Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon is an extremely talented football player who has proven he can keep pace with the best at his position. His physical skill set, speed and elusiveness are among the best in the league at any position.
Blackmon was drafted fifth overall by the Jaguars in 2012, and in his first two seasons he has shown the skills that persuaded Jacksonville to take him so early in the draft. It’s not unusual for first-year WRs to use their first season as a learning period, and it commonly takes time to adjust to the new pace of play. But Blackmon is no ordinary WR.
The days of a high first-round draft pick sitting behind a veteran and “learning the ropes” are over, and this was the case with Blackmon in his rookie season. Blackmon not only played in all 16 games in 2012; he instantly became the number No. 1 and most targeted WR on the Jaguars roster. His 133 targets led the team and he converted those opportunities into 64 catches for 865 yards while scoring five TDs. Blackmon was set to be a solid high-end WR2 and had the potential to crack the top 10 fantasy WRs list.
Blackmon and the Jaguars took a big hit when the NFL suspended the WR in April for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, causing him to miss the team’s first four games of 2013. Blackmon’s fantasy stock plummeted leading up to last season to the point where his 2013 ADP finalized as the 131st overall selection in fantasy drafts.
After serving his suspension, Blackmon returned to his starting role in the Jaguars offense and shined just as brightly as he did during his first season. His week five reunion was one of the season’s most impressive performances for any WR during 2013. Blackmon turned five catches into 136 yards and scored a TD along the way. He followed up that performance with a 14-catch, 190-yard stat line against the Denver Broncos in Week 6.
Blackmon regressed to the mean in Weeks 7 and 8 and was suspended again for his second violation in six months. Blackmon missed the remaining eight games of 2013, finishing with 29 catches for 415 yards and one TD. He will apply for reinstatement prior to the 2014 season, and it is likely he will not have miss any more games after missing the final eight contests of 2013.
The biggest concern for those considering drafting the Jaguars WR is obviously his issues with the league’s substance abuse policy. Two failed tests in the last year is concerning, but Blackmon and the Jaguars are confident his issues are a thing of the past. It’s all about who Blackmon surrounds himself with and who he chooses to listen to.
Blackmon should be drafted in the top 15 at his position in PPR and standard scoring leagues, but his history will scare off those wary of losing him suddenly mid season. Instead he will fall a round or two later than a player of his caliber, in his situation, would be selected. Blackmon is currently being drafted (in mock drafts) as the 29th overall WR, or right around the beginning of the sixth round in 12-team leagues. This is a great value for the potential numbers that Blackmon could put together.
Be the guy that steps up and pulls the trigger on Blackmon in the fourth, fifth or sixth round if he falls to you. He is a bit of a risk considering his history, but he is worth taking a chance on. If he does stay healthy and on the field all 16 games in 2014, he could catch 80 balls for 1,200 yards and eight TDs. Getting a guy like that in the late rounds of your league’s August draft is what wins championships in December.