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How high is too high to draft Justin Jefferson in fantasy football?

You should get him as quickly as you can

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when the idea of taking a wide receiver with the first pick in a fantasy football draft would have been considered crazy. The consistent points were with the running back position for quite a while, with wide receivers being given a much lower priority. In today’s NFL, however, things have shifted significantly and, if you want Minnesota Vikings star Justin Jefferson on your fantasy team, so should your mindset.

Jefferson is, of course, the best wide receiver in the National Football League, having put up a record-setting amount of yardage in his first three seasons and coming off of a year that garnered him the Offensive Player of the Year Award after leading the league in receptions (128) and receiving yardage (1,809). He had six games where he hauled in double-digit receptions and 10 games where he broke the 100-yard receiving mark, so he got his owners significant points most weeks.

Given that Jefferson will continue to be the primary focal point of the Minnesota offense, as he should be, you should expect that he will put up big numbers again in 2023. He flirted with being the first receiver to go over the 2,000-yard mark for a good portion of last season, and he definitely has the talent to threaten that number again. In a best-case scenario for Jefferson, falling short of that mark in 2022 will drive him to push for it even harder in 2023, and that drive will see him increase his yardage and reception totals from last season’s record-setting marks.

One thing that could work against Jefferson a little bit is that the Vikings have improved the talent around the rest of the offense from last season. The team drafted Southern Cal star Jordan Addison in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and he’s likely going to step in and replace former star Adam Thielen. Thielen had clearly lost a step last season, and Addison should be able to upgrade that spot. If you figure that K.J. Osborn will continue to improve and the Vikings will have a full season of tight end T.J. Hockenson in the offense, we could see the first season of Jefferson’s career where his reception and yardage totals drop from the year before.

I would expect that Jefferson’s 2023 season will fall somewhere between those scenarios. Obviously he will continue to be incredibly productive, but I’m not sure if it’s realistic to expect him to continue to improve his yardage numbers every year. If I had to put some numbers on a projection for Jefferson’s season, I’d put him at around 110 receptions for 1,700 yards and 10 touchdowns, which would still be good enough to justify taking him at No. 1 overall in your fantasy football draft if you have the opportunity. He certainly won’t last much longer than that.

If you’re scared of the potential injury concerns ... and Jefferson has been able to avoid that sort of thing during his first three seasons ... the player you might want to target is Addison. In a scenario where Jefferson isn’t available, I think that the Vikings would be more likely to try to put Addison into the Jefferson spot than they would be to put Osborn or another option there, simply because I think Addison is the better route runner (though Osborn is pretty solid there as well), and Addison could probably adapt better to the role than Osborn. So, if you need a handcuff option for your fantasy team if you land Jefferson, Addison is the guy you should probably target.

If you’re serious about winning your fantasy football league and you find yourself holding the No. 1 overall selection, Justin Jefferson should be your pick, in my opinion, and at the very least should be on the short list of players for you to consider.