Who’s up for some Justin Jefferson? He had a pretty awesome rookie year, but at the same time, he’ll likely see more attention from opposing defenses.

When I look at Jefferson’s rookie season, I am most impressed by the yards per target. That is, when you include the incompletions, he averaged 11.2 yards per pass play. Among players with at least 100 targets (not just rookies, but all players), that’s the 3rd-best number in the last 20 years. This guy looks like he’s for real.

They started him off as a No. 3 receiver last year, but after they put him in the starting lineup last year, he averaged 6 catches for 95 yards in his final 15 games, with 7 TDs and a pair of 2-point conversions. Pretty awesome stuff.

My concern is, what happens when defenses start handling him differently? Maybe he sees a lot more double teams year or whatever. And it’s also tough simply following up a great season.

They didn’t use him much around the goal line last year, so that’s one area where he could be better.

Anyway, below see the rundown of the last 14 rookie receivers who finished with top-20 numbers. Only six of those guys came back and posted better numbers in their second season. (And by “numbers”, I mean ranked higher among wide receivers in PPR production.)

You would think that since Jefferson now has some experience and knows the offense better, he would likely see more targets. That’s not necessarily the case. Of those 14 previous receivers, only 4 of them saw more balls in their second year.

In the chart below, the rank numbers (Rk) shows where the player ranked among wide receivers using PPR scoring.

TOP-20 ROOKIE RECEIVERS (since 2000)
YearPlayerRecYdsTDRkNext YearRk
2003Anquan Boldin, Ariz.1011,3778356-623-152
2016• Michael Thomas, N.O.921,13797104-1245-56
2014• Odell Beckham, NYG911,30512896-1450-135
2014Mike Evans, T.B.681,051121374-1206-322
2004Michael Clayton, T.B.801,19371432-372-089
2008Eddie Royal, Den.9198051437-345-281
2006• Marques Colston, N.O.701,03881698-1202-118
2010Mike Williams, T.B.65964111665-771-336
2014Kelvin Benjamin, Car.731,0089160-0-0--
2011• A.J. Green, Cin.651,05771797-1350-114
2013Keenan Allen, S.D.711,04681877-783-436
2016• Tyreek Hill, K.C.61593121875-1183-88
2017• JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.58917820111-1426-78
2018Calvin Ridley, Atl.64821102063-866-727
2020Justin Jefferson, Min.881,40076?-?-??

—Ian Allan