For most fantasy drafts, running backs (and quarterbacks, if Superflex) will fly off the board in the early rounds, so it’s vital to find the best value with the middle to late-round wide receivers in order to set your team apart. We often talk about “floor” and “ceiling” with players and how important it is to capture value in drafts. Being able to identify safe bets who are almost guaranteed to return on their ADP (Average Draft Position) isn’t easy but will give you an edge over your opponents. These three wide receivers are “bust-proof” in my eyes because they are being drafted at their “floor” of outcomes, but also have massive upside. ADP’s displayed are based on fantasydata.com.

Mike Williams (ADP: WR44) 

We have all seen the Mike Williams hype train gaining steam, once again, this off-season. The coaching staff has been talking up how much they plan to involve him this year. New offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, is coming over after four years with New Orleans and plans to incorporate a similar offense with Mike Williams playing the same role that Michael Thomas did. Now, I’m not going to expect 150+ targets for Williams like Thomas has seen every season. They might be playing the same role, but the major difference is that Williams isn’t the best receiver on his team. Keenan Allen is the star of the show in LA. With that being said, there is still some smoke to the hype. Last season, Williams averaged 16.3 points per game when he saw six or more targets. Based on 2020 performances, that would put him within the Top 15 WRs if he maintained that rate for the full year.

Keep in mind that Austin Ekeler missed a large portion of the 2020 season, so we have to account for his target share when on the field. Both Ekeler and Williams played in seven full games together last season (without one of them leaving early due to injury). Williams averaged 6.3 targets in those games, so there is no reason to worry about how he will fit in with a healthy Austin Ekeler. Other than his rookie season, Williams has always been above 15 yards per reception, which means he doesn’t need to become a target hog to be a high-level fantasy producer. In 2019, we saw him put up 1,000 yards with just 49 receptions!

The team decided to pick up his $15 million fifth-year option to reinforce their commitment to him. This will also be the first training camp that he and Justin Herbert will go through together. If you recall, Williams was banged up this time last year (yeah, I know. Big surprise!) and Herbert was running with the second-team unit. Williams’ role in the new offense will better allow him to establish a consistent weekly target count. If he can stay healthy, “BMW” (Big Mike Williams, one of my favorite nicknames) will be the steal of 2021 drafts. 

Corey Davis (ADP: WR54)

I had to do a double-take when I looked up Corey Davis’ ADP. I thought it might be a quirk on the site, so I checked several others and they all aligned in the early WR50s. What are we doing?! The table below shows you the worst scoring offenses of the last three seasons and how their top receiver finished in fantasy:

YearTeamLeading ReceiverFantasy Finish
2020New York JetsJamison CrowderWR39 (12 games)
2019WashingtonTerry McLaurinWR29
2018Arizona CardinalsLarry FitzgeraldWR25

Even if Zach Wilson falls flat on his face as a rookie (like Larry Fitzgerald’s 2018 rookie quarterback, Josh Rosen) it’s highly unlikely that a healthy Corey Davis finishes outside of the Top 40 WRs. Given the recent pay cut to Jamison Crowder and the three-year, $37.5 million contract signed by Davis this off-season, all signs point to him being the alpha of the offense.

I’m not only buying in because he is the number one receiver for his team, Corey Davis is also a really good receiver. The perception is skewed based on his fifth-overall draft capital and underwhelming rookie season, but he has shown over the past three seasons that he belongs in the NFL. 2020 was his best season and even though the numbers won’t blow you away (65 receptions/984 yards/5 TDs), he was one of the most efficient receivers in the league. Davis was Top 10 in fantasy points per route run and yards per target. He also gained the 2nd highest average cushion from the nearest defender on his routes run (credit: PlayerProfiler). Don’t let the bad stigma of the Jets force you to fade Corey Davis, this is a brand-new coaching staff and scheme that is looking to push the franchise forward after the dark days of Adam Gase.

Robert Woods (ADP: WR19)

Robert Woods is consistently on the list of most undervalued wide receivers. I don’t know what else he has to do to earn the respect of fantasy drafters. He has been a Top 15 WR for three straight seasons yet his ADP barely ever cracks the Top 20. It doesn’t seem like a big deal for a Top 15 receiver to have an ADP of WR19, but the LA Rams made a significant upgrade at quarterback when they shipped away the struggling Jared Goff to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford. There are plenty of reasons to expect a career year from Woods in 2021.

The Rams were a top-tier offense during Sean McVay’s first two seasons as head coach. They finished first and second in total scoring for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, respectively. In 2020, the wheels fell off as Jared Goff and Sean McVay had a falling out and were not able to get on the same page. Even though LA suddenly found themselves in the Bottom 10 of scoring offenses, Woods still managed a WR13 finish (WR19 in points per game). Last season was the worst-case scenario for him, and he’s being drafted as if we are expecting a repeat this year.  

Jared Goff was a mess last season. The Rams did not do a good job of replacing Brandin Cooks, who was the previous deep threat and the entire offense suffered because of it. He was a Bottom four quarterback in intended air yards per attempt and ranked 19th in deep-ball attempts. Newly acquired free agent Desean Jackson and 2021 second-round rookie pick Tutu Atwell have the speed the team was missing in 2020 to take the top off defenses and open up the field for everyone else. Stafford was Top five in intended air yards per attempt and took the 12th most deep shots (passes that travel 20+ air yards) last season. When you combine the additional receiving weapons with Stafford’s aggressive playstyle, this offense has the potential to make its way back to the top. Woods could easily reach WR1 status this season if they find their way back to the McVay glory days.

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