2019 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 5,468 (20th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 27 (27th)
Offensive Plays: 1,020 (14th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 631 (Ninth)
Rush Attempts: 389 (23rd)
Unaccounted for Targets: 56 (31st)
Unaccounted for Carries: Five (29th)
The Jaguars’ 2019 plans — Nick Foles — weren’t necessarily the best laid, and they went down in flames after just eight passes in Week 1. That’s when Foles fractured his collarbone rainbowing a touchdown to D.J. Chark. Second-year pro Chark’s development was the bright spot of a 6-10 campaign, but it was Foles’ sixth-round backup, Gardner Minshew, who stole the headlines. The mustachioed maestro got off to a hot start, surprisingly trading a few blows with the Chiefs in Week 1 before turning in four straight zero-INT performances. He then settled into a mediocrity pleasing enough to get Foles quickly benched following his Week 10 return and then traded in the offseason. Minshew did not show enough to be handed starting duties without a competition, but that’s exactly what happened in a strangely-complacent Jacksonville. The only major addition is OC Jay Gruden, who has shown he can coax efficient quarterback play out of limited talents.
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Minshew doesn’t exactly scream “quarterback of the future.” He also vastly overperformed nonexistent expectations for one of the better rookie quarterback campaigns of the 21st century. Minshew’s 21 passing touchdowns were tied for eighth amongst first-year pros since the calendar flipped to 2000. His 91.2 QB rating was also eighth. Amongst the 54 rookie quarterbacks to make at least eight starts this century, Minshew threw the fourth fewest picks (six). Minshew has two things that cannot be taught: Poise and moxie.
Although Minshew’s arm talent will not blow you away, he is an above average athlete. His 344 yards rushing were fifth amongst quarterbacks last season, and 11th most by a rookie signal caller since the new millennium came calling. It’s possible Minshew simply caught defensive coordinators unprepared for a sixth-rounder who could actually play. After his meme-worthy start, Minshew managed only six passing scores in six starts from Weeks 6-13 before rallying for a solid finish. There’s just no way to truth his overall rookie résumé. It was better than it had any right to be.
To keep it going, Minshew will have to hit it off with Gruden, who favors balance and hyper efficiency. A purveyor of “11” personnel, Gruden will keep Minshew supplied with three-receiver sets, something he had 68 percent of the time in 2019. In the No. 1 spot will be Chark, who, like Minshew, defied 2019 expectations. Predictably raw as a rookie in 2018, Chark burst out of the gates for 37/485/5 over his first five games last season. He was more scattershot down the stretch, especially after tweaking his ankle, but displayed true No. 1 receiver traits. Chark performed as one of the league’s top deep threats, with 424 of his 1,008 yards coming on targets 20-plus yards down the field. Per Pro Football Focus, that was seventh most in the league. Quick-hitting Gruden could reduce Chark’s down-field danger, but he has also pledged to feature Chark more in the slot. Chark spent 24 percent of his time in the slot last season. Still two months shy of his 24th birthday, Chark offers monster upside as a WR2.
Lining up opposite Chark on the outside will be Chris Conley. The ex-Chief waltzed to a career year in 2019, posting a 47/775/5 line while averaging a cool 16.5 yards per catch. Despite the long-ball YPC, Conley was actually one of the league’s bigger YAC threats. A modest 21.6 percent of his yards came on deep passes, but he tacked an average of 5.3 yards onto his 47 receptions. Conley has big-play chemistry with Minshew, though the additions of Laviska Shenault and Tyler Eifert will cut into his target and air yards shares. Neither Conley’s floor nor ceiling are what fantasy players should be looking for in a WR4.
Manning the slot in three-receiver sets will be Dede Westbrook, fantasy’s one-time favorite Jaguar. The middle of the field can be a profitable place with Gruden, while Westbrook has quietly reached 66 receptions each of the past two years. Westbrook’s 4.44 wheels and compiler’s skill-set have not gone away. He’s a justifiable last-gasp receiver flier in 12-14 team PPR leagues.
An “offensive weapon,” Shenault will scrounge for snaps wherever he can find them. "You can put him in the backfield. He can play Wildcat. You can put him as the F tight end. You can do a lot of things with him,” coach Doug Marrone gushed in May. Position-less players typically have a difficult time carving out consistent rookie roles. That will be doubly true in a year where teams logged zero official offseason reps. Shenault will make a few highlight reels, but team leaderboards are unlikely.
Free agent addition Eifert and second-year pro Josh Oliver will try to make something out of nothing at tight end. The seam was functionally nonexistent in Jacksonville last season. It has long been the place to be with Gruden, but Eifert and Oliver seem likely to split the fantasy difference. Eifert’s injury history renders him a role player best deployed on third downs and in the red zone. Oliver’s rookie year was a wash due to injury. When it comes to re-draft, Eifert streams are about as roto relevant as this group is going to get.
“Every opportunity” is a cliché, but that’s what Leonard Fournette got in 2019. He did not make the most of it. Fournette was third in touches (341) and 75th in touchdowns (three). Scores can be random, but Fournette’s mediocrity was not. 19.5 percent of Fournette’s rushing yardage (225) came in one game, while he was well below average as a pass catcher, turning a whopping 100 targets into 76/522/0/6.9.
Every opportunity is out the window for 2020. The Jags told anyone who would listen that Fournette was available for trade, but the phone never rang. The Jags then declined Fournette’s fifth-year team option, a naked admission of defeat. The first thing to go will be Fournette’s monopoly on third downs. Teacher’s pet Chris Thompson has followed Gruden from Washington. Staying on the field is the challenge for Thompson. If he can manage it, he could provide RB4 value in PPR leagues as one of the NFL’s better pure pass-catching backs.
The wild card is sophomore Ryquell Armstead, who was not allowed to bite into Fournette’s apple as a rookie. With the Jags now running out the clock on Fournette’s Duval tenure, Armstead should be given much more run as the Jags look to the future. The owner of 4.45 speed at 220 pounds, Armstead offers big-play potential. He is a savvy final-round pick and best ball flier. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Fournette is traded during training camp.
The Jags boast one of the league’s lowest totals, with DraftKings clocking them at 4.5 and FanDuel at 5.0. Warren Sharp rates the Jags’ schedule as middle of the road, checking in as the 13th most difficult. The Jags do have the recipe for a decent start, with matchups against the Dolphins, Bengals and Lions before their Week 7 bye. The Jags have shed so much talent on defense since their 2017-18 AFC Championship Game run. Even if Minshew overachieves for the second consecutive year, this is a 5-6 win roster. It is hard to predict any NFL team to win fewer than five games, so the over might be the lesser of two evils.