If you’ve ingested any of our content here at Apex, you already know that sophomore breakouts are key to exploiting drafts and winning fantasy championships. Not only is the breakout rate highest in Year 2, but it’s the only predictable jump in market share and raw targets for wide receivers.
This is especially relevant for 2021 as the rookie wide receiver class of 2020 is arguably the best in NFL history, featuring fantasy studs such as Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, CeeDee Lamb, Brandon Aiyuk, and more. But the current market is letting a different sophomore breakout candidate slide too far in drafts: Jerry Jeudy.
Jerry Jeudy Was Arguably The Best 2020 WR Prospect
After the rookie explosion of the aforementioned players, it’s easy to forget just how highly Jeudy was valued by NFL draftniks and fantasy analysts during his collegiate and pre-draft career. Winning with incredible route-running, smarts, world-class footwork, and underrated speed, Jeudy ran a respectable 4.45 40-time at a solid 6’1″ and 193 lbs. He was regularly mocked in the top-10 and among the favorites to be the first WR off the board.
The Biletnikoff Award winner ended up going 15th overall to Denver as the 2nd wide receiver off the board behind surprise WR1 Henry Ruggs. Take a look at how his draft capital and analytics compare to the more-heralded sophomore wideouts, courtesy of PlayerProfiler.com.
|Player||NFL Draft Position||College Target Share Percentile||Breakout Age Percentile|
A few notes here:
- Draft capital is very important. It matters that Jeudy was taken before every other one of the above WRs in the NFL Draft.
- Jeudy had far more target competition than those receivers who had a higher percentage of their team’s targets. Jeudy still managed to earn a 75th percentile target share, siphoning looks from fellow first-rounders Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, and Jayden Waddle.
- With an 81st percentile breakout age (19.1), Jeudy ranks 2nd among his peers listed above – a hugely important metric in predicting NFL success.
His Rookie Year Was Sneaky Good
In any other year, Jerry Jeudy’s rookie campaign would rank amongst the best wide receivers in his class. However, it’s easy to overlook a 52/856/3 stat-line when Higgins, Claypool, Jefferson, Aiyuk, and Lamb dominated at an unprecedented pace.
But Jerry Jeudy accomplished something that only an elite few have done: have 800+ receiving yards as a 21-year-old rookie. Since 2000, only 11 players have hit those thresholds (per Stathead.com):
Certainly not a bad list to be a part of, especially considering he was attempting to corral passes from the pupu platter of Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, and Brett Rypien. His excellent prospect profile and promising rookie year combine to give him some very exciting similar players.
Jerry Jeudy wasn’t as impressive as many of the other rookie WRs but looks like a solid buy low. His draft capital, age & rookie year production lead to impressive comparables. Buy the dip. pic.twitter.com/0xsjxoK09e
— Mike Braude (@BraudeM) January 25, 2021
Even if you were disappointed with his efficiency, the historical results show how impressive it is for a 21-year-old rookie to receive over 100 targets and 800 receiving yards.
2021 Is Brighter (And Cheaper) Than You Think
We all know what would happen to Jeudy’s ADP if Aaron Rodgers were to somehow don blue and orange, but let’s assume it’ll be Teddy Bridgewater under center. Bridgewater was nothing more than average last year, but that would be a noticeable improvement from the Broncos’ 2020 debacle. He was even good enough to support three different top-24 WRs (D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel), and Jeudy is apparently his most frequent target at OTAs.
Considering Jeudy shared targets in college with other excellent receivers and still produced, the return of Courtland Sutton and the emergence of K.J. Hamler shouldn’t put a huge damper on his outlook. Jeudy led the team in targets by 20 (113) despite playing with Hamler, Noah Fant, Tim Patrick, and Melvin Gordon, and we know that the most likely volume increase in a receiver’s career is from his rookie to sophomore season.
Today’s market is clearly valuing Jeudy as the lowest priority amongst most of his peers:
Considering he was as good of a prospect as any of them and his rookie season hit a major age-adjusted threshold, he probably shouldn’t be an entire round cheaper than his closest 2020 classmate. We should be investing in strong positional cohorts, and a discount on a member of the legendary 2020 WR class is something to be exploited.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, then hopefully this route running porn is.
Jerry Jeudy’s route running 🤯🥴
— PFF (@PFF) July 6, 2021