25 WR Stats from the 2021 Fantasy Football Season

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Another fantasy football season is behind us. Now is the time of the year to reflect on the season and dig into last year’s stats and trends. The Ballers are putting out their invaluable TRUTH episodes and we writers will be pumping out the “25 Statistics” series of articles for every fantasy position.

In this edition, we’ll be looking at some impressive, surprising, or just interesting wide receiver stats from the season. I probably could have come up with 25 stats on Cooper Kupp alone after his dominant season. His name will show up more than any other in this article.

All fantasy points and finishes are based on half-point PPR scoring

1. Let’s not bury the lead here. Cooper Kupp had the best fantasy wide receiver season in history. His 367 fantasy points are the most ever compiled by a wide receiver in a single season, topping the previous record of 353 by Jerry Rice in 1995.

2. Part of Kupp’s record-breaking fantasy season was his ability to stay healthy for the entirety of the new 17 game season. His 21.6 fantasy points/game were just slightly ahead of the 21.5 fantasy points/game Davante Adams put up over just 14 games last season. Rice still holds the record of 22.1 fantasy points/game, which he did over the full 16 game season in 1995.

3. Kupp became the fourth player to win the triple crown of receiving stats by leading the league in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947), and receiving touchdowns (16). The other three to accomplish the feat are Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, and Steve Smith. Kupp also led wideouts in targets (191) and first downs (89)

4. The Rams targeted wide receivers 72% of the time, the highest rate in the league. On the other end of the spectrum, we find the Falcons, who targeted wideouts a league-low 45% of the time.

For more target-related stats, make sure to check out my article on the 2021 Season Target Trends.

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5. Kupp’s 1,947 receiving yards were 331 more than the next closest, Justin Jefferson. That was the exact yardage difference between Michael Thomas and runner up Julio Jones in 2019 when Thomas dominated the fantasy landscape

6. Kupp led the NFL with 965 total yards after the catch, 49.6% of his total receiving yardage. Deebo Samuel, the WR2 on the season, led the league with a 10.4 YAC/rec average.

7. Not only did Deebo lead in YAC/rec, but he also led in total yards/rec at 18.2. That number is the lowest for a league leader since Marvin Jones led the NFL with 18.0 yards/rec in 2017. As you might expect, Deebo also led the league with 11.6 yards/target.

8. Obviously, Deebo was ultra-efficient through the air, but it was his work on the ground that set him apart. He scored more rushing touchdowns (8) than receiving touchdowns (6). He also set the record for most fantasy points scored via rushing attempts for a player with a WR designation. The table below shows how his rushing stats compare to all WR-designated players with at least 50 carries in a season. 

Season Wide Receiver Rush Attempts Rush Yards Yards/Attempt Rush TDs Fantasy Points From Rushes
2021 Deebo Samuel 59 365 6.2 8 84.5
2015 Tavon Austin 52 434 8.4 4 67.4
2016 Ty Montgomery 77 457 5.9 3 63.7
2011 Percy Harvin 52 345 6.6 2 46.5
2009 Josh Cribbs 55 381 6.9 1 44.1
2017 Tavon Austin 59 270 4.6 1 33
2020 Cordarrelle Patterson 64 232 3.6 1 29.2

9. Yards/route run turned out to be quite correlated to fantasy points in 2021. The top three leaders in the statistic were also the top three fantasy wideouts.

In addition to the top three, six of the top ten wideouts in yards/route run ended up as top ten fantasy wideouts. The table below shows the top ten fantasy wideouts and their yards/route run.

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Wide Receiver Fantasy Points Yards/Route Run
Cooper Kupp 367 3.19
Deebo Samuel 300.5 2.94
Davante Adams 282.8 2.81
Justin Jefferson 276.4 2.59
Ja’Marr Chase 264.1 2.54
Tyreek Hill 241 2.17
Stefon Diggs 234 1.84
Mike Evans 225.5 1.77
Diontae Johnson 220.9 1.83

10. Just five of the twelve WR1s from 2020 repeated the feat in 2021. They were Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Mike Evans.

11. No wideout has finished as a WR1 all three seasons from 2019 to 2021. Mike Evans, who finished as the WR13 overall in 2019, narrowly missed the streak.

12. No NFL team had two wideouts finish as WR1s in 2021, though the Seahawks were close. DK Metcalf finished as the WR12 with 206.8 fantasy points, while Tyler Locket finished as WR13 with 204.9 fantasy points. The Chargers were also close. Mike Williams finished as WR10 and Keenan Allen as WR14. 

13. Mike Williams was the WR1 through the first five weeks of the season. Over that span, he outscored Cooper Kupp in fantasy points 100.6 to 100.3. From Weeks 6-17 he was the WR40 and compiled just 85.6 fantasy points.

14. Amon-Ra St. Brown was nearly the exact opposite of Williams. From Weeks 1-12 he was the WR70, never finished better than WR33 on a week, and compiled 56.78 fantasy points. He then finished as a top-ten fantasy wideout in five of the last six weeks of the season, racking up 125.6 fantasy points and ranking as the WR2 over that span, behind only Cooper Kupp.

Getty Images / Nic Antaya

15. Ja’Marr Chase was the top-scoring rookie wideout, finishing as the WR3 on the season. His 264.1 fantasy points were the second-most ever by a rookie receiver. Randy Moss holds the record with 272.2 fantasy points as a rookie in 1998.

16. Chase certainly helped win some #FootClanTitles with his 50.1 point performance in Week 17. It was the top fantasy performance from a wide receiver on the season and fell just 1.8 points short of Jonathan Taylor’s Week 11 outing for the highest fantasy score from any position.

17. While Chase was the only WR to top 50 fantasy points in a game, Tyreek Hill was the only one to score in the 40s. He put up 42.1 fantasy points in Week 4 against the Eagles.

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18. The top ten single-week wide receiver fantasy performances of 2021 are shown in the table below. Cooper Kupp is the only name that shows up twice.

Wide Receiver Week Fantasy Points
Ja’Marr Chase 17 50.1
Tyreek Hill 4 42.1
Tee Higgins 16 37.4
Justin Jefferson 11 33.2
Cooper Kupp 7 32.6
Mike Williams 5 32.5
Amari Cooper 1 32.4
Cooper Kupp 2 32.3
Davante Adams 5 32.1
Deebo Samuel 4 31.7

19. If we extend the list past the top ten, there were 16 total 30+ point fantasy performances from wideouts over the season. Cooper Kupp had three of them and was 0.5 points away from a fourth in Week 6. Ja’Marr Chase and Tyreek Hill each had two 30+ points performances.

20. Hunter Renfrow caught 80.5% of the 128 targets thrown his way in 2021. He became just the second player in NFL history with an 80% or better catch rate on 100+ targets. The other is Michael Thomas, who’s done it twice.

21. Rondale Moore led NFL with an 84.4% catch percentage, though it came on just 64 targets. He also had the lowest aDOT in the league, averaging a depth of just 1.5 yards for every target. The next lowest was Braxton Berrios at 5.1 yards, more than three times deeper than Moore.

22. In his 14th NFL season, DeSean Jackson led the NFL with an aDOT of 19 yards. (Minimum 30 targets). Marquez Valdes-Scantling ranked second at 17.9 yards.

23. Justin Jefferson led the NFL with 2,071 Air Yards on the season, the only player with 2,000+ Air Yards. He also led the NFL with a 45.8% team Air Yard share. A.J. Brown wasn’t far behind with 45.2% of Tennessee’s Air Yards.

24. Despite their underwhelming fantasy finishes, DJ Moore and Terry McLaurin finished third and fourth respectively in total Air Yards. Get these dudes good quarterbacks already.

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25. Quez Watkins logged the longest play from scrimmage this season with his 91-yard catch against the 49ers in Week 2. It did not result in a touchdown.

Bonus #FootClan WR Stats

Kendrick Bourne was the only WR with exactly 55(!) receptions on the season. (Rob Gronkowski and Darren Waller also had 55(!) receptions, but this is a WR article)

Tyler Lockett had two 55(!) yard catches on the season but only one resulted in a touchdown. 

– Other wideouts that hauled in a 55(!) yard catch were:

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