We begin our A Look Inside series with the worst team in the NFL last year, at least by win/loss record and just about every statistical category. The Jacksonville Jaguars won just one game last season but all that losing also won them the 1st pick of the NFL Draft and a date with Trevor Lawrence. Statistically speaking, the Jags finished 21st in passing, 28th in rushing, and 26th in total yards on offense in 2020. Their defense finished last or near last in just about every category. All of those wonderful numbers also got the coach fired and this will be the first season with former Ohio State/Florida coach Urban Meyer at the helm. Meyer’s college offenses were exciting to watch, but will that translate to fantasy success in the NFL?
Change starts at the top and with a new regime comes a new QB. Gardner Minshew deserved better and if you disagree, @ me. Trevor Lawrence looks like the real deal, if you’re into QBs with no facial hair, and could turn this offense around quickly. He throws fades and deep balls as good as any rookie QB we’ve seen and has the right weapons to make that work. One underrated aspect to this new marriage: if anybody can relate to a college QB, it’s going to be Urban Meyer. All in all, this team would prefer to have a “run-first” scheme but is not good enough to pull that off quite yet. They should be throwing a lot and that is great for Lawrence’s fantasy prospects. After the seasons we saw Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow throw together last year, we have to consider QB1 on the radar for Lawrence as a rookie.
Last year around this time, the debate was: could Leonard Fournette be an RB1 on such a bad Jacksonville team? Life comes at you fast. Fournette would be cut a few months later and most wrote the Jacksonville RB position off for fantasy purposes. That was a mistake. James Robinson burst onto the scene as a UDFA from Illinois State. He ended the season as the RB7 in fantasy, finishing with over 1400 total yards and ten total TDs. If you landed him on waivers, he was the definition of a league winner.
While one would hope for a repeat performance, it seemed almost certain that Robinson would not be handling over 85% of the team’s rushing attempts again. To start, the Jaguars brought in Carlos Hyde via free agency. Hyde is no real threat but would be a nice complement to Robinson, likely to vulture a few TDs. If it were just those two, Robinson was still looking like a safe RB2, but then came the NFL Draft.
With the 25th pick in the 1st Round, the Jags added Trevor Lawrence’s college teammate, and arguably the most explosive RB in the draft, Travis Etienne. Etienne basically exemplifies everything Robinson is not. He has great measurables, insane college production, and draft pedigree. He will hurt Robinson, and his fantasy managers, in just about every way imaginable. All preseason reports are that Etienne is working primarily as a wide receiver. This is great for his fantasy prospects and could save James Robinson for 2021. Both backs are on the RB2 radar, but this is likely the last leg of the James Robinson Tour for the Jaguars.
For the 2nd straight season, hopes are high for D.J. Chark heading into the fantasy football season. Last year, he was coming off of his first 1000-yard season and we should have seen improvement. Instead, he battled nagging injuries all year and played in just 13 games. His yards-per-catch and TDs were still solid in that sample and there is no reason to doubt his ability to improve with better QB play. Extra weapons around him to take some pressure off will help too.
Last season, the Jags added Swiss Army Knife Laviska Shenault in the draft. He put together a solid 1st year, with over 600 yards and five receiving TDs. He is best suited for play in the slot and will be used well and often in Meyer’s college-like offense. To fill the void on the outside, Jacksonville added former Detroit Lion, Marvin Jones. Jones is still one of the best deep-threat WRs in the game and was the WR18 in fantasy last year.
Expect a lot of 3-WR sets from the Jags this year and there will be plenty of work for all three of the players. Chark is a solid WR2 with weekly WR1 upside, Jones is going to be on the weekly WR2 radar, and Shenault should be treated as a boom-or-bust WR3.
Last season, Tyler Eifert was the starting TE for Jacksonville and offered little to no fantasy value. The team only targeted the position 108 times total and that was split mainly between Eifert and James O’Shaughnessy. O’Shaughnessy remains, and the Jags brought in an interesting cast of characters to replace Eifert. First was Chris Manhertz from Carolina, another team that doesn’t really use the TE. Then, they drafted former Ohio State TE Luke Farrell, but he caught just 34 total passes in college. To make matters even more insane, Urban Meyer then signed former QB (sort of), Tim Tebow to possibly play TE. While it remains to be seen how this offense will use the position, these characters do not inspire much faith.