Justin Jefferson was the best rookie wide receiver last season. Following that breakout, his average draft position places him in the second round this year. Will Jefferson be worth the high draft pick, or could he be a one-year wonder? We will do a deep dive into his 2020 production, analyze how the injury to Irv Smith could affect his stock and look at what to project for him in 2021 NFL fantasy football.
2021 Fantasy Football Player Previews: Justin Jefferson
|PPR Finish in 2020||Half-PPR Finish in 2020||Standard Finish in 2020|
|WR #6||WR #6||WR #6|
|PPR PPG Finish in 2020||Half-PPR PPG Finish in 2020||Standard PPG Finish in 2020|
|WR #9||WR #8||WR #9|
Jefferson’s Production in 2020
Despite being a first-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Jefferson came off the board around the 11th round in fantasy drafts. His first two games at the NFL level were subpar, but then in Week 3 he had a top-five receiver game. Following that performance he never really looked back. Jefferson played in 16 games on the season, seeing 125 targets (16th among receivers) for 88 receptions (14th), 1,400 yards (third) and seven touchdowns (19th). He accounted for a 25.7% target share (ninth) and a 19.4% red zone target share.
Irv Smith’s Injury Impact
On Sept. 1 the news came out that Smith’s meniscus injury would require surgery. While earlier reports were more positive, this surgery will likely end his season since the timetable to return is anywhere from four to five months. And since the Vikings are not likely to be a very good team, Smith likely will not play until next season. In response, the Vikings traded for Jets tight end Chris Herndon, who will likely not be able to fill the void in the red zone that Smith leaves.
Jefferson’s Outlook in 2021
It is easy to project Justin Jefferson as a top-10 wide receiver in fantasy this season. The injury to Smith could have a positive impact on Jefferson’s outlook, as Smith was projected to be a huge red-zone target for the team. Plus, Adam Thielen is likely to face some touchdown regression this year. Thielen scored 14 last season, and Jefferson only scored seven. If the touchdowns increase for Jefferson, it is entirely possible that he could crack the top five at his position. There were injury concerns earlier on in training camp, but the AC joint sprain appears to be behind him. It should be all systems go for drafting Jefferson in the second round.
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