Among the biggest disappointments from 2020 was the deflating rookie campaign from Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. Despite ranking sixth among all receivers in Air Yards (1,529), sixth in receiving average (16.5 yards per catch) and 19th in yards after catch per reception (5.46), he finished as Fantasy's 58th-best receiver in PPR points per game.
We can pin a lot of Jeudy's problems on his quarterback play. Only 58.1% of the targets he saw were catchable, second-worst among all receivers with at least 100 targets. He also had just five red-zone targets and caught none of them. Of course, Jeudy is also responsible for 12 drops, many of which came on contested catches.
The good news? Jeudy looked like his former self against the Vikings, albeit in limited playing time. He found separation through his precise route-running on several plays (including downfield on the Hamler touchdown) and made the most of it when he caught a middle-field throw from Drew Lock, evaded tacklers, followed a block to get to the edge and sped off for a 33-yard gain. He also got himself open in the end zone on a slant that Lock was a beat too slow on, and had a deep ball fall about a half-yard in front of him down the left sideline.
These were encouraging steps -- there were no drops, there were plenty of high-value opportunities and there were better passes thrown his way compared to last year's junk. To that end, he will either have an improved Lock as his quarterback, or he'll have a conservative thrower in Teddy Bridgewater. Either option is an upgrade over what he dealt with in 2020.
At this point, the biggest issue with Jeudy may have nothing to do with his skill-set and everything to do with who he plays with. Courtland Sutton is nearing a return to the preseason field, tight end Noah Fant will contend for six targets per game, and KJ Hamler flashed his speed against the Vikings. Denver's receiving corps is deep and dangerous. While that probably means Jeudy will almost never see any double coverage, it also means his target volume won't get to a point we'll really be comfortable with week in and week out. Remember, nearly all of his 2020 numbers came without Sutton.
Let's hope Jeudy becomes far more efficient even if his target share doesn't quite exceed what we saw last season. As of now, he's still worthy of a pick around 70th overall.
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Two new breakouts
When you shop for late-round receivers, check out Jakobi Meyers with the Patriots and Marquez Callaway with the Saints. They're different types of receivers in very different offenses, but both have similar upside for your Fantasy team.
The preseason film against Washington showed Meyers routinely getting at least a half-step separation. One of his moves is a quick stutter-step to freeze the defensive back lined up across from him at the snap of the ball. From there he races downfield and cuts quickly to get open for his quarterback. He played almost entirely out of the slot, which you may consider the old "Edelman" role in New England. He saw 20.4% of Cam Newton's targets last year, most of which came in the final 11 weeks of the season, so he'll be on the veteran's radar when he plays, but will probably see a mild increase once accurate rookie Mac Jones gets under center. Jones won't run as much as Newton and is more accurate. You won't lose with either quarterback throwing to Meyers, which is just another reason why I love taking Meyers in full- and half-PPR formats just before 100th overall.
Callaway has the chance to work as the Saints' No. 1 receiver for however long Michael Thomas is sidelined with his ankle rehab. He proved as much, running perfect routes and working as Taysom Hill's top target versus the Ravens' top cornerbacks. He beat Marcus Peters on an intermediate post route and got 11 yards after the catch, then beat him again in zone coverage on a 23-yard fade. He's tall, lean and fast -- maybe not Tyreek Hill fast, but fast enough to warrant defensive attention when he streaks downfield as well as threaten defenses after the catch. Point is, Callaway has some staying power for Fantasy even after Thomas comes back. He might even be good enough to be a low-end No. 2 receiver to begin the year and a No. 3 when the Saints come back to full strength, but you can draft him as a No. 4 option after 100th overall in all formats.
Rondale Moore is indeed a tremendous fit in Arizona's offense. He's got speed, he can line up everywhere (but was mostly in the slot against Dallas), and as shown twice over his 21 snaps in the game, is capable of taking handoffs and accelerating downfield. He'll be a problem defenses have to deal with, but there's still concern about his target volume from game to game as well as an injury history that could rear its ugly head at any point. But make no mistake, he can and will get open. He's an easy guy to take a chance on in Round 12.
Jaylen Waddle wasn't as prolific for the Dolphins, but we confirmed a lot of assumptions about what his role would be. Even without DeVante Parker and Will Fuller on the field at Chicago, Waddle lined up mostly in the slot. He didn't seem injured, running routes at what looked like full speed. He really seemed to have a knack for finding open space versus zone defense, which on one occasion ended sadly because Tua Tagovailoa completely missed it and instead checked down. Hopefully, that's something that gets fixed. Waddle is on my radar in Round 8.
Finally, the Lions started rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown in the slot against the Bills, and he looked swift. Playing nine snaps, all with the first-team offense, St. Brown was consistently finding space against a mix of Buffalo's first- and second-string defenders. Stash him late in PPR leagues.
More from the weekend
- In Indianapolis, Robby Anderson nursing an injury. . Marshall should draw a little more attention in drafts with
- Marvin Jones has his timing down with Trevor Lawrence, and Lawrence has his confidence in Jones established. The two connected on a pair of anticipatory throws and Lawrence put up a deep ball for Jones to go up and get 35 yards downfield on a third-and-long play against the Browns. He's an unsexy pick, but Jones has finished no worse than 29th in PPR points per game among receivers each of the past four seasons. We're headed toward season No. 5. Remember his name in Round 9 or 10.
- We led this story with Jeudy, but Hamler deserves at least a mention after he burned through the Vikings defense on an 80-yard bomb. Lost amid the highlights was an easy gain early in the game against zone coverage where his speed was obvious after the catch. He played in the slot plenty, but not every snap, which means he could become a headache for defenses for more than just his fleet feet. He's on the late-round radar.
- Tyrell Williams played some meaningful snaps with the Lions' starters, but he really didn't have the same kind of speed he once had. He's still a big man with a big opportunity, so there's obvious value to stash him on your bench to begin the year.