Underrated Game-Breaker: Cecil Shorts
With Maurice Jones-Drew moving on and Justin Blackmon continuing to do illegal things, Shorts is the one Jag I’m considering this season, and while I’m not building a team around him, he has upside that allows him to challenge for a spot among the top 30 wide receivers this year.
I mentioned in my “100 Facts” article that Brian Hartline has more receiving yards over the last two seasons than elite pass catchers like DeSean Jackson, Marques Colston, and Larry Fitzgerald.
I always discuss opportunity and my belief that opportunity is the greatest indicator of upside (putting up big numbers is difficult if the player isn’t being targeted), making the fact that Shorts averaged more targets per game over that stretch than Hartline an impressive trend.
He’s seen at least 10 targets or a touchdown in 16 of his last 18 games (excludes the Broncos game last season that he departed very early with an injury), meaning he has the opportunity to produce on a consistent basis, and as a borderline top 100 player, can you really ask for much more?
The Jags don’t have a proven running back (Toby Gerhart and Jordan Todman) and figure to be behind with consistency, once again meaning plenty of passes thrown. Did you know that they ranked 11th in pass attempts – ahead of Dallas, Indianapolis, and Chicago among others last season?
Reports have Shorts as nearing 100 percent healthy after December groin surgery, plus he’s only 26 years old. I also like the fact that he has been the most constantly targeted Jaguar over the last two seasons in addition to leading them in receiving yardage.
He also has the greatest average depth of target (aDOT), meaning Jacksonville is looking for him to make plays often and down the field. His catch percentage is affected by the level of quarterback play, making the quantity of targets enough to overcome the lack of quality, thus elevating him to mid-level WR3 status at worst.
One final note regarding upside: Shorts ranked among the top 25 receivers who were targeted at least 100 times in yards per route run (YPRR) for the second consecutive season, an amazing accomplishment given the fact that he ranked in the top 5 in drop rate in both of those campaigns.
At worst, his surplus of targets give him the potential to outproduce Kendall Wright and Michael Floyd, and if he can improve his drop rate (and his job is to catch footballs, so you’d think this is possible), it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him finish with better fantasy numbers than Eric Decker or Torrey Smith.
Other Underrated Game-Breakers: