As we all are preparing our teal and black face paint, shopping for beer, and prepping ourselves for Friday's first taste of what the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars will bring I just wanted to remind you guys that fantasy football season is now upon us! Seeing that this is Big Cat Country, home of the Jaguar faithful I figured we should take a look at (and likely debate) who will be this year's best and worst Fantasy Football options for the Jaguars this season coming. My thoughts after the jump:
Best Fantasy Options:
***Maurice Jones-Drew- Your NFL Rushing Champion of 2011 may possibly be facing a crossroads. I'm of the school of thought that MJD will show up by the fourth pre-season game. Would I be shocked if he didn't show? Nope. But IF he does, your hands down fantasy representative for the Jacksonville Jaguars-MJD! Pretty much averaging a minimum of 10 fantasy points per game through every game last year with highs of 37 points in a game, it would be extremely difficult to ask anything more in the area of fantasy consistency from a RB. If he's here and even MODERATELY knows the playbook he's the man for your team. Unfortunately, there's a good probability that many of you may be drafting way before this holdout will be finished. MJD is such a high draft pick that you will be forced to also draft Rashad Jennings as a handcuff if the holdout continues through your fantasy draft. DO NOT let anyone else sneak Jennings away if this happens, even if it means giving up a 6-8th rounder. You cannot risk a first round pick AND allow it's value to float away in Jennings for nothing. That is where the yards will go in the case of an extended holdout.
Projection: 290 rushing attempts, 1375 rushing yards, 300 rec yards, 13 TDs- due to a reduction of carries from previous years, but still a solid year.
***Laurent Robinson-You're not in Texas anymore Mr. Robinson. While I know many are leery about Laurent's ability to be a #1 guy, anyone paying attention to camp can see Robinson and Gabbert are building a stronger and stronger connection daily. The more Gabbert gets comfortable with Robinson the more he's going to go his way in game situations when there's no time to think. When the heat's on that's where he'll go. Being the deep ball speed WR that he is I expect a few longball TD opportunities. The only question is will he capitalize or will he let the pressure get to him like early in camp?
Projection: 85 rec, 1050 yards rec, 8 Tds
***Jaguars Defense- A top-five injury riddled 2011defensive unit. Sounds like an odd turn of events you say? Well, that's the 2011 Jaguars Season for you! An extremely solid defensive unit against the run that became more susceptible against the pass as the season wore on and secondary/LB injuries piled up. That won't happen this year (knock on wood). While this unit may or may not improve on their overall turnover and sack numbers I still believe they will be able to duplicate their 2011 efforts simply by addition through lack of subtraction-no injuries combined with the addition of Aaron Ross, Branch as a rush end, and Middleton in the dime slot. It's going to become extremely difficult for teams to pass the ball against the Jags nickel and dime packages.
With a schedule featuring the Tennessee Titans twice, the Inept..(*clears throat*)...Indianapolis Colts twice, a Brandon Marshall-less Miami Dolphins staring our favorite QB ever, a wide receiver-less NY Jets (with Antonio Cramartie as the second string WR), Buffalo, and possibly an Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota team. Pick this D up asap! Word of advice, pick up a second defense who has a pretty good schedule for the middle of the season when the Jags rough slate of Chicago, Green Bay, & Detroit starts and you'll be golden for the majority of the season.
Projection: Top 8 defense simply based on the schedule. Potential to be top 5 again if sacks and INTs improve from 2011.
***Marcedes Lewis- as any Fantasy Football veteran will tell you, TE is generally a feast or famine position. Well, Marcedes was Fantasy Homeless last year. But last year was last year. This year Marcedes has looked like the Mr. Lewis of old during camp and in this more pass friendly Offense of Mularey you should expect something closer to his 2010 numbers. The biggest benefit for you, you say? Because of his down year last year you will likely be able to draft him closer to the 9th-12th round in a 12 round (10 team) draft. If you know anything about Mike Mularkey you know he uses his TEs immensely (IE-an aging and slower Tony Gonzalez still puts up 80 receptions, 850 yds, 7 TDs last year). With Cecil Shorts out wide and a late signing rookie Justin Blackmon out there Gabbert will likely lean on Marcedes even more than projected for a good portion of the year. I'm projecting more opportunities for Marcedes than he had in 2010-seeing as he only had 59 receptions unlike Gonzalez. He may not score more TDs than he did then (10) but I see him equaling or surpassing his point total through yardage as a worst case.
Projection: 75 rec, 900 yards & 7 TDs, putting him in a top 5-7 TE range
Worst Fantasy Options:
***Justin Blackmon- Ok. So I know people will hate me. Fortunately I'm okay with that. (Kayne West shrug) Lol. I know we're all fanatic Jaguars fans and going all coco for cocoa stuff but let's not go to overboard on Blackmon just yet. Yes, AJ Green and Julio Jones both put up fantastic numbers in a Cincy and Atlanta last year. I get it. Justin Blackmon is neither of those receivers. He will not run past you and be that vertical threat as Julio Jones is and he won't outjump you like AJ Green does. He's an intermediate route running specialist-a great niche, might I add. Everyone keeps saying "He's in the Roddy White slot!" This is kinda an illogical statement seeing that I could put my grandma in the Roddy White spot too; does that guarantee 1K in yards and 10 TDs? You must also have Roddy White skills, speed, route running, hops, and hands to pull that off. The main thing to mention is that while people also mention Julio and AJ they forget to mention that Green was on pace to have 123 targets in a 16 game season in Cincy and Jones was on target for 116. Blaine Gabbert attempted 413 passing attempts last season. Matt Ryan attempted 566. Let's assume Gabbert attempts 480 pass attempts and 1/4 of those throws go to Blackmon. Let's say he catches 60% of those passes-a pretty good percentage. What do you think a non-vertical WR such as Blackmon would turn that into stats-wise? Looks almost identical to Mike williams of Tampa Bay if you ask me... Mike Williams-124 Targets, 52% completion rate, 65 receptions, 771 yards, and 3 TDs. Would you want that on your fantasy team? Me neither...
Projection: 65 Rec, 750 yards, 3 TDs, and No DUIs.
***Mike Thomas/Cecil Shorts/any other Jaguar WR not named Laurent Robinson- as if I had to tell you please, please don't commit fantasy suicide and draft any Jags WR other than Robinson-or Blackmon, if you're stubborn ;)
On the Bubble - Waiver Wire/Draft Options To Monitor:
***Rashad Jennings- Jennings will frankly be a fantasy non-factor unless MJD's holdout goes into week 4 of the pre-season. As excited as we may get about Jennings from time to time, the only way he becomes fantasy relevant is if MJD is injured or has an extended hold out.
***Blaine Gabbert - Let it be known that I do not believe that Gabbert will be 32 out of 32 QBs terrible, but I also don't see him being top 10 good. He'll likely be Joe Flacco/Tavaris Jackson/Matt Moore middle of the pack maybe fantasy backup QB caliber, breaking the top 12-15. Just slightly more TDs than INTs.
Projection: 3450 yards, 21 TDs, 16 INTs with 200 yards rushing. I mean, if you REALLY would like to have him on your team for the weeks we play the Colts by all means if your starting QB has a terrible matchup...but with the season he had last year you'd be a fool to draft Gabbert before a kicker. There would be no competition sprinting for him. Waiver wire only. NOTE: I do believe Gabbert will do just enough to win us some games though.