Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Draft Analysis
Fantasy draft season is upon us. In the coming weeks you will see countless mock drafts, player analysis, and excessive 29-hour fantasy specials. We’re looking at you, Matthew Berry.
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We’ll dive into key assets to target and avoid from South Beach to the Pirate Ship in our preseason mini-series. Feud’s first stop? The First Coast.
Last season, fantasy owners were looking everywhere but Jacksonville for offensive talent. Injuries, inconsistent wide receiver contribution, and bad QB play left the Jaguars with the 31st ranked scoring offense in the NFL. This season there is reason to have renewed optimism, though. With new OC John DeFilippo joins the fold, key contributors returning from injuries, and the signing of Nick Foles the Jag’s offense should have the spark it needs to perform better this season.
Boom or Bust candidate: Leonard Fournette
Last season was a complete disappointment for fantasy owners that drafted Leonard Fournette, and for Fournette himself. After being the highest RB drafted since Ezekiel Elliot and playing well in his rookie season, the expectations for Fournette coming into 2018 were high.
Even though his rookie season left something to be desired from fantasy owners, his 17 pts per game were nothing to scoff at. While inflated by some peaks, his valleys weren’t too low.
2018 brought the hope that he could stay healthy and be more productive on the fielid. Sadly, his 2018 campaign was the exact opposite. The injury bug graduated from LSU and caught up with Fournette in Jacksonville, limiting him to playing in only 8 games, 5 less than 2017. Needless to say, his production correlated with his playtime.
Fournette showed some ability to catch the ball out of the backfield in his rookie campaign, posting a respectable 3.9 YPC. Optimism was to be had, but a 3.3 YPC mark in 2018 wasn’t a huge drop off but not the improvement fantasy managers had hoped for.
Positives though, right? In a three-week span starting in week 10, he posted 3 consecutive 20 or more point performances with the best one coming in week 10 at Indianapolis scoring 27 points in PPR formats. Those types of performances are why Fournette was the 9th RB coming off the board in last year’s fantasy drafts. His 15 PPG average is not the ROI owners were expecting when taking Fournette that high.
While over drafted, He was still able to finish a down year averaging more than running backs Phillip Lindsay, Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones, who all seem to be trending upwards while Fournette drops down draft boards.
The addition of Nick Foles should help Fournette’s production as well. If the passing game becomes a threat, opposing defenses won’t be able to stack the box to defend against the run creating new lanes and opportunities for Fournette to take advantage of.
This season is make-or-break for Leonard Fournette. The projections aren’t as high for him this season, which only makes him a potential get later than normal.. Unlike the past two years, Fournette may be available into or even after the third round of your draft. Others like the aforementioned Lindsay, Mack, and Jones may go before Fournette, consequently dropping him down the boards.
If you walk away from your fantasy draft with Leonard Fournette in your lineup then he’s a definite start against the Chiefs, Bengals, and Raiders whose run defense ranked in the bottom 25 of the NFL last season.
If during your draft Fournette is available late in the third round, take him. If he is available in the fourth round, then he’s a steal. Any sooner than that, be prepared to have your fantasy record rely on the Jaguar’s offense. Bold strategy, Cotton.
The Safe Pick: Dede Westbrook
If you’re looking for a late steal to bolster your depth, then look no farther then DeDe. Last season Westbrook hauled in 66 catches for 717 yards and 5 touchdowns. Not shabby numbers when you consider how bad of quarterback play the Jaguars had last season.
This season there should be no doubt that Westbrook will start the season out as WR1 in Jacksonville and with more consistent QB play from Foles, Westbrooks numbers should only get better. I know, going out on a limb there. Expert analysis.
He is currently the 36th ranked WR in PPR formats and is being drafted in the late 9th round of drafts. Westbrook is not going to be a WR1 on your fantasy squad, but he is a safe pick. A high floor receiver with all the opportunity in the world, he should outpace his 2018 campaign easily.
If Westbrook is your every week flex option with the ability to give you 10 or more points a week, then he could be the player that puts your team over the edge. DeDe averaged 10 PPG in PPR formats last season with his worst performance coming week 17 against Houston with only 2 points but also posting four 15 or more point fantasy performances the best of which came in week 14 at Tennessee putting up 21 points.
Westbrook is a safe option late in your fantasy draft with the potential to become a WR2 in your lineup. Target him in the later rounds if your starting WR slots are filled and you’re in need of a safe flex player or a viable bench option.
He’s Got Next: D. J. Chark
D.J. Chark’s rookie campaign was one to forget. Playing in 11 games last season he posted a meager 14 catch, 174-yard stat line with zero touchdowns. I think its safe to give Chark a pass for his rookie campaign and just be hopeful for the future, with situation in mind.
Chark has all the physical tools at 6’4” and 198 pounds,with blazing fast speed posting a 4.34 40 time at the 2018 NFL Combine. With the Jaguars lacking a true number one receiver it’s not out of the question to think that Chark could work his way into that role this season.
Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles has reportedly had good chemistry with him during OTAs. Foles also had a lot of success with a receiver of similar stature in Philadelphia: Alshon Jeffery. Chark is taller and faster than Jeffery on paper and could quickly establish himself as the deep threat the Jaguars desperately need.
D.J. Chark should only be drafted in the late rounds of your draft when your starting lineup has already been filled out. Chark has huge upside but still has a lot to prove before he can be considered a top fantasy option. I’m rolling the dice, though. All the intangibles are there, let’s hope D. J. lives up to his potential in 2019.
Player to Avoid: Keelan Cole
Remember Keelan Cole? I’ll choose not to while drafting this Summer. The undrafted Kentucky Wesleyan Panther pounced onto the scene in 2017 while posting 3 straight fantasy performances of 15 or more points and scoring 31 points in week 15 against Houston. (Take that, Texans!)
The same Keelan Cole scored 24 points against the New England Patriots week two of 2018 and brought in a potential catch of the year that brought Duval to its feet.
Just as quick as Cole exploded onto the scene, he fell right out of it, to the dismay of a hungry Jaguar’s offense who was begging for someone to step up.
Cole could get the same pass as all of the other Jaguar wide receivers and just blame the QB play, but Cole fell straight off of the map. Maybe he’s a flat-earther?
After his impressive performance against New England his best game was an 11-point game against Kansas City and their 29th ranked pass defense at the time. That was the same game Bortles threw for 430 yards, of which Keelan only hauled in 70. He failed to post another double-digit fantasy performance all season and was essentially non existent as the season went on.
Cole clearly has the potential to start in the NFL, but his inconsistency may cost him his job this season. With Marqise Lee returning from his ACL injury, and the addition of Chris Conley, there may be no room for Cole in Jacksonville’s offense.
Barring a serious injury or a change of scenery for Keelan Cole I’d avoid drafting him this year.
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