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4 wide receivers to fade in 2021 fantasy football

Not all wide receivers will perform as expected in fantasy football, and several present enough risk at their respective average draft position to justify avoiding.

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Just as identifying which players will over-perform expectation can determine the outcome of a fantasy league, figuring out which ones will not provide adequate return on investment can tilt how one’s team performs. Some players, whether due to health, opportunity, or other circumstance, simply won’t give fantasy managers what they anticipated at their respective draft slot.

The wideout position is no exception, and several carry some major red flags from a fantasy perspective.

Kenny Golladay, New York Giants

The New York Giants spent lavishly to acquire Kenny Golladay, giving the former Detroit Lions wideout a four-year contract worth $72 million. That deal installs Golladay as the bona fide lead receiver in the Giants’ passing game, a role in which he played well during his Detroit years.

However, while the Giants have some decent talent in their receiving corps, they still have Daniel Jones under center. In two seasons, Jones has shown little consistency and plenty of cause for concern. Golladay has mostly played with Matthew Stafford during his career, and the drop-off to Jones will likely leave a massive dent in his fantasy production.

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Boyd delivered a solid season in 2020, one mostly in line with his recent production: 79 catches for 841 yards and four scores. Those numbers put him in WR3/FLEX territory last year which, considering the Cincinnati Bengals lost Joe Burrow to a season-ending knee injury before Thanksgiving, speak well of the veteran wideout.

Still, the Bengals have more mouths to feed this upcoming season, and Boyd seems likely to lose work as a result. Tee Higgins, a second-round pick in 2020, appears primed for a breakout campaign. Additionally, the team used the No. 5 overall selection this year to bring LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase into the fold. Given Burrow’s connection to Chase at LSU, the rookie could realistically lead Cincinnati in targets. Boyd will remain fantasy relevant, but his fantasy price looks too high.

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns have done little to quell the hype around Odell Beckham Jr.’s recovery from a torn ACL. Quarterback Baker Mayfield seems particularly enthusiastic, saying Beckham “looks good, feels good” back in April. Now, with the Browns entering Year 2 of Kevin Stefanski’s offense, expectations have risen for what the team can do.

But Beckham has always faced high expectations, and he hasn’t met them over the course of the last four seasons for one reason or another. Yet, his ADP remains somewhat high, currently sitting at 25th among wide receivers in PPR formats. At this stage, Beckham needs to demonstrate a return to form before receiving the benefit of the doubt again.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens have ranked among the NFL’s least pass-happy teams under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and that will only change so much despite the team’s additions on offense. Sammy Watkins arrives to stretch the field while 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman could emerge early in his career as a go-to option. They join a cavalcade of pass catchers in Baltimore among which several talented players will go underused.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has endured two uneven seasons in the NFL and, with even more competition for targets, he could see his role significantly diminished this season. He will probably have a big week here and there — something to consider in best-ball leagues — but that doesn’t offer a ton of value elsewhere.