In a 2020 Draft class that was loaded with wide receiver talent, it was only a matter of time until one of them finally took the stage and performed the way we knew they could. On Sunday, Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson put the NFL and fantasy football on notice with his breakout performance. However, was Sunday’s game just a flash in the pan, or is this a talent that fantasy players need to jump on while they have the chance?
Justin Jefferson has the breakout performance of the season so far
After starting the season off as the WR3 for the team, the Vikings decided they needed someone other than Adam Thielen to get going in the hopes of getting Kirk Cousins back to his old form. How did this work out by putting the #22 overall selection Justin Jefferson as the WR2? Jefferson exploded with seven receptions on nine targets for 175 yards and a touchdown.
These stats aren’t just good numbers for a rookie; this is good for the entire NFL. His 104 yards receiving in the first half ranks third-most by a receiver so far this year. Also, Jefferson is the first rookie for the Minnesota Vikings with a 100-yard receiving game in the first half since Randy Moss on November 26th in 1998 against the Dallas Cowboys. Anytime you’re in the conversation with Randy Moss, you’re doing things right.
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Where the former LSU star shined was on the deep ball. While only seeing three targets on passes beyond 20 yards, Jefferson caught two of them for 102 yards and a touchdown, including one for 71 yards. The Vikings offense needed another wide receiver to go alongside Thielen.
If Jefferson can continue to get these looks, it helps open up everyone else on the offense, including Dalvin Cook, who had his best game of the season. With waiver wires running in just a few short days, it will not surprise me if Justin Jefferson will be the number one waiver claim for Week 4.
Justin Jefferson’s RAS score was backed up by his play during Week 3
Relative Athletic Score, a metric and analytics system created by Kent Platte, takes player measurements and puts them on an easy to understand 0 to 10 scale compared to their position group. A final score is then produced, which is also on a 0 to 10 scale to show overall athleticism for a draft prospect. This data can be used to chart trends over time, indicating that overall athleticism is likely a contributing factor to player success in the NFL.
Jefferson scored an elite 9.69 out of 10, according to Platte. While Jefferson has good size at 6’1” and 202 pounds, it is the explosiveness that sets him apart. His 37.5” vertical and 10’06” broad jump are all in the elite category. Where Jefferson shined was in the 40 where he showed off his elite speed.
While his time of 4.43 is impressive, some other points stick out. His 20-yard split of 2.53 was an elite 9.66 out of 10. Also, Jefferson hit 21.5 mph during the run, showing off his top-end speed, which was on display against the Tennessee Titans.
Jefferson is a player you need to make a priority for Week 4
After seeing the offense’s success, there is no way the team will go back and relegate Jefferson to the WR3 again. He brings the much-needed compliment that Thielen and Cousins have been missing due to the departure of Stefon Diggs.
Currently available in 33.8% of leagues, Jefferson needs to be towards the top of the list when setting your waiver claims for fantasy football. Jefferson could very well end up being the 2020 version of D.J. Chark, Terry McLaurin, or Darius Slayton. A player that comes in under the radar and ends up taking managers to championships. I think you will regret letting this opportunity pass and not take a shot on Jefferson’s talent.
Looking ahead in their schedule, the Vikings play the Houston Texans and then games against the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons. As far as a three-game stretch goes, this is fantastic. The Vikings will need to score points in those games, and the wide receivers will be the players who benefit the most from the game script. Jefferson will likely be a WR3 for those matchups.
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