Written by Gus Mendoza, Writer and Contributer - @gg on the Fantasy Life App and @ggmendoza21 on Twitter
Oh Jacksonville….always doomed to be that 4-12 team that people want to believe will have a good future. Remember David Garrard? Mark Brunell? No? Well the 4 attendants to Jaguar home games do! To be quite honest that 2007 Jaguars team was pretty good and they almost gave the nearly undefeated Patriots a run for their money. Almost. Being a young Dolphins fan one of my earliest memories I have was Dan Marino’s last game against said Jaguars for a chance to go to the 1999 AFC Championship game. The Jaguars quickly sent Dan Marino into retirement and then Dolphins Head Coach Jimmy Johnson back to the open job market by means of a 62-7 annihilation. Many would say that game is the high point of the young franchise…but now 17 years later the fancy uniformed Jaguars have a lot of solid young pieces they’ve collected from good drafts which makes the offense a surprising source of Fantasy Gold.
Blake Bortles - The UFC graduate, going into his 3rd season in the NFL, really broke out last year in terms of fantasy production. He increased his total touchdown output from 11 in his rookie season to 35 making him one of last year’s biggest fantasy surprises. He actually finished as the 4th best quarterback in all of fantasy football according to ESPN rankings. Yes 4thwas not a typo. Take a deep breath….how are you feeling? Good? Great, let’s continue! Bortles would definitely be classified as a better fantasy QB then real life QB, as many of his stats were compiled in the 2nd half of games when the Jaguars were down by double digit points. You can try to say he could be the comeback kid but it’s more likely that defenses relaxed later in games when the outcome of the game was all but decided. This argument begs the question….will we see regression from Bortles this season? The simple answer is yes, I can’t see him being the 4th overall QB again. However, I do believe he is a top 10 QB. With all the improvements the Jaguars made to their defense in the offseason I still don’t believe they will be stopping much of anyone, at least not this season. Look for Bortles to have to throw a lot again to keep pace with other offenses, which means more points for you! Unless he throws more intercept…..NO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING PLEASE STOP!!!!
TJ Yeldon – Here is where things start to get dicey from a fantasy perspective. TJ Yeldon is certainly a solid running back in real life (aka not fantasy, so boring, I know), but last year he only had 3 games out of the 12 he played where he was given 20 plus carries a game. Not a very reliable workload for the feature back. You may be able to blame that more on the Jaguars being down in so many games and not on them not trusting Yeldon but that’s the reality of the Jaguars defense. They suck. He made up for it with 36 receptions in his 12 games averaging a respectable 7.8 yards per reception but in non PPR leagues that’s not much solace is it? Going into this year Yeldon will have to compete with Chris Ivory who the Jaguars paid big bucks to this offseason. While I see Yeldon getting slim majority of the carries, Ivory will be in on goal line carries and the Jaguars have stated they will go with the hot hand from game to game. If I had to own a Jaguars RB, I want Yeldon, but only if he falls quite far in drafts because I won’t be able to trust him completely as long as Ivory is healthy.
Chris Ivory – The bruiser and the abuser, Ivory (aka THE TUSK. Yes we use that nickname, don’t hate) had an up and down season last year for the New York Jets. For the first 4 weeks of the season he was atop 5 running back and was a delight to all owners who were smart and drafted him at his ADP *cough* *cough* ME I DID MEEE *cough* *cough*. I’m very humble and I never brag. The only issue last year with Ivory was the only issue he’s always had his entire career…his hamstrings. Ivory had problems finishing out games and famously screwed over many fantasy owners in Week 3 in primetime against Philadelphia (Philadelphia was always on primetime and yet horrible to watch) where Todd Bowles said Ivory was “good to go” and he never received a snap. Similar situations occurred later and as the season progressed so did Ivory’s body and he was never really able to regain his early season form. Jacksonville signed Ivory in hopes he could be the Thunder to Yeldon’s Lightning while getting goal line work and hoping to spell Yeldon when he needs rest. But in training camp Ivory has pushed Yeldon for almost a 60/40 split in carries. While both running backs have health issues I can’t trust Ivory to handle a full season even if he is only serving as a backup and in goal line carries. While more valuable in MFL Best Ball formats where he can fall into the end zone twice in a game I foresee it being tough for Ivory to get reliable work on a consistent enough basis to trust him in a season long league as anything more than an RB 4 on a team. And I’m being generous with that.
Allen Robinson – The Fantasy Jewel of this team, a true breakout stud from last year, Allen Robinson has caused quite a commotion among the fantasy rankers and debaters. You know the guys who get paid to talk fantasy, which isn’t me, unfortunately….why the hell am I writing then? Oh hey…didn’t see you there…still reading? Ok, back to the article. AR15 jumped from 2 touchdowns in his rookie season to 14 last season leading the NFL in TD receptions. While a very impressive jump in production some fantasy experts believe he’s due for extreme regression since he can’t possibly have another 14 touchdown season…right? Well Probably. While I do believe his TD total regresses, I believe Bortles looks for AR15 more which equals more receptions. Last season he had 80 receptions and 1400 yards and was among the highest in AVG yards per reception at 17.8. I believe he can get closer to 95 receptions this season while still staying at that 1400 yard mark. He may have a regression in TDs but his increase in receptions may help balance him out to be a top 5 WR in PPR formats. A NOT REALLY BOLD PREDICTION! The Jaguars will throw…..ALOT.
Allen Hurns – This 2014 undrafted free agent from the University of Miami (GO CANES) (Editors Note: I originally was going to strike the “GO CANES” from the article but I didn’t want Gus to quit writing for free) has made it big time with the Jaguars. It always baffled me how he went undrafted seeing him play every Saturday and now other NFL teams are realizing what they missed out on. Hurns himself had a very respectable 2nd season in the NFL catching 64 balls with over 1000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. While I believe Arob won’t see muchregression, I believe Allen Hurns will. The 10 TDs for Hurns seems to be a little high for me to possibly think he can repeat it, especially with Julius Thomas turning it on at the end of the season. I like Hurns as a top 35 option and as a decent flex play in 10 team leagues but don’t expect the same results as last season.
Julius Thomas – One of the most gifted Tight Ends in the entire league athletically, Julius had a down year to his standards last year as many people suspected. Going into a new offense with a quarterback that was not exactly Hall of Famer Peyton Manning at the helm will do that to you and your statlines. He also dealt with an injury that made him miss the first 4 games of the season, so yeah…pretty negative season to say the least. For all the down though Thomas is primed for an upswing in production. Fully healthy in camp and ready to continue the chemistry Bortles and him were building at the end of the season. Through Weeks 11-14 Thomas collected a TD in every game as well as averaging just above 5 receptions per game, but maybe more importantly, averaging 10 targets per game. If he can increase his catch rate and his TD production (which I believe he will) he can be a top 8 Fantasy TE this season.
Who knew I’d be writing over 1,500 words on the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’m sure even the 3 Jaguars fans left are surprised. In the wild world of Fantasy Football though, every player and every team matters. I’m not as high on the Jaguars as everyone else seems to be but that’s mainly because of their horrible defense. I’ll wait and see on that defense as free agent additions don’t mean immediate success. Their offense, on the other hand, can maybe slip into that top 15 overall. The passing game is legit but the key to success will be behind the legs of Yeldon and Ivory adding more balance to this team.