Fantasy Outlook: Justin Jefferson

(John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Depending on what kind of league you play in, Justin Jefferson was being taken as a round 1 dynasty pick (guilty here) or a 2nd-3rd round player in redrafts. Either way, when drafted it was with the expectation to be a #1 WR. At the moment he is not performing as the WR1 on his own team. Justin Jefferson’s wide receiver ranking post week two is WR28. Teammates K.J. Osborn and Adam Theilen are coming in at WR21 and WR6 respectively. I’ve watched every snap and will now give a verdict on what to expect the rest of the season from Justin Jefferson.

Quick film breakdowns

Minnesota @ Cincinnati

Holy flying yellow flags Batman. The Vikings were their worst enemy, especially out of the gate. What it proved to be was a domination of the line by the Bengals. They left little time for Kirk Cousins to find Justin Jefferson. When he did throw his way, Jefferson did not help his case. Four passes, although not perfect and some well-defended, an elite WR has to come down with. For sure at least half of them. Now, his fantasy week should have been better as he did score that TD they did not end up giving him. But with his average targeted air yardage at 12.3, and Kirk Cousins not being able to stand in the pocket for more than 2 seconds, the game plan clearly was not working for the Vikings.

Minnesota @ Arizona

Vikings came out gouging the Cardinal on the ground. This proved to be beneficial as Jefferson’s TD came off of a well-timed play-action pass. My overall take from this game is there seems to be something off between Cousins and Jefferson. It may just be timing, but there is definitely something. Once again, Justin Jefferson did not help his case with his hands. In the last 2 minutes, he was unable to haul in another tough catch. A top-end WR has to be bringing in more of those difficult, well-defended balls.

Where does Justin Jefferson go from here?

He is going to have to do more than swap cleats with Adam Theilen (unless that is a Vikings yellow boot gimmick). Maybe a swapping of gloves is in order. Jefferson’s targets are there and they have their first home game this week. Getting in good timing with Kirk at home against a patchy Seahawks passing defense could be just the thing to get rocking. In his rookie year, he had 6 games outside of the top 40 WRs, 4 games in the top 24, and 4 games in the top 8. For where he was being drafted, the outside of a WR3 slot kind of games has to be cut in half.

Final Verdict

If you drafted Jefferson in the early rounds then it was well-founded. He is outstanding with the ball in his hands. One of the focal reasons he had a Doge-like ascent on draft boards was for his contested catch ability. If that contested-catch capability is not on the elite level then his level of separation is going to have to get better. The Vikings are all-in on Jefferson and he will have plenty of opportunities to prove he is elite. I do not see K.J. Osborn poaching much at all. Although, he is an interesting case. I personally am not waiting for anything else to confirm his elite status. He is a fantasy winner. Buy him wherever you can. I don’t see him on the market too much but keep an ear to the ground. Never know, another less than outstanding week from him may have others on the edge.

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