Over the course of the offseason, one of the most talked-about wide receivers in fantasy football was Ja’Marr Chase. Chase landed with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, reuniting him with Joe Burrow, who built a nice rapport with the talented wideout at LSU. Whenever Chase was taken ahead of Penei Sewell in the draft, many questioned the decision-making prowess of the Bengals, especially with Burrow coming off of a season-ending knee ailment.
The chatter around Chase being a mistaken pick quickly subsided as he showed exactly why he was a top-five selection. The first-year wideout would proceed to score a touchdown in seven of his first 10 games in the league, propelling him into Offensive Rookie of the Year discussions.
As the Bengals entered Week 17, Chase had already made quite the statement as a rookie wide receiver in fantasy football. Chase was WR8 heading into Week 17 with 244.4 points in PPR leagues. The only wide receivers ahead of him were Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, Deebo Samuel, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Diontae Johnson.
But to put a bow on top of what was already a remarkable rookie campaign, Chase annihilated the defense of the Kansas City Chiefs to the tune of 11 receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns in Week 17. Besides helping the Bengals clinch the AFC North, Chase climbed the ranks to WR5 on the season, putting him in rare company as a rookie.
Just a season ago, we saw a historic rookie season from Justin Jefferson — who is also notably from LSU — in his first year with the Minnesota Vikings. Jefferson hauled in 88 passes for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, surpassing Anquan Boldin’s rookie record for receiving yards. It seemed as if it would be a while until we saw a rookie wide receiver break Jefferson’s record.
Even with a week to spare, Chase eclipsed his former college teammate’s record with last week’s performance. So for those that question records that are set in the first 17-game season, Chase would have set the record regardless of the extra game on the schedule. Chase currently has 1,429 receiving yards and there is still one week to go in the regular season, though, Joe Burrow won’t play in Week 18, so there’s a chance we don’t see much — if any — of Chase to finish the season.
There were people (including myself) that were questioning why Chase was going above other notable wide receivers in fantasy football drafts. It’s safe to say that Chase made me and others look foolish for not taking Chase when he came at a discount compared to where he will be going ahead of next season.