The Jaguars were one of seven teams to throw the ball over 600
times last year but Bortles’ fantasy production didn’t produce
the same results as his epic 2015 campaign. The lack of production
on offense led to a decrease of 3.6 points per game from 2015
to 2016 and the eventual firing of Gus Bradley before the conclusion
of the regular season. As a result, HC Doug Marrone and OC Nathaniel
Hackett will bring a hybrid Air Coryell system to Florida. Marrone
is better known for making running backs into quality fantasy
starters but Bortles is better than previous signal callers working
in this scheme. The good news for those hoping Bortles flourishes
under Marrone is that the offense has enough weapons to make Bortles
a top-five fantasy QB. The bad news is most of the offense hasn’t
played in this scheme and they are highly motivated to run the
ball this year. A more effective running game led by rookie Leonard
Fournette will help Bortles, but it may cut into his passing attempts.
Fewer attempts for a quarterback that has yet to attain a completion
percentage of 60-percent makes it tougher to predict a career
year and more likely that his numbers suffer slightly. Keep expectations
for Bortles more in line with a fringe fantasy starter that will
likely be better as the season progresses.
The hype surrounding Leonard Fournette in fantasy circles seems
to grow by the minute. Few players possess the size, speed and
power and the early comparisons to players such as Adrian Peterson
and Fred Taylor have created lofty expectations. The success of
Ezekiel Elliott last year shows just how valuable an all purpose
power back can be in a fantasy landscape riddled with RBBCs. Competition
for carries comes in the form of the team’s two most recent attempts
at finding a lead rusher, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. While both
players will have a role in the offense, neither will prevent
Fournette from ascending to the top of the depth chart sooner
rather than later. Not known for his receiving skills, Jacksonville’s
rookie horse has received passing grades on his hands during OTAs.
Forecasting a few receptions into his early projections makes
the former LSU Tiger an appealing fantasy running back with rare
double-digit touchdown potential. Early drafters may be able to
snatch him up in the middle of the second round but his value
may climb to late first round status if he performs well in the
Chris Ivory was brought in to be the answer to Jacksonville’s
rushing attack but durability issues and ineffectiveness led to
his lowest total touches since injuries limited him to six games
in 2013. Jacksonville gave him the rock at least 15 times in only
two of his eleven games played in 2016 and the addition of Leonard
Fournette is telling of the team’s confidence in Ivory moving
forward. Ivory gets the job done when healthy so there is a chance
he starts the year splitting carries with Fournette. However,
it is more likely that Ivory serves as a caddie to Fournette and
sees his touches per game dwindle into single digit territory.
Unless an injury or off-the-field issue with Fournette occurs,
Ivory is probably not worth owning in all but the deepest leagues.
It wasn’t long ago when T.J. Yeldon was inspiring optimism
on a Jacksonville team that hadn’t had much success since
the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jags relegated Yeldon
to being a passing down specialist in 2016 where he reached the
50-catch plateau on only 68 targets. Yeldon has failed to impress
near the goal and offers little touchdown upside. The new coaching
staff will certainly put his receiving skills to work again this
season but he will have a tough time reaching the century mark
in carries now that he has moved further down the depth chart.
Chris Ivory’s injury history could create more touches for
Yeldon during the regular season but that doesn’t guarantee
that he will see more carries if Fournette is getting the job
done. As a result, Yeldon’s fantasy value coming into his
third year has been reduced to deeper PPR leagues.
Ouch. Allen Robinson hit the ground with a loud thud in 2016.
After being a consensus top ten receiver at the outset of the
year, fantasy owners were given a modicum of fantasy points for
a player with Robinson’s stature. A rebound is very likely
and fantasy players should be lining up for the discount when
draft day approaches. The targets were nearly identical and there
is no reason to suspect the passing game will suddenly start throwing
the ball to their top receiver less in the new offense. Secondly,
even though touchdowns can fluctuate from year to year, the six
Robinson snared a year ago are the result of the team underperforming
and not Robinson’s ability. Robinson offers elite targets
and touchdown potential in an offense that should yield high yardage
totals once everyone is on the same page. Fantasy owners shouldn’t
expect him to reach 2015 levels but he won’t need to hit
those numbers in order for fantasy owners to return a profit at
his current third round price tag.
Allen Hurns continues to make fantasy owners second guess themselves
as the former Miami University alumnus prepares for his fourth
year as a pro. He dealt with hamstring injuries throughout much
of the 2016 regular season which opened the door for a training
camp battle with Marqise Lee to be the starter opposite Allen
Robinson. If Hurns can prove himself healthy - where he has bulked
up in hopes of preventing injury - he has a good shot of beating
out Lee and being a quality fantasy contributor in 2017. Furthermore,
Hurns hasn’t been able to prove he can be an above average fantasy
asset outside of the season in which the Jags were so bad they
had no choice but to throw the ball the entire second half. Hurns
has the talent to be a sure-handed possession type receiver on
a team that sorely needs one. He won’t be confused for Isaac Bruce
anytime soon but he could settle into a similar role yielding
WR4 type value late in drafts.
Marqise Lee finally proved himself to be fantasy worthy in 2016
when the Jags were forced to give him an opportunity due to Allen
Hurns’ hamstring woes. Over 100 targets and 13.5 yards per
catch later and he will still enter camp having to win a starting
gig. Lee has enough upside to be a weekly flex option in twelve
team leagues but his floor extends to being a waiver wire hermit.
Lee’s role in the return game should diminish with rookies
Dede Westbrook and Jalen Myrick possessing the speed and quickness
to get the hob done. That will free up Lee to spend more time
working with Bortles in the passing game. The former Trojan has
done what is expected of him in OTAs and his value is on the rise.
For those owners in deeper leagues with a strong group of receivers,
Lee is a late-round option that could easily turn a profit in
2017 if the Jags’ offense takes a step forward.
Jacksonville tried to give fantasy owners a useful tight end
but Julius Thomas struggled to stay on the field and the team
moved on by giving him away to Miami for a seventh round draft
pick. The truth is that Blake Bortles hasn’t been successful
in getting the tight end involved in the offense. As a result,
expectations for Rivera remain low despite the fact that he is
moving back into starting role after being displaced by Clive
Walford in Oakland. Rivera looks like your average tight end that
should fill in nicely with what the Jags want to do but he is
just another body in the deep tight end pool for fantasy owners.
Marcedes Lewis is still around too. The 33-year old Lewis figures
to split time with Rivera which would make both tight ends virtually
unusable to fantasy owners.