Underrated Game-Breaker: Cecil Shorts

Kyle Soppe analyzes Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts, who may thrive despite being part of an inconsistent offense.

| 3 years ago

Underrated Game-Breaker: Cecil Shorts

Cecil-ShortsI understand that the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense isn’t one you’re making a habit of targeting, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them all together.

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:

Doug Martin

  • ahoitink

    I’m not sure I follow the argument here. Precisely because Shorts was targeted so much last year, I find it hard to believe his stats are going to improve that much. With the upgrades on defense, I can’t imagine Jax will be playing from behind *more* than last year. So what’s going to be so different about the 2014 season for Shorts? Obviously the QB situation could easily change, and the team could draft a WR early, but neither of these factors seem to suggest an improvement in Shorts’s fantasy situation over last year. Is the idea just that Shorts is going to be that much better of a player? (Enough to outperform Floyd, who posted almost 300 more yards and 2 more TDs than Shorts on the same # of receptions last year and seems poised to do even better this year?) It just seems like Shorts had all the opportunities in the world already last season, and they didn’t result in all that much. With an improved defense and run game, I would think those opportunities will actually dip this season, and in any event it’s hard to imagine them increasing significantly. Similar to Wright (and Garcon) last season, people kept saying that Shorts’s targets will eventually start yielding TDs, but they never did. Why expect something else this year?

    • @unSOPable23

      Thanks for the interest. The argument is more that the upside is worth the risk. Blackmon probably a no-show this season. I’m buying the load of targets over the ton of drops. He’s a risk, but given the price he is currently going, I view him as a step above. He’s not a building block for your team, but there is value to be had, and that’s the name of the game.

      • ahoitink

        I agree there’s value to be had, but I just don’t see that value being any greater than last year. Blackmon was a no-show last season too, so I just don’t see the pre-draft conditions being any better for Short’s outlook. Since I don’t know what his current ADP is, he still may well be a value pick at some point, I just don’t know when. My point is merely that I don’t trust him to improve on last year’s numbers, since it seems improbable that his targets will increase significantly. I also don’t see any reason to be skeptical about a repeat performance.