- Clemson WR Justyn Ross has been ruled out for the 2020 season due to a spinal condition
- Ross’ odds to be the first WR taken in the 2021 NFL Draft have improved, while LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase remains the favorite
- Which player offers the best value to be the first receiver drafted in 2021?
Justyn Ross’ football career could be in jeopardy following news that the Clemson wide receiver will miss the entire 2020 season due to a congenital fusion condition in his neck and spine.
Although we won’t see Ross on the field in 2020, the rising sophomore has actually seen his odds to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft improve as a result.
Is there value betting on Ross or should you stick with the favorite? Are there any other receivers worth a wager now that Ross has been ruled out?
Odds to Be First Receiver Drafted In 2021 NFL Draft
|First Wide Receiver Drafted||Odds|
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||+1600|
Odds taken June 2
Ross Now a Risky Bet
Ross won’t play at all in 2020 after recently learning that he was born with a congenital fusion condition in his neck and spine. In a worst-case scenario, Ross may never be able to play football again.
Dabo Swinney on WR Justyn Ross. Surgery scheduled for Friday. Ross has what Swinney called a "congenital fusion in his neck/spine. Doctors are very concerned.
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) June 1, 2020
The fact that Ross isn’t even guaranteed to return to the field is what should make you shy away from betting on him in this prop. This is very different that a Tua Tagovailoa type situation where NFL scouts were still able to see the QB in action and get a sample of his performance following the ailment.
Ross’ odds have improved from +1200 to +500 over the last month, but this was mainly due to the fact Ross was primed for a massive junior season playing with a Heisman favorite in Trevor Lawrence. Prior to the injury, you wouldn’t find Ross as WR1 in any experts’ 2021 NFL mock drafts.
I liked Ross as a good value bet prior to this injury, but this news really diminishes that value. Ross actually took a step backwards in 2019 after a sensational freshman campaign. The Clemson star could’ve worked his way up the draft board with a big 2020 season, but this injury almost makes it impossible for him to improve his value and become the favorite.
Ja’Marr Chase Still Favored
LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has been the consensus top wide receiver in the 2021 draft class for quite some time. Considering that he’s still being listed with plus-odds in this prop, there’s some value jumping on him now that one of his biggest competitors can’t increase his stock this year.
Chase had a monster sophomore season, recording 1,780 receiving yards, 20 receiving touchdowns and 21.2 yards per catch in LSU’s high-powered offense. One thing to be cautious about is that those numbers will almost certainly take a hit in 2020 with Heisman winner Joe Burrow now off to Cincinnati.
Going from Burrow to Myles Brennan means Chase is no guarantee to be the first receiver taken. He’s likely still going to be a top-10 pick due to his incredible speed, ability to find soft spots in the defense and extraordinary catching ability, especially deep down the field.
Rashod Bateman Offers Sneaky Value
One receiver that is flying under the radar compared to some of his competitors is Rashod Bateman of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Bateman was named the Big Ten receiver of the year after an incredible sophomore season in which he had 1,219 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns and 20.3 yards per catch.
One reason to consider Bateman is the incredible chemistry he’s developed with QB Tanner Morgan over two years at Minnesota. These two are going to a force in 2020, and Bateman is primed for a massive junior season. He’s showed his high-end potential by going off against elite defense, including torching Penn State for 203 yards in 2019.
I’m reluctant to bet on a Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith due to the loss of Tagovailoa. Minnesota is returning their entire starting offensive line and Bateman will be catching passes from one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country.
Bateman has amazing hands and incredible route-running skills.It’s going to take a special season to surpass Ja’Marr Chase in the wide receiver rankings, but at +900 odds, Bateman is the player I’d be betting on to do it.
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