Draft Josh Scobee on your fantasy team. Want to hear the sad part of this?
I’m not really joking.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are probably the least fantasy-friendly roster in all of football, possessing one, maybe two players worthy of your consideration in most leagues. I mean, why do you think I prolonged the writing on them for this long? However, this year, the Jags are at least a little bit more exciting than usual. A rookie quarterback, a new bellcow running back and a handful of explosive rookie wideouts looking to make an impact.
Well, let’s get this over with.
Jacksonville is full of it.
They stated that rookie quarterback, Blake Bortles, will sit his first season and watch the likes of Chad Henne throw passes for the Jaguars. Personally, I would be shocked if that happens. Henne had his moments last year, particularly during Weeks 13-17, where he scored 73 fantasy points, the 12th-most among fantasy quarterbacks during that span. 48 percent of his total fantasy points came during those weeks, as he scored 79 fantasy points during the other games over the course of the season. And, outside of the loss of Justin Blackmon, the Jags probably have better overall weapons than last year. The problem is, Jacksonville isn’t confident in Henne as their guy, as they not only selected Bortles in the draft, but took him third overall, the first passer off the board.
Bortles is a talented guy, for sure. At 6’5″, 230 pounds, Bortles has drawn comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger, especially because of his mobility and improvisation skills once the pocket collapses. He definitely has upside, but Jacksonville isn’t quite sure when they want to unleash him. Meanwhile, you won’t need to draft any of these guys, unless you are in a deep two-quarterback league. The passing position is deeper than ever, as 13 signal callers totaled at least 240 fantasy points last season, the most since 1960 (via ESPN).
Ah, some relevancy.
After years of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars decided to let him walk and brought in long time backup, Toby Gerhart. Many people have been pretty high on Gerhart, as he was productive as Adrian Peterson’s understudy in Minnesota. During his first four seasons, he’s averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and the Jags stated that they hope Gerhart can be their bellcow back. Most people don’t see Gerhart as an elusive back, but he has some wiggle to his game, as well as power. According to Jim McCormick of ESPN, Gerhart has forced a missed tackled on 18.7 percent of his career carries. He has some slipperiness to his game that not everyone realizes. Gerhart can also catch the ball well, too, catching over 74 percent of his career targets. Because of the lack of weapons in this offense, the Jags will likely lean on Gerhart.
Let’s just hope the offensive line improves.
In 2013, Jacksonville had the 31st-ranked run-blocking unit in football. Running backs were stuffed at the line about 25 percent of the time last year, and looking forward to 2014, their projected starting five has just 97 combined total starts in the NFL. Entering his prime at age 27, and with just 276 career totes, Gerhart should be looked at as a top-20 running back on draft day. He’s fresh and ready to play the biggest role of his career.
2013 was supposed to be the breakout campaign for Cecil Shorts, who emerged during the second half of the 2012 campaign, finishing 20 yards shy of 1,000 and serving as a top-24 fantasy wideout. However, even though Shorts caught 11 more balls last year, his numbers regressed. He caught four fewer touchdowns, posted 200 fewer yards, and after a season where almost 20 percent of his completions went for 20 yards or more, Shorts only posted ten catches of 20 yards or more (15 percent). However, despite the lack of excitement in drafting Shorts, guess what?
He’s a steal.
Coming off the board as the 49th wide receiver is incredible value. I mean, the offense isn’t great at all, but this is a number one receiver on an offense. That alone warrants more love. Not to mention that the Jaguars will likely be playing catchup quite a bit this season, Shorts should see plenty of targets to matter in fantasy. And, according to Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars threw the ball almost 70 percent of the time when behind last year. Barring health, Shorts should see significant volume.
As for the rookies, they aren’t being talked about nearly as much as the other pass-catchers in this class. Marqise Lee has 4.5 speed with good acceleration and is a fine route-runner, while Allen Robinson is more of a possession receiver, who has good body control in the air and has a good route tree. Both have great talent, but it’ll take a year or two for them to be really fantasy relevant. Only eight wide receivers in the history of the game have accumulated 1,000 yards during their rookie year.
And we’ve seen two of them over the last three years.