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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Justin Jefferson No. 24

Justin Jefferson comes in at 24 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) takes the field at training camp at TCO Performance Center. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Jefferson was Rookie of the Year runner up to Justin Herbert in 2020 and many believed he should have taken the award after stellar first season in the league. It will be difficult to match his huge numbers in 2021, but he’s shown that he can be a No. 1 receiver in this league and thrive.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 24, Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings, WR

Jefferson went off for 88 receptions on 125 targets for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. He surpassed fellow receiver Adam Thielen in every statistic except touchdowns, where Thielen doubled Jefferson’s total with 14.

Competition for touches

Thielen is the only other receiver who commands targets and we saw Jefferson average slightly more targets per game over the season. A season and non-Covid offseason under his belt can only help and I expect he’ll separate a little more from Thielen and have a bit more touchdown luck this year.

Team offensive expectations

The Vikings have a good offense with three start players in Dalvin Cook, Thielen and Jefferson. Tight end Irv Smith Jr. has a lot of upside as well. There’s no reason they shouldn’t the same or better than last year’s offense, which helped their three fantasy studs to big years.

What’s his upside?

It will be tough to hit 1,400 yards again, even with an extra game slapped on the season, but his upside is sky high if everything falls his way. Plus, his seven touchdowns were a little on the low side, and I hid upside there is much higher.

What’s his downside?

Regression is very possible after a huge rookie season. The good news is that Jefferson is reportedly one of the hardest workers at the Vikings facility, but that can only take a player so far. If Irv Smith Jr. steps up in the red zone and Thielen remains a preferred red zone target for Kirk Cousins, the touchdown numbers could stay low while the yardage numbers could regress with a few unlucky injuries in a longer season.

Projection

85 receptions, 130 targets, 1300 yards, 9 touchdowns