Justin Jefferson among all WRs in 2021 (min. 80 targets):
- 3rd in receiving yards
- 2nd in yards/route run (only behind Davante Adams)
- 4th in yards on deep passes
- 1st in catch % on deep passes
- 2nd in PFF rating (only behind Davante Adams)
- More deep receptions than Tyreek Hill
- 4th in NFL yards/reception
Adam Thielen took a backseat to Justin Jefferson towards the end of the year, averaging only 5.3 targets/game compared to Jefferson’s 10.3 over their last 4 games. In fact, in Jefferson’s second half of the season (8 games), he averaged 10.1 targets/game.
In fact, it seems as though the emergence of Jefferson allowed the Vikings to switch up their game plan and let Kirk Cousins sling it in the second half of the season. Cousins was averaging 26 pass attempts/game in the first 8 games compared to 38.4 in the latter half.
Week 3 was the turning point for Jefferson. He moved to a full-time role on the outside, and never turned back. The knock on Jefferson coming into his rookie year (from people like me) was that a) he played almost exclusively in the slot at LSU and the Vikings ran the least amount of 11 personnel (3-WR) in 2019, so there wouldn’t be much room for a slot WR to be consistent… on a run-heavy offense. And b) if he moved outside, can he handle that transition as a rookie?
Well, the Vikings ran the least amount of 11-personnel in 2020, but he a) moved from primary slot to primary outside WR and b) he handled the move to the outside with ease. Why? Because he’s that dude.
Keep in mind that Gary Kubiak is planning on retiring, so the Vikings will be looking for a new offensive coordinator. Whoever Mike Zimmer chooses will likely still be forced to revolve the game plan around Dalvin Cook and the run game.
How many WRs are you drafting ahead of Jefferson in 2021? For reference, the WRs near the top of drafts will be: Davante Adams, Calvin Ridley, Stefon Diggs, AJ Brown, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, and DeAndre Hopkins.