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Fantasy Football ADP – Draft Justin Jefferson or DK Metcalf?

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(All summer, Adam Pfeifer will be putting the tightest fantasy football picks under the microscope in our ADP Decisions series.)

Ranking wide receivers for dynasty purposes can be tough because there are so many incredible young wideouts in the NFL right now. And two of the best are DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks and Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings. Metcalf is coming off a stellar sophomore season while Jefferson just put together an historic rookie campaign, vaulting both receivers’ draft status into the second round of fantasy drafts. 

The case for Justin Jefferson

This time last season, Jefferson was the WR3 on the Vikings depth chart, behind Olabisi Johnson. And through the first two weeks of the season, Jefferson saw just six total targets, while ranking 80th among receivers in routes run. 

And then Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans happened.

Jefferson exploded for seven catches for 175 yards and a touchdown in his breakout game, and from Week 3 on, the rookie led all receivers in receiving yards (1,330). During that same stretch, Jefferson also led the league in 100-yard games (7), while also ranking eighth in receptions (83), 10th in targets (115) and fourth in fantasy points (258), behind only Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill. Jefferson ultimately finished the season with 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, giving him the most yards by a rookie receiver since the Super Bowl era. He quickly emerged as the top target in this Minnesota passing game, ahead of Adam Thielen. Jefferson finished the season tied for fourth in the NFL in first read share, per FTN’s advanced receiving stats at 29%. Meanwhile, his 25.6% target share was good for sixth among all pass-catchers.

We also saw Jefferson used a ton down the field. Among wide receivers with at least 50 targets last year, Jefferson’s 11.2 yards per target mark was good for third in the league. Jefferson also saw 34% of Minnesota’s air yards, which was tied for the 12th-highest rate in the NFL, while 2.66 yards per route run ranked second among all qualified wideouts. He had arguably the best rookie season by a wide receiver in the history of the league and was a star in every aspect of the game. Fast forward to 2021 and not much has changed in the Minnesota offense. Jefferson and Thielen are once again pretty clearly entrenched as the top two options in the passing game, as the duo accounted for 48% of the Vikings’ targets last year. Of course, this offense is going to run through Dalvin Cook, who averaged 25.4 touches per game a season ago. And with Minnesota sporting a much-improved defense from last year, we should see the Vikings possibly run the ball even more. With their defense struggling at times last year, Cousins attempted 516 passes, 72 more than he did in 2019. The Vikings allowed a score on 50% of drives against them last year, which was the second-highest rate in the league. However, if you consider that Jefferson didn’t see decent volume until Week 3 of last year, I think you can comfortably pencil him in for 130 targets, especially with the additional game in 2021.

Jefferson should once again remain efficient and if Thielen’s wild touchdown rate climbs back down, the touchdowns could come up in his second season. He is an easy top-12 wide receiver entering 2021 and is obviously an elite dynasty player. 

The case for DK Metcalf

During his rookie season in 2019, Metcalf flirted with greatness, posting 900 yards and seven touchdowns.

Last season, he flat-out achieved greatness.

In his sophomore campaign, Metcalf caught 83 balls for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns, finishing as the WR7 in PPR. He started the season with five-straight games of at least 90 yards, while posting two 100-yard games and scoring five touchdowns during that span. He slowed down a bit down the stretch, as Tyler Lockett put together some huge weeks, as opposing top cornerbacks began to shadow Metcalf. During his final five games, Metcalf scored just one touchdown and was held under 60 yards three times. Still, it was a fantastic season for Metcalf, who developed quite the rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson. Metcalf’s 14 end zone targets were tied for the fourth-most in the NFL and in 2019, he led that department as a rookie with 19 end zone targets. So I think it is pretty safe to assume that Metcalf will be among the league leaders in end zone looks again in 2021. He is also going to see plenty of high-upside looks, as Metcalf’s 15 deep targets ranked third among all wide receivers last season.