April 24, 2024

Dynasty Dilemma: Jerry Jeudy

7 min read

Dynasty Dilemma

Jerry Jeudy 

 

 

draft they were expecting production similar to the thoroughbreds CeeDee Lamb and  Justin Jefferson. Why wouldn’t the Broncos expect that considering they selected him ahead of both Jefferson and Lamb? Headed into the draft many considered  Jeudy to be the most NFL-ready, a 5-star recruit known for his elite route running and separating abilities. Jeudy was an Alabama superstar, and he continues to rank 2nd in receiving touchdowns and 4th in receiving yards all time for the Crimson Tide.  No wonder the Broncos were excited about their potential superstar! There was a  lot of optimism for the Broncos offense heading into the 2020 season. Drew Lock was coming off an appealing 5 game heater to end the 2019 season. Courtland  Sutton was fresh off an impressive sophomore season in which he totaled 72  receptions for 1112 yards and 6 touchdowns. In comes Jeudy, poised for a breakout rookie season, all signs were pointing in the right direction. What could go wrong?  Fast forward 3 seasons: Jeudy has not lived up to expectations nor has he paid off on his lofty price for the round 1 draft capital. This was mainly due to injuries; poor quarterback play, and questionable coaching. Does this mean Jerry Jeudy is a bust?  There is some optimism in the air in Denver and rightfully so. Jeudy finished the  2022 season strong. The Broncos went all-in and emptied the bank and brought in  Head Coach Sean Payton and future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson. Unfortunately, Jeudy has found the injury bug again heading into 2023. He suffered a  grade 2 hamstring injury during a joint practice with the Rams on August 24th. Most of the fantasy football medical analysts are predicting him to miss at least 3-4  games. There were a lot of analysts jumping on the Jeudy train this year before this setback, me being one of them. What is Jeudy’s outlook now heading into 2023 and beyond for dynasty managers? Let’s dive in.   

 

Reasons to Sell 

Hot Potato Hands 

On the surface, 52 receptions and 856 yards receiving are good numbers for a  rookie wide receiver in the NFL. However, when we look a little closer, these numbers should have been far better. Jeudy was targeted 113 times and only came up with 52 receptions for a catch rate of 46% and a drop rate of 11.5%.  These are alarming numbers for a perennial first-round pick. Subsequently, his second year and third year saw improvements in these numbers with a 67% catch rate and a 5.2% drop rate. These numbers are pedestrian, sadly, not what the Broncos were hoping for when we consider draft capital spent.  

 

Taking his Ball and Going Home

Jeudy has all the talent in the world but he hasn’t been precisely dealt the greatest hand when it comes to his situation in Denver. The Nathaniel Hackett experiment was enough to leave a sour taste in all of our mouths. This, however, still doesn’t justify Jeudy’s play when he isn’t being the featured guy.   

In the past Jeudy has had issues staying engaged, and at times he can be spotted on the sideline losing his temper if the ball isn’t going to him regularly. This is a  situation worth monitoring, as it has been well-documented that the new Head Coach, Sean Payton, does not respond well to disruptive players. If Jeudy continues down this road he could find himself in the doghouse, losing valuable snaps. 

 

That’s my Quarterback 

What’s more, Jeudy hasn’t been the heir of decent quarterback play. Through his 3  years in Denver, he has had the ball thrown to him by the likes of Drew Lock and  Teddy Bridgewater – not precisely groundbreaking top-tier quarterbacking. I will give a slight edge, however tilting towards Bridgewater, with career completion rates of  66.4% vs. the 59.3% of Lock. To add to this, only 59% of Jeudy’s passes in his rookie season were considered catchable. When the Broncos brought in Russell Wilson last year, many thought he would be the answer to the woeful offense. Wilson struggled early and often with his accuracy, finishing with the worst passing completion percentage (60.5%) and worst quarterback rating (84.4) of his career. Wilson ended his first season with the Broncos registering the most awful statistical output of his  11-year career. It’s worth noting, that one of Jeudy’s best career games was with Brett  Rypien throwing him the ball! Yuck!

 

Paying Rent in the Blue Tent 

Finally, Jeudy has struggled to stay healthy over the past 2 seasons. Jeudy has been plagued with injuries, notably a high ankle sprain which sidelined him for 6 games during his sophomore season. Parts of Jeudy’s inconsistencies are due in part to his injury history. Stating the obvious, missing games is not good for fantasy production. In addition, we must always consider a production dip from players coming back from injury as they are normally eased back into action. Furthermore,  Jeudy has already sustained a hamstring injury that will likely sideline him for about  4 games to start 2023. Soft tissue injuries are never good, he could be battling this injury the entire season, not to mention the higher risk of re-injury. Unfortunately,  there will always be injury concerns for Jeudy until he can prove he can stay healthy for a full season.      

Reasons to Buy 

Beautiful Minds 

Broncos’ new Head Coach Sean Payton led the New Orleans Saints to 9 playoff berths and one Superbowl in his 15-year tenure with the Saints. His offense was known for its production, leading the league 6 times in net yards, It was the top-scoring offense in 2008 and 2009, and the team posted a top-10 scoring offense in 12 out of Payton’s 15 seasons with the Saints. Jeudy will be an immediate benefactor from the change in coaching philosophy.  

To me, however, the most intriguing offseason addition was that of the new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.  Most recently, Lombardi was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers (2021-2022). Under Lombardi, the Chargers passed an average of 700 times per season! If we look back at Payton-led offenses and take the average passing attempts per season we are looking at roughly 600 attempts per season. This is another large number that owners can be optimistic about considering they were playing 16 game seasons back then. The Broncos are expected to be a run-heavy team, however, 600 pass attempts are not out of the question for the Broncos this year and beyond. This will only lead to more targets headed Jeudy’s way.  I would not be surprised if Jeudy saw upwards of 140 targets per season under this new regime if he can stay healthy and play a full 17-game schedule. 

Lastly, word coming out of the Broncos camp is that Payton is high on Jeudy, and he will be giving him all the targets he can handle. Payton likes versatile receivers that can play in the slot, and Jeudy consistently does well with this. In addition, Jeudy steadily increased his target share from year to year and ended the 2022 season earning a 20.8% target share.  It is not unrealistic to expect a modest 2% increase in target share for him with this Payton/Lombardi-led offense. 

 

What have you done for me lately?

With all this said, there are many reasons for optimism heading into 2023 and beyond. He finished 2022 strong. His quarterback started throwing him more  catchable balls, illustrated in the picture below provided by: @fantasyptsdata

INSERT PIC HERE

Jeudy managed 67 receptions for 972 yards and finished as the WR22 (PPR) despite being in one of the league’s worst offenses. It’s worth noting that he missed 2 games of the season. Had he played a full 17-game schedule, he would’ve been pacing for 81  receptions for 1180 yards. In the final stretch of 2022, Jeudy developed a connection with Russell Wilson, which separated him from Courtland Sutton and cemented himself as the true alpha receiver for the Broncos.  

Finally, in Jeudy’s last 6 games of 2022, he was the WR6 in PPR. When healthy and on the field last season, Jeudy averaged 7.5 targets per game in games he didn’t leave injured. In the last 5 games last year, he averaged 8.2 targets and finished as a top 3 receiver in 2 out of those 5. To cap it off, Jeudy finished 2022 with one of the best games of his career going for 154 yards in receiving, a career high. All of this should be foreshadowing big things for him in 2023 and beyond.

 

Verdict 

Before this new injury, I was in on Jeudy; I had him aggressively projected for 85 receptions for 1200 yards and 8 TDs right around WR14 in 2023. With this said,  even if he returns in Week 4, there will certainly be a dip in production, limiting his full production potential to roughly week 6. If Jeudy can bounce back and stay healthy for the remainder of the season, I see a strong finish to 2023, similar to how he finished  2022. If Jeudy can get 12 games played at full health, he should finish the season with around 68 receptions for 900 yards and 5 yards, putting him right around where he finished last year as the WR22. Here at Dynasty Pros, we have him ranked at WR23  in Dynasty Startup, right around where I think he should be placed, especially after this news. At this stage, I am still in on Jeudy long-term, but this injury has taken him down a couple of notches for me. Jeudy is still only 24 and there are 5 to 7 years of fantasy production ahead of him. If Jeudy is on any of your dynasty teams, please don’t go selling him for pennies on the dollar. His value just took a plummet, and you won’t get a proper return. I would suggest riding out this wave and holding on for dear life! Jeudy’s value will only increase, as he gets healthy. With Sean Payton, the new captain leading the ship, it’s worth holding on to see what kind of treasures he can discover.  

 

BUY /HOLD

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