By Alec Lewis, Jake Ciely and Dianna Russini
The Minnesota Vikings plan to place wide receiver Justin Jefferson on injured reserve because of his hamstring injury, league sources said. Here’s what you need to know:
- Jefferson pulled up on a route in the red zone during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
- By going on injured reserve, Jefferson, 24, will miss at least four games. The Vikings will play the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons during that stretch.
- Coach Kevin O’Connell said Monday that the team, which dropped to 1-4, is “going to do what’s best for Justin and make sure we give him the treatment and plan that is a big-picture positive for him.”
Who steps up?
The pass-catching responsibility falls on on wide receiver K.J. Osborn, tight end T.J. Hockenson and wide receiver Jordan Addison. Osborn’s experience in the offense should help him slide seamlessly into the “X” receiver role, which is typically held by Jefferson. Hockenson, meanwhile, will remain a primary target, while Addison’s opportunities should increase.
Offseason signee Brandon Powell is also a potential option. O’Connell trusts him following their days together in Los Angeles. That group of four will shoulder a heavy responsibility in the event Jefferson misses considerable time. — Alec Lewis, Minnesota Vikings writer
The big-picture impact on Vikings
Without Jefferson, Minnesota’s attempt at climbing out of this early hole faces an even tougher test. Jefferson is in his prime and he is eligible for an extension. It would not make any sense for the receiver — nor the organization — to rush Jefferson back from a soft-tissue injury when his entire skill set is based on explosiveness.
If the Vikings continue to lose in the short term, and Jefferson remains on the sidelines, larger questions come to mind. The Oct. 31 trade deadline looms, and the Vikings have multiple players who could be of interest, such as edge rusher Danielle Hunter and potentially even quarterback Kirk Cousins. — Lewis
Osborn is a must-grab off waivers for as long as Jefferson is out. Addison spent more time out wide, but he and Osborn ran 100 percent of the routes after Jefferson’s injury with Osborn 40 percent in the slot (10 routes) versus just 16.7 percent for Addison (four). That will give Addison more upside — 14.75 AirYD/TGT to 5.50 for Osborn — and Addison already had more end zone targets than Osborn did.
Addison is a WR2/3 and Osborn is in the WR3 conversation without Jefferson. — Jake Ciely, fantasy writer
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 6: Streamers, Emari Demercado, K.J. Osborn and more
Jefferson ranks third in the NFL in both targets (53) and receiving yards (571). Since being selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by Minnesota, Jefferson has been one of the league’s best players.
He has had at least 1,400 receiving yards each season and led the NFL with 128 catches for 1,809 yards in 2022.
The Vikings picked up Jefferson’s fifth-year contract option in April, and despite talks of a long-term extension getting done last offseason, he and the team have yet to agree to a deal.
(Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)