Taken 3rd overall in last year’s NFL Draft, Bortles was thrust into the starting lineup in Week 3 and, not surprisingly, struggled mightily in a Jaguars offense that was devoid of much proven talent. In 2015, the offensive line has been bolstered, RB T.J. Yeldon was taken in the draft to improve the team’s rushing attack and tight end Julius Thomas was signed in free agency to pair with a trio of promising young wide receivers in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Unfortunately, that probably isn’t going to be enough to help the Jaguars emerge as a solid offensive team, although they are getting closer. Coming off a season in which he threw for just 2,908 yards with 17 interceptions and just 11 touchdowns in 14 games while struggling with his accuracy (completion percentage of 58.9%), Bortles isn’t likely to be fantasy relevant in 2015. While it’s nice that his rushing ability helps pad his fantasy production (419 yards last season), we still rate him as a lower tier QB2.
After the Toby Gerhart debacle from a year ago, Jacksonville addressed the running back position in this year’s draft, taking Yeldon with the 4th pick in the 2nd round. A big back at 6’2” and 221 pounds, Yeldon figures to open the season in the starting lineup and all the signals out of Jacksonville are that the team envisions him as a workhorse type back. That all sounds great if it didn’t seem like such an obvious case of déjà vu. In 2014, Gerhart was signed by Jacksonville, they envisioned him as a workhorse type back given his solid size and receiving ability. We all know how that ended. While we aren’t going to anoint Yeldon as a bust just yet, Gerhart does serve as a cautionary tale when drafting Jacksonville running backs. Although their offense is improving, it still isn’t expected to be very good in 2015. That limits Yeldon’s upside. And we’re also not sold on the workhorse predictions since Denard Robinson emerged as a solid contributor last season and Gerhart has had some success as a backup during his stay in Minnesota. Yeldon rates as a solid dynasty prospect but we like him as just a high end RB3 in redraft formats.
After struggling with his conversion from college quarterback to NFL running back as a rookie in 2013, Robinson emerged as a decent playmaker in his second season last year. With Toby Gerhart ineffective and nicked up, Robinson took over as the Jaguars starter in Week 7 and had a solid four game run through Week 10 during which he gained 419 yards and scored four touchdowns. However, he struggled in Weeks 12 and 13 before suffering a season ending foot injury in Week 14. In 2015, Robinson seems destined for backup status as the Jaguars felt that his 6’0”, 197 pound frame wouldn’t hold up as a starter leading to the draft selection of T.J. Yeldon. Since Toby Gerhart remains in the picture and will likely steal some touches from him, Robinson isn’t anything more than a late round flyer serving as Yeldon’s backup despite his improved performance in 2014.
Arguably the most over-hyped player for fantasy purposes last season (you didn’t read the hype here, folks), Gerhart crashed and burned as the Jaguars starter after signing a ridiculous three-year, $10.5-million contract. Touted as a breakout candidate given his perceived lack of competition in Jacksonville along with a career yards per carry average of 4.7 (working mostly as a 3rd down back, this should have been discounted), Gerhart failed to stay healthy and was ineffective when in the lineup, gaining just 326 yards while averaging 3.2 yards per carry and gaining 186 yards on 20 receptions. With Denard Robinson showcasing his superior playmaking ability last season and rookie running back T.J. Yeldon anointed the team’s starter, Gerhart isn’t likely to even warrant handcuff status in 2015. He has no fantasy value unless Yeldon goes down with an injury, in which case Gerhart would likely split time with Robinson but get the majority of the work in short yardage situations.
Acquired with a late 2nd round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, the 6’3”, 210 pound Robinson emerged as the Jaguars most consistent receiving weapon as a rookie before being lost for the season in Week 10 with a broken foot. By then he had amassed 48 receptions on 81 targets for 548 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lacking solid deep speed, Robinson is clearly a possession receiver on a Jaguars squad desperate for playmakers. However, he figures to enter training camp as their top rated wide receiver and given his rapport with quarterback Blake Bortles, Robinson has some breakout potential in 2015. Since Robinson lacks upside, we expect Jacksonville to also utilize Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns which would limit Robinson’s target count. He rates as a low end WR3 or high-end WR4 in redraft formats and is an intriguing dynasty prospect.
After a dynamic 2012 season at USC, Lee has watched his stock plummet with an underwhelming final collegiate season and a less than stellar rookie season in Jacksonville. Taken in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, Lee was expected to step into the starting lineup opposite Cecil Shorts but he finished the season with just 37 receptions for 422 yards and a touchdown in 13 games as he was outshone by fellow rookies Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. In 2015, he will battle Hurns for a spot in the starting lineup but he must overcome the injury issues that have plagued him over the past two seasons. At 6”0” and 192 pounds and with solid but not outstanding speed, it is fair to wonder if Lee will emerge as the solid, consistently receiving option the Jaguars envisioned when he was drafted. Having missed most of the offseason with a lingering knee injury, we’re not about to predict a breakout season in 2015. Lee is waiver wire material in standard 12 team leagues and his dynasty prospects hinge on his ability to remain in the lineup and become more consistent in his second season in the league.
An undrafted rookie free agent last season, Hurns burst onto the scene in Week 1 with a four reception, 110 yard, two touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles. As it turned out, the Eagles weren’t that good on defense and Hurns wasn’t all that great as a rookie, despite leading the Jaguars with 677 receiving yards. Over his final 15 games, he amassed just 47 receptions for 567 yards four touchdowns while being targeted 88 times, topping 40 receiving yards six times. In 2015, he will battle fellow second year player Marqise Lee for a spot in the starting lineup opposite Allen Robinson. While Hurns was decent as a rookie, he lacks top end speed and doesn’t have great size at 6’1” and 198 pounds. With Robinson more of a possession receiver than a burner, we expect Lee to relegate Hurns to a backup role, limiting his fantasy value.
Despite having a solid trio of promising second year wide receivers, the Jaguars selected Florida State’s Rashad Greene in the 5th round of this year’s NFL Draft. Greene was productive in college catching passes from Jameis Winston but, at 6’0” and 180 pounds, he is destined for a slot receiver role in Jacksonville which caps his upside. The Jags like him enough that they released his main competition for that role in Ace Sanders, who caught 51 passes as a rookie. However, with Julius Thomas trolling the middle of the field, we don’t see Greene catching anywhere near 50 passes as a rookie. He rates as a lower tier prospect in dynasty formats.
It looks like it is over and out in Jacksonville for the 5th overall selection in the 2012 draft. With three promising 2nd year players at wide receiver, Blackmon likely won’t get another shot in Jacksonville even if Blackmon is reinstated from his suspension by the NFL. Blackmon might be worth a stash in deep dynasty formats.
While it wouldn’t be fair to say that Thomas has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse after leaving the Denver Broncos to join the Jaguars, that analogy might be fair when it comes to his fantasy prospects. Touted by many to finish as a top two tight end last season in Denver, Thomas missed four games due to injury and amassed just 489 receiving yards but still managed to finish the season as the 7th ranked fantasy tight end due to his ability to find the end zone. He scored 12 touchdowns for the 2nd consecutive season despite being targeted just 62 times. Let’s go out on a limb and say that he won’t come anywhere close to scoring 12 touchdowns in 2015. It would take a giant leap of faith to even predict a top five fantasy season from Thomas this season given the state of the Jaguars offense. While Jacksonville clearly features ascending offensive talent at many positions, we expect their offense to finish in the bottom third in the league. That renders Thomas a mid-tier TE1.