Fantasy Team Previews: Jacksonville Jaguars
Sep. 7 at Philadelphia Eagles
Sep. 14 at Washington Redskins
Sep. 21 Indianapolis Colts
Sep. 28 at San Diego Chargers
After starting 0-8 last season, starting strong will provide clues as to how much Gus Bradley has grown his program in Jacksonville or how far he needs to go. How the Jags play could also provide clues to when or if we see Blake Bortles, who the Jaguars drafted with the third overall pick in Mays NFL Draft.
The Jaguars have screamed from the mountain tops—or northeastern Florida beach fronts, that Bortles will watch the 2014 NFL season from the sidelines. This is how it used to be done in the NFL but when your other option is Chad Henne, you may as well give the rookie a shot. Starting 1-8, 9 or 10, may also force Bortles into the lineup. While at UCF, the Fiesta Bowl Offensive Player of the Game tossed 50 TD’s with just 16 Int’s over final two seasons. During the Knight’s upset thumping of the heavily favored Baylor Bears last January, Bortles showed off his dual threat skills. He connected on 20-of-31 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. The junior amassed a career high 93 rushing yards and one touchdown. If you are considering Henne in any capacity at any point during the 2014 year, your fantasy football season is over.
WR Justin Blackmon is suspended indefinitely and will not play this season. Cecil Shorts cannot stay healthy. Which is why rookie WR’s Marquis Lee and Allan Robinson must establish themselves early and often. Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson are nothing more than slot options and Sanders is also facing a four game suspension. Team owner Shad Khan has built swimming pools in the stadium but hasn’t committed to TE Mercedes Lewis yet. Career backup Toby Gerhart, Jordan Todman, who has 264 career rushing yards and rookie Storm Johnson, Bortles teammate at UCF are the teams hope at running back. On second thought—–Bortles may be better off watching this season.
Gus Bradley has a plan; He added Chris Clemons and Ziggy Hood in the offseason on defense, but as the team mostly addressed offense in the Draft, little else was done to a defense that surrendered 28.1 points per contest (second-most in the conference). Conclusion—-you’re better off not starting Henne and the Jaguars D this season. Jacksonville finished last season 27th in total defense and tied for 24th in takeaways (21).
Kicker Josh Scobee connected on 92 percent of his field goals last season, ranking eighth in the league. However, he only attempted 25 kicks, 29th in the NFL. Jacksonville’s offense offered just 23 extra-point tries. To put that into context, Denver’s Matt Prater attempted 75.
Best Fantasy Player:
Toby Gerhart has never rushed for more than 531 yards in a season—-so I’m going to take one of the rookies and not one you might expect. I’m going to say watch out for Allan Robinson. While Marquis Lee is garnering most of the attention, Robinson, also a second-round pick for Jacksonville, could have a better season. Robinson is coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in Happy Valley, and at 6’2”, 220 lbs. he has the size and speed to be a nightmare for opposing corners.
AFC/NFC Crossover: AFC North, NFC East
Swing Games: Miami, at San Diego
Opponents ’13 Record: 45.3% (29th)
The Jags got no favors in crossover play, as they will face a developing Miami team and San Diego on the road. Not to mention playing the toughest divisional slate in the AFC South (they don’t get two automatic wins over themselves). Mix in road trips to Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia in crossover play and it seems difficult to find much improvement from this team. There are plenty of winnable home games (Tennessee, Houston, Cleveland, Miami, Pittsburgh, NY Giants) but this team will most likely be an underdog in every game it plays this fall.