Here we highlight the top ten fantasy football non-QB leaders in fantasy points for the 2021 campaign. We are only looking at wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends for this article. This article also makes projections about each player’s dynasty relevance and whether to buy or sell. If you are in a rebuilding season that may take a year or two, it may be wise to sell one of these superstars to cash in on their draft capital to acquire new players for your roster.
To compile fantasy points for each player in 2021, we gathered data from Fantasy Pros Fantasy Football Leaders (2021) Top Overall – Weeks 1-18.
1) Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams), 439.5 fantasy points
Cooper Kupp dominated all fantasy football players in 2021, including all quarterbacks. The wideout averaged 25.9 fantasy points (fPTS) per game. He finished with over 20.50 fPTS in 15 of his 17 appearances.
The premier wide receiver (WR) finished the 2021 campaign with 145 receptions (#1 in NFL) on 191 targets for 1,947 yards total (#1 in NFL). He averaged 13.4 yards per reception, adding 16 touchdowns (TDs) in 2021. Kupp is the most consistent wideout in footwork, route-running ability, and yards after the catch. He is a super productive and truly exceptional talent.
The Rams offense struggled when Odell Beckham Jr. injured his knee in the first half of the Super Bowl. Thus, Kupp took over when it mattered most late in the game, with LA trailing. The 28-year-old caught ten targets for 92 yards and two TDs.
The veteran wide receiver showed up in the game’s most significant moments. He converted on a big fourth down and got a pass interference call on the goal-line. But, most notably, he caught the go-ahead touchdown (TD) that gave the Rams the lead and the 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.
In addition, his high level of performance in 2021 and Super Bowl LVI enabled him to achieve the triple-crown feat. Impressively, Kupp added Super Bowl champion and MVP to his historic year as the 2021 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Thus, he will be in contention as the overall WR1 in fantasy football heading into 2022.
So what are the implications for Cooper Kupp in dynasty formats? First, his connection with Matthew Stafford is like Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Only the Cooper Kupp-Matthew Stafford reign may outlive that of the situation in Green Bay.
Second, add in that Sean McVay is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL. Third, if you look at his college accolades, it seems like Kupp could finish similarly next season. Therefore, if you have Kupp in dynasty, keep him. If you don’t yet have him, try to get him, but he prepared to pay an arm and two legs to acquire him.
2) Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts), 373.1 fantasy points
Jonathan Taylor easily led all running backs, averaging 22.1 fantasy points per game.
In his 2021 campaign, the 22-year-old running back (RB) racked up 2,171 total yards from scrimmage with an incredible 20 trips to the end zone across 17 games. He amassed 18 touchdowns on the ground and two through the air.
In Week 18, Taylor rushed 15 times for 77 yards and caught three passes for an additional 18 yards. Taylor failed to score a touchdown for only the second time since Week 3 as he had a quiet game for his standards.
Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, and James Conner all scored at least 18 TDs in 2021. There were 55 previous players who scored at least 18 touchdowns in NFL history. Most of the players averaged 11.9 TDs the following year. Only nine of them scored 18+ touchdowns the next season.
Still, in startup drafts, the young RB should be a top fantasy option next season. He has one of the best O-Lines in the game protecting him, but he has Wentz at QB. So, while he will not have many opportunities through the air, he will continue to light it up the ground. And, for fantasy purposes, the latter in production is still enough. JT is just getting started. Get him while he is hot.
3) Davante Adams (Green Bay Packers), 343.1 fantasy points
Davante Adams averaged 21.5 fantasy points per game.
Adams is the top free-agent wide receiver (WR) at any position this season after coming off a career-high 1,553 receiving yards (franchise record) with 123 receptions on 169 targets (2nd most in the NFL). He has led the NFL in catches (432), receiving yards (5,310), and TDs (47) since 2018.
The elite wideout is a candidate for the franchise tag with Green Bay, which makes sense if QB Aaron Rodgers goes elsewhere. Accordingly, the Packers would want to get a maximum return for Adams by tagging and trading him.
However, according to Sportrac, the franchise tag for Adams would be valued at $20.12 million (the deadline to use franchise tags closes March 8), which may not be a viable contract for Green Bay without Rodgers.
The 29-year-old has been one of the best receivers since 2017, earning five straight Pro Bowl nods, including first-team All-Pro selections in each of the last two years. However, his fantasy value and ceiling may lower in 2022 as his performance is primarily tied to Rodgers’ fate and their elite connection.
The age-defying wideout just had a career year in 2021 and has shined since 2017. Adams remains one of the best dynasty wide receivers in the league. Yet, he will not see as high of a target share (31.6%, 2nd highest in the NFL) as he did in 2021 with Rodgers if he goes elsewhere. He may see a target share of 25% on another team, but his floor lowers.
It may be time to sell him while his value is high. Do so before he loses much value if traded to another team. But make sure to do so before he signs his next contract. Instead, look for a more insulated player, like Diontae Johnson, Tee Higgins, or Jaylen Waddle. However, if his value goes down enough, he might not be a bad buy.
4) Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers), 343.8 fantasy points
Austin Ekeler averaged 21.5 fPTS per game.
Ekeler finished his season as the RB2 overall, just behind Taylor, scoring an impressive 20 TDs and 1,459 scrimmage yards in 15 games. The RB carried the ball 16 times for 64 yards and made a TD while catching five of his 12 targets for 35 yards and another TD in the Chargers’ 35–32 loss to the Raiders in his final game this season.
This offseason, the Chargers will aggressively target a complementary back to Ekeler through the draft or in free agency. However, after a career year nearly across the board in his first season in Joe Lombardi’s system, he was heavily involved in the run and passing games, giving him a high floor each week.
Ekeler is coming off of a fantastic season. The former undrafted free agent finished the 2021 campaign as the RB2 overall, mainly due to his 20 touchdowns. However, that touchdown volume could be hard for Ekeler to replicate in 2022. In addition, Ekeler historically has not been that good at finding the endzone. Before 2021, Ekeler had just one season with more than six touchdowns.
Conclusively, I find it likely that Ekeler will regress to his career norm, where he will end up more like a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 in 2022. This predicted drop, along with his advancing age, tells me it might just be time to sell him.
5) Deebo Samuel (San Francisco 49ers), 339 fantasy points
Deebo Samuel averaged 21.2 fantasy points per game.
Deebo finished the season with 77 receptions on 121 targets for 1,405 receiving yards, averaging 18.2 yards per reception. Additionally, he packed on 59 rushing attempts for 365 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per run.
Deebo had 26 rushing yards on seven carries in their loss against the Rams. He also recorded 72 receiving yards and a touchdown. He was once again the heart and soul of the 49ers, leading the team in rushing and receiving.
The San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver, the team’s MVP on offense in 2021, had over 1,000 receiving yards by Week 12 and began taking meaningful snaps out of the backfield in Week 10. Samuel averaged around 11 snaps at running back in the final ten games. Despite the extra pounding at the position, the 49ers do not plan to change his role as a “wide back” with a contract extension looming.
At 220 pounds, Deebo can take the pounding that other pass-catchers cannot, though he has been injury-ridden during his time in the NFL, and this wide back role makes him injury-prone. The 26-year-old could lose a little value in PPR leagues if he catches fewer passes in this role moving forward. He is about to enter the final year of an undervalued $7.5 million contract, so we can expect a big payday for the breakout star either this offseason or next.
Additionally, dual-threat quarterback (QB) Trey Lance could also unlock and elevate an even higher production level for Deebo moving forward if the young QB pans out. As long as he gets plenty of touches every week, his playmaking skills give him WR1 upside, though he is a borderline elite WR.
But many are wondering if Samuel’s dual-threat role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense makes him a surefire first-round dynasty draft pick in 2022. Utilizing Deebo as a “wide back” just may have been a means to the end to make it past the Playoffs. Will he get the rushing touches next year that he got this year? Will his role change with the installation of Trey Lance? Only Kyle Shanahan really knows right now.
However, the plays became more predictable throughout the season, and opposing teams will surely catch on and stop him with more ease in 2022. There are no guarantees that his production will be similar next season. Additionally, I am considering him a sell based on his injury history. As such, he has been absent from 30% of his games over the years. I would look to sell him now while he is hot-off a breakout season, but this will pain me to do so as he is my favorite player in the NFL.
6) Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings), 330.4 fantasy points
Justin Jefferson averaged 19.4 fantasy points per game.
Jefferson concluded the 2021 campaign with 1,616 receiving yards on 108 receptions and ten TDs across 17 games, solidifying his status as a top receiver in the league. Notably, Jefferson came up just 16 yards short of Randy Moss’ franchise record of 1,632 yards in a season.
In Weeks 17 and 18, the two-time Pro Bowler racked up more than 100-yards, with a touchdown in the Vikings’ finale victory over the Bears.
Fantasy owners were also fortunate to have him appear in all 17 games without sustaining an injury or testing positive for COVID-19. Not even 23 years old until June, Jefferson will be a foolproof top-five receiver on draft boards next season, across all formats.
Jefferson is a dynasty keeper who has amassed an incredible 2,016 yards and 17 touchdowns over his first two years in the NFL. Dynamic with the ball in his hands, there is no reason that his fantasy production regresses anytime soon. So, hold on tightly to the young wideout.
7) Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals), 304.6 fantasy points
Ja’Marr Chase averaged 17.9 fantasy points per game.
He had 81 receptions on 128 targets for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021. Chase was solid in the 23–20 Super Bowl LVI loss to the Rams, recording five receptions on eight targets for 89 yards.
Despite the disappointing loss in the Super Bowl, Chase was excellent throughout the postseason by topping 100 yards twice and posting five gains of 20 or more yards across four contests.
While working opposite Tee Higgins, Chase will head into his second season as the primary big-play threat in the Bengals’ offense. The rookie wideout was even better than expected after the Bengals used the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft to select Chase. With a year of experience under his belt and plenty of room to grow, Chase will be a safe WR1 in fantasy drafts this summer.
Working with the youthful Joe Burrow as his quarterback, look for Chase to deliver WR1 fantasy points for years to come. Therefore, do whatever it takes to acquire the No. 1 dynasty WR for your roster in 2022.
8) Mark Andrews (Baltimore Ravens), 301.1 fantasy points
All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews scored 17.7 fantasy points on average per game.
He finished his 2021 campaign with 107 receptions, 1,361 receiving yards, and nine TDs in 17 games for the Ravens. Noteworthy, Andrews had a 25% target share—the highest among all tight ends.
The superstar tight end (TE) received 41 of 50 votes to join the 2021 All-Pro squad. Andrews broke most of the Ravens’ receiving records during his incredible 2021 campaign.
The veteran should be one of the top-three tight ends off the board in fantasy drafts next season. And after this 2021 campaign performance, Andrews might surpass Kelce as the first tight end off fantasy boards next season.
While we do not yet know Lamar Jackson’s status, we do know that the Ravens have locked up the premier tight end. As already one of the most dangerous tight ends in the NFL, Andrews will remain a big target for the Ravens’ passing game for the next few years as one of their most talented offensive weapons. Andrews is one of the top five dynasty tight ends, and I expect him to remain on that list for at least the 2022 season. Andrews is a dynasty keeper.
9) Najee Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), 300.7 fantasy points
Rookie RB Harris averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game.
He scored 30.20 fPTS against Cincinnati in Week 3, 24.70 fPTS against Seattle in Week 6, 27.40 fPTS against Minnesota in Week 14, and 29.60 fPTS against Cleveland in Week 17.
The 2021 first-round pick finished the regular season with 1,667 combined yards on 381 total targets. That was easily the most among rookie ball carriers in the last five years. He also had ten combined TDs as the Steelers’ workhorse.
Perhaps the spread of Pittsburgh’s offensive scheme with Ben Roethlisberger under center handicapped the young back. Either way, we will see how Harris responds to potentially becoming the focal point of a new-look Steelers squad that will be without its leader over the past two decades.
Harris was solid in his rookie year, earning his keep as a dependable, high-floor RB1 in fantasy. In addition, the Steelers will be upgrading the quarterback position this off-season, which will boost Harris’s stock in 2022. As a result, he should be a first-round fantasy pick in drafts next season.
He enters his second season after delivering the most combined yards among rookie running backs in the last five years, adding ten touchdowns. Expect the rookie dynasty running back to keep producing fantasy points for years to come. He is a keeper.
10) Tyreek Hill (Kansas City Chiefs), 296.5 fantasy points
All-Pro wideout Hill averaged 17.4 fantasy points per game for the Chiefs.
Interestingly, he finished the 2021 season with career highs in receptions (111 receptions, 3rd most in the NFL) and targets (159). He went for 1,239 yards, averaging 11.2 yards per possession. This postseason, speedster Hill finished with 25 receptions for 285 yards receiving and three TDs for Kansas City.
In the AFC Championship Game, the speedy wideout was instrumental in Kansas City’s hot start, catching seven of 10 throws for 78 yards and a TD in the 27–24 overtime loss to the Bengals.
Still, in his prime at nearly 28 years old, Hill should resume his role as a critical instrument in one of the league’s most fearsome offenses next year. He will be looking to extend a streak of five consecutive regular seasons with at least seven TDs. Hill arguably has several good years remaining. However, he has slowed down in recent years.
Additionally, with Travis Kelce possibly in the earliest stages of a gradual decline, Hill should remain an elite or near-elite option. But be cautious with Hill. It might be wise to sell him if you are in a rebuilding season, as he is still likely to net a significant return.
11) Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals), 287.9 fantasy points
Mixon averaged 18.0 fPTS per game.
12) Stefon Diggs (Buffalo Bills), 285.5 fantasy points
Diggs averaged 16.8 fPTS per game.
13) Diontae Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers), 270.6 fantasy points
Johnson averaged 17.2 fPTS per game
14) Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs), 262.8 fantasy points
Kelce averaged 16.4 fPTS per game
15) Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), 262.5 fantasy points
Evans averaged 16.4 fPTS per game
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