We’re previewing every NFL team to get you ready for the 2021 season. Our analysts will tackle pressing fantasy questions and team win totals, in order from the squad with the least amount of fantasy relevancy all the way to the most talented team. Next up, the 26th-ranked Jacksonville Jaguars.
Trevor Lawrence has been a mythological figure since he was in high school, and he's walking into a Jacksonville situation with some solid weapons. How high is his ceiling in Year 1 and where would you look to draft him?
Andy: Lawrence rushed for 17 scores over his final two collegiate seasons, so he definitely has a dual-threat element to his game — and we can trust his new head coach to put it to use. It's rare for a rookie quarterback to make a significant fantasy splash if rushing ability isn't part of the equation. Lawrence also has an excellent receiving corps at his disposal — D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones, LaViska Shenault, Travis Etienne, et al — and we shouldn't expect hyper-conservative game-plans. It's hardly reckless to forecast 4,000 passing yards and, say, five or six rushing TDs in a full 17-game season. If Lawrence hits those marks, he's gonna sneak into the top-10 or 12 at his position in all likelihood.
I don't expect to actually draft him too often myself in one-QB non-dynasty leagues, but that has everything to do with my infatuation with Joe Burrow and very little to do with Lawrence. He's great, fully approved for immediate use.
Matt: The fact that Lawrence has real rushing upside is impossible to overstate. The fact that Tom Brady threw 40 touchdowns last year and didn’t even come close to sniffing the top-five fantasy quarterbacks shows you how crucial that element is in this game. The Jaguars have also done a good job surrounding Lawrence with an underrated group of skill-position talents. Remember when the last generational passing prospect, Andrew Luck, had to throw 100-plus passes to Donnie Avery during his rookie year? That won’t be a worry in Jacksonville with D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones and LaViska Shenault rounding out a solid receiver room. Combine all that with plenty of playing from behind game scripts and I see Lawrence pushing for at least a top-13 fantasy season. I think he’s in play in the early double-digit rounds.
Dalton: Lawrence is the real deal, and I immediately have him ranked as a back-end QB1 in fantasy. His ability to run is key, and it also helps his situation appears favorable as well. With DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones and Travis Etienne, Lawrence has more than sufficient weapons at his disposal and will likely be asked to throw a ton. Facing the Texans and Titans defenses four times doesn’t hurt either. It won’t be easy to crack with the competition, but Lawrence has top-five fantasy QB upside as a rookie.
James Robinson was among 2020's best stories, a league-winner who came out of nowhere. But will the selection of the uber-talented Travis Etienne limit each back’s upside or can both be fantasy factors?
Matt: I just can’t imagine myself drafting either of these backs with much enthusiasm in 2021. The selection of Travis Etienne really does muck things up. Also, I definitely buy that Carlos Hyde will play some kind of role here. Etienne is the preferred pick at his ADP simply because his role as a slasher/receiver out of the backfield will yield more high-value touches but Robinson still has some appeal on early downs. As mentioned, neither of these players ever falls to a range where I think they’re strong selections.
Dalton: I’m very worried about Robinson’s fantasy value, as he has no ties to the new coaching regime that just spent a first-round pick on a more explosive running back. Jacksonville also brought in Carlos Hyde, who’s one year removed from seeing 245 carries and played two seasons under Urban Meyer at Ohio State. With Etienne’s pedigree and receiving ability, he has the potential to emerge from this group, but the safest bet is a committee that ultimately frustrates fantasy managers, especially those counting on a Robinson encore.
Andy: Another complicating factor here is that Carlos Hyde gets work wherever he goes. It's like an unwritten NFL law. If Hyde is on a roster, he's definitely getting 8-10 carries per game.
So yeah, this backfield is a mess. I've heard the argument that Etienne is something close to a lock for the lead role, based on his first-round draft status. But that take just seems much too dismissive of Robinson, a player who averaged 101 scrimmage yards per game as an undrafted rookie. When Urban Meyer refers to Etienne as a third-down back, I think we have to consider it a distinct possibility. He's getting minicamp reps at wide receiver, for what it's worth. I'm not comfortable drafting either Robinson or the rookie as anything more than an upside flex.
The Jaguars have interesting young WRs in DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault to go with free-agent addition Marvin Jones. Are you prioritizing any of these three alongside Lawrence, or is this passing game one to avoid?
Dalton: I would certainly draft Chark all things being equal, but Jones looks most enticing given their ADPs. Shenault is also interesting, but there’s some concern Travis Etienne takes over the role many hoped for the second-year wideout in Meyer’s system. With no viable tight end, a shaky defense and a new quarterback with massive upside in Jacksonville, all three wideouts carry fantasy intrigue into 2021.
Andy: I'm so ready for Shenault's first season under Meyer. Whatever else you think of Jacksonville's new head coach, he certainly has a history of maximizing the talents of hybrid RB/WR multi-tool players like Shenault. No one should be surprised if we get 1,000 scrimmage yards from the second-year receiver. (I realize the current buzz is that Etienne is ticketed for some sort of hybrid role as well, but Shenault is such a natural candidate.) He closed his 2020 season with a series of games in which he caught 5-6 balls, plus he scored three TDs in his final two weeks. I fully expect him to carry that level of play into 2021.
Matt: Call me boring but I’ll be drafting Marvin Jones from this group. The veteran routinely outkicks his ADP because he’s an underrated player who thrives in contested situations. He routinely finished between 100 and 115 targets in Detroit and that’s a good benchmark for him to hit in 2021. D.J. Chark is still the WR1 in this offense but the gap between where he and Jones finish is unlikely to be as wide as their ADP would suggest.
Jacksonville Jaguars projected 2021 fantasy contributors
QB: Trevor Lawrence
RB: James Robinson / Travis Etienne / Carlos Hyde
WR: DJ Chark / Marvin Jones / Lavishka Shenault
TE: Chris Manhertz
Jacksonville Jaguars O/U on 6.5 win total from BetMGM
Dalton: OVER. There’s rightfully some concern about Urban Meyer, but Jacksonville added a potential superstar at quarterback to go along with plenty of intriguing weapons at the skill positions. The Jaguars also added seven rookies by the end of the fourth round of the draft and will be playing a last-place schedule in a division that’s fading. It certainly helps they get to face the worst roster in the NFL twice in the Texans. The Titans lost key players during the offseason, while the Colts are now starting Carson Wentz at quarterback, so I love Jacksonville at +1200 to win the AFC South.
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