Leading up to the 2020 NFL Draft there was plenty of talk about the depth of the wide receiver class. The top-end talent available could produce several surefire studs. Dynasty managers had a surplus of options to choose from. First-round selections at the wide receiver position such as CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson are held in extremely high regard across the fantasy landscape. But there are always rookie draft selections who leave fantasy managers disappointed. For some, that was the Broncos Jerry Jeudy.
While his 2020 campaign was far from stellar, was it as bleak as some would have you believe? The case can, and should, still be made Jeudy is poised to become a consistent fantasy producer as early as the 2021 NFL Season.
Of the rookie receivers selected in the first round since 2010, ten logged more receiving yards than Jeudy’s 856 yards in 2020. Two of them were part of the 2020 class (Jefferson and Lamb), but six of the other eight increased their receiving yardage output the following season.
Jeudy is likely to increase his yardage totals in the 2021 season especially if there is an improvement at the quarterback position for the Broncos. He ranked sixth in air yards, seventh in deep targets, and second in unrealized air yards during 2020. Being targeted deep down the field is extremely valuable for fantasy purposes especially when done at such a high rate. Even if current Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock does remain as signal-caller, the return of fellow wide receiver Courtland Sutton will only help take some of the pressure off of Jeudy in his second professional season. Defensive backs will need to respect the presence of Sutton and Jeudy both, and will allow the luxury of bumping Jeudy into the slot on occasion.
Perhaps the biggest negative Jeudy’s detractors bring up are the drops he struggled with during 2020. It is never a good thing when a wide receiver struggles to catch the football. This often feels like a narrative most often spun towards Jeudy, as he only dropped two more balls than Lamb, Seahawks D.K. Metcalf, and Bengals Tee Higgins. While it’s undoubtedly an area he needs to improve, it is entirely possible for him to take a big statistical leap despite the drops.
While Jeudy will need to focus on correcting the drops, he is already well on his way to being one of the best route runners in the entire NFL. He uses a combination of crafty footwork and head fakes to create separation, and he is a menace in the open field in yards after catch situations.
Jeudy is lined up at the bottom of the screen here, and easily beats the defensive back within five yards of the line of scrimmage. He streaks all the way to the endzone for a would be touchdown, but Lock never looks his way.
There were several times throughout the 2020 season when Jeudy beat his defender clean and was missed by Drew Lock. The case is often made Lamb could have had an even better rookie season if not for the quarterback carousel surrounding him, but Jeudy is rarely discussed. Per Pro Football Reference, Drew Lock was ranked 32 in quarterback rating in the 2020 season. Lock was inaccurate as only 69.8 percent of his passes were deemed catchable, 42nd among quarterbacks. It led to him tying for an NFL-high 15 interceptions.
The Time to Buy Jerry Jeudy
Recency bias is a powerful drug in all aspects of life; fantasy football is no exception. When a rookie comes on to the scene the way Jefferson did, it is easy to think of lesser production as an outright disappointment. It’s of paramount importance to remember patience is a virtue. Jeudy possesses elite traits in areas bound to help him find success and will be a valued fantasy asset sooner than later. Now is the time to make a move for him in your dynasty leagues. If the manager who currently rosters Jeudy has grown frustrated, I would be more than happy to part with a second-round rookie pick plus a wide receiver such as Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor. An expectation of Jeudy finishing the 2021 season as a top 24 option is sound, and the potential is there for an even greater payoff.
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