2021 RSO Contracts: WRs

Updated: August 9th 2021

My annual look at RSO auction values moves to wide receivers.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize PPR per game scoring.

Average RSO Wide Receiver Contracts


It might surprise some that Jefferson ranks this high on the contract list.  The second year Minnesota receiver exploded in his rookie season for 1.400 yards and a top-10 fantasy finish despite coming out of the gate slow in his first two games.  The overall WR1 might be a bit hefty but not completely out of line as a locked and loaded WR1 barely starting his career.  Hill offers near-unparalleled weekly upside as the most dangerous receiving threat in the NFL combined with Mahomes at quarterback and adds additional rushing yardage.  The only potential concern is a target load not commensurate with the top wide receivers.  Metcalf also broke out in his second season with 1,300 yards and a top-10 fantasy finish as one of the most physically gifted wide receivers in the NFL with Russell Wilson attached.  The Seattle run-heavy offense, Tyler Lockett in tow as a co-WR1, and Metcalf’s limitations as a route-runner likely dampen truly-elite season long possibilities.  Once again, RSO GMs pay a premium for the top rookies and Chase is no exception.  It could be a slow start after a year away from the game.  Maybe the biggest surprise from last year is the way Diggs helped change the game in Buffalo with a massive first season for the Bills that ended with him finishing first in targets, receptions, and receiving yards.  He’s a strong bet to finish with another great year though some Josh Allen regression might pull him from the very top.  Ridley exploded as the WR4 last season for Atlanta and the Falcons lost superstar Julio Jones to Tennessee.  Does the Atlanta offense revert to a more run-heavy approach?  Is the addition of the highest drafted rookie tight end ever in Kyle Pitts enough to offset the loss of Jones and prevent stacking of defenses against Ridley?

The upside exists for Lamb to be one of the top fantasy receivers in the league depending on Cooper’s health and Gallop’s longer-term standing with Cowboys.  Brown has been one of the best receivers the first two years in the league ranking top-15 each season per PFF.  The addition of Julio Jones either limits volume in a run-heavy offense or opens up the field for a team with a possibly more passing.  Hopkins topped 150 targets each season the last half decade with an ascending quarterback.  Adams outscored Hill (the WR2) by almost four points per game thanks to an absurd 18 touchdowns in 14 games.  We can count on some regression in that category but Adams scored double digit touchdowns in four of the last five years with Rodgers at quarterback in Green Bay.



The future holds significant uncertainty for Thomas with late summer ankle surgery and without Brees at quarterback.  Robinson keeps trucking along with quality fantasy seasons despite suboptimal quarterback play.  Does Chicago finally have an answer for their quarterback future and will Robinson be there for it? Allen caught between 97 and 104 receptions each of the last four seasons producing an extremely high PPR floor.  His role might not have a big ceiling in other formats.  The addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel raises the Washington offensive ceiling and that of McLaurin after a great first two seasons with poor quarterback play.   Godwin suffered through injuries in 2020 while still managing a top-15 wide receiver fantasy finish despite playing with a crowded, talented group of play makers in Tampa Bay.  He was PFF’s highest graded receiver in 2019.  Cooper posted three consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons with Dallas.  There are some foot injury questions in a strong Cowboy receiving core.  Moore fought through awful Carolina quarterback play for consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and is still just 24.  The Panthers invested in Sam Darnold who has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL over his first three years.  Evans consistently dominates with at least 1,000 yard every season in the NFL and possesses extremely high touchdown upside.  As mentioned previously, Tampa Bay is loaded with receiving weapons.  The RSO community expects a big leap from Jeudy despite continued low-end quarterbacks and the return of Sutton in a young but strong receiving room.

WR3s and more

This tier of wide receiver contracts is the reason an RSO GM might choose to not invest heavily at the position.  It’s full of starting caliber players and receivers with lots of weekly upside.  Aiyuk blew expectations out the window once he received the chance to seriously contribute but must deal with the return of George Kittle and Deebo Samuel in completion for targets on a run-heavy offense.  Kupp finished with 90+ receptions the last two years while Woods ranked WR18 or better each of the last three seasons for the Rams and they get a QB upgrade in Matt Stafford.  Beckham missed out on Cleveland’s cupcake schedule finish after a season-ending knee injury but is reportedly ahead of schedule on his rehab in what should be one of the best overall offenses.  Johnson ranked sixth in targets last season thanks to some of the top route running in the league.  Julio struggled with injuries last season but was his normal efficient self last year when on the field and Tannehill is an upgrade on pure arm strength over the noodle-armed Ryan.  Waddle and Smith should assume significant roles as rookies in Miami’s and Philadelphia’s offenses.  Sutton displayed dominant traits in 2019 with abysmal quarterback play before an ACL tear ended 2020 before it began.  Lockett and Metcalf finished with nearly identical fantasy finishes but the former comes at sharp discount.  Golladay is already injured and the quarterback position got worse for him but he should be the primary target for the Giants.  Higgins and Shenault represent ascending second year players attached to the top selected quarterbacks in the last two draft classes.  The Bengals and Jaguars added significant offensive talent in addition to the quarterbacks.  Thielen caught a ridiculous 14 touchdowns on only 74 receptions, a figure set to reduce.  There’s not a lot of upside with Boyd but should provide a low-cost weekly flex option.  Samuel gives Washington much needed help in the passing game opposite McLaurin combined with understated rushing potential on a team without many significant options.

Beyond the Top-40

The receivers outside the top-40 still present considerable value and potential. Robby Anderson considerably out-targeted Moore in Carolina last season and gets old running-mate Darnold at quarterback on an offense which lost Samuel. Will Fuller produced an outstanding eleven games as the WR8 in Houston before suspension ended his year. Brandin Cooks has 1,000+ receiving yards in five of his seven NFL seasons and is the undisputed WR1 in Houston with the departure of Fuller. Antonio Brown and Michael Gallup should have stout tertiary roles on what should be excellent passing offenses. Rashad Bateman and Elijah Moore highlight rookies who showed well in the offseason and have chances for immediate significant roles.

Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.




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