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Leonard Fournette
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Team Previews

Jaguars Fantasy Preview

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: August 15, 2019, 7:04 pm ET

2018 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 4,832 (27th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 22 (32nd)
Offensive Plays: 1005 (20th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 589 (17th)
Rush Attempts: 416 (12th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 257 (3rd)
Unaccounted for Carries: 274 (1st)

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Coaching Staff

After overseeing the Jaguars’ trip to the AFC Championship game in 2017, Doug Marrone saw his club take multiple steps back in 2018, finishing last in the AFC South. Marrone was forced to part ways with his longtime OC Nathaniel Hackett midway through last season, but Marrone himself survived to see another year when owner Shad Khan announced after Week 17 Marrone would be back for 2019. Jacksonville brought in 41-year-old John DeFilippo to run the offense. DeFilippo worked wonders with the 2015 Browns, getting career years out of Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge, before becoming the Eagles QBs coach for their Super Bowl team. That landed DeFilippo the Vikings’ OC job in 2018 where he flopped miserably and was fired before the end of the season. Some will chalk DeFilippo’s lack of success up to defensive-minded coach Mike Zimmer pigeonholing DeFilippo and forcing him to become someone he wasn’t as a run-first play-caller. Unfortunately for DeFilippo, he’s landing in a similar situation where the Jaguars want to play defense and run the ball. Perhaps Marrone will let DeFilippo be more true to himself, however, and air the ball out a bit with Nick Foles.

Passing Game

QB: Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew
WR: Marqise Lee, D.J. Chark
WR: Keelan Cole, Chris Conley
WR: Dede Westbrook, Terrelle Pryor
TE: Geoff Swaim, Josh Oliver

Jacksonville didn’t have much of a choice but to move on from Blake Bortles after the season, eating what was left of his contract, and then giving Foles whatever he wanted in free agency. The Jaguars were widely believed to be bidding against themselves in their pursuit of Foles, but it was a signing that had to be made. Foles has made his money by playing his best ball on the biggest stages, somewhat covering up a career 88.5 passer rating, though we’re willing to give him a pretty large pass for his Rams stint with Jeff Fisher. Foles isn’t much of a fantasy asset, particularly for a Jaguars club that was 25th in situation-neutral offensive pace last year. But Foles has a downfield-slinger mentality and a talented, if unproven, wideout group with which to work. In the Jaguars’ ideal world, they’ll be bottom-10 in the league in pass attempts. Foles will be more of a game-manager type who will take his chances over the top. He’ll have to hit those big plays to return any sort of fantasy relevance. For now, Foles is barely on the two-QB map.

Due to the forecasted low volume for this passing game, it’s tough to envision this offense being able to support more than two pass-catchers for fantasy purposes. Westbrook has been the hype piece all offseason after leading the Jaguars in targets, catches, receiving yards, touchdown grabs, red-zone targets, and targets inside the 10-yard line as a sophomore. He also finished second on the team in air yards behind only Donte Moncrief. Westbrook was super inconsistent with only one 100-yard game and just two others over 55 yards, but he was playing with Bortles. Foles isn’t any world-beater, but there’s no question he’s the far superior passer. Westbrook figures to stick in the slot and likely become Foles’ safety valve who also possesses big-play skills. If drafting any wideout in Jacksonville, Westbrook is the one to take.

Cole was the Westbrook at this time last year as the summer puff-piece looking for a breakout season after finishing his 2017 regular season strong. Cole had a huge Week 2 against the Patriots last year with a 7-116-1 line in the upset win, but he never scored again and failed to top 70 yards in a game the remainder of the season. His grip on a starting job is likely the loosest, with Chark, Conley, and even Pryor pushing for snaps. Cole isn’t worth drafting in fantasy.

Lee missed all of last season with a torn ACL after becoming a full-time starter the previous year. He’s expected to open training camp on the PUP list but should gain clearance well ahead of Week 1, even if the Jaguars slow play this rehab. Lee should open as the team’s default No. 1 outside receiver, but it’s anyone’s guess to how he’ll rebound from this injury. Lee wasn’t an explosive player before the ACL tear. The Jaguars have more talented wideouts than Lee, but Lee’s salary likely keeps him in the lineup. Free-agent pickup Conley drew some strong reviews for his work at pad-less practices. Chark is dripping with upside in terms of athletic ability and measurables, but he rarely saw the field as a rookie. Westbrook looks like the only reliable fantasy bet, but there are obviously targets to go around considering the Jaguars have the third-most unaccounted for targets from a season ago with Donte Moncrief now out of town.

At tight end, Swaim is coming off a “career year” in Dallas with a 26-242-1 line but ended the season on I.R. following wrist surgery. There’s nothing to suggest he’ll be anywhere on the fantasy map. Oliver should push Swaim right out of the gates at training camp and was routinely hyped as a standout in the offseason program. Oliver is a size-speed prospect at 6’5/249 with 4.63 wheels. He reportedly showed “good rapport” with Foles at spring practices. Oliver is unlikely to crack the redraft fantasy landscape in year one, but he’s a dynasty prospect.

Running Game

RB: Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Ryquell Armstead
OL (L-R): Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor

Injuries and off-field incidents have been Fournette’s downfall since being selected No. 4 overall in the 2017 draft. He’s appeared in just 21-of-32 regular-season games across his two seasons. And matter-of-factly, Fournette’s rushing numbers really don’t jump off the page when looking at his stat lines. Fournette has a subpar 3.7 yards-per-carry average through two years. He’s gotten by with touchdown success (16) and massive workloads.

Fournette is getting a clean slate and a fresh start for 2019 after being called out by EVP Tom Coughlin toward the end of last season. The two band-aided their differences following a tumultuous 2018, and Fournette has been the subject of plenty of offseason hype. DeFilippo has already stated Fournette will be a “major” part of the offense, stating, “I’m going to call it what it is: He’s going to be a major reason where our offense goes.” And Foles has already said he expects Fournette to be a huge part of the passing game. With T.J. Yeldon’s departure, there are a ton of targets open out of the backfield after Yeldon was thrown to 78 times last year. Jacksonville didn’t add a pass-catching back in the offseason, opting to sign Blue and drafting Armstead in the fifth round. Armstead caught just 29 passes in 47 college games. Fournette has massive room for growth. If -- big “if” -- health cooperates, Fournette can easily vault into the top half of the RB1 mix. And if the Jaguars just keep games closer and win more in 2019 after a pitiful 2018, that will lead to Fournette accruing more volume in the fourth quarter of contests. More involvement, better health, and a more competitive Jaguars team would significantly raise Fournette’s floor and ceiling. He can outproduce his current RB14 draft status.

Should Fournette’s health go sideways yet again, Armstead looks like someone to possibly throw a late-round deep fantasy pick toward. At 5’11/220, Armstead recorded one of the top speed scores at the Combine, running a 4.45 forty. His other testing numbers weren’t as impressive, but Armstead was a decisive, downhill college feature back. We already know what Blue is, and it’s not a whole lot. If Fournette were to miss time, Armstead could play a large role.

Getting Robinson back at left tackle will be huge for this offense after he tore his ACL in Week 2 last year. Robinson is slowly working his way back, but it would be a massive disappointment if he isn’t cleared fully some point during training camp. Norwell also missed the final five games of 2018 with an ankle injury. Linder went down in Week 10 with a season-ending knee injury. These are the Jaguars’ three best linemen, so better injury luck with them will go a long way for this offense. Rookie Taylor has been dubbed a run-game mauler. He’s an upgrade on Jermey Parnell, who was released in the offseason. This is an above-average line when healthy.

Win Total

After going 5-11 in 2018, the Jaguars check in with a win total of 8, along with the Titans, for the lowest total in the AFC South, behind the Colts’ 9.5 and Texans’ 8.5 at the top of the division. This feels about right for Jacksonville. The Jaguars open the season against the Chiefs and also have dates against the Saints and Chargers outside the division. There are a handful of projected easier matchups outside the AFC South, however, with dates against the Broncos, Bengals, Bucs, and Raiders. A rebound on defense, better health on the offensive line, elevated quarterback play, and a healthy Fournette could easily put the Jaguars back in the playoff hunt. If forced to take a side, I’d put money on 9-7 or 10-6 before 6-10 or 7-9 for the Jaguars.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.