Jefferson vs. Chase: Which WR do oddsmakers see having a better year?
Justin Jefferson was undoubtedly the best wide receiver in the NFL last year. He dominated opposing defenses by leading the league with 128 receptions and 1,809 receiving yards.
The combination of these jaw-dropping stats earned the Vikings' wideout Offensive Player of the Year honors and put him in consideration for the MVP award.
However, Jefferson appears to have some stiff competition from Ja'Marr Chase for the best wide receiver crown in 2023 - or at least oddsmakers believe so.
The two former LSU teammates are neck-and-neck in a number of betting markets - not to mention they are also going first and second overall in the majority of fantasy drafts - which would suggest the gap between Jefferson and Chase is closer than some may believe.
Let's take a look at their odds in futures markets and their season-long props.
|Lead NFL In
|Lead NFL In
Odds via theScore Bet
Could it be any closer?
Jefferson and Chase have the same odds for three different futures markets. They are both considerable long shots to win MVP at +10000 (bet $100, win $10,000), which makes sense since a quarterback has won the award for 10 consecutive years. Even with Jefferson's sensational 2022 campaign, he finished fifth in MVP voting behind four signal callers.
But in the other three futures markets, the duo are either co-favorites or one-two on the oddsboard.
Hurting Jefferson's chances at winning back-to-back Offensive Player of the Year awards is the fact that no player has defended this honor since Marshall Faulk did so in 2001.
Knowing that, it makes sense that Jefferson is not the clear-cut favorite despite being the best offensive player in the NFL last season. Oddsmakers also appear to believe Chase can take another step forward in his third year, much like Jefferson did last season, in order to price him alongside the 2022 award winner at +1100.
The only difference between these two in the futures markets is their odds of leading the NFL in receiving yards, and even that is a narrow gap.
The favorite, Jefferson, has far less target competition than Chase. In Minnesota, the second and third receiving options are some combination of K.J. Osborn, rookie wideout Jordan Addison, and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Last year, Jefferson amassed a league-leading 184 targets, and if he repeats that total again - there's no reason he can't - he should be contending to top the NFL in receiving yards once again.
Chase, on the other hand, has to compete with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd for Joe Burrow's attention. Chase is still the first option, but Higgins has gone over 900 yards in each of his three NFL seasons and Boyd has averaged over 800 yards per year over that same span.
|Receiving Yards||1350.5 (-125/-105)|
|Receiving TDs||8.5 (-115/-115)|
|Receiving Yards||1300.5 (-105/-125)|
|Receiving TDs||10.5 (-110/-120)|
When you see Jefferson's and Chase's season total props, it's easy to understand why they are priced so closely together in the futures markets.
First off, Jefferson's total of 1,350.5 yards seems like a good bet. His career low is 1,400 yards during his rookie season, when NFL teams only played 16 games. If you take the per-game average of his first two seasons - which eliminates his 106.4 yards-per-game average from last season - Jefferson could miss two games in 2023 and still go over the 1,350.5-yard total.
Chase's career high is 1,455 yards, which came during his first year. He was on pace to barely surpass that mark last year but was held out for five games due to a hip injury. Backing Chase's over doesn't feel as safe as backing Jefferson's.
The only edge Chase has over Jefferson is in the receiving touchdown category. This is largely due to the differences in quarterback play between the two teams.
Burrow is projected to lead a more efficient offense than Kirk Cousins, thus resulting in more scoring. Burrow's over/under for passing touchdowns is 33.5, and Cousins' is 29.5. That four-touchdown difference has to go somewhere, and oddsmakers believe a couple of them land in Chase's hands.
However you shake it, Jefferson and Chase are deservedly the top two dogs in a league littered with elite wide receivers. Perhaps someone like Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, or Davante Adams can outshine the two former college teammates, but it will take a very special season to do so.
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