The wide receiver position requires two different approaches with projections and draft cost. One lens to look is through rookies, and another is through veterans. As you will see, rookies are priced higher than production projections because they are bets on the future. With the significant factor production has on cost, veterans should not have the same forgiveness. Below are veteran wide receivers who fail to meet their cost.
Veterans Who Miss Dynasty Draft Cost
Michael Thomas (Dynasty ADP: WR22, Our 2021 Projection: WR57)
Thomas is an outlier on this list because of injury. Our projections are bearish, projecting only 10 games, but with 15 points per game, a solid shot in the arm for a contending team making a stretch run. If you have the stomach and patience for him, Thomas can be useful down the stretch of the season and a good long-term investment.
Michael Pittman Jr (Dynasty ADP: WR41.50, Our 2021 Projection: WR49)
The most dangerous profile at the wide receiver position is the wide receiver who has yet to break out who is projected worse than his cost. This is the equivalent of trying to catch a just sharpened falling knife: it is going to hurt and still probably hit the floor. Pittman is a classic pivot player to move up the board at other positions.
Jerry Jeudy (Dynasty ADP: WR23, Our 2021 Projection: WR30)
Like Pittman, Jeudy is a young wide receiver who has yet to break out but is projected to finish worse than his cost. Jeudy has optimistic signs, including an above-average yards per route run production as a rookie, but the volume (1008 yards on 74 catches) is not enough to move the needle at the position. He is very likely to fall in cost if he produces a WR30 finish outside of intervening events (like an Aaron Rodgers trade), so there is still a window to cash out.
Chase Claypool (Dynasty ADP: WR21, Our 2021 Projection: WR28)
Chase Claypool may be the exception to the rule on dangerous profiles. Claypool’s WR22 finish gets him on the career trajectory of a hit, and his 2021 projection could be a consequence of a crowded offense with a declining quarterback. The 2022 season could look better with both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ben Roethlisberger free agents, so he is unlikely to be a value risk at his present cost.
Justin Jefferson (Dynasty ADP: WR1, Our 2021 Projection: WR8)
High-priced wide receivers are about risk. Jefferson’s closest comps are Hall of Famers, soon-to-be Hall of Famers, or players with Hall of Fame careers cut short by injury. He is the safest long-term bet at the wide receiver position, and a second-year top 10 finish is a fine outcome at his cost.
D.J. Chark Jr (Dynasty ADP: WR34, Our 2021 Projection: WR40)
Chark posted a top-24 season in 2019 before a disappointing season in 2020. Chark has the prior hit on his resume, but a finish in the WR4 range would likely result in a big drop in cost. The wide receiver room is more crowded than when he hit in 2019, after the draft selection of Laviska Shenault Jr in 2020 and the free-agent signing of Marvin Jones Jr in 2021. At cost, Chark should be an avoid player in drafts or a pivot player in trades.
Tee Higgins (Dynasty ADP: WR16, Our 2021 Projection: FBG21)
Tee Higgins has outs to beat his draft position. If the passing offense throws with the volume of the beginning of 2020, there could be enough production in the offense to support three top-30 seasons for Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd. Higgins just missed a top-24 finish last year but could be in line for a year two leap if Joe Burrow is healthy and Ja'Marr Chase struggles as a rookie. There are better options for upside and safety in future value at cost, so Higgins is a player to potentially pivot from in the right trade.
Rookies We Project to Miss Draft Cost
The rookie projections are less correlated to cost than the veterans are, which is appropriate given their rookie season projections are likely not near their ceiling.
Rashod Bateman (Dynasty ADP: WR34.5, Our 2021 Projection: WR71)
Rashod Bateman has a good profile but landed in a rough landing spot with the run-heavy offense in Baltimore. Bateman is currently hurt, and we project only 13.5 games, so he will have time to show the resume for his current cost in the 2022 offseason.
Elijah Moore (Dynasty ADP: WR35, Our 2021 Projection: WR59)
Elijah Moore has been a popular buzz candidate in training camp, but our projections have him behind Corey Davis. Moore has missed time in training camp, while Davis has performed well in preseason games. Attached to a rookie quarterback, Moore will have a tough time meeting his draft position in 2021 and could have a tough time passing Corey Davis in the offense long-term.
Terrace Marshall Jr (Dynasty ADP: WR40, Our 2021 Projection: WR60)
Terrace Marshall Jr is going a handful of picks later than Moore, but he is behind both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson in priority in an offense led by Sam Darnold. Marshall fell in the draft further than his profile suggested but could have a difficult road to relevance in an offense without a star quarterback, especially if Carolina signs Anderson to a deserved extension.
Ja'Marr Chase (Dynasty ADP: WR8, Our 2021 Projection: WR25)
Ja'Marr Chase has the highest upside of the wide receivers in the class, but projecting a year one miss from a top 10 wide receiver selection in a startup draft can be tough to swallow if you are trying to compete. Chase has struggled some in camp, and Joe Burrow is still recovering from last season’s knee injury. If Chase falls in value during the season, he could be a nice reclamation project for rebuilding teams.
Jaylen Waddle (Dynasty ADP: WR26, Our 2021 Projection: WR42)
Jaylen Waddle was a first-round pick in the NFL Draft but lacked the college production that typically warrants a high draft cost. If Will Fuller V or Devante Parker struggle in Miami, Waddle could have a strong volume opportunity in 2021, but that is uncommon for wide receivers without a strong production profile in college.
Rondale Moore (Dynasty ADP: WR40.5, Our 2021 Projection: WR56)
Rondale Moore has stiff competition for targets in the Arizona offense. We project Moore to have more receptions (52) than A.J. Green (44), the second-most amongst the Arizona receiving corps. Outside of DeAndre Hopkins, there are plenty of questions at the receiving position, so Moore has a road to an uptick in production. If he posts near his WR40.5 median draft position, he will be a significant riser in the 2022 offseason.
Devonta Smith (Dynasty ADP: WR22, Our 2021 Projection: WR36)
Devonta Smith is projected to lead the Philadelphia wide receivers in receptions in 2021 (66.3). His ultimate upside in 2021 will be determined by the play of Jalen Hurts and Smith’s health. Smith is recovering from a knee sprain, but we project him for more than 15 games in our projections.