2020 Fantasy Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

Matthew Bevins continues the 2020 Team Preview series with a fantasy-focused look at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars are NOT an exciting team to watch in 2020. Coming out the other end of the tunnel from a 6-10 2019 season, the best part of this team is either in disarray or metaphorically have been zip-tied/taped/cobbled together in hopes they can just be a respectable squad. Leonard Fournette had an offseason with murmurs of being traded, after 2018 of on and off the field fights.  Their best player overall, Jalen Ramsey, ended up traded from the squad, and on his way to the west coast, joining up with the Los Angeles Rams. And to add to that spicy humid dilemma, the team started last season rolling with Nick Foles and ended up with real-life Uncle Rico behind center, swapping out Foles for Gardner Minshew.  This is a very oddly aligned squad with plenty of question marks, though most everyone agrees that they will finish with a losing record. Buuuuuut, what can their specific players do for your fantasy teams? Isn’t that what we’re here for? Let’s dive in.

 

Quarterback

 

Gardner Minshew

ADP: 210, QB 26

After finishing his first professional season at 6-6, most can agree that enjoying Gardner Minshew as a human is more worthwhile than banking on him to lead your team to any worthwhile fantasy outcome. A middle to end of the line second-tier quarterback, Minshew will bring a 60.6 completion percentage with him in hopes of showing the Jaguars that he is more than serviceable.  He has some decent weapons if nothing incredibly sexy in “his garage”, so there’s potential he ends up putting up a fantasy resume equivalent to someone like Matthew Stafford or Jared Goff, but I personally find he’ll be more hit or miss or aggravating, resembling someone more like Ryan Fitzpatrick. Minshew makes some amazing passes out of nowhere but finished his season as fourth from the bottom among quarterbacks in completion percentage, and was middle of the pack in average passing yards per game, first down completions, and touchdowns. One of the very few things that Minshew excels in is that he more than likely won’t throw many picks, and therefore will give himself more opportunity to stack stats up, as he only had six interceptions in last year’s 14  games. If Gardner can build some form of friendship with newcomer and potential stud wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., fix the broken bones and morale of newcomer Tyler Eifert, and build upon a stunning season last year from DJ Chark, there’s a chance he builds a bit of pedigree and is someone to watch in fantasy leagues, but I just don’t think there’s much here for 2020.

 

Best Case Scenario

Minshew clicks with his new weapons and provides a boost with his rushing ability. He fills in admirably all season as a back-end QB1, paying off on his ADP and helping late-round quarterback drafters in both one and two-quarterback leagues.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Some of the magic from year-one wears off, and we are left wondering why we used a pick in fantasy on a quarterback that lasted until the sixth round of the NFL draft. Minshew turns the ball over more frequently, doesn’t progress in year-two, and the Jaguars head into the offseason interviewing rookie quarterbacks for the draft.

 

Projections: 340 attempts, 523 completions, 24 touchdowns, 9 interceptions; 100 rushes, 35o rushing yards

 

Running Back

 

Leonard Fournette

ADP: 28.4, RB17

I fell for it. I get it. I’m still falling for it. There was that season when we all reached for Fournette in the top five picks, in the belief we may just be ahead of the curve on the NFL’s next big stud. Then, as was alluded to in the intro, Fournette couldn’t keep his hands off other teams’ players. He couldn’t avoid getting speeding tickets, or ripping it up at coaching staff or requesting that trade away that seemed so so close to happening, and now we are three years removed from a fourth overall pick out of LSU and just hoping that Fournette can find that mojo, and make himself look like a stud back before he likely walks after his rookie deal. With the cost that he’ll likely come at, I’m all about buying in on him this year and hoping his value in relation to his pick is large. You can call Fournette overpaid, or underwhelming, but he’s been a serviceable back if you just remove the name brand he had built for himself coming out of college. In 2017, he rushed for slightly over 1000 yards. In 2018, he was an absolute nightmare to own, only gathering 439 yards, and in 2019 he gained 1152 yards. You may never fully see the transcendent talent that Fournette could be (at the very least, until he leaves Jacksonville) but the guy is a bruiser with solid pass-catching hands and has heaps to prove as he wants to build his resume up for a large new contract. No longer having to worry about yearly underachiever and Jake Jortles wannabe Blake Bortles causing packed boxes for rushing lanes, Fournette is currently a third-round draft pick, and RB17 off the board, per FantasyData. If he can edge his efficiency just a touch more towards five yards per carry while retaining close to the seventy-plus receptions he received last year, then Fournette could be equal to his ADP in drafts. If you pass on a running back in the first two rounds of drafts, Fournette could be the discounted RB1 that you are looking for.

 

Best Case Scenario

Fournette and the Jaguars play nice for his final year in Jacksonville, and the offense is more efficient under offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Fournette still dominates the snaps at running back, and even sees some positive touchdown regression, vaulting him into the top-ten running back ranks.

 

Worst Case Scenario

The two sides can’t even make it out of camp before they trouble starts, and Fournette finds himself cut or traded. The lack of time to acclimate to his new offense results in fantasy disappointment and Fornette finishes as an RB3.

 

Projections: 302 rushes, 1245 yards, 6 touchdowns; 48 receptions, 400 yards, one touchdown

 

Chris Thompson

ADP: 579, RB164

Chris Thompson has come over from the Washington NeedsANewTeamNames, where he was outshined by the injury-troubled Derrius Guice and football dinosaur Adrian Peterson. Thompson is, to be fair, a one-trick pony, but that one trick he does is very good and has led him to a new contract while some much more well-known players are still looking for a job at this point. Averaging just shy of forty receptions every year since he entered the league, Thompson will likely spell Fournette after long series but is not likely to be a starter even if Fournette does go down. That job has been likely handed off to Ryquell Armstead without being specifically stated, but Thompson is a value menu version of James White and someone I’ve been looking at for most of my late-round draft selections as a pretty cheap pick and someone who could be a nice bye week plug-in.

 

Best Case Scenario

We see the pass-catching volume of old in a fully healthy season, and Thompson even chips in a few touchdowns. A poor man’s James White, and Thompson can be grabbed off waivers in most leagues.

 

Worst Case Scenario

He’s in and out of the lineup with injuries, and even when he plays he lacks the burst of old. With plenty of new weapons in the receiving corps, there isn’t much of a role for Thompson left in the passing game anyway.

 

Projections: 65 rushes, 248 yards. 45 receptions, 300 yards, 6 touchdowns

 

Wide Receiver

 

DJ Chark Jr.

ADP: 50.1, WR20

Doot doot doo doo doo doo. DJ Chark Jr. Chark was drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft by Jacksonville and was not looked at as much more than background noise for Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook. Could Keelan Cole be something? Man, I’ve really missed on some Jacksonville Jaguars receiver opportunities, haven’t I? Chark ended his season with 73 receptions and just north of 1000 yards, and has decidedly done everything to make himself the lead dog for the top wide receiver role here in Jacksonville. Chark was consistent, averaging 4.9 receptions per game, and put himself in a spot to be the new bell cow receiver for Minshew, as all new quarterbacks growing into their roles will look to find someone with consistency who will show up and muscle for receptions. There isn’t a perfect situation here, as Chark was basically invisible man numero uno after Week 11, putting up almost all of his fantasy scoring in the first two and a half months of the season. I’m banking on a bounce back.

 

Best Case Scenario

Minshew and Chark grow on their 2019 season and Chark is a rock-solid weekly option. Gruden schemes up a better offense, the new weapons create more space for Chark, and he ascends to the upper level of best young receivers in the league.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Chark looks like a bit of a flash in the pan, as Minshew regresses and pulls Chark down with him. More of a WR3 in fantasy leagues, Chark scores fewer touchdowns and lacks much upside on a weekly basis.

 

Projections: 78 receptions, 1125 yards, 9 touchdowns

 

Laviska Shenault Jr.

ADP: 215, WR95

Now, this is the guy I’m excited about. Potentially my favorite late rookie to take, Laviska Shenault Jr. came out of Colorado with some incredible burst but marred by injury. Shenault earns his pay in the short game, using his big body frame to muscle off cornerbacks and win in a jump ball, but has the potential to be an incredibly high-end wide receiver if he can shake his injury history and form a dynamic bond with Minshew. I’m willing to bank on it. You can currently get Shenault at WR95 in ADP, and to see him going behind wide receivers like Randall Cobb, Tee Higgins, and Larry Fitzgerald while having youth and the opportunity for upside is surprising to me. Take Shenault a few picks before his ADP and hopefully you and I will both be dancing to our piggy banks to shatter them for winnings.

 

Best Case Scenario

Shenault is talented from the start and provides the Jaguars an opportunity for some creative playcalling. A different type of player from Chark, Shenault provides a much-needed playmaking presence and looks like an injury-discounted steal for Jacksonville.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Lack of offseason, underrated competition in the receiving corps, and a struggling second-year quarterback in a lame-duck season give Shenault very little chance at fantasy relevance, and we wonder how he will mesh with the next quarterback in 2021.

 

Projections: 52 receptions, 685 yards, 6 touchdowns

 

Tight End

 

Tyler Eifert

ADP: 317, TE32

“Hey, how’d you find yourself here too?” Setting his coffee cup down, he sadly slid his chair up to talk to me about why he too was at the Tyler Eiffert anonymous meeting.

This guy has burned me more than the sun most August days sans suntan lotion, and so I’m not falling for this one again. There will be absolutely zero cost to bury Eifert at the back end of your roster, but the injury-riddled tight end may just be one pro contract away from being out of the league. A big body presence who likely will get the opportunity to showcase himself one last time, you can go on this ride if you’d like, but I myself will sit this one out. At very worst, pick him up after a few solid weeks to start the season, as Eifert will go undrafted in plenty of leagues.

 

Best Case Scenario

He’s (relatively) healthy and finally begins to regain some of his early career athleticism. He flirts with streaming status all season long.

 

Worst Case Scenario

He’s not on the field enough to be a factor and suffers yet another injury.

 

Projections: 28 receptions, 425 yards, 5 touchdowns

 

 

Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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