2021 Receiving Leader Futures

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2021 Receiving Leader Futures

I recently wrapped up my 2021 Betting Previews for all 32 teams and I’d encourage you to check them out for in-depth breakdowns of season win totals, Super Bowl odds, individual players props, and much more. With those previews out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the odds for the season-long leaders in the major offensive categories to see if I can’t pick out a winner or two. Everyone likes to lay a little bit of money to win a lot of money, and I’ve come up with my favorite plays for each of the major leader futures for passers, runners, and receivers.

Buffalo’s passing attack experienced a meteoric rise last season with Stefon Diggs joining the fold, and he paced the league with 1535 receiving yards at +4000 longshot odds — he also led the NFL in receptions with 127 (I couldn’t find preseason odds for the market). Davante Adams entered last season as the favorite to take home the receiving touchdown crown at +900 last season and he did it with 18 scores in just 14 games.

Calvin Ridley enters the year as the favorite to lead the league in receiving yards while the oddsmakers are giving Adams the edge to pace the league in receiving touchdowns and receptions. Justin Jefferson, D.K. Metcalf, and DeAndre Hopkins are among the other top contenders who are looking to chase down the defending champions in each category.

Note: The odds in this article are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook — under NFL/Player Futures.

Receiving Yards

Previous Leaders

YearReceiver (Age)Receiving Yards
2020Stefon Diggs, Buf (26)1535
2019Michael Thomas, NO (26)1725
2018Julio Jones, Atl (29)1677
2017Antonio Brown, Pit (29)1533
2016T.Y. Hilton, Ind (26)1448
2015Julio Jones, Atl (26)1871
2014Antonio Brown, Pit (26)1698
2013Josh Gordon, Cle (22)1646
2012Calvin Johnson, Det (26)1964
2011Calvin Johnson, Det (25)1681

Fantasy Points Projections Top 10

ReceiverProjectionOdds
Tyreek Hill, KC1345+900
Justin Jefferson, Min1345+850
Calvin Ridley, Atl1325+750
Stefon Diggs, Buf1305+850
D.K. Metcalf, Sea1280+1200
Davante Adams, GB1225+900
DeAndre Hopkins, Ari1225+1000
Terry McLaurin, Was1190+1900
Allen Robinson, Chi1185+2000
CeeDee Lamb, Dal1160+2500

Betting Options

Calvin Ridley (+750) is the favorite to lead the league in receiving yards over at DraftKings and I totally agree with it. I shopped around and bet him as the third favorite at +1000 odds at FanDuel — he’s listed at the same odds at Caesars. He easily paced the league with 1918 air yards, which was 218 more air yards than the next closest receiver, Stefon Diggs (+850). Ridley averaged 107.0 receiving yards and 11.1 targets per game in the eight games Julio Jones (+2800) missed in 2019-20. Ridley not only has a chance to repeat as the air yards champ in 2021, but he could vie for the league lead in target share depending on Kyle Pitts’ (+10000) learning curve.

Ridley is the small favorite to lead the league in receiving but it’s going to be a tight competition with five other receivers at +1000 odds or shorter. Justin Jefferson (+850) is tied with the reigning yardage leader, Diggs, as the second favorite after he set a new standard for rookies with 1400 receiving yards. Tyreek Hill (+900) and Davante Adams (+900) are the first two WRs drafted in fantasy drafts while DeAndre Hopkins (+1000) continues to stack 1000-yard seasons with six in his last seven seasons.

Terry McLaurin (+1900) is my favorite betting option in the mid-tier range since he could take a major jump forward with competent quarterback play in his third season. Terry truly could be scary with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback after he averaged just 12.9 YPR on a 9.7 aDOT playing mostly with the conservative Alex Smith. McLaurin will get to show off his downfield prowess with the more aggressive Fitz at the helm, who has supported some top fantasy WRs like Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Mike Evans, and DeVante Parker in recent seasons. McLaurin is as high as +3000 at FanDuel to win the receiving yards title.

Diggs finished with the most receiving yards last season as a +4000 longshot, but I don’t see a ton of great deep options this season. I considered Tyler Lockett (+5000) and Brandon Aiyuk (+8000) but they’re stuck in competitive passing attacks with D.K. Metcalf (+1200), George Kittle (+5000), and Deebo Samuel (+10000). The best deeper play I could find is Darren Waller (+3500) after he ended last season on an absolute heater by averaging 130.8 receiving yards per game in the final five weeks. The Raiders failed to improve one of the league’s worst WR corps over the off-season so he has a chance to maintain his dominant 28% target share from last season.

Receiving Touchdowns

Previous Leaders

YearReceiver (Age)Receiving TDs
2020Davante Adams, GB (27)18
2019Kenny Golladay, Det (25)11
2018Antonio Brown, Pit (30)15
2017DeAndre Hopkins, Hou (25)13
2016Jordy Nelson, GB (31)14
2015D. Baldwin, Sea (26)/B. Marshall, NYJ (31)14
2014Dez Bryant, Dal (25)16
2013Jimmy Graham, NO (26)16
2012James Jones, GB (28)14
2011Rob Gronkowski, NE (22)17

Fantasy Points Projections Top 10

ReceiverProjectionOdds
Tyreek Hill, KC13+800
Davante Adams, GB13+700
Adam Thielen, Min12+1200
Mike Evans, TB10.5+1400
D.K. Metcalf, Sea10+1400
Calvin Ridley, Atl9+900
A.J. Brown, Ten9+2000
Chase Claypool9+5000
CeeDee Lamb, Dal8.5+3000
Six tied8

Betting Options

It’s no surprise that Davante Adams (+700) is the favorite to lead the league receiving TDs once again after he finished with the third-most receiving scores of all-time behind only Randy Moss (23, 2007) and Jerry Rice (22, 1987). A pair of Chiefs, Tyreek Hill (+800) and Travis Kelce (+1000) are among the top favorites with Calvin Ridley (+900) also in the mix. D.K. Metcalf (+1400) is a bit undervalued at his price after he made significant strides in his second season. DK scored on just four of his 10 targets inside the 10-yard line last season, and ​​only DeAndre Hopkins (+1600) and Amari Cooper (+2000) converted for touchdowns at a worse rate out of the 14 players who saw 10+ targets in that area of the field.

Mike Evans (+1400) finished with a career-high 13 touchdowns in his first season with Tom Brady, which was the fourth-most at the position. They connected on 8-of-14 end-zone targets and Evans added two more touchdowns in the postseason. Evans will certainly have plenty of competition for red-zone work in Tampa Bay’s offense, but he’s positioned as Brady’s go-to option in that area of the field in potentially the league’s highest-scoring offense. Evans is as high as +1500 at Caesars to score the most receiving touchdowns.

Mark Andrews (+4000) is one of the more interesting longer shots on the board after he had a down year with just seven touchdowns — he scored 10 times in his breakout 2019 campaign. He actually saw a higher share of the Ravens red-zone targets last year (28%) compared to the 2019 season (22%), but he scored only four TDs on 16 red-zone looks. Anders has some room for growth as seven of the nine players who saw at least 25% of their team’s red-zone targets scored six or more touchdowns. The Ravens should own one of the higher scoring offenses in the league and their WR corps has been banged up during training camp.

Chase Claypool (+5000) is my favorite longshot bet after he became the first rookie in the post-merger era to score 10 touchdowns in his first 10 games. The second-year WR has some room to grow after he snared just 29.0% (9 of 31) of his targets that traveled 20+ yards with Ben Roethlisberger struggling with his arm strength after surgery. He also has some room for growth around the goal line after he saw just eight end-zone targets, which he converted into an impressive four TDs. Claypool is as high as a tasty +9000 at FanDuel to score the most receiving touchdowns.

Receptions

Previous Leaders

YearWide Receiver (Age)Receptions
2020Stefon Diggs, Buf (26)127
2019Michael Thomas, NO (26)149
2018Michael Thomas, NO (25)125
2017Jarvis Landry, Cle (24)112
2016Larry Fitzgerald, Ari (33)107
2015A. Brown, Pit (27)/J. Jones, Atl (26)136
2014Antonio Brown, Pit (26)129
2013Pierre Garcon, Was (27)113
2012Calvin Johnson, Det (26)122
2011Wes Welker, NE (30)122

Fantasy Points’ Projections Top 10

ReceiverProjectionOdds
Stefon Diggs, Buf108+600
Davante Adams, GB102+550
DeAndre Hopkins, Ari100+600
Allen Robinson, Chi97+2200
Keenan Allen, LAC97+1200
Cooper Kupp, LAR94+1600
Justin Jefferson, Min92+2000
Calvin Ridley, Atl91+1200
Tyreek Hill, KC90+1800
Metcalf, Sea/Woods, LAR88+2800/+2000

Betting Options

Keenan Allen (+1200) is my favorite bet to lead the league in receptions in the second-tier of favorites. He’s reeled off four straight seasons with 97+ catches with an average of 100.8 catches per season in that span. Keenan didn’t skip a beat in his first season with Justin Herbert last season, and Hunter Henry is out of the mix and Mike Williams is already banged up in training camp. Allen has a chance to challenge the likes of Davante Adams (+550), Stefon Diggs (+600), and DeAndre Hopkins (+600) for the league lead in target share. Allen is as high as +1700 at FanDuel to lead the league in receptions.

Cooper Kupp (+1600) is a slightly deeper option who has a chance to clear 100+ receptions for the first time in his career after totaling 186 catches the last two seasons. Kupp caught 92 passes despite battling through multiple knee ailments last season, and he’ll be getting a major upgrade at quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Kupp’s role in the underneath passing attack could be even more important this season if their rushing game struggles without Cam Akers, too. Kupp is as high as +2000 at FanDuel to lead the league in receptions.

I was hoping for a little better odds for Diontae Johnson (+3000) to lead the league in receptions. He averaged 6.7 receptions and 10.8 targets per game if you toss out the two contests he left early in last season. He’ll once again have major competition for targets from Chase Claypool (+6500) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (+4000), but he’s the favorite to pace the passing attack since he’s in the coveted X-receiver spot that Antonio Brown and Santonio Holmes have held down before him. Ben Roethlisberger has always shown complete faith in his boundary receivers and he has one of the best route-runners and separators on the perimeter in Johnson.

I don’t love the longer shots in the receptions category, but I briefly considered Christian McCaffrey (+4000) and Tyler Boyd (+5000). CMC hauled 223 receptions over 32 games in 2018-19, but the Panthers have better receivers now in D.J. Moore (+5000) and Robby Anderson (+4000) and I don’t trust Sam Darnold to feed him. Boyd averaged 6.9 catches per game with Joe Burrow in the lineup for 10 games last season, and I could see the second-year QB leaning on him again this season as he recovers from his ACL injury.

Best Bets

  • Calvin Ridley (Atl) most receiving yards (+1000, FanDuel). Risk one unit to win 10 units.

  • Terry McLaurin (Was) most receiving (+3000, Caesars). Risk a half unit to win 15 units.

  • Mike Evans (TB) most receiving touchdowns (+1500, Caesars). Risk a half unit to win 7.5 units.

  • Chase Claypool (Pit) most receiving touchdowns (+9000, FanDuel). Risk .25 units to win 22.5 units.

  • Keenan Allen (LAC) most receptions (+1700, FanDuel). Risk a half unit to win 8.5 units.

  • Cooper Kupp (LAR) most receptions (+2000, FanDuel). Risk a half unit to win 10 units.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.