Potentially the first two picks in a dynasty fantasy football startup draft, Cincinnati Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase and Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson are neck and neck in ADP, with comparisons between the two players likely set to go on for the next 10 years. In the ultimate first-world problem, which wide receiver should be your target on draft day?
Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson 2022 dynasty ADP comparison
Everyone is clamoring for young receivers in dynasty. The longevity of the position tends to make this an investment that stays at an elite level longer than a running back, for example.
Add in game-breaking skill sets and record-setting performances, and these two former LSU wide receivers have helped redefine what a rookie breakout means in modern fantasy football.
That is why it would come as no surprise Chase and Jefferson are two of the earliest picks in drafts. Based on the May update to the DLF (Dynasty League Football) dynasty ADP, they are the first two picks, edging out Jonathan Taylor at No. 3.
It’s a virtual coin flip, as Chase (2.0 ADP) just edges out Jefferson (2.17). Only once has either slid outside the first three picks in the last six drafts. As drafts continue into the summer, will this trend continue? Is there an edge to be gained between Jefferson and Chase at their current dynasty ADPs?
Chase more than lived up to expectations as a rookie
It’s one thing to be considered a top prospect and be surrounded by all kinds of hype. It’s entirely different when you not only meet those lofty expectations but exceed them. That is what Chase did as a rookie for the Bengals in 2021.
In one of the best rookie receiver seasons in recent history, Chase was simply sensational. Despite sitting out the 2020 campaign, he didn’t miss a beat as a rookie. Playing in all 17 games, Chase was a backbreaker for NFL secondaries, hauling in 81 of 121 targets (23.7% target share) for 1,455 yards (fourth-most in the league) and 13 touchdowns (third-most). His best game came against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17, a 55.6-point outing where he went 11-of-12 receiving for 266 yards and three TDs.
Chase is a big play waiting to happen on every snap
When Joe Burrow needed a big play, Chase was his No. 1 target. The rookie from LSU was ninth among receivers with 1,617 air yards, accounting for 37.06% of the team’s total (10th-highest rate league-wide). This big-play nature did lead to him being a big boom-or-bust at times. He was a WR1 in just 29% of his games and a WR2 or better (top-24) in 41%. However, he only had three contests with single-digit points.
What’d scary is that it was just Year 1 for Chase. He is only going to get better. Not only that, but the Bengals had a sensational offseason led by the reconstruction of their offensive line. In total, they spent $74 million on new contracts for center Ted Karras (New England), right guard Alex Cappa (Tampa Bay), and right tackle La’el Collins (Dallas). With Burrow likely to have more time in the pocket, Chase could have an even better season in 2022.
Jefferson proved his rookie breakout was not a fluke
Jefferson is special. Plain and simple. A collegiate standout and teammate of Chase on their historic 2019 championship team, Jefferson was dominant in 2020. Despite a global pandemic and reduced time at facilities, he broke Randy Moss’ Vikings rookie records, recording 88 receptions, 1,400 yards, and seven TDs.
Jefferson followed that with 108 receptions on 167 targets for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021. His 3,032 yards are the most for any NFL player through their first two years. The WR6 in 2020, Jefferson was the WR4 in 2021, averaging 19.4 PPR/game. His consistency is so surprising as, like Chase, Jefferson makes his money on the deep ball (league-leading 2,218 intended air yards in 2021).
In his 33 active games, Jefferson has finished as a WR1 33% of the time. He’s ranked as a WR2 (top-24 or better) in 66% of his games. In 2021, 82% of his games (14) saw him finish inside the top 24. Not only does Jefferson have one of the highest weekly floors, but he has a ceiling few can match.
A head coaching change could help Jefferson
The move to new head coach Kevin O’Connell should help propel the Vikings into a more modern style of football compared to that of Mike Zimmer. O’Connell is the latest in a growing list of coaches who have left the Sean McVay coaching tree to assume head coaching spots in the league. He spent the last two seasons as the Rams offensive coordinator. With Kirk Cousins still playing solid football, he and Jefferson should benefit from the new offensive playbook.
Chase or Jefferson: Which WR is the right choice for dynasty at their current ADP?
Do you have a coin in your pocket? Just pick a side and flip it. Honestly, it is that close. Both Chase and Jefferson are 6’1″ and 200 pounds, under 23 years old, have sub-4.45 40-yard dash speed, and can win in multiple areas of the field and along the individual route. Since entering the league, they both have dominated and are in a tier of their own at the wide receiver position.
If I were to give a slight edge — and I mean by the slimmest of margins — Chase’s connection with Burrow for what should be the entire prime of their careers makes me want to lean towards the Bengals WR in dynasty. Minnesota is stuck with Cousins for two years due to his contract, and then who knows what will happen.
Kellen Mond could take over at that point, but the Vikings are likely to target a quarterback in an upcoming NFL draft. Jefferson’s talent will allow him to be an elite player in Minnesota or even on a new team should that day come. As we have seen this offseason, situations can change in the blink of an eye in the NFL.
Whether you want to go with Chase or Jefferson, there is no wrong decision. Both are more than worthy of top-three picks based on their dynasty ADP. Select either, and you’ll lock in one of the most valuable players in all of dynasty for years to come.