Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Chris Molina, Joe Zollo, & Chris Tyler
When you get two of the best players at their respective positions with your first two picks, you’re sitting good with your draft class the rest of the way. How DE Josh Allen and OT Jawaan Taylor fell to the Jags is beyond me, but they made it happen. Then they landed a small school TE with severe upside, and the Jags have a ton to be excited about from their rookie class heading into 2019. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Swapping in Nick Foles for Blake Borltes is already a huge win, and getting a healthy Leonard Fournette for a full season is the cherry on top. The Jaguars offense will not be mistaken for the Chiefs or Rams, but they have the ability to score points with a strong running game and some underrated contributors at wide receiver, including getting their 2017 receiving leader back from injury. The most glaring hole is the lack of a third down, pass-catching running back. But with slot man Dede Westbrook and rookie TE Josh Oliver, they have the means to offset that. Foles finished last year with the highest completion percentage of his career and has one of the most efficient seasons of a quarterback in NFL history on his resume. Is he the missing piece to taking the Jaguars back to the playoffs? – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The Jaguars were the thirty-first best offense in the NFL last year (scored 15.31 points a game). There is nowhere to go but up from there, right? Well, to identify potential upside, we have to determine who is actually worth owning, and there are two names that come to mind. The name with the biggest upside on this team though, is Dede Westbrook. Dede finished last year as the WR28. WR28 numbers translate to 66 receptions, 717 yards, and five touchdowns. Those numbers should be his floor this year though. Let me explain why.
The Jaguars threw the ball 534 times and completed 61% of their passes, finishing in the bottom half of the league in both categories. Insert Nick Foles. He completed passes at a 72% clip last year, and targeted the slot 78 times for 549 yards and four touchdowns (keep in mind Wentz was the starter for a portion of the year). Westbrook plays a lot out of the slot. Also, Donte Moncrief and TJ Yeldon are no longer a part of this team. That leaves 167 targets up for grabs. If 18% of those targets go to Westbrook (last year’s market share), that’s an extra 31 targets. A higher completion percentage from Nick Foles and more targets will lead to more fantasy points. Not unforeseeable for 80+ receptions, 900 yards, and seven touchdowns.
Those numbers suggest a possible top 20 season for Dede Westbrook. For example, Amari Cooper finished as WR17, and he had 75 receptions, 1005 yards, and seven touchdowns. The upside is there. It only helps that Dede is being taken as the WR44 in Sleeper Mock Drafts (115.6 ADP). You are drafting a likely WR3 that can easily finish as a WR2 for a WR4 price. Need I say more? – Chris Molina
Everyone has been big on Nick Foles since he signed with Jacksonville, but I won’t be convinced until I see a full season of good football from him. I have a feeling many people may take the bait and draft him earlier than he should be, and it’s going to be a big misfire. If you draft him as a backup to a really good starter, go for it. I fully support your life choices in that instance, but do not draft him as your QB1 or a backup for someone like Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins, etc. There obviously is not much to go off of with Nick Foles besides a few games here and there, but he did play well in the fantasy championships in 2018 if that counts for anything. His past tries at starter did not go over well, but maybe this is something new in Jacksonville. He is surrounded by a solid defense and good, young weapons that can help him succeed. It is by far a definite upgrade from Blake Bortles, but I am still not convinced he is draft worthy. – Joe Zollo
If I put his stat line in front of you — 304 touches, 1,342 total yards, and 10 touchdowns — I’m fairly certain you’ll find the individual that posted those numbers at least slightly trustworthy. Those happen to be the final statistical numbers of one Leonard Fournette from his rookie season in 2017. What makes him far less trustworthy are his final numbers from last season — 155 touches, 624 total yards and six touchdowns. That was in eight games. If you extrapolate that over a full season — 310 touches, 1,248 total yards and 12 touchdowns — you’re not talking about a colossal disappointment, you’re talking about a top 15 running back in 2018.
Fournette was a top five pick in 2017. The Jaguars have plans to be a running offense, and a healthy Fournette is the centerpiece of that. By signing Nick Foles in the offseason, the Jags have provided a quarterback who isn’t as reckless with the football as previous starter Blake Bortles. That keeps defenses honest, allowing Fournette to face far fewer 8-man fronts on early downs. In fact, Fournette faced the third highest percentage of 8-man fronts a season ago, according to Next Gen Stats (35.34%). When you combine that with Fournette’s 3.3 yards per carry average, it’s hard to see how much Foles under center can improve their running game. (For reference, not a single Eagles running back in 2018 faced 8-man fronts on more than 17% of their carries.) If Fournette is able to approach 250 carries — a no brainer if he plays 16 games — he should put up around 1,000 yards. Fournette had five rushing touchdowns a year ago, and all five came in the “10-zone” (within 10 yards of the end zone). In fact, of his 14 career rushing touchdowns, 12 have come in the 10-zone. When the Jags get close, it’s Fournette time. Touchdowns are one of the hardest things in Fantasy Football to predict. Foles with Fournette behind him should yield plenty of red zone opportunities for the third-year back from LSU.
Another plus side for Fournette is the fact that the team lost T.J. Yeldon to the Bills (78 targets) and replaced him with… Benny Cunningham. And Alfred Blue, though less of a pass-catching presence. Cunningham is okay as a pass catcher, and Blue is arguably the least inspiring backup running back in the league. The Jags want Fournette on the field for all three downs, so I firmly expect his targets to increase from the 48 and 26 he had the last two years. If Fournette hits 60 targets, that would give him about 45-48 catches (based on career catch percentage) for another 378-403 yards. That’s at least 82 more points, pushing him into fringe RB1 territory. At his current ADP of RB15 (in the 3rd round) on Sleeper, you can get solid RB2 production with legitimate upside. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
The Jaguars selected San Jose State’s Josh Oliver in the 3rd round to be a difference maker in their offense. He is a beast as a pass catcher and not guilty of many drops. With his big hands, he doesn’t need a perfect ball thrown his way to come down with it. Oliver will be a dangerous weapon in the red zone, causing heavy mismatches because of how well he catches the 50/50 ball. (Oliver led all college TEs in 2018 with 16 contested catches.) As a route runner, he needs a few adjustments here and there but his overall athleticism is what should worry defenses. He is intelligent enough to find the holes in zone coverage and separate in man coverage. Remember his name come Sundays this fall because he’s going to be Nick Foles’ best friend on the field while becoming yours in fantasy. – Chris Tyler
There is a very limited pool of talent in Jacksonville- a fat running back mixed with undersized receivers and a young tight end. So who could emerge from the rest as this years sleeper on the Jaguars? He didn’t play at all last season, and if you listen to No Punt Intended on Die Hard Sports Radio, you would know that I am not a big fan of this guy. Marqise Lee can only go up from last season. I mean, he didn’t play due to injury, so he has to have a better season statistically in fantasy. He is a quick speedy guy who will likely share most of the targets at WR with Dede Westbrook. His hands can be suspect at times, but he has the ability to have some big games for you off the bench. Do not put too much stock into Lee, but just know he is WR2 on their depth chart and could be a useful late round pick if there. – Joe Zollo
Remember when you, or someone in your league, drafted the Jaguars defense in like the seventh round last season? Hindsight is 20/20, people. While the overall team defense was not great, there was some great individual play. Especially on the defensive line. Going into his third year with Jacksonville, the “Cookie Monster,” Calais Campbell, has been a force since going from Arizona to Jacksonville. He ranked first in 2017 and third in 2018, and I firmly expect him to be among the best again this season. Before we move on, many people ask about Yannick Ngakoue and if he is someone to target. While he is a disruptive player, his disruptiveness does not translate to fantasy points, so steer clear of him. There are plenty more players to choose from at the position.
Moving to the Linebackers, I want to apologize to everyone who was eyeing Telvin Smith heading into this season. Smith was third amongst LBs last season and has consistently been a must-have at Linebacker over the past few seasons, but is currently taking the season off for personal reasons. After Smith, the load falls to Myles Jack, and he could easily fill the shoes that Smith has left him. Jack ranked inside the Top 20 amongst LBs last season and, without Telvin Smith, he could easily slide into the Top 10 by racking up an exorbitant amount of tackles. A quick note before moving on: rookie Josh Allen will be available at LB in most leagues, but I would not draft him. He is unproven and seems like he will be used primarily as a pass rusher, which normally does not translate to a lot of fantasy points at Linebacker.
In the secondary, Jalen Ramsey is not a good pick. While Ramsey recorded the most tackles in a season in his career in 2018, he was under 140 fantasy points. The Top 10 line was set above 180 points. If you were to pick someone in this secondary, it would have to be him because Bouye and the two safeties do not bring any fantasy value. Overall, focus on the front seven of Jacksonville and not so much on the secondary in fantasy football. – Joe Zollo