Fantasy Football: Ja’Marr Chase Will Be Just Fine

I see a lot of concern in fantasy football circles about Ja’Marr Chase after his admittedly poor preseason. A lot was made about the fact that he dropped 4 of the 5 passes thrown his way, and for this reason some people are starting to fade him. His ADP has fallen over the past month:

New York Post had an article the other day saying the “panic” over Ja’Marr Chase is “warranted.”

Now they’re saying Chase could lose early season snaps to Auden Tate.

In general, I’m hearing a lot of trepidation about Chase in terms of his ability to produce in fantasy football. I’m here to tell you to ignore the noise and short-sightedness and buy the dip. If you still have a draft ahead of you, don’t be afraid to draft Chase. If you’ve already had your draft and the Chase owner is getting worried, try and make a trade for him while his value is low–because his value is as low as it’s ever going to be right now.

And if you have Chase on your team, have no fear. He’s going to be just fine.

Now I’m personally not going to be starting him in week 1, but that’s because I have two receivers that are better than him on my roster already, and I’m just fine in terms of my flex options. I don’t need to start Chase, so I have the luxury of waiting until he figures it out. But I absolutely expect him to be a fixture in my lineup down the road this season.

Chase is simply shaking off some rust and getting back into football shape after sitting out the 2020 college football season. He is not going to drop 80% of his targets going forward.

Have people forgotten who Ja’Marr Chase is? This dude is an absolute baller at the wide receiver position.

In 2019, with Joe Burrow as his QB at LSU, he put up 1,780 yards on 84 receptions, and 20 of those receptions were touchdowns.

Do I have to post the highlight tape in order to remind people of how good this dude is?

He was on the team with Justin Jefferson, and Chase was the #1 guy. We all know how good Justin Jefferson is.

Ja’Marr Chase is even better.

He can go up and catch contested 50/50 balls. He has a wide catch radius. He has burner speed. He can get open deep. The dude is the full package.

His best game of his college career was the National Championship Game against Clemson, meaning he got it done against the toughest competition when the stakes were highest.

Joe Burrow wanted the Bengals to draft him. Everyone thought the Bengals should draft Burrow some protection on the offensive line, but Burrow said, “Nah, I want Ja’Marr Chase. Fuck protection.” Maybe Burrow didn’t say those exact words, but the Bengals did give him some input on who to take with the 5th pick, and they wound up taking Burrow’s top receiver from LSU. You do the math.

Anyone who thinks Chase will not be Burrow’s top option is kidding themselves. Sure, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are nice receivers, but Ja’Marr Chase is Joe Burrow’s guy. They go way back. Joe Burrow has complete trust in this guy, and the Bengals drafted him to be Joe Burrow’s #1 target for years to come.

You do not spend a top-5 pick on a wide receiver without planning for him to be The Guy.

And the Bengals, as shitty of an organization as they are, actually have a pretty good knack for finding wide receivers in the draft. The Bengals seem to always have good receivers: from Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh to AJ Green, now Boyd and Higgins. Plus, the Bengals were the team that drafted both Marvin Jones Jr. and Mohamed Sanu. They don’t do much right, but the one thing they do know how to do is pick wideouts. And Ja’Marr Chase is the next in line for them.

It really amazes me that people have already forgotten just how great a wide receiver prospect Ja’Marr Chase is.

If he were eligible for the 2020 draft, he would’ve been the first receiver off the board. It’s a fact. He would have gone ahead of Henry Ruggs, ahead of CeeDee Lamb and ahead of Jerry Jeudy.

In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say Ja’Marr Chase is the best wide receiver prospect to come out of college in the past 6 years. Seriously.

Let’s go back and look at the previous drafts and who was the top receiver taken in each of them:

  • 2020: Henry Ruggs, pick 12
  • 2019: Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, pick 25
  • 2018: DJ Moore, pick 24
  • 2017: Corey Davis, pick 5
  • 2016: Corey Coleman, pick 15
  • 2015: Amari Cooper, pick 4

Ja’Marr Chase would go ahead of all those guys, definitively, except for Amari Cooper. And I’m not even saying Amari Cooper was a better prospect coming out of college than Chase, I’m just saying you can’t definitively say Chase is a better prospect than Cooper was. It’s debatable.

We can even go back further than 2015 and compare Chase to other top WR draft picks:

  • 2014: Sammy Watkins, pick 4
  • 2013: Tavon Austin, pick 8
  • 2012: Justin Blackmon, pick 5
  • 2011: AJ Green, pick 4

I wouldn’t put him ahead of AJ Green, because AJ Green was one of the greatest WR prospects ever. And even though Justin Blackmon was a major bust, he was still an elite WR prospect coming out of Oklahoma State. I don’t know that you could put Chase ahead of Blackmon as a prospect. It would be close.

But I’d definitely put him ahead of Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin.

So that means Ja’Marr Chase is one of the 5 best WR prospects of the past decade. I’d put him as the #1 WR prospect of the last 5 years at least.

In terms of draft/combine grades given out by NFL.com, Chase is the second-best WR draft prospect since 2014, behind only DeVonta Smith, who is 0.01 ahead of Chase according to them. I put all the data into a table because it’s on different pages, but you can go to the link and check it out for yourself:

Unfortunately it only goes back to 2014, but you get the point.

Stop worrying about this guy. He’ll be fine. He needs to shake off some rust. Even if it takes him a month or so to get into peak form, I am still tremendously bullish on Chase for the whole season.

Even with the presence of Higgins and Boyd, Chase will eat in this offense. Joe Burrow loves him; they already have the rapport and the connection from their days at LSU.

This Bengals offense was able to support 3 wide receivers with over 100 targets last season, and that’s with Joe Burrow only playing about 9.5 games. As a rookie in those 9.5 games, Burrow had 404 pass attempts last season. That would’ve been a 16-game pace for over 640 pass attempts. There are more than enough targets to go around for all three wideouts in that offense.

Zac Taylor is going to ask Joe Burrow to pass it a ton. Ja’Marr Chase will get plenty of targets. I expect him to easily live up to his ADP of round 7. He has a great chance of finishing as a top-20 WR.

Don’t fall for the short-term noise: Ja’Marr Chase is a stud and will deliver the goods for fantasy owners this year.

Austin Frank

Sports blogger

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