There is little debate as to which wide receiver is going to be the first one to come off draft boards or fetch the highest asking price in auctions. Coming off his monster 2021 season, it’s hard to argue that it would be anyone other than Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams.
The question then becomes who checks in at No. 2? That is up for debate, and three candidates are looking to be that guy – Davante Adams of the Las Vegas Raiders, Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings and Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals. Each one can make a strong case for being the next player to come off the board as a roster cornerstone piece.
Before we get any more words on the page, the overall consensus in ADP solidly favors Jefferson. Is it presumptuous, or is the third-year Viking an unquestioned lock after reviewing all of the key factors at play?
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The case for and against Davante Adams
- Nobody has been more prolific over the last four seasons than Adams. In that span (57 games), he has caught 432 passes for 5,310 yards and 47 touchdowns.
- He has averaged more than 92 receiving yards a game in three of the last four seasons.
- His annual number of 100-yard receiving games has gone up as his career has worn on. He had five 100-yard games in 2018 and 2019, seven in 2020 and eight last season.
- Adams is the picture of consistency when it comes to games with six or more receptions. In his last 39 games, he has caught six or more passes in 35 of them.
- Despite getting a lot of defensive attention, his catch percentage remains among the best in the league for wide receivers. Over the past two seasons, he was targeted 318 times and caught 238 of them – a rate of 74.8 percent.
- The enthusiasm for Adams to come of the board second has to be tempered after going from Aaron Rodgers to Derek Carr at quarterback. While the former collegiate teammates have been reunited, there’s undoubtedly a downgrade from the back-to-back reigning MVP.
- Carr has never been a prolific touchdown thrower. In the last five years, he has thrown 112 touchdown passes, an average of 22 a year. Adams by himself had 18 touchdown catches in 2020 and has registered double digits in five of the last six years.
The case for and against Justin Jefferson
- In just two seasons, Jefferson has caught 196 passes for 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns.
- His numbers for receptions, yards and touchdowns all went up significantly from his rookie year to his second season. He finished 2021 with 108 receptions for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns.
- Jefferson has put up seven 100-yard receiving games in each of his first two seasons.
- He has caught six or more passes in 18 of his last 24 games.
- He has been deadly at home at US Bank Stadium. Of his 17 career touchdowns, 13 of them have come in front of Skol chanters.
- Jefferson still plays second fiddle to Adam Thielen in scoring range. Over the last two seasons in games in which both Thielen and Jefferson have played, Thielen has doubled up the touchdowns Jefferson has scored (24 for Thielen, 12 for Jefferson).
- Minnesota’s offensive line is a work in progress and often prevents the Vikings from throwing a lot, because it is a better run blocking than pass protecting unit.
The case for and against Ja'Marr Chase
- He burst on to the scene as a rookie last season, catching 81 passes for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns.
- Chase never went more than two games without scoring a touchdown throughout the season and ended up with at least one TD in nine games.
- He was a stone-cold killer when it came to scoring long touchdowns. His 13 touchdowns included receptions of 82, 72, 70, 69, 50, 42, 34 and 32 yards.
- He averaged 18 yards per reception and was routinely able to work his way open deep down the field in man coverage and find seams in zones like a veteran.
- The former LSU teammate of quarterback Joe Burrow was used extensively as the No. 1 receiver for on-field snaps. He was on the field for 86.1 percent of the Bengals’ offensive plays last season.
- His numbers were a bit skewed by having three massive games (266, 201 and 159 yards) that padded his season numbers extensively.
- Chase is far from the only show in town with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd as prominent targets. Furthermore, running back Joe Mixon can be expected for 20 touches a game.
Fantasy football outlook
This will be a tough call for a lot of fantasy players as each of these three can make a strong case for himself. Given his new offensively innovative head coach Kevin O’Connell, Justin Jefferson lands in the No. 2 spot, because he intends to bring the same mindset to Minnesota from the Rams, where he helped convert Matthew Stafford from a good vet to a champion and hopes he can do the same with Kirk Cousins.
Davante Adams comes in next at No. 3 overall. His numbers should still be outstanding, but going from a Hall of Fame quarterback to a Hall of Mediocrity QB is a pretty significant drop, and his numbers will suffer a bit.
Ja’Marr Chase lands at No. 4 overall due to there being just too many other offensive weapons in Cincinnati who can cut into Chase’s production more so than either of the other two. When the big plays aren’t there for Chase, unlike the other two, his volume alone doesn’t tend to get the job done, especially in PPR scoring.