There’s a WR on Pace for 2000 Yards, but He’s not Justin Jefferson

How Much Will the Vikings Pay Justin Jefferson?
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Prior to the season’s start, one of Justin Jefferson’s main goals of the year was to be recognized as the best wide receiver in the league as well as break the 2000 yards receiving mark. So far, there is a WR in the NFL on pace to break that 2000-yard barrier, but his name is not Justin Jefferson. Instead, it is new Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill.

To preface everything else, it’s certainly been a strong start for the Vikings young star. He recorded three consecutive games of over 100 yards before narrowly missing the mark this past Sunday against the Cardinals. He caught six passes for only 98 yards.

Heading into Week 9, Jefferson has the fifth-most receptions in the NFL with 52. He also has the third-most receiving yards with 752. The only area where improvements could be made are touchdowns. He only has two scores on the season, and both of them came in Week 1 against the Packers.

Certainly, Jefferson has produced a marvelous season by any standard through two months of the NFL season. That is, except for the standard he has set for himself as you’ll find out after taking a gander at the following two lists.

Here’s the top 5 in terms of receptions this season:

  1. Tyreek Hill (69)
  2. Cooper Kupp (64)
  3. Stefon Diggs (55)
  4. Austin Ekeler (53)
  5. Justin Jefferson (52)

And here’s the top 5 in receiving yards:

  1. Tyreek Hill (961)
  2. Stefon Diggs (764)
  3. Justin Jefferson (752)
  4. Jaylen Waddle (727)
  5. Cooper Kupp (686)

As you probably notice, Tyreek Hill has formed a substantial lead in both categories, especially receiving yards. Now, part of this has to do with the fact that he has played eight games while everyone else on these lists have only played seven.

Another contributing factor is that the Dolphins simply do not run the ball well, and they are one of just six teams to average fewer than four yards per carry. Finally, give some credit to his QB Tua Tagovailoa for finding him as well as his partner-in-crime, Jaylen Waddle, who you’ll also see ranks among the top five in receiving yards.

However, the numbers that Hill puts up on a consistent basis are simply astonishing. Sunday was already his fourth game with 10+ catches and 150+ yards. Per Stathead, there are only four such games by all other receivers combined. They are as follows:

  • AJ Brown (Week 1)
  • DeAndre Hopkins (Week 8)
  • Justin Jefferson (Week 5)
  • Jaylen Waddle (Week 2)

Hill is averaging 120.1 yards per game and is on pace for 2041 yards this season. That would put him 77 yards clear of Calvin Johnson for the new single-season receiving record.

Meanwhile, Jefferson’s 107.4 yards per game puts him on pace for right around 1825 yards for the season. This would still be a fantastic campaign, but it’s hard to deny that The Cheetah may hold to spot for top receiver in the game right now.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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