The Cincinnati Bengals have paired franchise quarterback Joe Burrow with the teammate he set records with by selecting wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The fact that Chase reportedly ran an unofficial 4.38 40-yard dash at his LSU pro day was just icing on the cake for a wide receiver prospect who has plenty of game speed on tape.
Chase is every bit the prototypical X receiver who can win one-on-one or with safety help over the top when lined up on the outside. Chase came to LSU as a four-star recruit with visits to LSU, Auburn, Michigan and TCU before deciding on the Tigers. Chase can't predict the future, but it almost feels like he could after watching how immediate and unstoppable his rapport was with former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
In addition to having game speed, what makes Chase so special is his explosiveness, strength and physicality as a route runner and in contested-catch situations. The former high school long jump state champion might not be a physical freak on paper, but he out produced rookie NFL phenom and former LSU teammate Justin Jefferson at 19 years old en route to absolutely dominating future Day 1 and 2 cornerback draft picks including A.J. Terrell, Trevon Diggs and Cam Dantzler.
Chase, who is a truly special prospect with a 99th percentile production profile and an 89th percentile athleticism profile, opted out of the 2020 season.
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We're breaking down everything you need to know about Chase from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
2021 Fantasy Impact
It's no surprise Bengals QB Joe Burrow reportedly lobbied for for his team to draft Chase at No. 5 overall. The two connected for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns on 84 receptions (21.2 ypc) in 14 games in 2019 on a roster that included Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Terrace Marshall. With A.J. Green gone, and the Bengals defense still likely to lead to so many pass-heavy game scripts, there's no better landing spot for Chase than in Cincinnati. This is a dream come true type landing spot for Chase and it will be a boon to the Fantasy value of Burrow as well.
While there will be a lot of options to feed for the Bengals with both Tyler Boyd and promising second-year WR Tee Higgins, but the volume should be up across the board as they are likely to find themselves in pass-heavy games with a defense that is still a couple years away and just lost top pass rusher Carl Lawson to free agency.
The Dynasty community is as excited about Chase as I am. He was coming off the board as high as No. 1 overall in 1-QB dynasty leagues before the draft and that shouldn't change now that he is paired with Burrow. In SuperFlex and 2-QB leagues, Chase will still typically be the first player off the board after Trevor Lawrence and potentially any combination of the other QBs in the big four.
- The best WR in the class when it comes to his footwork off the line of scrimmage. His quick feet and upper body strength allow him to immediately stack CBs off the line of scrimmage. His feet remind me of former Packers WR Jordy Nelson.
- Elite upper body strength that plays a key role in Chase's effectiveness. Chase's upper-body strength helps him in creating separation, at the catch point, and in creating yards after the catch via broken tackles.
- More straight-line and breakaway speed (4.38 40-yard dash) than most expected. and it shows up on film. This allows him to beat angles.
- Great in contested-catch situations on 50/50 balls because he has incredibly strong hands at the catch point.
- Averaged 21.2 yards per reception on 84 receptions in 2019. No, that is not a typo. Puts him in the 96th percentile among all WRs ever.
- Pure physicality. He can beat press coverage with his hands, but his physicality also shows up after the catch.
- Chase is the best deep ball receiver in this class despite lacking the height/length (see: advanced stats below)
- Surprising elusiveness combined with strength allows him to force missed tackles.
- Nuanced receiver who does an excellent job finding voids in zones (this meshed perfectly with Burrow).
- Incredible at high-pointing the football. Chase recorded a 41-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. He is only the 23rd WR to record 41+ since 2011.
- Excellent explosiveness and leaping ability -- Chase was the state long jump champion in high school (132-inch broad jump at his Pro Day).
- Elite-level body control and concentration while adjusting to passes in the air.
- Has lined up in the slot and can win both as a slot and boundary receiver.
- He is the best WR in the class at winning at all three levels: right off the line of scrimmage, in the intermediate range and deep
- Dominated one-on-one against several top SEC CBs who were ultimately drafted in the first or second round including: A.J. Terrell, Trevon Diggs, C.J. Henderson and Cam Dantzler.
- Put together one of the most dominant statistical seasons in CFB history at the age of 19.
- Big-time production against top-25 opponents at the collegiate level.
- Doesn't have the prototypical perfect build -- he's just a hair over 6-0 and 202 pounds.
- Although he timed a 4.38 at his Pro Day, these Pro Day numbers are typically inflated and he's not the fastest straight-line runner.
- Opted out of the 2020 season so we haven't seen him play since 2019.
- Played with a lot of talent around him at LSU at the skill positions and had the luxury of catching passes from Burrow.
|2019 v top 25||7||43||1,000||6||23.3||0|
|2018 v top 25||2||5||38||0||7.6||0|
Advanced stats to know
- 24 receptions in 2019 on passes that traveled 20+ yards in the air, the most ever recorded in a single season, per Pro Football Focus.
- More on deep passing efficiency: 14 of his 20 TDs in 2019 came on passes that traveled 20+ in the air; 24 receptions on 36 targets, Burrow had a138 passer rating when targeting Chase deep. He added 900+ yards on balls that traveled 20+ in the air with seven contested catches and just one total charted drop
- 16 "contested catches" in 14 games in 2019, per PFF
- 22 broken tackles in 2019, per PFF
- Second-best age-adjusted WR season (2019) by total receiving yards since 2000, per Scott Barrett.
- 25 catches on 41 contested targets (as charted by PFF).
- Marshall finished with a college dominator rating (46.5%) in the 92nd percentile and a 19.2 breakout age in the 86th percentile, per Player Profiler.
I've seen a lot of fair comparisons when it comes to Chase including A.J. Brown, former college stud Justin Blackmon and former Cowboys star Dez Bryant. All of those fit to some degree, but it was colleague Chris Towers who came up with a comp that makes the most sense to me -- a faster and more elusive version of Anquan Boldin. I see a lot of Boldin in Chase's physicality and dominance at the catch point.