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Justin Jefferson Start/Sit Week 6: Should his ankle concern fantasy managers?

Should fantasy managers start or sit Vikings WR Justin Jefferson in Week 6 following a week of missed practices?

One of the elite receivers in the NFL, second-year pro Justin Jefferson has become a weekly must-start in fantasy football. But should that be the case in Week 6? With Jefferson missing practice time in the lead-up to the Minnesota Vikings’ matchup against the Carolina Panthers, should fantasy managers start or sit him in Week 6?

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson failed to record a full practice this week

Usually, injury and practice reports are cut and dry. You see the name, what they did, and the reason why. The keyword here is “usually” — Jefferson’s situation this week is a little more convoluted.

Jefferson did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday after injuring his ankle in Week 5. On Minnesota’s Friday injury report, Jefferson was listed as a limited participant. In his press conference earlier in the day, Jefferson said he felt “pretty good,” adding that his “ankle was just a little sore,” and he had been getting treatment on it.

Interestingly, Jefferson was not spotted on the field in the open portion of practice, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Yet, despite this, Jefferson was removed from the injury report and does not carry a designation into Sunday’s contest against the Panthers.

Fellow WR Adam Thielen (foot) had a similar week as well, recording back-to-back DNPs with a limited practice to close out the week.

Jefferson has become a must-start in fantasy when healthy

Jefferson finished 2020 with 1,400 receiving yards — a total that set rookie records in both the Super Bowl era and Vikings franchise history. The LSU product led all rookies last season with 88 receptions and was tied for the second-most touchdowns with 7. He did something no other wide receiver in NFL history had done — turn 125 or fewer targets into 1,400 yards. He has continued to build on this success in 2021.

Through five games, Jefferson has 33 receptions on 45 targets for 462 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is currently the WR9 in PPR scoring, averaging 19.53 fantasy points per game and 2.16 fantasy points per target. After posting WR2 or better numbers in 50% of his games last season, Jefferson is off to a better start in 2021, finishing inside the top 24 in all but one contest.

Since entering the NFL, Jefferson is No. 4 among WRs in yards per game with 88.7, No. 8 in receptions (121), and No. 12 in touchdowns (10).

But as he heads into a difficult matchup at less than 100% health, how should fantasy managers view Jefferson in Week 6?

Should fantasy managers start or sit Jefferson in Week 6?

Despite some injuries, the Panthers are no joke as a defense. They are fifth in fantasy points allowed to WRs at 28.88 and give up just 127 receiving yards per game (fifth-fewest). However, they get lit up by the opposing team’s WR1, ranking 32nd in DVOA vs. the position.

That’s Jefferson. Not only is he the Vikings’ No. 1 WR, but he ranks fifth in DVOA among WRs with at least 20 targets.

Despite the lack of practices, all signs point to Jefferson being good to go on Sunday. If that is the case, he is a must-start for fantasy and a top-six WR in Week 6. He brings too much upside to leave on your bench. Kirk Cousins continuously looks his way, posting a 131.1 passer rating when targeting Jefferson. Fire him up in Week 6 for fantasy.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.

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