Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Jaguars Fantasy Preview

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Jaguars 2016 Offensive Profile

2016 Pass Attempts Rank: 4th
2016 Rush Attempts Rank: 24th
2016 Play Volume Rank: 8th
2016 Yards Per Play Rank: 25th
Unaccounted for Targets from 2016 (Rank): 92 (18th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2016 (Rank): 46 (19th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Blake Bortles
RB: Leonard Fournette
WR: Allen Robinson
WR: Marqise Lee
WR: Allen Hurns
TE: Marcedes Lewis
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Cam Robinson
C: Brandon Linder
RG: A.J. Cann
RT: Jermey Parnell

Passing Game Outlook

The Jaguars’ coaching staff has gone as far as to publicly “guarantee” Blake Bortles’ pass attempts will drop this season, fully expected based on the organization's offseason decisions. Hiring no-nonsense, old-school Tom Coughlin to oversee football operations, using the No. 4 overall pick on power back Leonard Fournette, and sinking big money into CB A.J. Bouye, DE Calais Campbell, and SS Barry Church signifies a run-first, defense-oriented philosophy after Jacksonville finished the last two seasons 12th and 4th in the NFL in pass attempts, and 30th and 24th in runs. Bortles devolved into a shot-confidence train wreck in 2016, forcing the NFL’s second-highest rate of passes into tight coverage (Next Gen Stats) while finishing dead last in Pro Football Focus’ deep-ball passer rating and deep-ball accuracy after placing 5th and 7th, respectively, in those metrics the year before. In November, Bortles admitted to CBS’ Rich Gannon that he’s “not a natural thrower of the football.” Recalled Gannon, “I’ve never heard a quarterback say that at any level.” Bortles still piled up enough garbage-time stats to finish as a top-ten fantasy passer for the second straight year. In his career, Bortles has thrown seven first-quarter touchdown passes. He has thrown 45 TDs in the second half, including 29 in the fourth quarter. Despite his relative to-date fantasy success, Bortles’ almost certain loss of garbage-time opportunities and overall volume and potentially shaky job security render him a low-floor fantasy investment, albeit interestingly cheap at his QB21 ADP.

Allen Robinson felt the effects of Bortles’ 2016 regression, drawing an AFC-high 41 off-target passes (ESPN) which accounted for 27.2% of his targets overall. Robinson didn’t help, though. Per Next Gen Stats, Robinson’s average of 1.93 yards of separation at target ranked dead last among receivers who drew 100-plus targets. It was clear on tape Robinson failed to create space against physical press-man coverage. A wildly inefficient, outright fantasy bust after his 14-touchdown 2015 campaign, Robinson dipped from the PPR WR6 to WR24 despite seeing the exact same target volume (151). He ranked fourth in the league in drops (9) and averaged 2.7 yards after catch per reception, which ranked 102nd among 118 qualified wideouts in PFF’s grades. Robinson did post his highest (147) and third highest (82) yardage totals of the season with Doug Marrone as interim coach in Weeks 16-17, although they came against the porous secondaries of Tennessee and Indianapolis. Fair to now view as an enigma entering his contract year, Robinson looks like a boom-bust pick at his WR14 (MFL10s) and WR16 (FF Calc) ADPs.

Marqise Lee was the lone bright spot in Jacksonville’s 2016 offense, finally overcoming recurring leg injuries that plagued him since college to appear in all 16 games and severely outplay Robinson in catch rate (60.0%, 48.3%), yards per target (8.10, 5.85), and yards per route run (PFF). While Lee’s third-year step forward was promising, his 2017 fantasy prospects aren’t as much. Allen Hurns returns after missing five games and parts of others to a concussion and hamstring tear. Lee’s first, third, and fourth highest yardage totals of 2016 occurred in games Hurns left early or missed. The Jags will almost certainly throw less, reducing the chances their No. 2 receiver enters legitimate fantasy relevance. June fantasy players aren’t taking the bait, anyway, pricing Lee at WR66 in MFL10 best-ball drafts. In his contract year, Lee remains an intriguing Dynasty hold in hopes he finds a better landing spot in 2018.

The Jaguars’ talent shortage at tight end likely ensures they’ll remain a three-receiver offense with Lee at Z, Robinson at X, and Allen Hurns in the slot. An obvious regression candidate entering last season after scoring an unsustainable 10 TDs on 64 catches the year prior, Hurns busted with fewer downfield opportunities playing inside, a flurry of drops (7 on just 76 targets), a scary Week 9 concussion, and a Week 12 hamstring tear that put Hurns out of his 2016 misery. A perimeter wideout in 2015, Hurns’ slot transition dipped his Average Depth of Target from 11.5 to 9.9, and his catch rate collapsed from 61.0% to 46.1% in a brutal showing. For a former undrafted free agent out of Miami with sub-par athleticism and college production, it’s fair to wonder if Hurns was a one-year flash in the pan. The Jaguars drafted speedster Dede Westbrook in the fourth round, perhaps foreshadowing Hurns will face competition.

Running Game Outlook

Using the No. 4 overall pick on LSU bellcow Leonard Fournette sent the message Coughlin’s Jaguars are willing to play for three yards and a cloud of dust if that’s what it takes to limit Bortles’ back-breaking turnovers and put games in their ultra-talented defense’s hands. Fournette blazed a 4.51 forty at the Combine, the fastest time ever recorded by a running back weighing at least 240 pounds. Before an ankle-injury-affected 2016 season, Fournette drew Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson comparisons for his size-speed combination, and left LSU as the school’s all-time leader in yards per carry (6.22). Although Fournette was an inconsistent pass blocker on tape and dropped 8-of-48 catchable targets (PFF) in his college career, the Jaguars have insisted they are comfortable with his passing-game capability. Bigger concerns are Jacksonville’s ability to generate scoring chances and a shaky offensive line that last year ranked 27th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards. The Jags added LT Branden Albert and LG Cam Robinson, although Albert was an atrocious run blocker in Miami last year, and Robinson is a rookie. Still, Fournette’s workload upside is as high as nearly any running back’s in the league as the clear-cut focal point of his offense. I think Fournette’s RB11 (MFL10s) and RB12 (FF Calculator) ADPs are justified.

In addition to drafting Fournette, it became clear the Jags were gearing up to play bullyball when they invested in three fullbacks: Tommy Bohanon, Marquez Williams, and Tim Cook. Enough will be asked of Fournette to increase his injury risk, while another contributing back will be needed if Jacksonville can execute its run-dominated plan. The Jags’ best stylistic replacement of Fournette would be brittle 29-year-old Chris Ivory, who played the worst football of his career last season. T.J. Yeldon offers superior versatility but also disappointed in 2016, so much that beat writers wonder if Yeldon could be on the roster bubble. Worth monitoring is 4.28 burner Corey Grant, who saw an expanded role once Doug Marrone took over as interim coach and erupted for 137 yards on 20 touches in a Week 17 spot start.

2017 Vegas Win Total

Offseason Jaguars optimism has become a running joke because of its annual prevalence but utter lack of results. It’s an optimism to which I have certainly fallen victim. For better or worse, I’m again buying into Jacksonville as an over team at its six-game win total. At 3-13, last year’s Jaguars fell well short of their Pythagorean Win Expectation (5.4-5.8), then significantly upgraded the roster this spring. Using opponent Vegas Win Totals rather than 2016 records, Rotoworld SOS analyst Warren Sharp identified the Jaguars with the easiest 2017 schedule in the league. While the Jags’ run-based/defense-oriented approach is only a short-term fix until they uncover a franchise quarterback, I think they have the requisite personnel and organizational mindset for it to pay off with some positive short-term results.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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