The performances we saw in week 2 perfectly illustrate why you can’t put too much stock in the first three or four games of the season. Perhaps I over-praised Washington a bit, as they traveled to New York (New Jersey, actually) and commited seven turnovers in losing to the Giants, 20-14. Of course, most teams would get blown out after giving up the ball that many times, no matter the opponent. Take away one play, a Clinton Portis fumble returned for a touchdown, and the Redskins escape the Meadowlands victorious. “Them’s the breaks”, you say. Remember that theme – we will be seeing it again with this week’s subject, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The rebuilding phase in Jacksonville is off to a quick 2-0 start, thanks to some very good breaks in a couple of low-scoring games. Teams will take a win any way they can get it in the NFL, but the Jaguars’ offense has yet to produce 250 yards of total offense in a game. Obviously the defense is very good, and that can carry a team into the playoffs in today’s NFL. But with two of the AFC’s top teams in its division, Jacksonville will need to be more productive on offense to have any hope of playing in January.
|Team Stats (numbers in parentheses are NFL Ranking)
Keep in mind, before week 5, these numbers are nearly meaningless. The teams need to get a few games under their belts before we can start to gauge relative performance.
|Rushing Offense||75.0 (28)||0 (t24)|
|Passing Offense||125.5 (31)||2 (t11)|
|Rushing Defense||100.5 (10)||0 (t1)|
|Passing Defense||198.5 (18)||1 (t1)|
|Turnover Stats||Upcoming Schedule|
|3 takeaways (t18)
2 giveaways (t4)
+1 overall (t10)
A tough stretch is ahead, with divisional games against the Titans and Colts, followed by a cross-country trip to face San Diego. Then it’s the better-than-0-2 Chiefs followed by a road trip to Indy. The challenges ahead in weeks 3-7 can really make or break the Jaguars’ season. If they can pull an upset or two in the AFC South, the playoffs are a very real possibility.
Byron Leftwich , QB – Leftwich shows great maturity for only being in his second year. With a stature more reminiscent of a tight end than a quarterback, Byron is a low injury risk. But until he has at least one more season of work under his belt, he is sure to make his share of bad decisions, like all young quarterbacks. His numbers have been dismal in the first two weeks. For your fantasy team, there is almost certainly a better choice, even as a backup.
Fred Taylor, RB – After finally shaking the injury bug and finishing a full season in 2003, Taylor was back up in the fantasy rankings for this years’ drafts. However, he has not yet produced at a level you would expect from a #1 back. With a disappointing 3.5 yard rushing average, no touchdowns, and not a single reception, Taylor owners (myself included) are hoping that he can snap out of it soon. Since both Buffalo and Denver have solid defensive teams, we’ll give Taylor the benefit of the doubt .. for now.
LaBrandon Toefield/Greg Jones, RB – One of the biggest questions of any fantasy season is, “Who is Fred Taylor’s backup?” Unfortunately, that’s not entirely clear at this point. Both Toefield and Jones have received a few carries, but Toefield is the more experienced player, and he is listed second on the official depth chart. However, teams don’t draft a player in the second round unless they feel he is ready to play, sooner rather than later. For now, Toefield is your insurance for Taylor. But keep an eye on Jones if Taylor should miss any significant time.
Jimmy Smith , WR – Smith is one of the few players still remaining from the AFC Championship team of 1996. He has always been, and continues to be, one of the most reliable receivers in the league. Although the offense in general has suffered, Smith is still a good start week in and week out.
Troy Edwards , WR – When an offense has as much trouble as the Jags do moving the ball, the WR2 doesn’t have much fantasy value. Edwards is no exception. If he should become hot at some point, he will probably be available on your waiver wire.
Kyle Brady , TE – Brady has been out the first two weeks of the season with a broken finger. As of this writing, it looks like he will also miss week 3. Although not one of the top fantasy tight ends, Brady has been somewhat overlooked early this year due to his injury. If you’re hurting at tight end, he might be a decent pickup when he returns to action. On a team with few receiving threats, he will certainly see some balls thrown his way.
Defense/Special Teams – This highly-touted defense is winning games right now for the Jaguars. Despite being outgained nearly 2-to-1 by the Broncos, the Jags defense forced punt after punt in the second half of last week’s game. This is exactly what makes the Jaguars intriguing – if they can get some offense going, this team will be very dangerous. The real test, of course, will come against Peyton Mannning and Steve McNair. But all things considered, you could do much worse for a fantasy defense. They are worth a pickup if you have the need.
The Bottom Line
Although their first two wins were ugly, this team is going to cause problems for opponents all season long. The fantasy prospects don’t look great at this point, but things may start to improve when they play some weaker defenses. Don’t take the Jags lightly – if you have players going against this defense, consider your options carefully.
Next Week… We look for fantasy value on another new-look team, the Chicago Bears.