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Zig Where They Zag: The Case For Buying Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears selected Velus Jones Jr. in the third round of the most recent draft and many wondered what the Bears’ brass was thinking. Jones is 25 years old as a rookie but has a open path to targets – has the hate gone too far?

Playing Dynasty Fantasy Football has a lot in common with playing the stock market. You ideally want to buy players you believe will outperform their price and sell them when they reach peak value. In Dynasty, many, if not most, owners are guilty of suffering a seasonal disease known as Rookie Fever. We always see the shiny new toy and immediately bump them up the rankings towards their ceilings. However, every now and then, certain rookies are either ignored or fall through the cracks for any number of reasons. When their value falls far enough, some players become screaming values. I believe Chicago rookie WR Velus Jones Jr. to be one of those players. Initially, I was not a big fan of the pick, but the hate has gone too far. In this article, we will examine a few reasons I believe he can outperform his current ADP and provide excellent value. Without further ado. 

The Player Profile

If you take everything else away from the evaluation process, there is one thing that Jones has. It’s a trait the NFL craves in spades; that trait is speed. Jones was one of the fastest players at this year’s combine, clocking in as the second-fastest WR. His official 4.31 40-yard dash is a 96th percentile score. He combines this blazing speed with an adequate size at 6’0” and 203 lbs. He also showed good strength at his pro-day putting up 18 reps of 225 lbs. In short, Jones has an excellent athletic profile and possesses more than enough physical gifts to succeed at the next level. You can see his physical profile below.   

College Resume

Despite his physical tools, Jones did not make impressive numbers in college. He initially decided to attend USC as a four-star WR recruit. After redshirting his freshman season, he spent three years in California before transferring to Tennessee. Jones was an outstanding return man at USC but was craving an offensive role. In his first season with the Volunteers, he continued his return excellence. He led the entire SEC in kickoff return yards during the Covid altered 2020 season. Despite having already spent five years in the college ranks, Jones decided to take advantage of the Covid extension rules and returned to Knoxville for one final run. This turned out to be the best decision Jones could have made. He more than doubled his career offensive numbers across the board. In addition to his offensive awakening, he continued to shine on Special Teams, earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Year honors. You can see his college numbers below. 

The Chicago Bears

From top to bottom, the 2022 Bears have one of the worst WR groups in the NFL. Outside of emerging third-year WR Darnell Mooney, the team doesn’t boast a single WR with more than 500 yards in any season. Former Kansas City WR Byron Pringle had the second-best season of any WR of the group to date with a poultry 42/568/5 last year. That was literally catching passes from the league MVP and in the shadow of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, among others. To say Jones finds himself on a team with a wide-open depth chart is an understatement. 

With a complete turnover of the WR room under new GM Ryan Poles, the Bears have 218 vacated targets. That is a whopping 41.6% of last year’s total, according to 4for4. Many in the NFL and dynasty community, myself included, questioned the Bears’ selection of Jones in the third round. Heading into the draft, Chicago was pegged by nearly every insider in the business as prime candidates to pick a WR with one of their two second-round picks. However, this did not come to fruition as Poles stayed true to his board. They went defense with both of the early picks, as prime players Kyler Gordon (CB) and Jaquan Brisker (S) fell to them.

Poles then shocked the league by taking the soon-to-be 25-year-old Velus Jones Jr. significantly higher than most analysts believed he would go in the draft. It is evident with the way the depth chart stands and the draft capital they invested in him that the new Bears front office has big plans for Jones. Let’s dive in and attempt to see some of the traits they saw that caused them to select the former Trojans and Volunteers WR. 

The Film

It is not a surprise that the first trait that stands out when watching the film on Jones is his speed. With his blistering 40-yard time, he has one of the highest adjusted speed scores in the NFL. Notice on the play below how quickly he can use that speed to turn a short out route into a 20-yard TD reception. 

As mentioned above, Jones was a special teams standout at USC and Tennessee. In fact, he is second all-time in return yards at USC. The TD return below was a perfect example of everything he brings to the table in the return game. Speed, strength, and vision.  

While his numbers in college aren’t that great, he did make numerous splash plays. When he could get behind a defender with the ball in his hands, it was showtime. 

Another skill that Jones brings to the table is hybrid position versatility. One of the most fascinating analyses of him was Daniel Jeremiah’s comment that Jones was the player that comped most to Deebo Samuel in the 2022 NFL draft. You can see an example of him being used as an extension of the Tennessee running game last season below. 

Velus Jones Jr. capped his collegiate career with a successful trip to the Senior Bowl. During the practices, he caught the attention of several scouts across the NFL. He also made an impression on the Bowl Game Director Jim Nagy, who tweeted about Jones.

Jones built upon his practice success in Mobile by having one of the better catches of the game against tight coverage, which you can see below. His time at the Senior Bowl helped validate his decision to return to Tennessee for one final season. This one last hurrah was most likely the determining factor that saw him drafted in the third round. 

Weaknesses

While I have seen several traits in his game that give me hope for his NFL future, Jones is far from a certain bet at the next level. His route running could use some work. You can see from his college film that he often used his speed to bail him out of some bad technique.

While he will still be one of the fastest players on the field on Sundays, that gap will be significantly closed. He will have to put in work on his route running and release off the line of scrimmage in order to unlock his potential fully.

I have also seen some concentration drops when breaking down Jones’ tape. His lack of overall production on the heels of such a long college career is also a cause for some concern.

Now to the 500 lb gorilla in the room, Jones is 25 years old. Yes, this is extremely old for a rookie in today’s NFL. However, that does not mean he cannot become a useful asset to your dynasty squads. Many WRs in today’s NFL do not peak until their late 20s. Jones still has a couple of seasons to get his feet wet before hitting his stride in his late 20s. Most of us in the dynasty community, myself included, want that next young stud WR. However, if we are honestly looking at more than a three to five-year window, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. Jones’ age is one of the primary reasons for his cheap price. Use that to your advantage when negotiating any possible deals.

Final Thoughts

After breaking down all of the pros and cons for Jones, I feel that the hate has gone a little too far. He is currently the 19th-ranked rookie WR in the Dynasty Nerds PPR rankings. That is criminally low for a player with the draft capital and opportunity Velus Jones has before him. Pringle is his most significant competition for playing time as the second WR in Chicago. While some are fans of the former KC WR, he is a soon-to-be 29-year-old former UFA with minimal career production to his name. To say that his grasp on the #2 job is tenuous following an off-season arrest for reckless driving on a suspended license is being kind.

When looking through the Dynasty Nerds trade browser, I have seen some trades recently that scream value for Jones. You can see a couple of examples of 1QB prices on him below.

To sum things up, I am not saying that Jones is a shoo-in to be an All-Pro WR. However, he does have the opportunity to grasp a significant role with an up-and-coming NFL QB in Justin Fields. The Chicago coaching staff has attempted to nurture this relationship by placing their lockers side-by-side. His new teammates have highly complimented his skills and work ethic since the draft.

Sign me up all day at the cost of a third-round rookie pick or less. I was initially skeptical of the choice myself. The weight of the community is negative, but the juice is certainly worth the squeeze. I believe this is the perfect time to zig while the rest of your league zags. Go out and buy yourself some shares of Velus Jones Jr. At that price, there is literally nothing to lose.

Thank you for reading this article! Please be sure to join the #Nerdherd, so you don’t miss out on any of the amazing things we offer @Dynastynerds.com. Use my promo code DynastyHolliday for a 15% off discount. You will get rankings, extra podcasts, and access to our rookie film room. You can get access to our revolutionary DynastyGM tool for just a couple of bucks more. So much for so little; why miss out on all the fun. Also, you absolutely must check out our new mock draft tool. Find it in your Apple & Android app stores. Follow me @ReflipeWThenuz for more dynasty content and other musings.

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