2021 Free Agent Positional Preview: Wide Receiver
I researched the available free agent lists in late-Feb./early March in order to get a feel for the marketplace and identify key players likely on the move; players that could shift a team's fortunes under-the-radar if a team landed/grabbed a bunch of them. We have the obvious names, the under-the-radar, and the trap doors to look at.
Here’s my take on 2021 NFL free agency…the players I’m really watching for fantasy, handicapping, etc., on where they might land.
The Top 3 Available According To NFL Analysts:
1) Kenny Golladay, DET – It’s a near split with JuJu for the mainstream consensus #1 WR in this class. Golladay is so much better than JuJu it is a farce that some people have them close or JuJu #1. Golladay is a game changer talent and JuJu is popular/has high ‘Q scores’.
I’m shocked but not shocked the Lions didn’t tag Golladay. We’ll see if they re-sign him before free agency opens up. If not, KG is going to be a very rich man playing elsewhere.
2) JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT – the sucker’s bet of 2021 free agency. A player whose best attribute is ‘being known’. Never a #1, a failed #1 WR…only good+ output when hiding behind other more talented guys taking the main coverage. Guaranteed JuJu is going to a low esteem, poorly run…and probably outdoor/cold weather team that has a hard time attracting talent to sign as free agency.
3) Will Fuller, HOU – Despite his PED suspension, he’ll be in demand…he’s beloved. More disappointing (and hurt) than successful in his career but hope springs eternal.
The Top 3 Talents Available/To Target If I Were an NFL GM:
1) Curtis Samuel, CAR – I’ve been saying it for about three years now…that Curtis Samuel is a #1 WR, and in 2020 he started to show just that. And I do mean a #1 WR, lead the WR group weapon…he can play the deep ball game if you want, he can run all the routes, and he is one of the most clutch catchers of the ball in the NFL (as witnessed by his remarkable 3rd-down conversion rate in 2020).
Not only is he a #1 WR but can also play tailback. He’s a true weapon…and he’s #1 on my list here because his contract will be half of what it should be. The same people who ignore/write off/don’t care about Samuel will write love poems to Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb or JuJu and whoever else their overlords tell them to love – and that blindness permeates to the out-to-lunch personnel department’s decisions in the NFL…and thus Samuel will be undervalued.
Curtis Samuel is one of the gems of 2021 free agency, and I wouldn’t normally pursue bigger ticket WRs in free agency – but for what I think Samuel will go for (moneywise), I will.
2) Kenny Golladay, DET – Golladay might be more impactful than Samuel, you could argue it, but they’re differently styled so it’s a tough debate…but Golladay is great, and everyone acknowledges it, so his price will be WAY higher than Samuel’s.
KG is great but not a bargain.
3) Marvin Jones, DET – How crazy is it that two of the best WRs in free agency are Detroit Lions…and that Matt Stafford had them and never built a real winning offense/team with them? But Stafford is now Dan Marino…all because Sean McVay wanted him instead of Goff.
It’s possible KG and Jones will wind up Rams this year. Marvin Jones is almost a lock to be a Ram. Robert Woods could/will be traded, and Marvin will be added. Jones has been one of the low-key best output WRs of the past few years…and no one hardly cares.
The Top 3 Values/Sleepers According to FFM:
1) Keelan Cole, JAX – Cole is a legit starting NFL WR. Can play the outside or the slot. Buried in Jacksonville in Doug Marrone’s disastrous offense. Had some big games for the Jags when he’d get the targets. He’s going to get a cheap contract, and an NFL team is going to get a steal on a solid WR hand that is a starter talent. Predictions on his landing spot (and others) in the last segment.
2) Josh Reynolds, LAR – Started last year for the Rams, and has been a starter talent for years but buried in L.A. getting sparse targets with Woods-Kupp taking the lion’s share. He’s going to go start somewhere in 2021 and a lower contract price.
3) Alex Erickson, CIN – He can be an Edelman-Beasley type for a team looking for such a thing, and he might be a really good/breakout slot producer if he lands well. He also has special teams’ skills. Just 28 years old and been buried in Cincy for many years. Was promised a bigger role but it never materialized there.
The Top 3 Problems According to FFM:
1) Sammy Watkins, KC – One of the most overrated WRs in the NFL in the last decade, especially considering the amount of money the NFL has spent on him in contracts and draft stock. He makes absolutely no difference to an offense…but some sucker NFL team will throw him a nice one-year deal because he was supposed to be great like 5-7+ years ago. It’s sick. The contract that KC gave him – a GM should’ve been fired for it years ago. Patrick Mahomes fixes everything…
2) Corey Davis, TEN – Another WR drafted top 5-6 overall and has delivered nothing in the NFL worthy of his draft stock, not even close. Davis was a #5 pick…Golladay went 91 picks later. Both are available in free agency. One will get paid 3-4-5x of the other.
Davis is a low-impact, warm body starter for the NFL. He’s not terrible…he’s just barely an NFL starter these days, and yet someone is going to spend millions on him in free agency thinking they got a huge bargain.
3) A.J. Green, CIN and T.Y. Hilton, IND – great NFL WRs, in the past, but their days are numbered in the NFL 2021. Their legs are going. Their minds and experience are worthy, but their impact days are behind them – and someone is surely going to spend a lot of money on a 1-2 year deal for the name.
-- JuJu Smith-Schuster…to the Jets IF they plan to keep Sam Darnold. To Chicago or Cleveland (if they ditch OBJ-Landry, as they should) otherwise.
-- Kenny Golladay to where, if Detroit passes on him? If he can get to the Chargers, man Justin Herbert for Fantasy…
LAC-LAR-MIA are my three favorites to land him.
-- Will Fuller to the Jets if they don’t get JuJu. Miami in the mix if they are trying to land Deshaun Watson. The Fuller signing is probably more about a team’s attempt to land Deshaun than anything else.
-- Curtis Samuel to Jacksonville to reunite with Urban Meyer.
-- A.J. Green to the Falcons on a 1-year deal.
-- T.Y. Hilton to the Eagles on a 2-year deal.
-- Corey Davis to Washington.
-- Keelan Cole to Tennessee or Houston.
-- Marvin Jones is absolutely going to the Rams, whether Robert Woods is moved or not.
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