In all honestly, I was not looking forward to previewing the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 Fantasy Football prospects. In fact, my thoughts were focused solidly on the premise that this article could start and end with just three letters – MJD. That said, let's dig a little deeper and take a closer look at the spots on these Jaguars. Is it possible that we may reveal some Fantasy fight in the Cats from Jacksonville? Let's take a riverboat cruise up the St. Johns River to check in on the Jaguars.
Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Fantasy Options
When an NFL team goes an entire decade with just one season that their starting quarterback cracks the Fantasy Top Ten list, you know their entire team's fantasy stock is going to take a huge hit. David Garrard ranked 9th overall in QB fantasy scoring with 285.2 FP during the 2008 NFL season. Before that, and since then, Jacksonville has been a black hole at the quarterback position.
With Blaine Gabbert under center for all or part of 15 contests last season, Jacksonville hit rock bottom at the pivot position. Understanding that Gabbert had to deal with a patchwork offensive line that resembled a M*A*S*H unit for most of the season explains part of the problem. Throw in a horrible receiving core that a Pop Warner squad could have outplayed, and another piece of the problematic puzzle slides into place. The picture comes into full focus when you realize that Gabbert probably would have struggled under center with the Green Bay Packers offense as he was a very raw rookie starter.
Jaguars QB Analysis: Despite the recent signing of former Miami Dolphins QB Chad Henne (two-year contract) new Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey insists that Gabbert is his main man under center moving forward. Truth be told, if the Jaguars continue to produce 32nd overall passing numbers (156 YPG in 2011) Henne may get another shot as an NFL starter – sooner rather than later. We doubt you need to be advised on this but; stay as far away as possible from the Jags QB situation.
Jacksonville Jaguars Running Back Fantasy Options
Coming off an NFL season that saw his total TD production drop from 16 in 2009 to just seven in 2010 (and given the supporting cast around him), many fantasy owners decided to pass on Maurice Jones-Drew during Draft Day 2011. MJD also suffered various nicks and bruises in 2010 that slowed him down and caused some owners to shy away. In the end though, if you took a chance on the Jacksonville workhorse, you were rewarded with the 1,980 total yards and 11 touchdowns that made MJD the No. 3 overall running back in the league last season.
Jones-Drew, as he normally does, is skipping the Jags' voluntary OTA events as he remains in California brooding over his contract (that still has two years left on it). RB Rashad Jennings missed the entire 2011 season with a knee injury, but is said to be 100% healthy heading into the Jaguars' off-season workouts (and he will get a decent chance to shine). The Jaguars' 5' 7" scat back DuJuan Harris impressed the coaching staff late in 2011 and his efforts made Deji Karim expendable as he has moved on to Indianapolis.
Jaguars RB Analysis: While MJD is unhappy with his current contract situation (not to mention the fact that he has three straight seasons with at least 334 touches), we would be happy to snag Jones-Drew early in the second round. Backing him up with Jennings is a must and you should keep an eye on Harris as a Darren Sproles prototype in the making.
Jacksonville Jaguars Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
In one of the more shocking free agent moves during the off-season, Laurent Robinson comes over to Jacksonville from the Dallas Cowboys. After an early career that was marred by injuries, Robinson was the No. 13 overall wide receiver in 2011 with 151.8 FP. That total is more than his first four seasons combined (124 total FP). This move is puzzling to me as the Cowboys appear ready to make a Super Bowl run, while the Jaguars will have a battle on their hands just to stay out of the AFC South basement. Mr. Robinson will find that the grass isn't as green as the money in Jacksonville and will be headed back to Fantasy obscurity.
Jacksonville selected Oklahoma State standout WR Justin Blackmon in the first round of the NFL 2012 Draft (5th OA). Expected to step in and contribute immediately, Blackmon is a gifted athlete with exceptional leaping ability and should fill the possession receiver role for the Jaguars. Mike Thomas will move back to his more natural slot receiver position, and Lee Evans bolted from Baltimore to join the Jaguars revamped receiving crew.
Jaguars WR Analysis: While this group appears to be an improvement over what Gabbert had at his disposal last season, it is still a receiving core that comes with more questions than answers. We will definitely monitor the Jags' WR crew, but no one stands out as a WR1 (or even a high end WR2) at this early point in the off-season.
Jacksonville Jaguars Tight End Fantasy Options
After taking the tight end world by storm during the 2010 NFL season, TE Marcedes Lewis played like a Pinto in the Jaguars' makeshift offense in 2011. Lewis posted 130 FP during 2010, his first year of fantasy relevance after four seasons where his high water mark was 63.8 FP, but dropped to just 46 FP last season. Not having a very good supporting cast hurt Lewis, as teams could easily double cover him while paying little attention to the other Jaguar receiving options.
Jaguars TE Analysis: At last check, the Jaguars had five tight ends on their spring roster. That includes Zach Miller (who missed the majority of the 2010 with a shoulder injury). While we doubt anyone will challenge Lewis as the Jags' starting TE, there are way better TE1 options available. If he comes cheap, take a leap with Lewis as a backup and bye week replacement TE later in your draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Bottom Line: As is the case with 100% of the teams in the NFL, quarterback play will decide the fate of the rest of the offensive starters in Jacksonville. If Gabbert can find some form in his sophomore season (or if Henne can return to his 2010 form), there might be some Fantasy treasures buried in Jacksonville. We do however suggest that any Fantasy moves made on the Jaguars, outside of the MJD/Jennings combo, should be done with caution.