The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. Having covered all of 2017’s non-playoff NFL teams, it’s time to review the rest, with the next squad being:
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
Though Blake Bortles’ touchdown pass count regressed for a second straight season, so did his number of turnovers, as he was able to lead the Jaguars to their first AFC Championship appearance since 1999. With the Jaguars’ defense among the best in the business, and the team committed to playing rush-first, ball control offense, Bortles may never again be the guy who tallied nearly 5,000 combined passing/rushing yards and 37 total scores back in 2015. That said, Bortles showed late last season he’s still capable of some big fantasy outings, as he averaged 321.3 passing yards and 2.3 touchdowns during Weeks 13-16 (critical playoff crunch time for most fantasy leagues) while committing just three turnovers during that span (all occurring in Week 16). While there was some speculation Bortles’ heroics weren’t going to be enough to keep the Jaguars from going in a new direction this offseason, the team ended up rewarding their former third-overall draft pick from 2014 with a three-year, $54 million contract extension in February. For 2018, Bortles remains on the streaming radar in plus matchups, and won’t be worth drafting outside of deep leagues or ones that utilize multiple quarterbacks.
The Jaguars spent the fourth-overall draft choice last year on Leonard Fournette in the hopes of easing the burden on struggling quarterback Blake Bortles, a strategy that mostly paid off given the team’s 2017 success. While Fournette was a beast on the field, averaging 103.2 total yards per contest and scoring ten times, he did ended up missing two games due to quadriceps and ankle injuries (the latter of which had been an issue since college) and a third due to a team imposed suspension. Additionally, Fournette’s efficiency took a dip over the second half of 2017, as he averaged more than 4 yards per carry just once between Weeks 10 and 17. Fournette will return this coming season as the Jaguars’ clear-cut lead back, though he’ll carry a moderate amount of injury risk. Chris Ivory (Fournette’s primary backup last season) was cut last February, and concludes a disappointing stint in Jacksonville that saw him accumulate 821 rushing yards on a 3.6 yards per carry average after signing a five-year, $32.5 million contract two years ago. Ivory was promptly scooped up by Buffalo less than a week after being released. T.J. Yeldon becomes the likely candidate to ascend to No. 2 on the running back depth chart, though his fantasy contributions have been few and far between since being selected 36th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. However, with Fournette’s health concerns, Yeldon should remain on your watch list. Former undrafted free agent Corey Grant may have earned more work by contributing three runs of 20-plus yards last season (two of which went for 40-plus), though his true value to the Jaguars lies on special teams.
Jacksonville wasn’t really a place to look for receiver production last season, with undrafted free agent Keelan Cole leading the team in receiving yardage. Over half of Cole’s production came from a four-game stretch between Weeks 13 and 16, a span in which he averaged 110.5 receiving yards per contest and scored all three of his touchdowns. Heading into this coming season, it’s not exactly clear where Cole will slot in on the depth chart with the Jaguars having brought in Donte Moncrief via free agency and spending a second-round draft pick on LSU standout D.J. Chark. Following the season-ending knee injury to Allen Robinson in Week 1, Marqise Lee was immediately thrust into the No. 1 receiver role for the duration of the season. Lee wasn’t quite able to replicate his career year from 2016, though he did establish himself as a reliable chain-mover, and was re-signed by the Jaguars to a four-year, $38 million contract this past March. Lee is expected to enter training camp atop the depth chart, and should be considered more of a floor play given he’s managed just two 100-yard receiving games since being drafted 39th overall in 2014. There was plenty of hype surrounding fourth-round rookie Dede Westbrook after he finished fourth in 2016 Heisman voting following his senior at Oklahoma State, and then proceeded to go bonkers during the preseason with 13 catches, 288 yards, two touchdowns three games played. Unfortunately, a core muscle injury suffered late in August resulted in Westbrook being placed on Injured Reserve and missing the season’s first nine games. In the seven games Westbrook did play, he managed to clear 70 receiving yards in three of them, though like teammate Keelan Cole, it’s not clear if the former’s strong late-season performance will necessary translate to a larger 2018 role given the Jaguars’ offseason acquisitions. Former fantasy stud Allen Robinson never had a chance to rebound from a down year in 2016, as he missed all but one quarter of play from the 2017 season due to a torn ACL suffered in Week 1. With Robinson’s rookie contract having expired at the conclusion of the season, the Jaguars opted not to pony up the cash to bring him back during free agency, and Robinson ended up signing with Chicago.
Not much to see here with the Jacksonville tight ends. Twelve-year veteran Marcedes Lewis (all with Jacksonville) enjoyed his most productive season since 2013, though a majority of his production came via a 4-catch, 62-yard, 3-TD performance in the Jaguars’ Week 3 win over Baltimore. Despite the Jaguars picking up Lewis’ 2018 option last February, the team ended up cutting him a month later. Backup tight end James O’Shaughnessy may have been the next in line to take over for Lewis; however, the Jaguars made two big free agent pickups in Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul, who should serve uncontested as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the team depth chart for 2018.