The Jaguars’ 2017 campaign started in the worst possible way: A messy quarterback “controversy” during the preseason that never really seemed to threaten Blake Bortles’ status as the starter, even though it probably should have. Without the bad preseason and rocky start to the season, we probably could have filled this paragraph with messages of hope and faith and the arrival of a savior in Leonard Fournette. Instead of focusing on the fact that Bortles is still holding this offense back, we’ll try to zero in on some of the good instead.
Team Offensive Stats
Well, that didn’t last long. Immediately after writing about how we wanted to focus on the good, we’re forced to start at the head: The quarterback position.
The Jaguars are forging ahead with Bortles, and while he had a top-five fantasy finish not too long ago, it’s no secret that was an anomaly and extremely unlikely to happen again. Bortles has remained somewhat relevant in fantasy with fringe QB1 appeal based on volume alone, but that appeal will be sapped this year as Jacksonville relies more on its run game. Bortles went 23-of-34 for 206 yards, one touchdown, and one interception this preseason, which is hardly what you expect from an established veteran playing against vanilla defenses.
Bortles’ backup, Chad Henne, might actually be a better fantasy option, if he ends up as the starter. He was also quite bad in the preseason, but he was still better than Bortles. This is just a situation to avoid in fantasy unless you are streaming the position or playing in a two-QB league.
|2016 Touches||% Vacated|
The Jaguars didn’t vacate too many touches — just 13 percent — but Leonard Fournette, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, will still vacuum up most of the volume. Fournette is a strong RB2 with fringe RB1 potential, but he is seriously capped by Jacksonville’s overall scoring potential.
Jacksonville running backs have scored just eight rushing touchdowns in the past two years (five last year, and three in 2015). They had nine in 2014, for a total of 17 over the past three years. For comparison, LeGarrette Blount had 18 for the New England Patriots last year alone. The team you are on truly matters, and in the case on Jacksonville’s running backs, it’s working against them.
However, no single Jacksonville running back has seen as much volume as we expect Fournette to see — and no Jacksonville running back in recent years has even been remotely close to as talented as Fournette.
T.J. Yeldon led the team with 130 attempts last year and 182 in 2015. Fournette should easily top 275 this year. The Jaguars will attempt to control the clock and revolve their game around Fournette. In theory, that’s fantastic for his fantasy value. Whether or not they can actually pull it off is another story.
Yeldon remains the team’s primary backup, but Chris Ivory will be worked in as well. Neither player is rosterable, and if something should happen to Fournette, they’d likely split the duties, like they did last year. Both players averaged fewer than 4.0 YPC in 2016, however, and there’s not much upside here.
Jacksonville has legitimately good receivers, led by Allen Robinson, who is once again looking to perform as a tail-end fantasy WR1. He missed the mark last year and sunk seasons in the process, but he’s poised to bounce back, assuming he gets a little more consistency at the quarterback position. Robinson’s 144 targets were good for seventh-most in the NFL last year.
Marqise Lee could step in as the team’s No. 2 wideout. He was strong last season, finishing with 851 receiving yards — just a few dozen away from Robinson for the team lead. Lee saw 101 targets (over six per game), but he only scored three times. He’s just a flier at this point, but he has upside.
Dede Westbrook climbed up the depth chart after a strong preseason. Westbrook led all wideouts with 288 yards this preseason, and he hauled in two touchdowns to boot. He also caught 13-of-17 targets despite a relatively high average depth of target of 15.4. Westbrook has a ways to go, but he could eventually work his way up to No. 2 on the depth chart. But given that Jacksonville ran three-wide sets at the fourth-highest rate last year (see above chart), Westbrook could see the field right away.
Wide Receiver Sets
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Lewis figures to lead the position for the team, but neither player should be on your fantasy radar — even in leagues that start multiple tight ends.
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