Side With the Under on Both of Justin Jefferson's 2020 Receiving Props
FanDuel Sportsbook wasn't modest when setting Jefferson's totals. His over/under for yardage is 725.5, with both valued at -112. For scoring, they've set it at 5.5 touchdowns -- the over is priced at +108 and the under comes in at -136.
Can Jefferson reach those totals? Let's take a look.
Despite playing on an offense that included Ja'Marr Chase, Thaddeus Moss, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jefferson caught a whopping 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. That's some solid production right there.
Jefferson was primarily a slot guy for LSU. According to Pro Football Focus, Jefferson ran 575 of his 583 routes from the slot in 2019. If math is not your strong suit, just know that that's a large percentage. PFF also notes that Jefferson led the nation with 37 explosive plays (i.e., plays of 15 or more yards) from the slot.
Despite trading one of the best wideouts in the league, Minnesota only has 110 vacated targets from 2019 -- outside the top-12 in the league. That is largely due to the fact that Minnesota had a 1.04 pass-to-run ratio in 2019, the third-lowest in the league. In other words, they weren't exactly throwing the ball a ton.
Now, assuming Jefferson will just take on Diggs' role is a dangerous thought process. Adam Thielen garnered just 48 targets in 10 games last year and is bound to see an uptick. Irv Smith Jr. is a talented receiving weapon at tight end who should see more looks in 2020. The team also signed Tajae Sharpe, who should also have a role.
Since 2010, 34 receivers have been drafted in the first round, 77 in the first two rounds, and 124 in the first three rounds. Here's how many of them have reached 726 receiver yards or 6 scores as rookies.
|Recorded 6+ |
|Drafted in R1||32.4%||26.5%|
|Drafted in R1-2||26.0%||24.7%|
|Drafted in R1-3||20.2%||18.5%|
As you can see, the rate of rookie receivers hitting those benchmarks are pretty low despite the high draft capital. Less than a third of first-round wideouts have been able to reach the yardage necessary for the over, and just 26.5% scored at least six times in their first season.
The percentages don't look any better if you account for the first two or three rounds, rather than just the first.
numberFire's algorithm projects Jefferson to total 682.7 receiving yards and 4.3 scores -- comfortably staying under the totals in both cases.
Our model projects him to post those numbers on 79.3 targets, which exceeds Thielen's 2019 16-game pace. While it's certainly plausible, I wouldn't bet on it happening.
As long as there are no factors (i.e., a lengthy Cook holdout) that result in a significantly more pass-heavy philosophy, I'd expect Jefferson to fall well short of his betting totals.
Both of the unders are worthwhile wagers.