Ja’Marr Chase is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL who happens to play on one of the league’s best rosters. That makes his fantasy football outlook a little hard to determine.
Will Chase be able to put up video game numbers despite lining up across from Tee Higgins, who will earn a ton of targets himself? Will the Cincinnati Bengals even need him to put up huge stats with a loaded defense and an improved o-line that’ll try to win games late on the ground?
Let’s get right into it.
2022 fantasy performance
Chase’s stats dropped from his rookie year, but that’s because he missed five regular season games. While he only totaled 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns receiving (down from 1,455 and 13) in 2022-23, his per-game receiving average went up slightly, and his per-game touchdown average dropped by just one percent.
Most important, for fantasy football purposes, Chase had 28 red-zone targets, which gave him the highest per-game average in the league. And, as FantasyPros noted, his 22 receiving touchdowns through his first two seasons are the most by any receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. first broke into the NFL.
The former LSU star often gets compared to his Tigers teammate, Justin Jefferson. What’s interesting is that, according to FantasyPros, Chase actually had a higher target share (30% compared to Jefferson’s 28%) with identical air yards share (39%).
Best-case scenario for 2023
Whether you lean toward Jefferson or Chase, there’s no doubt that these players are the most physically gifted receivers in the league right now. And being in only the second year of the 17-game format, really, there are no single-season receiving records that are safe around those two.
Does Chase have the talent to top Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,964 receiving yards and Randy Moss’ record of 23 receiving touchdowns? Yes. Plus, he has a quarterback who broke the college game and has been improving every single year in the pros.
But realistically speaking, a contender like the Bengals isn’t going to be playing from behind enough for Chase to have that sort of opportunity. So the best-case scenario would be approaching but not hitting those two records. (On a side note, I don’t think it’s likely that Chase will get anywhere near Michael Thomas’ 149 catches in 2019.)
I interviewed one of the brightest minds in all of fantasy football, Bobby LaMarco of Razzball.com, and he has Chase as his WR3, behind WR1 Cooper Kupp and WR2 Justin Jefferson. Now remember, this is based on Kupp’s fantasy value only. And, as LaMarco points out, before his Week 9 injury, Kupp was getting about 4.5 more points in PPR than Chase and 3.5 points more than Jefferson.
Worst-case scenario for 2023
Fortunately, Chase seems to be completely recovered from the scary hip injury he suffered against the New Orleans Saints last year. But a worst-case scenario would be either a similar injury or something that keeps him out for even more time.
Another factor could be the health of quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow suffered a calf strain during the first week of Bengals training camp that was severe enough that the quarterback had to be carted off the field. At this time, Burrow is listed as questionable for the Bengals’ Week 1 matchup against the Browns.
In terms of on-field production, the worst-case scenario would be that Chase starts out hot or defenses decide to stop him for the best chance to win, and he becomes simply a decoy, allowing Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Irv Smith to rack up more receiving stats. (Not to mention Trenton Irwin, Charlie Jones, and Andrei Iosivas—the Bengals are pretty loaded.)
If that were to happen, in my mind, Chase could be held to under 1,300 yards and slightly under double-digit touchdowns. LaMarco, meanwhile, thinks the absolute lowest expectations for Chase should be finishing behind Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs as WR5. “Unless Joe Burrow gets hurt ... I just don’t see a downside where Chase drops behind guys like CeeDee Lamb and A.J. Brown,” the expert said.
Chase will likely get around 100 catches for 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns. He will always be the guy who breaks the offense open and the No. 1 target in Cincinnati.
Hip injury aside, there aren’t really big concerns with the 23-year-old’s health at this point, thankfully.
In terms of supporting cast, the strength of Cincinnati’s skill players is probably ultimately an advantage; while Higgins and Boyd will take away some of his targets, they also give Chase the room to get those backbreaking 50-yard touchdowns he specializes in.
Handcuff player recommendation
If you miss out on drafting Higgins and Boyd is already taken in your league, you might want to stash Irwin or Jones to help you get through a couple of weeks without Chase.
Other Bengals to consider
Burrow, Higgins, Joe Mixon, and Irv Smith are all solid pickups. Tyler Boyd may be worth stashing as well.
For more on the fantasy outlooks of Bengals players, watch the show with LaMarco below:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: