Should You Draft Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson in 2024


The 2024 Fantasy Crossroads series continues with a matchup between two of the best wide receivers on the planet. Justin Jefferson was on pace for more records before a hamstring injury last year, while Ja’Marr Chase struggled to show that consistent upside without Joe Burrow on the field. So which wideout should lead your fantasy football teams this year?

You know the drill by now.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

The Case For Chase

CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 30: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) reacts after getting a first down during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Cincinnati Bengals on September 30, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

The 2023 season didn’t go the way Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals expected. Injuries played a massive role. Chase stayed healthy, finishing the year with 100 catches for 1,216 yards and seven touchdowns. However, quarterback Joe Burrow entered the regular season with a relatively serious calf issue that limited his ability. But when he was fully healthy, Chase and the Bengals offense looked like themselves again. 

Burrow claimed he was fully healthy ahead of a Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals. In that game, Chase went crazy, hauling in 15 passes for 192 yards and three scores. And from Weeks 5-10, Chase dominated, averaging 8.0 receptions, 11.0 targets, 107.4 receiving yards and over 24 fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11. From then on, Chase only scored one touchdown, averaged just 11.7 PPR points per game and was the WR33 in fantasy during that stretch. The good news, of course, is that Burrow will be healthy this season and Chase will continue to be the clear alpha in this Cincinnati passing attack. There’s even a scenario where he sees an uptick in volume. A lot of uncertainty is surrounding Tee Higgins’ future with the Bengals and whether he will remain with the team or not. Chase has played 10 career games without Higgins, averaging 8.9 targets, 5.9 receptions, 76.5 receiving yards and 18.4 PPR points per game. But that doesn’t also take into account the four games where Higgins left early and played less than 30 snaps. In those games, Chase is averaging 11.5 targets, 7.0 receptions, 92.8 receiving yards and 18 points per game. 

Chase also continues to play in Zac Taylor’s pass-heavy offense. Since Taylor joined Cincinnati in 2019, the Bengals have ranked third in the NFL in early-down pass rate (58.6%). And during that same span, the Bengals have called pass 61.7% of the time in neutral game scripts, also the third-highest rate in football. We saw plenty of RPO usage from the Bengals last year, using the play type 11.3% of the time, the second-highest rate in football. That benefits Chase, who will almost always be the first (and only) read if they pass because the ball has to get out immediately. And the data backs it up. According to FTN Data, Chase was second in the NFL in RPO targets, sporting an insane 38.5% target share off the play type. 

The Case Against Chase

When we’re talking about some of the best players on the planet, you won’t be able to make too many arguments against them. For Chase, the only argument that can be made against him isn’t even about himself, but his quarterback. 

Burrow has dealt with a ton of injuries so far in his career, including two this past season. And while Chase is still a player you are starting each week regardless of Burrow’s status, it is worth pointing out that he averaged seven fewer fantasy points per game with Burrow out of the lineup in 2023.

Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

The Case For Jefferson

SAINT PAUL, MN – NOVEMBER 22: Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson (18) dances as the ball spins on the ground in celebration of his 39-yard touchdown reception from Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the 4th quarter of a National Football League game between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys on November 22, 2020, at US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Gee, I don’t know. Have you watched football since 2020?

Jefferson is arguably the best wide receiver on the planet. And the Minnesota Vikings sure think so. They just handed Jefferson a massive four-year, $140 million extension that not only makes him the highest-paid wideout in football, but the highest-paid non-quarterback, too. Last year was Jefferson’s first season dealing with injury, as a hamstring strain forced him to miss Weeks 6-12. And still, Jefferson caught 100 passes for 1,074 yards and five touchdowns. In 10 games played, Jefferson recorded at least 140 receiving yards five times, as he led the league in air yards per game (125.8). Jefferson not only dealt with his own injury but also had to play without quarterback Kirk Cousins for part of the year. But because he’s so damn good, Jefferson still got his, whether he was playing with Cousins, Nick Mullens or Joshua Dobbs. In five games with Cousins sidelined, Jefferson still averaged just over 100 yards per game, though he did average nearly four fewer fantasy points per game. Jefferson was going to make a push for 2,000 yards if he didn’t hurt his hamstring last year, and like Chase, he also plays in a pass-first offense. Since Kevin O’Connell took the Minnesota job in 2022, the Vikings have ranked seventh in early-down pass rate (55.7%) and first in neutral-script pass rate (63.9%). Jefferson will remain the clear WR1 in a pass-first offense, especially while TJ Hockenson is sidelined. 

The Case Against Jefferson

Like Chase, you really can’t make many (if any) cases against Jefferson. He’s the best wide receiver on the planet, is off to an historic start to his career and plays in a pass-happy offense. However, this is the first time in a few years where Jefferson has been consistently ranked closer to WR5 than WR1. The reason behind all of that? Minnesota’s current quarterback situation. Cousins is now in Atlanta, which means Jefferson will be catching passes from either Sam Darnold or first-round rookie JJ McCarthy. As we saw last season, Jefferson is still going to get the job done regardless of who is under center. But Cousins has consistently produced 4,200 yards and 30-plus touchdowns. That would be a shocking stat line from either Darnold or McCarthy this season. 

The Verdict

Ja’Marr Chase is my WR1 for 2024 and second overall player.

So yeah.

While I believe Chase could have a similar season we just saw from CeeDee Lamb in Dallas, I think the difference is quarterback play. Jefferson is going to be really good again this season, and I trust O’Connell and the quarterbacks to get him the football. But with a healthy Burrow under center, I have to lean Chase.

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