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2021 Player Outlooks: Jacksonville Jaguars

By Ken Ilchuk | 7/30/21

QB Trevor Lawrence
(2020 QB Rank – N/A)

The folks in Jacksonville are hyped about their new QB, and we get it. At 6-5 he boasts prototypical height, has a strong, accurate arm, and the athleticism to not just make plays with his legs, but extend plays and escape from pressure, which may be his most important attribute in Year 1. Simply put, the guy’s a winner who has lost only two games since the start of high school. He’s a leader and a playmaker who averaged just under 30 TD passes per season at Clemson. For all the above reasons, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Lawrence isn’t under center for the Jags in Week 1, no matter how well former starter Gardner Minshew plays.

However, Lawrence is an NFL rookie playing at QB. All indications are he has the work ethic and the game IQ to fully grasp the offense and perform under pressure. But make no mistake, he will struggle, and new HC Urban Meyer isn’t going to be afraid to sit his generational talent if he struggles too much, especially with Minshew standing next to him on the sideline. It’s also important for fantasy owners to understand who they’re dealing with here. Meyer is, and always has been, a run-first guy. The same goes for OC Darrell Bevell, and even passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Don’t be surprised if all three of those guys, trying to protect and develop “The Franchise” for the long term and lean heavily on those run tendencies in 2021.

Of course, there is reason to be high on Lawrence, for fantasy purposes and otherwise. He’s a better runner of the football than he’s given credit for, and Meyer has a reputation for scheming to the strengths of his QB dating all the way back to Alex Smith at Utah. The RPO will be part of this attack, and with that, Lawrence becomes a legitimate dual threat. But the rookie learning curve and a run-first offense are going to put a cap on his ceiling out of the gate. I’m calling him a mid to low end QB2 for now who could be worth a shot in the second half of the season if he progresses as expected.

QB Gardner Minshew
(2020 QB Rank – No. 26, 22.0 FPts/G)

I’m not going to take a lot of your time here. Minshew actually played well when he got on the field last year (9 games, 66% completion, 16 TD, 5 INT, three 300-yard games). But Urban Meyer is the new sheriff in town and Trevor Lawrence is his new deputy. Meyer has reportedly been impressed with the way Minshew competes and he has established himself early as the clear QB2 in Jacksonville, which makes him a smart handcuff for Lawrence owners. But if he has to play, everyone in this offense takes a hit, particularly a player like WR D.J. Chark, who took a step back in 2020 due mostly to Minshew’s accuracy issues on the deep ball.

RB James Robinson
(2020 RB Rank – No. 8, 14.4 FPts/G)

As a rookie in 2020, Robinson was a 1,000-yard rusher with 7 TD’s and added 49 catches and three receiving scores for over 1,400 total yards. Even with veteran Carlos Hyde and rookie 1st-rounder Travis Etienne in the fold, Robinson figures to carry the mail in the Jags’ run-first scheme. But goal line and red zone work could go elsewhere, which could hurt his fantasy prospects.

Jaguars’ fans should expect a heavy dose of the run game early in the season as rookie QB Trevor Lawrence gets his feet under him, which means Robinson could have some legitimate fantasy value as a low end RB2 or as a weekly flex option. His late-fourth, early-fifth round ADP is too steep, but he’s a good depth guy on your roster.

RB Travis Etienne
(2020 RB Rank – N/A)

Though not quite as big and physical as Robinson, Etienne is quick and elusive in the open field. HC Urban Meyer figures to use those traits in more of a receiving role, putting Etienne in motion, using him on jet sweeps, and giving him catch and run opportunities in the short and intermediate game where he can find open seams against zone coverages.

Etienne could emerge as a strong flex option, or even as a valuable RB2 in PPR leagues if his receiving role expands. Urban Meyer has always been creative on the offensive side of the ball. Expect the Jaguars to find a bunch of different ways to get the ball in Etienne’s hands.

RB Carlos Hyde
(2020 RB Rank – No. 54, 6.9 FPts/G)

Hyde is likely to be the player to benefit the most should James Robinson miss time for any reason. A physical banger as a runner, and a player who has played for HC Urban Meyer (at Ohio State), he knows the system and understands what it takes to be productive as an NFL back. Handcuff him to Robinson and don’t be afraid to insert him in the lineup when the time comes. Meyer will trust him when the chips are on the table.

D.J. Chark

WR D.J. Chark
(2020 WR Rank – No. 48, 7.7 FPts/G)

At the request of HC Urban Meyer, Chark put on 10 pounds this offseason, apparently without losing any of his straight-line speed by his own account. That’s a good sign. Meyer challenged him and Chark took the bait, looking to put a disappointing season behind him. He’s a bona fide deep threat who struggled with the Jags’ QB play last season as much as anything else. Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon, and Jake Luton all lacked accuracy on the deep ball.

With strong-armed Trevor Lawrence and Chark busting down the sideline at 6-4, 210, there’s some big play potential there. It might take some time to get Lawrence acclimated to the NFL game, and the addition of veteran free agents Marvin Jones and Phillip Dorsett could cut into Chark’s targets, but Chark is a bounce-back candidate in 2021 and could return to his 2019 form when he posted 73 catches on 118 targets for 1,008 yards and 8 TD’s. Draft him in the middle rounds as a WR3.

WR Marvin Jones
(2020 WR Rank – No. 15, 9.5 FPts/G)

Jones is a very similar player to D.J. Chark, which should give fantasy owners some pause. He’s another perimeter threat who plays a physical style. He has the quickness to beat man coverage and the route-running ability and IQ to find the open spots in zone coverages. Older and more polished than Chark, he’s not as explosive, but he is being reunited with OC Darrell Bevell, who worked with him in Detroit, and will be a valuable veteran presence for Trevor Lawrence. Despite all that, he’s still not considered anything more than a WR3 or weekly flex option when it comes to fantasy value.

WR Laviska Shenault
(2020 WR Rank – No. 49, 7.1 FPts/G)

Shenault displayed a versatile skill set as a rookie in 2020, lining up as a WR, RB, and even took direct snaps as a runner. He posted 58 catches on 79 targets for 600 yards and five scores and added 18 carries for 91 yards, justifying the preseason excitement of some fantasy owners. But much of that “slash” role seems destined for rookie RB Travis Etienne in 2021.

Still, Shenault was reportedly the star of the Jaguars offseason practices and has been working almost exclusively from the slot. That could end up being a good spot for him as D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, and Phillip Dorsett all battle for snaps out on the perimeter. The boost in skill personnel in Jacksonville figures to limit Shenault’s targets, but with a defined role in an improved, more creative offense, with better QB play, he could be looking at a significant jump in production in Year 2. He’s a viable WR3 on my board.

WR Phillip Dorsett
(2020 WR Rank – N/A)

Dorsett’s best asset has always been his speed. He made his name in the league as a burner on the perimeter. But since arriving in the NFL in 2015, he has eclipsed 500 receiving yards in a season just once and had at least 30 receptions just twice, and that’s playing with guys like Andrew Luck and Tom Brady. I don’t think Trevor Lawrence is going to be the guy to put Dorsett on the fantasy map, at least not yet.

TE James O’Shaughnessy
(2020 TE Rank – No. 54, 1.7FPts/G)

O’Shaughnessy set career highs in targets (38), receptions (28), and receiving yards (262) in 2020, but as you can see, those numbers do not add up to any sort of fantasy relevance. Remarkably though, he’s the top option at the moment, as Jacksonville added only blocking TE’s Chris Manhertz and rookie Luke Farrell in the offseason. To me, it all points to a focus on the run game, more four and five-wide sets on obvious passing downs, and potentially a larger role than anyone expected for Tim Tebow.

TE Tim Tebow
(2020 TE Rank – N/A)

Though Tebow was signed as a TE, it doesn’t seem that’s what Urban Meyer and his staff may have in mind for the former quarterback and baseball player. Tebow is more “athlete” than tight end, receiver, or even quarterback at this point, and if he makes this roster, he will be used that way. We’ve heard that he could be used as a Taysom Hill-type weapon, which could make him a threat in the red zone and around the goal line and a player who could vulture scoring opportunities from other playmakers on the offense.

Tebow is not a draftable fantasy player right now, but his status and his role bear watching for any owner of a Jacksonville player on the offensive side of the ball.

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