The Jags reached the bottom of the barrel in 2020, outdueling the similarly woeful Jets for the right to draft QB Trevor Lawrence, whom Jacksonville hopes is the savior of one of the four franchises in the NFL to never appear in a Super Bowl.
Helping Lawrence along will be new coach Urban Meyer, a college football legend who nonetheless has never coached a single down in the NFL from any position, which makes this offense an intriguing unknown. Meyer will not call the plays — veteran OC Darrell Bevell will — but make no mistake that Meyer’s fingerprints will be all over the Jaguars’ attack.
There are reasons to be both skeptical and very excited about what’s going on down in Duval, and Jacksonville is a fascinating team to try to get a handle on.
Jacksonville Jaguars Franchise Focus Companion Podcast
|Season Win Total (O/U)||6.5 (+118/-143)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 6.5 (-110) in late March to 6.5 (+118)
Super Bowl: +8000 in early February to +8000
Premium 2021 Betting Preview from Tom Brolley found here.
Key Offseason Moves
|C.J. Beathard (QB)||Trevor Lawrence (QB)||Chris Thompson (RB)|
|Carlos Hyde (RB)||Travis Etienne (RB)||Keelan Cole (WR, NYJ)|
|Marvin Jones (WR)||Tyson Campbell (CB)||Chris Conley (WR, Hou)|
|Jamal Agnew (KR/PR)||Walker Little (OT)||Dede Westbrook (WR)|
|Phillip Dorsett (WR)||Andre Cisco (S)||Tyler Eifert (TE)|
|Jihad Ward (DE)||Jay Tufele (DT)||Josh Oliver (TE, Bal)|
|Malcom Brown (DT)||Jordan Smith (DE)||Kamalei Correa (LB, KC)|
|Roy Robertson-Harris (DT)||D.J. Hayden (CB)|
|Shaquill Griffin (CB)||Al Woods (DT, Sea)|
|Rayshawn Jenkins (S)||Rashaan Melvin (CB, Car)|
|Chris Manhertz (TE)||Josiah Scott (CB, Phi)|
|Rudy Ford (S)||Greg Mabin (CB, Ten)|
|Damien Wilson (OLB)|
|Pharoh Cooper (WR)|
|Tim Jones (WR)|
|Josh Imatorbhebhe (WR)|
Scott Barrett’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule
Quarterback: 9th-easiest (+0.38)
Running Back: 7th-easiest (+0.87)
Wide Receivers: 2nd-easiest (+1.43)
Tight Ends: 16th-toughest (+0.01)
Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.4 (T24)
Plays per game: 60.7 (29th)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 60% (9th) | Run: 40% (24th)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 54.2% (8th) | Run: 45.8% (25th)
When the team is behind — Pass: 68.8% (8th) | Run: 31.2% (25th)
Last year’s Jaguars were among the top-10 teams in pass rate in all gamescripts, mostly because they had to be. When the offense took the field, they found themselves behind on the scoreboard on 79% of their plays. That paced the league by a wide margin, as the Jets (67% of snaps) trailed second-most often. Of course, their pace and play-calling tendencies will look drastically different in 2021. Even though they trailed a ton last year, the Jags’ weren’t in a hurry to try and get back into games. They ranked in the bottom-10 teams in pace, which is something HC Urban Meyer will likely change up. Meyer’s Buckeyes ranked 16th (2017) and 43rd (2018) in FootballOutsiders’ Adjusted Pace metrics in his final two seasons at Ohio State. While Meyer won’t be calling plays — former Lions OC Darrell Bevell will — make no mistake: this will be Meyer’s offense. Meyer was unequivocal back in February, “I’m certainly not going to call plays, that’s (Bevell’s) responsibility, but I have a real clear vision about what I want the offense to look like and (Bevell) was great.”
James Robinson became only the fourth running back since the merger in 1970 to rush for over 1,000 yards as an undrafted rookie RB.
In fact, Robinson’s 1,414 scrimmage yards are most all-time by an undrafted rookie. Keep in mind, he missed the final two games of the year.
What happened with D.J. Chark last year? A lot of it came down to QB quality… Only 68.5% of Chark’s targets were catchable per SIS, which was 6th-lowest among 62 qualified WRs.
Looking a little deeper, just 53% of Chark’s targets beyond 10 yards were catchable. In 2019, 64% of his targets of 10+ yards were catchable.
All of that seeped into Chark’s inefficiency in 2020… per PFF, he fell to 43rd-of-49 WRs in receiving yards per route run (1.48). In 2019, Chark was tied with D.K. Metcalf for 25th (1.70).
After returning from a hamstring in Week 12, Laviska Shenault ended the season with 28/277/4 across his final six games.
Shenault was the WR23 in PPR points (83.4) in this span, just ahead of D.K. Metcalf (85.1).
Since the merger, only five wide receivers have seen at least 75 targets and carried the ball 15 times in their rookie season: Peter Warrick, DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin, Tyreek Hill, and Shenault.
Huber’s Scheme Notes
It’s the beginning of a new era for the Jaguars. Urban Meyer’s unretirement got the ball rolling, capped off by the addition of Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in the 2021 draft. As exciting as the immediate prospects for this offense might be, the brakes need to be pumped concerning hopes for this team coming anywhere close to the playoffs this season. But things most definitely fall on the positive side of those chances greatly improving in the coming years. The O-line may be far from a complete unit, but they boast an impressive interior with LG Andrew Norwell and RG A.J. Cann, and center Brandon Linder as the best of the bunch. The significant issues are found at tackle. Former second-round LT Cam Robinson continues to fall well short of expectations. And, after a strong rookie season, RT Jawaan Taylor took a disappointing step backwards.
It’s very possible that we could see ‘21 second-rounder Walker Little unseat either Robinson or Taylor very early in the season. After serving as its interim GM last season, Trent Baalke will enter the season with the official title. It’s quite obvious that, despite Little opting out of the 2020 season, Baalke, Meyer, and new OC Darrell Bevill must feel extremely strong about his immediate upside. And this offense will need its O-line to quickly come together in order to accommodate one of the most promising backfields in all of the NFL. James Robinson just compiled one of the absolute best seasons for both an undrafted free agent and for a RB hailing outside of the FBS programs. He’ll be joined by Travis Etienne — set to work as Meyer’s trusted H-back — to form a most formidable duo, and offering a full array of skills toward allowing the offense to take an early run-heavy approach.
What type of rushing attack can we expect the Jags to install? And what does it mean exactly for Etienne slotting in as the H-back? Bevell served as both the Detroit Lions’ OC and, later, interim HC last season. During that time, the Lions mixed a top-15 rate of Inside Zone blocking with a top-10 rate of various Gap concepts. Those Gap concepts included competitive rates of Backside Guard Pulls, Counter/Misdirections, and Man blocking. Those Backside Guard Pulls are of particular note since they’ll allow Jacksonville to take advantage of Norwell and Cann’s skills. Another very significant concept, especially for Etienne, is a top-15 rate of Draw runs — an area where Etienne excelled while playing at Clemson.
As for Etienne’s H-back role, it’s very important not to confuse his responsibilities with the lead back responsibilities expected for Robinson. Robinson will fill the early-down and goal line roles in the offense. However, that doesn’t mean Etienne will not be on the field. He will actually line up in what will appear to be a slot WR position, the H-slot. He will be motioned all over the formation, either tasked with running true receiving routes, or sliding into the backfield. At the end of the day, both RBs will be heavily involved. And don’t expect Robinson to lose all of the receiving work he so capably filled last season. Robinson was far too efficient with his efforts in the passing game to be phased out. It’s also important to understand that Carlos Hyde will not be a threat to either back. While Meyer took to coach speak to describe the situation as a “three-headed” situation, health permitting, Hyde will be exclusively used as Robinson’s backup.
After the ‘21 draft came to an end, heads everywhere were left scratched pondering why the Jaguars failed to add a tight end. And therein lies some extremely important information. Not only did they fail to draft a TE, they even traded away Josh Oliver. That tells us it’s entirely clear that Meyer, Bevell fully intend to embrace the Air Raid system. Not that it will be a departure from what we’ve seen from the Jags in recent seasons. The previous regime ranked with a top-10 rate of both three- or four-wide sets the last two years. However, we can expect those rates to rise to the very top of the league. Short of soon-to-be 30-year-old James O’Shaughnessy changing his stripes into a significant receiving threat, we’re gonna see Jacksonville compete with the Cardinals and Bills for the most four-wide detached sets in the NFL this season. Nothing but respect for Tim Tebow remaining in elite NFL shape at 34, his role will be minimal, at best.
Now that we can reasonably assume the new offense will game plan a ton of four-wide, we can envision the path toward keeping Etienne on the field in the slot at all times. With a truly prime opportunity to establish himself as the go-to WR1 option in the offense last season, D.J. Chark failed to run away with the job. He still possesses every bit of the athleticism to correct that this season, but he’ll have to fend off several serious competitors for the role. No more so than Laviska Shenault Jr. While Shenault may not have set the world on fire with the results of his rookie season, he did establish himself as a future top-10 receiving threat among all WRs when facing Man coverage. And it just so happens that the Jaguars will face a schedule chock full of Man-heavy defenses this season. Now that Keelan Cole is finally out of the picture — condolences to the Jets — it’s very likely that we’ll see both Etienne and Shenault absorbing the vast majority of available slot snaps.
Across from Chark on the outside, Bevell made sure to convince his WR1 from Detroit, Marvin Jones Jr., to follow him down to Florida. Jones may not immediately strike thoughts of production in the minds of fantasy owners, but he absolutely established himself as a trusted, consistent performer the last two seasons for Bevell. Shenault is the most obvious name, sans Chark, as having the most significant ability/potential for a breakout, but do not discount the potential for Jones taking advantage of his competition to emerge as a surprise WR1.
In total, we can reasonably expect the Jags to roll out an offense consisting of Robinson in the backfield, Etienne in the slot at H-back, Shenault patrolling the opposite slot, Jones at flanker, and Chark working as the split end. But what can expect from Lawrence? First things first, “Sunshine” is not a true rushing threat in the mold of a Lamar Jackson. However, he is athletic enough to force defenses to respect the high rate of read-option, RPOs that have been the staples of Meyer’s offenses. Even at 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, Lawrence is far more elusive than he appears, and possesses the truly important understanding that avoiding as much contact as possible is the ultimate goal when carrying the ball.
You can count the number of QBs on one hand (i.e., Andrew Luck, Joe Burrow, etc.) that have entered the league without a single coverage weakness. Even in what could end up as one of the top QB draft classes in NFL history, none of its QBs — including Lawrence — fit that coverage-free profile. Where Trevor put NFL-ready tape together against Cover 1, Cover 2, and Cover 6, his efforts facing Cover 3 schemes in college left plenty to be desired. It’s valuable information to have, we just need to understand that the level of his coaching support will massively improve in the NFL. The entirety of Lawrence’s shortcomings could conceivably be corrected by as early as Year 2. And that is even more of a potential reality considering T-Law’s elite timing, arm talent.
As promising as the career ahead appears for Travis Etienne, his selection in the first round was a lost opportunity to improve a defense facing a brutal upcoming season. And the area on defense where the Jaguars desperately needed to improve was its pass rush. For those unaware, short of hitting the literal lottery, the only way to draft an elite pass rush threat is in the opening round. Not only did they fail to select a pass rush threat early, GM Trent Baalke failed to address the D-line until selecting Jay Tufele and Jordan Smith in the fourth round. Now, we do need to remember that ultra-talented EDGE Josh Allen should be fully-healed from his season-ending knee injury. However, Allen will be tasked with almost single-handedly disrupting opposing pockets. It’s a lofty expectation for a kid with only 24 career games under his belt.
In support of Allen’s efforts, new DC Joe Cullen will rely on Dawuane Smoot and Jihad Ward to get after those QBs. Smoot was able to generate decent results last season, just not quite to the level you’d expect from a secondary threat. After a mini-breakout under Cullen within Baltimore’s 4-3 front last season, Ward could overtake Smoot if he’s able to continue showing those improvements. Filling the 5-tech role, Roy Robertson-Harris will use his 6-foot-7, 294-pound frame to clog the running lanes. The Jags aggressively pursued Robertson-Harris, signing him to a three-year, $23.4 million dollar contract on the first day of free agency. Then we have Malcom Brown as the starting nose tackle menacing opposing centers. Jacksonville was able to acquire Brown for a song (‘21 seventh-rounder) from New Orleans in March, a significant get.
While Allen is arguably the Jaguars’ most important, the most talented of the entire defense may be Myles Jack. Providing the coverage skill of a defensive back, Jack has seemingly overcome all pre-draft concerns of a degenerative knee. He’ll be joined in the box by Damien Wilson who was lured over from the Chiefs in free agency, and MIKE ‘backer Joe Schobert. The position group that could eventually headline this defense is at CB. C.J. Henderson will enter his sophomore season after being a ‘20 first round selection, joined by free agent acquisition Shaquill Griffin on the outside. Prospects at CB get all-the-more interesting when you factor in the eventual return of Sidney Jones IV, as well as the addition of second-rounder Tyson Campbell.
As long as Cullen packs along a similar schematic rotation to the one he worked under in Baltimore, we can expect to see a ton of Man coverage this season. The specifics of the defense should be a combination of the highly efficient Cover 1, Cover 3, and Cover 0 rotation. And it’s the type of defense that will place significant emphasis on the single-high, starting free safety. However, they currently appear set to fill that role with Josh Jones. Jones closed out last season ranked among the bottom-five at the position in every important metric. Even with the addition of ‘20 breakout strong safety Rayshawn Jenkins coming over from the Chargers, Jones’ presence alone should place a massive target on the backs of the Jaguars’ defense, and give fantasy owners the green light in favor taking full advantage.
Projected Fantasy Contributors
Trevor Lawrence (Proj: QB16 | ADP: 116 | Pos ADP: QB14)
Lawrence’s selection as the first overall pick in the 2021 Draft had been three years in the making ever since he led Clemson to the 2018 national title as a freshman. The Jaguars masterfully threw away the 2020 season to land Lawrence, who they think is their franchise quarterback for at least the next decade. It’s hard not to come to that conclusion after he racked up a 34-2 career record with a national title as a starter at Clemson. Lawrence averaged 272.7 passing yards per game and 9.2 YPA while throwing for 60 TDs and just 13 INTs in 25 games over the last two seasons. He’s also a threat as a runner despite his 6’6”, 213-pound frame as he averaged 30.1 rushing yards per game with 17 rushing TDs over the last two seasons. Lawrence has all the traits to be one of the league’s next great quarterbacks with his size, athleticism, and arm strength. Urban Meyer came out of retirement and made the jump to the NFL to work with Lawrence. He’ll also work under OC Darrell Bevell, who opened up the deep-passing attack for the Lions the last two seasons with Matthew Stafford holding an average depth of target of 9.4 yards on his passes. Lawrence has a strong cast of receivers at his disposal between D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, and his college teammate Travis Etienne. It doesn’t hurt that he could be in plenty of pass-heavy situations this season after the Jaguars allowed the second-most points per game (30.8) in 2020. Add it all up and Lawrence has the chance to be a low-end QB1 if everything breaks right.
Gardner Minshew (Proj: QB49 | ADP: 355 | Pos ADP: QB51)
Minshew’s time as a starting quarterback in Jacksonville came to an end near the end of last season when the Jaguars locked in the No. 1 overall, which gave them the right to make Trevor Lawrence their new franchise quarterback in the 2021 Draft. The Jaguars even pulled Minshew from the starting lineup in the middle of last season to give Mike Glennon and Jake Luton starts to give themselves a better chance to land the top pick Minshew completed 216/327 passes (67.4%) for 2259 yards, 16 TDs, and five INTs while adding 29/153/1 rushing for 18.3 FPG in nine games. He’s certainly outplayed his 2019 sixth-round draft status with 37 TDs to just 11 INTs in 23 career games, but Minshew will move to a more appropriate role as a high-end backup this season, who is capable of filling in at a relatively high level if he’s needed. Minshew doesn’t need to be drafted except in the deepest two-QB formats, but he could potentially be a streaming option in the right matchup if he’s pressed into action at any point this season.
Travis Etienne (Proj: RB24 | ADP: 46 | Pos ADP: RB22)
Etienne made a questionable decision returning to Clemson for his senior season, but he certainly ran into some bad luck with COVID-19 breaking out across the world just weeks after he announced his return. All’s well that ends well as Etienne still worked his way into the first round in the 2021 Draft despite a down senior season. He averaged just 5.4 YPC and 76.2 rushing yards per game as a senior after averaging 8.0 YPC and 121.2 rushing yards per game in 2018-19. He did improve as a receiver during each of his four seasons, culminating in his NCAA-best 48/588/2 receiving among running backs in 2020. Etienne was the most explosive back in this year’s class with his 4.41-speed in his strong 5’10”, 215-pound frame, and the only question is if he’ll be deployed as a volume back at the next level. Etienne didn’t land in the best spot for heavy touches immediately since he’ll have to battle with James Robinson for touches and snaps. It’s also not great that Urban Meyer went out of his way to sign his former Ohio State star Carlos Hyde to a two-year contract during free agency, who could steal a few carries per game (hopefully not goal-line work). Etienne has some upside since he should be involved as a receiver most weeks, but Robinson and Hyde could lower his touchdown potential by stealing goal-line work. Etienne is the most talented back here and he has a chance to emerge as a three-down back, but the presence of Robinson and Hyde will push him into the low-end RB2 mix since he’s unlikely to be a volume hound right out of the gate.
James Robinson (Proj: RB28 | ADP: 61 | Pos ADP: RB26)
Robinson came out of relative obscurity as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State to become fantasy’s RB5 in FPG last season. He began the season as Jacksonville’s bell-cow back after the team somewhat surprisingly cut Leonard Fournette just before the start of the season, and J-Rob never relented the position until he rested in the final two weeks with an ankle injury. Robinson finished with 240/1070/7 rushing (4.4 YPC) and 49/344/3 receiving on 60 targets in 14 games for a Jaguars’ squad that ended the year with a 1-15 record. His underdog story had a not-so-happy ending when the Jaguars’ new front office selected Clemson’s Travis Etienne as the second running back to go in the first round of the 2021 draft. Etienne has the potential to be a major playmaker next to his college teammate Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville while Robinson will need to prove himself to a second coaching staff in as many years. At least HC Urban Meyer and OC Darrell Bevell come from run-heavy backgrounds, but there’s a strong chance that Etienne, Robinson, and even Carlos Hyde are all involved in this backfield this season. Robinson’s best hope for fantasy production is to hold a slight advantage on early-down carries while maintaining his goal-line role, but volume (21.4 opportunities per game) and receiving production (3.5 receptions per game) helped him to average 18.0 FPG won’t be there in 2021. Robinson is being drafted in the RB3 range this summer, and he’ll need Etienne to struggle or for him to miss time to see enough passing-game work to be a fantasy difference-maker again.
Carlos Hyde (Proj: RB74 | ADP: 427 | Pos ADP: RB115)
The Jaguars handed Hyde a two-year deal this off-season when none of the other 31 teams in the league would’ve given the 30-year-old more than a one-year contract. It’s a little less surprising since new GM Trent Baalke drafted him in San Francisco and new HC Urban Meyer coached Hyde at Ohio State. Hyde did run well for the Seahawks in 2020, posting 81/356/4 (4.4 YPC) rushing and 16/93 receiving on 20 targets in 10 games — hamstring and toe injuries slowed him. He managed 14/79/1 and 2/16 receiving in his lone start for Chris Carson in Week 11 last season. Baalke and Meyer weren’t done adding to their backfield as they later selected Clemson RB Travis Etienne in the first round of the 2021 Draft. Meyer is a complete unknown as it pertains to his RB rotations and the Jaguars made a significant enough investment into Hyde to suggest he’ll at least steal a few early-down carries and snaps each week to be a thorn in the side for Etienne and James Robinson — the fantasy world is just hoping that Hyde isn’t used as the team’s goal-line back. Hyde is off the radar in all but the deepest formats and he’d likely be just a fantasy bench piece if one of the young Jaguars’ backs missed time.
D.J. Chark (Proj: WR27 | ADP: 72 | Pos ADP: WR31)
Chark is heading into an important season in his young career as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. He’s out to prove his 2019 season wasn’t a fluke when he finished as the WR19, and he’ll get the best quarterback play of his young career after the Jaguars took Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick in the spring. Chark ended last season with 53/706/5 receiving (13.9 YPR) on 92 targets to finish as the WR40 with 11.8 FPG in 13 games. Just 68.4% of Chark’s 92 targets were deemed catchable by SIS last year, which led to his disappointing campaign despite averaging 102.0 air yards per game. Chark is the presumptive #1 WR heading into the season but Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault will challenge him for the most targets in new HC Urban Meyer’s offense. It’s at least a bit of concern that the Jaguars signed Jones to a two-year deal this off-season, who comes to Jacksonville with a similar skill set as Chark. He also just spent the last two seasons in Detroit with new Jaguars OC Darrell Bevell, who had enough influence in his early tenure to get Meyer and Trent Baalke to sign both Jones and another former Lion Jamal Agnew this off-season. Chark is one of the riskier WR3 selections in the sixth round since he has a wider range of outcomes than most. He has the potential to get back to his 2019 form with a significant upgrade at quarterback or he could just be another piece in this passing game next to Shenault and Jones under Meyer’s regime — he’s the one receiver here who isn’t under contract for next season.
Laviska Shenault (Proj: WR45 | ADP: 92 | Pos ADP: WR38)
Fantasy drafters are hoping Shenault can become Urban Meyer’s newest offensive weapon in the mold of Percy Harvin and/or Curtis Samuel, who previously excelled as offensive weapons under Meyer at Florida and Ohio State, respectively. Meyer said he wanted to select Kadarius Toney in the first round before ultimately settling for Travis Etienne at No. 25 this spring, which could be a clue that Meyer views Shenault more as a receiver in his offense. Shenault is coming off a solid but unspectacular first season, but he’ll get a significant quarterback upgrade with Trevor Lawrence taking over for Gardner Minshew this season. Shenault finished with 58/600/5 receiving (10.3 YPR) and 18/91 rushing to finish as the WR47 with 11.2 FPG in 14 games. His targets averaged a miserable 6.2 yards in depth but his ability after the catch that he showed at Colorado translated to the NFL as he averaged 5.1 yards after the catch. Shenault would love to double his aDOT this season with the bigger-armed Lawrence at quarterback, and he turned some heads in minicamp with his improved route running to potentially run a more complete route tree. D.J. Chark is the presumptive #1 WR in Jacksonville heading into the season, but there are no guarantees with Meyer and OC Darrell Bevell taking over the offense. Chark, Shenault, and veteran Marvin Jones could be in a full-out battle to lead the Jaguars in target share in 2021. Shenault is a fringe WR3 in fantasy drafts this summer with an ADP in the top 100 so you’ll have to pay up to see if he can break out as Meyer’s newest offensive weapon.
Marvin Jones (Proj: WR58 | ADP: 129 | Pos ADP: WR54)
Jones has firmly established himself as a high-end #2 WR over his first nine seasons, playing the Robin role next to a pair of Batmans in A.J. Green and Kenny Golladay. Jones could serve as a co-headliner with D.J. Chark this season after signing with the Jaguars to start free agency. Marv took on a bigger role with Golladay missing a majority of last season, finishing with 76/978/9 receiving on 115 targets to rank as the WR26 with 14.2 FPG in 16 games. He caught exactly nine TDs for the third time in his last four seasons, and he posted a career-high 76 catches at 30 years old last season. Jones is averaging 14.2 YPR for his career despite seeing that average dip to 12.7 YPR over the last two seasons. Jones’ slot routes rose the last two seasons, which may explain the dip in YPR. He ran more than 30% of his routes from inside the last two seasons after never running more than 20% of his routes from the slot in any of his first six seasons. The man behind his new versatility, Darrell Bevell, will once again be calling plays for him after a two-year stint as the OC in Detroit. Jones will also go from playing with one of the league’s most gifted quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford, to playing with the league’s newest toolsy quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. The former Clemson QB thrived throwing to another contested-catch standout in Tee Higgins, but the fear is Jones could be a bit redundant in this offense. He shares an eerily similar body type and skill set to Chark and differentiating between Jones’ #11 and Chark’s #17 is going to be a nightmare! Jones has consistently exceeded expectations when healthy, and the public is once again betting against him as a WR5 in fantasy drafts this summer.
Collin Johnson (Proj: WR117 | ADP: 351 | Pos ADP: WR125)
Johnson is a massive perimeter at 6’6”, 222 pounds and he started to make some noise late in his rookie season after the Jaguars drafted him in the fifth round in 2020. The majority of his production came late in the season when D.J. Chark and Chris Conley were a little banged up as he posted double-digit FP in back-to-back games in Weeks 12-13, which were the only two games he saw more than 30% of the snaps. Johnson finished his rookie season with 18/272/2 receiving on 31 targets in 14 appearances, and he’ll be looking to carve out a small role as the team’s #4 WR this season. HC Urban Meyer could also look to utilize Johnson’s size near the goal line, which would be a negative development for the rest of the fantasy options in this offense. Johnson will need some injuries in front of him to be a factor in season-long formats and he’s just a bench stash in dynasty formats.
James O’Shaughnessy (Proj: TE44 | ADP: 269 | Pos ADP: TE35)
O’Shaughnessy is coming off a career-best 28/262/0 receiving playing primarily with Gardner Minshew in 2020, and he’ll be Jacksonville’s best receiving option at the tight end position this season. New GM Trent Baalke and HC Urban Meyer decided to get rid of their two most talented options at the position in Tyler Eifert and Josh Oliver, and they replaced them by giving career backup, Chris Manhertz, $4.25 million in guaranteed money. O’Shaughnessy is the best bet to be the most active Jaguars TE in the passing game but he’s unlikely to be fantasy relevant next season. He can be safely left on the waiver wire to start the season in most formats
Luke Farrell (Proj: TE57 | ADP: 41 | Pos ADP: RB20)
The Jaguars have one the thinnest tight end depth charts in the league after signing career backup Chris Manhertz to be the team’s primary option at the position. Manhertz has primarily been a blocking TE to this point in his career and there’s a chance Farrell could carve out a limited role as a receiver after the Jaguars drafted him in the fifth round this past spring. Farrell was underused as a receiver during his time at Ohio State where he was primarily asked to work as a blocker. He compiled just 34/380/4 receiving in 44 career games over four seasons at Ohio State. Our Greg Cosell thinks the Jaguars could have something to work with when it come Farrell but he’s likely to be a multi-year project. Farrell is unlikely to be on the fantasy radar at any point during his rookie season and he’s only a late-round pick in rookie dynasty drafts.
Hansen’s Final Points
He’s an incredibly clean prospect, but it’s not just about the player it’s also about the cost, and Trevor Lawrence is a little pricey as the QB14 off the board. He averaged 30 rushing yards/game over his last two college seasons, but we don’t know how much he’ll run in the pros, at least in terms of designed runs. Everything else about his supporting cast is good, but not great, and we’re not in love with new OC Darrell Bevell, who is experienced, but who leans on the conservative side in terms of his play calling. The schedule is good for the Jags and they should be playing from behind, so Lawrence is clearly in a solid spot. He has a chance to be a low-end QB1 if everything goes well, but he’s almost already being drafted as such. The further he drops from his 115 overall ADP, though, the more appealing he becomes.
It’s fair to say Travis Etienne is a tough call this year for fantasy. His role is unsettled heading into his first training camp, but it’s clear that he won’t open the season as their main early-down back. That’s James Robinson, who was also good in the passing game last year. So we’re relying on the coaches to utilize Etienne effectively right away, which seems a little risky. I love the explosiveness and receiving ability, and Etienne did bulk up this year with no noticeable speed lost, but he’s a wildcard until he settles into a solid role. The team may also work in Carlos Hyde, who can still run hard between the tackles and who played for Meyer at Ohio State. It’s a long season and Etienne’s number should be top-25 by season’s end, but I can’t say I have a warm and fuzzy feeling thinking about taking him at his 46 overall and RB24 ADP. At 46 overall, he’s a shaky late fourth round pick, but Etienne would look a lot more appealing if he slipped to the fifth and/or if he balled out in training camp.
He was incredible as an UDFA last year, but guys like James Robinson tend to fall short of raised expectations when they come out of nowhere the year before. The Jags are almost guaranteeing that by using a #1 pick on Travis Etienne but also adding veteran Carlos Hyde, who can still bring it in the running game. Even if Robinson can stave Etienne off for the whole season in terms of the primary back role, he still seems pricey at 61 overall and as the RB28 off the board. We’re going to let him go in drafts at that price and have little interest in drafting both Robinson and Ettiene in the 4th-6th rounds.
I don’t love any Jaguar this year for fantasy, and a lot of that is price, since guys like Lawrence and Etienne are not cheap. If I had to pick my favorite Jaguar to target, it would have to be D.J. Chark, who is reasonably priced at WR27 at 72 overall. Chark did let me down last year, but he saw an unusually high percentage of uncatchable passes, and Chark answered the bell this off-season in an attempt to return to his 2019 Pro Bowl form while also answering his new HC’s challenge to build up his body. It’s not clear if Lawrence has an affinity for any of the Jaguar receivers, and a veteran like Marvin Jones could emerge as Lawrences’s guy, but it makes more sense to look at Chark, who is also in the final year of his rookie deal and plenty motivated. He’s a fairly affordable WR3 option with some upside.
He did get it done down the stretch last year, and Laviska Shenault may excel in an “offensive weapon” role for Urban Meyer, who has utilized comparable players well in the past (like Percy Harvin). Of course, the Jags reportedly wanted to draft Kadarius Toney, who is similar to Shenault but who can do more (in my opinion) while lining up outside. They also have Travis Etienne, who could be used as a slot receiver a lot this year. Shenault was “turning heads” this spring, so he’s off to a good start, but he is still expensive at WR45 off the board around 90 overall. It may work out, but there’s no vertical element to his game yet, and we’re relying on Darrell Bevell (and to a lesser extent, Meyer) to maximize Shenault’s potential quickly, which is a leap of faith.
He’s always been a solid football player and an underrated veteran but Marvin Jones did look dead for fantasy early last year. He wasn’t, though, and he balled out once Kenny Golladay went down and stayed out of the lineup. Jones has more versatility than Chark, and his slot routes haven risen the last two seasons, so he could be a very sneaky pick if the vibes are good in camp all summer. He does know Bevell from their time together in Detroit, and he’s affordable at 158 overall as WR49, so he's a good target in the second half of drafts if you’re looking for a safer, steadier option.
He’s merely someone to place on the radar, but the unheralded Collin Johnson is huge and showed some game last year, so he’s a guy to look at if D.J. Chark, for example, has injury problems and misses time.
The Jags have the old standby James O’Shaughnessy to use in the passing game again this year, but he’s simply not on the fantasy radar. I doubt he’ll be a viable waiver wire pickup, either, so find your fantasy TEs elsewhere. Backup Chris Manhertz isn’t going to cut it, either.
At least with rookie Luke Farrell, we have the intrigue of the unknown, unlike O’Shaughnessy and Manhertz. Of course, Farrell was used mostly as a blocker in college, so there’s not much going on here. At least he’s got a chance to develop, but he’s not draftable in season-long.