Mercifully, the poking, prodding and Wonderlic-ing has ceased. With player destinations finally set, this wannabe soothsayer forges ahead previewing what newly drafted contributors could accomplish in their fresh digs for fantasy/betting audiences. Today’s rookie under the microscope: Ja'Marr Chase.
Current fantasy ADP (PPR): 53.58, WR23
Current player props: Offensive ROY (+1100, DraftKings)
Upsides: Physicality. Tackle busting. Roadrunner fast. Flytrap hands. Precise routes. Chase owns all the tools in the shed to make an immediate impact. It’s why NFL scouts almost unanimously tabbed him as the finest wide receiver prospect to enter the league in the last decade. When he last took the field for LSU in 2019, he posted borderline-obscene numbers in multiple critical categories, including contested catch rate (50.0%), deep ball receptions (24, 137.7 passer rating) and yards per route run (3.52). Most importantly, he has an established rapport with Joe Burrow. The baked in chemistry should only enhance his Year 1 production.
Downsides: By all accounts, Chase is in impeccable shape, but his opting out last year may steepen the learning curve. With Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins on the roster, it’s possible he won’t command the lion’s share of the targets. Additionally, Burrow, though his rehab has gone smoothly thus far, remains uncertain for Week 1. Chief among Chase’s concerns is Cincinnati’s offensive line. The Bengals ranked No. 27 in pass-blocking efficiency in 2020, placing Burrow under duress on 32.3% of his dropbacks.
Fearless Forecast: 72 receptions, 1,029 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Final word: There are some weirdos who would rather line up and wait hours to consume White Castle sliders, nature’s laxative, than invest in a first-year wideout for fantasy, but Chase — similar to former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson before him — needs to be the exception. He’s a phenom who’s after-catch toughness is reminiscent of Anquan Boldin. Sliding into A.J. Green’s vacated ‘X’ position, a role that commanded 104 targets last fall, he’s a premium WR3 who could easily penetrate the WR2 class in 0.5 PPR formats. Confidently draft him in Round 5-6 range of 12-team drafts.