We all know that Fantasy Twitter loves a good debate! One that I’ve seen discussed before is CeeDee Lamb vs Justin Jefferson: who should be higher in Dynasty rankings? Lamb was considered the best WR prospect from the 2020 class, but Jefferson had the better stats. I decided to take a closer look at various factors to determine which one I would prefer going forward. Enjoy!
CD: CeeDee Lamb was a 4-star recruit out of High School that committed to the University of Oklahoma in 2016. After a redshirt year, he recorded 807 receiving yards and 7 TDs in his first eligible season. His final season as a Junior earned him All-American honors in 2019, after he exploded for over 1300 yards and 14 TDs with QB Jalen Hurts.
3 YR College career totals:
JJ: Justin Jefferson was a 3-star prospect and not highly recruited like Lamb was. Fortunately, he had connections with LSU including two older brothers that had previously played for the Tigers and one of his childhood friends being the son of the LSU Head Coach at the time, Les Miles. Despite not being the typical LSU recruit, he was still able to leverage his ties into a scholarship with them. He only caught 1 ball as a Freshmen but cracked the starting lineup as a true Sophomore and put up a respectable 875 receiving yards. The blow-up came his Junior season while playing with Joe Burrow: 111 receptions for 1540 yards and 18 TDs put him on the radar of every NFL team looking for WR help going into the 2020 Draft.
3 YR College career totals:
Even though Lamb had an extra year as a starter, I still have to give him the nod over Jefferson for College Production because of his ability to get onto the field and produce as a Freshmen.
Winner: CeeDee Lamb
CD: Lamb was the 3rd WR taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, pairing up with Dak Prescott in Dallas. He spent most of his time lined up inside, setting the rookie record for receiving yards from the slot (877). His 109 targets were just 17.7% of the team’s total targets.
Lamb faced stiff competition for targets from Cooper and Gallup, which is even more reason to be impressed by his production. His full season pace during the 5 games he played with Prescott (before his season-ending injury) was 92 receptions for 1,385 yards and 6 TDs. Keep in mind that Dak was averaging a ridiculous 50.25 attempts per week through the 4 games that he finished, so I’m not going to expect these numbers from Lamb in ’21. There is still plenty of upside for him though.
JJ: Similar to their college careers, Jefferson got off to a slower start than Lamb. He ceded snaps to Olabisi Johnson in the first two weeks of the season (remember when Johnson was a concern for Jefferson managers in training camp? Good times!). In week 3, he was plugged into the starting lineup and thrashed the Titans with 175 receiving yards. From that point, he went on to set the rookie record for receiving yards and quickly became a fantasy stud.
Jefferson surprisingly played very few snaps out of the slot position, which is what most expected from him based on his college career. He lined up on the outside for over 80% of snaps. If we just look at the games where he started (weeks 3-17) his full season pace would be 94 receptions for 1,520 yards and 8 TDs.
Even though total # of routes run and target counts were similar for both rookies, Jefferson saw 500 more air yards than Lamb on the season so it’s understandable that the yardage totals look the way they do. With that being said, Jefferson still had the more productive season by a wide margin. This section is a clear win for the “Jet”.
Winner: Justin Jefferson
CD: Now, I want to dive in beyond the surface stats and really look at efficiency and surrounding factors. As I mentioned before, Lamb mostly played as the Dallas slot WR and typically ran short to intermediate routes (9.1 average target distance was ranked 71st among WRs). His 1.82 yards per route run ranked 43rd and he achieved an average of 1.56 yards of separation per target which was the 68th best.
Fantasy-wise, Lamb ranked 39th in fantasy points per route run and 40th in fantasy points per target. We also must consider that he dealt with subpar QB play for most of the season after Dak went down, which had a negative impact on his production. Player Profiler gave his “Target Quality Rating” a 5.7 which ranked 56th among WRs.
JJ: Jefferson earned a much higher target share than Lamb’s 17.7%, as he received 25.7% of the Vikings’ targets. Adam Thielen was the only other legit receiving threat for Minnesota, so Jefferson was put in a great situation for opportunities. Even as a rookie, he was one of the most efficient receivers in the NFL. His 11.2 yards per target was 4th best and 2.66 yards per route run ranked him at #5 in that department.
Looking at his fantasy output, he had the 7th most fantasy points per route run and ranked 14th in fantasy points per target. His QB situation was much better than Lamb’s, as Kirk Cousins had the 9th best completion rate (67.6%) while putting together the best season of his career in 2020. Jefferson’s “Target Quality Rating” was 6.6 (13th highest among WRs).
Side-by-Side snapshot of the metrics that were discussed: *(credit to Player Profiler for stats)
|Target Quality Rating||5.7||6.6|
|Fantasy pts/route run||0.41||0.51|
Even though I’m sure that Lamb’s profile would look better if he played with Dak for the full season, I still have to give this one to Jefferson. His efficiency levels were off the charts for a rookie WR and he did the most with the opportunity that was given to him.
Winner: Justin Jefferson
Based on this exercise, Justin Jefferson edges out CeeDee by a score of 2-1. As I’ve mentioned several times, this might have gone differently if Dak didn’t dislocate his ankle midseason and force guys like Andy Dalton and Ben DiNicci to QB for the Cowboys. Regardless of their situations, you have to give credit to Jefferson for his historical debut year. While both guys are set to be future fantasy studs for years to come, Justin Jefferson has more Dynasty value in my opinion.