No NFL team has more fantasy football buzz than the Denver Broncos going into the 2022 season. There are so many storylines to follow: the new coaching regime in town, Javonte Williams vs. Melvin Gordon snap counts, and Russell Wilson’s adjustment to being on a new team. So I decided to focus on the wide receiver room…well, one of them in particular: Jerry Jeudy.
Once considered the top wideout of the 2020 prospect class, some wonder if Jeudy will even be fantasy relevant in 2022. Here, I will take a close look at the start of his NFL career and discuss why I’m confident he will break out in 2022.
Note: No Punt Intended aired this week on Wednesday, June 8th, with Special Guest Linda Godfrey from MB Fantasy Life! We covered the Bears, Falcons, and Broncos.
A Jerry Jeudy Fantasy Football Breakout
College Years and Rookie Season
Jerry Jeudy was a five-star recruit out of high school that burst onto the scene in his Sophomore year at Alabama (2018). While playing alongside Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith, and Irv Smith Jr, Jeudy led the team with 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. That was good enough to earn him First-Team All-American honors and the 2018 Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver in College Football). Following another solid performance in 2019, Jeudy was selected 15th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Denver was excited to pair the star Alabama receiver with their budding star “X”-receiver, Courtland Sutton. But unfortunately, injury delayed those plans after Sutton tore his ACL in Week 2. This prematurely pushed Jeudy into an alpha role with a struggling Drew Lock behind center. Despite the challenging circumstances, Jeudy finished his rookie season with 856 yards on 52 receptions. It’s even more impressive when considering his catchable target rate of 62.8-percent. That was the second-lowest mark in the NFL that season.
Jerry Jeudy is pretty, pretty, pretty good at this route-running business pic.twitter.com/zgCCxb3nBo
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 11, 2020
2021 Recap and Future Outlook
After much speculation over the Bronco’s QB situation for 2021, they ended up settling for Teddy Bridgewater. This didn’t get many people excited over the team’s potential fantasy output, but at least it wouldn’t be Drew Lock anymore (I guess). Most will forget that Jeudy was off to a fantastic start in Week 1: 72 yards on six receptions in the first half. Unfortunately, he would go on to suffer a high ankle sprain and leave the game in the second half.
Jeudy would return to the lineup in Week 8, but he rarely looked like himself from that point on. High ankle sprains can derail entire seasons for some players. We’ve recently seen examples with Adam Thielen and Michael Thomas. Something to note: despite playing the majority of the season on a bad ankle, Jeudy led the team in targets if you look at the games where he, Tim Patrick, and Courtland Sutton were all healthy.
— NFL (@NFL) July 28, 2021
John Elway and the Denver front office were fed up with QB purgatory, so they made one of the biggest splash moves this spring by acquiring Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks. Last year was Wilson’s fourth consecutive season of supporting two Top-20 fantasy wide receivers. Pair that with the addition of a new coaching staff led by head coach Nathaniel Hackett, and we should see a much more dynamic offense in the Mile High City.
After the college career that Jerry Jeudy had, expectations were sky-high for him coming into the NFL. Of course, it’s easy to view players like that as disappointments when they aren’t immediate superstars at the next level. But don’t let his circumstances over the past two years blind you from the positive signs that we’ve seen and a much better QB situation. This new offense will unleash Jerry Jeudy in 2022!
A Look Inside the Denver Broncos
Editor’s Note: We asked our writers to focus on one player, but we don’t want to leave you hanging on the rest of the team. While Drew focuses on Jerry Jeudy in fantasy football, here is a quick look at the rest of the Broncos, prepared by either Josh Hudson or Ryan Weisse
Russell Wilson: Despite an injury last season, Russell Wilson has been a pretty effective QB in the NFL for nearly a decade. He goes from one offense with a pair of stud WRs to another offense with a couple of stud WRs. He also has a tandem of RBs most teams would kill for. But the biggest difference? This might be the best offensive line Wilson has ever had. He’s primed for a top 8 season. And if he runs closer to his career averages — 5.4 attempts per game as opposed to only 3.1 attempts per game last year — he could be staring at a top 5 season in 2022. – Josh Hudson
Javonte Williams: Williams has come out and said that he fully expects the offense to split carries pretty evenly with veteran Melvin Gordon, much like last year. That’s not exactly what fantasy managers envision for Williams’ 2022 season by spending a 2nd-round pick on him. The good news? Fantasy managers can justify the draft price if he finds the end zone more, even with a 50/50 split in touches. Gordon has only one season in the last six years with fewer than 10 total touchdowns. Williams found the end zone seven total times in 2021. So, 10+ TDs isn’t out of the question. – Josh Hudson
Melvin Gordon: I’m as excited as anyone for Javonte Williams in 2022, but we should not be burying Melvin Gordon. The new coaching staff is known for 2-back systems, and Gordon’s role is very defined. The new scheme and quarterback should significantly improve this offense, and Gordon will be the primary redzone back. Gordon was a top-20 fantasy back last year in a 50/50 split. There is no way he does not perform his current RB39 ADP. -Ryan Weisse
Courtland Sutton: When Sutton was on the field with Jeudy and fellow WR Tim Patrick last year, he was the least targeted of the three. Why? Last year’s starter, Teddy Bridgewater, wasn’t fond of throwing downfield if he didn’t have to. Enter Russell Wilson, who has zero issues throwing deep. PFF credits Wilson with the 5th most pass attempts of 20 yards or more. He also compiled the 3rd most deep passing yards in the league. Sutton averages 15.2 yards per reception for his career. Even with Bridgewater’s noodle arm in 2021, Sutton tied for 7th in targets 20+ yards down the field. Who was he tied with? Wilson’s former teammate, D.K. Metcalf. – Josh Hudson
Tim Patrick: A perennial favorite sleeper WR, but there are concerns for Patrick heading into 2022. First, the new coaching staff is not known for supporting multiple fantasy-relevant WRs. Second, Russell Wilson has done great with two WRs, but we’ve never seen him make three relevant. With Jeudy and Courtland Sutton ahead of him on the depth chart, it may take an injury for Patrick to even be a waiver consideration in 2022. -Ryan Weisse
Albert Okwuegbunam: When trying to predict a new offensive scheme, I focus on two things: the coach and the quarterback. Hackett’s scheme in Green Bay has produced a top-10 tight end purely based on TDs, which is a hard stat to predict. Russell Wilson hasn’t given us a fantasy-relevant TE in five seasons. He has instead been leaning on his top wide receivers. This Broncos team is talented at WR. So, there is a good chance that there will not be enough volume to make Albert O anything more than a weekly streaming option. -Ryan Weisse
We hope you enjoyed our look at Jerry Jeudy for fantasy football this season. You can find all of our A Look Inside articles here!
If you’re prepping for your dynasty drafts, you can also find our rookie consensus rankings here if you’re preparing for your dynasty drafts!