Over thirty wide receivers were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft with a total of ten wideouts coming off the board in the first two rounds of the Draft. These names are the big names for fantasy football purposes, but there are some pass-catchers who went off the board in rounds three through seven that could return value in dynasty rookie drafts. Let’s dive into the names to know from the middle and later rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft class. For the purposes of this article, we will focus primarily on WRs selected in rounds four and five as draft capital is significantly tied to fantasy football production, especially early in a player’s career.
Josh Palmer – Los Angeles Chargers
Round 3, Pick 14 (77th Overall)
Palmer isn’t a guy who was getting a ton of buzz in the fantasy football community, but this draft capital and situation should raise some eyebrows. A 6’1″ 210 lb. senior out of Tennessee, Palmer’s production profile leaves a lot to be desired. He never eclipsed 500 receiving yards in a single season while playing in Knoxville. However, he steps right into a situation where the Chargers lack a bonafide WR3 on their roster. Keenan Allen should dominate targets, and Mike Williams will have his role, but this is a WR depth chart with question marks all over the place. Look for Palmer to compete for WR3 snaps behind Williams and Allen right away as a rookie. Oh yeah, and his QB? That Justin Herbert guy is pretty good, too. Worth noting, Mike Williams is entering the final year of his contract and is an unrestricted free agent in 2022, giving Palmer value as a mid to late-round rookie pick in dynasty formats.
Dyami Brown – Washington Football Team
Round 3, Pick 19 (82nd Overall)
Dyami Brown is a guy who lit up opposing ACC corners while playing at North Carolina to the tune of over 20 yards per reception. A true deep threat who can take the top off the defense, Brown should be a nice compliment to Terry McLaurin‘s all around skillset and newly signed Curtis Samuel‘s ability to win in all areas of the field. In other words, there should be targets available deep down the field from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has shown the tendency to chuck it deep and give his receivers a chance to come down with the ball.
Amari Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
Round 3, Pick 22 (85th Overall)
A Rodgers to A Rodgers next year? Maybe. Recent reports suggest Aaron Rodgers may want out of Green Bay, so the QB situation for Amari and the other Green Bay receivers is up in the air, but regardless, this is a fantastic landing spot assuming the 2020 NFL MVP is back under center. A stocky slot WR out of Clemson, Rodgers knows how to get open in the intermediate level of the field against zone and man coverage. He could play a bit as early as year one, but we all know that if you’re going to play in Green Bay as a WR, you need to earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers to see targets (assuming he’s back on the team).
Nico Collins – Houston Texans
Round 3, Pick 26 (89th Overall)
Thanks to getting fleeced via multiple trades in 2019 and 2020, the Texans were without a first or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In the third round, they added QB Davis Mills and gave him a pass catcher in Nico Collins out of Michigan. At 6’4″ and 215 lbs., Nico Collins is a big-bodied receiver that had previously been missing from this depth chart. A breakout age of 19.5 gives some life to this mid-round NFL Draft pick, but there are extreme question marks about the fantasy environment in Houston thanks to the allegations surrounding Deshaun Watson.
Anthony Schwartz – Cleveland Browns
Round 3, Pick 28 (91st Overall)
Schwartz led Auburn in receptions in 2020, but he never really met the statistical thresholds we look for in terms of dominator rating and breakout age when attempting to project fantasy football success at the next level. Regardless, Schwartz is a guy with speed to burn, running a 4.25 at Auburn’s pro day. Schwartz was also a member of Auburn’s track team, not surprising giving his 40-yard dash time. Look for Schwartz to pop with big plays here and there, but he’s unlikely to be consistent enough to trust for fantasy football purposes, especially in Cleveland’s balanced offense.
Dez Fitzpatrick – Tennessee Titans
Round 4, Pick 4 (109th Overall)
Dez Fitzpatrick is a wide receiver out of Louisville who flashed some big-play upside on tape, but he lacks consistency in his game. He never topped 50 receptions in a single season in college, so his production profile definitely leaves a lot to be desired, but he steps into a situation desperate for pass catchers not named A.J. Brown. Fitzpatrick should have the opportunity to push for WR3 snaps behind Brown and Josh Reynolds.
Amon-Ra St. Brown – Detroit Lions
Round 4, Pick 7 (112th Overall)
One of my favorite value picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Lions added to their lackluster WR depth chart by selecting Amon-Ra out of USC. Posting a 33% dominator rating with an 18.9 breakout age, St. Brown is definitely a guy to keep an eye on as he definitely fits what we look for in a fantasy football prospect, at least from an analytics perspective. The Lions depth chart outside of D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson is void of playmakers, giving St. Brown the chance to contribute as early year one in Detroit. I expect him to earn the starting role as the team’s slot WR right away.
Jaelon Darden – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round 4, Pick 24 (129th Overall)
A dynasty darling, Jaelon Darden has been pegged as a popular late-round target in 2021 rookie drafts thanks to his insane production profile and playmaking ability. Darden may be undersized (5’9″), but he’s lightning in a bottle. During his final season at North Texas, Darden posted nearly 1,200 receiving yards and 19 receiving TD, good for a 61% (no, that’s not a typo) dominator rating. He steps into a situation in Tampa where it will be extremely difficult for him to carve out a role with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown dominating targets from Tom Brady. Look for Darden to contributing in the kick return game in 2021.
Tylan Wallace – Baltimore Ravens
Round 4, Pick 26 (131st Overall)
Wallace’s college career got derailed a bit thanks to a torn ACL, but he was uber-productive playing in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State. After selecting Rashod Bateman in round one, Baltimore decided to double down at the wide receiver position with Tylan Wallace. It’s possible this duo is the future of the Ravens pass-catching core, but Wallace will have a tough time earning targets in year one in one of the league’s most run-heavy schemes.
Jacob Harris – Los Angeles Rams
Round 4, Pick 36 (141st Overall)
The Rams added to their WR depth chart in the second round by selecting Tutu Atwell out of Louisville then doubled down in round four with Jacob Harris out of UCF. Harris’ athletic profile is encouraging, but he’s not really on the fantasy football radar as a rookie. Worth noting, the Rams signed both Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to multi-year extensions last year then selected Van Jefferson in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Harris is a long shot to see targets early in his NFL career.