When the Rams signed Odell Beckham Jr. the same day Robert Woods was lost for the season, many discerning fantasy eyes turned to Van Jefferson. Could Jefferson remain a borderline WR4 streamer in fantasy football? We’ll have a better sense of the answer today against the Packers. Here’s what we might expect in Week 12.
Van Jefferson’s fantasy value
It’s hard to believe Jefferson is 25 years old in only his second NFL season — he’s less than four years younger than Beckham. The Rams traded stalwart receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick for the 2020 second-rounder used on Jefferson. He joined the team as the clear No. 3 receiver in a top-heavy aerial attack consisting of Cooper Kupp and Woods. After a relatively subdued rookie campaign, Jefferson has launched himself into fantasy conversations with top-50 WR numbers.
In the span of a few hours, Jefferson’s value plummeted and rose. First, the team signed Beckham, in what was seen by some as “the rich getting richer.” Already boasting a very good quarterback, strong backfield, all-world wideout, and three other terrific pass catchers, Los Angeles was now taking a flyer on a presumably in-his-prime OBJ. Part reclamation project and part boost-in-the-arm, Beckham cemented the Rams as a Super Bowl-caliber team.
On that same day, Woods tore his ACL in practice and was lost for the season. Jefferson promptly transitioned from a fantasy fade to a fantasy mainstay. There was no guarantee Beckham would be a better fit than a perennial WR2 like Woods.
Jefferson had chemistry with Matthew Stafford, averaging nearly 6 targets per game since Week 3. Despite being a painful loss for the Rams, Woods’ injury opened the door for Jefferson’s continued streaming potential.
Is Jefferson a fantasy starter in Week 12?
Two factors will help determine Jefferson’s likely output today. The first is Stafford’s health. Eleven days ago I warned on the PFN Facebook page that LA’s QB is one of the biggest sell-high players in fantasy.
His chronic back pain won’t simply go away, and the latest reports of elbow pain reinforce what we already knew: this is not a receiving corps to invest in. Kupp needs to remain in starting lineups. Everyone else is a significant risk until/unless Stafford proves he can fight through the pain.
The second factor is OBJ’s acclimation to the Rams offense. Can he assert himself as the No. 2 receiver? Or is the diminished Beckham of the past two seasons the most accurate predictor of his output with the Rams?
I would not bet on Jefferson this week in Green Bay, and I’d have trouble betting on him the rest of the season. WR4/5 production is quite possible. WR3 production is highly unlikely unless he sneaks into the end zone.