After failing to make the playoffs over the previous nine seasons, the Jaguars showed tremendous growth on both sides of the ball in 2017. They won the AFC South with a 10-6 record leading to their seventh playoff appearance in 24 seasons. Doug Marrone returns for his second season as head coach. In his career in the NFL, Marrone has a 26-24 record with two playoff wins in three games. Doug has 13 years of experience in the NFL.
Jacksonville finished second in the NFL in yards allowed and points allowed (268), which was 132 fewer than 2016 (400). Todd Wash returns for his third seasons as the defensive coordinator after spending the previous three years as the Jaguars’ defensive line coach and running game coordinator. He has 12 years of NFL experience. The Jaguars have the top secondary in the game.
Even with questionable QB play, Jacksonville moved to sixth in the NFL in offensive yards gained. They scored 417 points (5th), which was 99 points more than 2016. Overall, the Jaguars had a net gain of 231 points last year. Nathaniel Hackett will run the offense for the third straight year. Hackett took over the offensive coordinator job late in 2016, which was a job he held under Marrone with the Bills in 2013 and 2014 and 2011 and 2012 at Syracuse.
In the offseason, Jacksonville parted ways with two of their top WRs (Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson). Both players had productive players in their career for the Jaguars, but they weren’t a big part of the offensive success in 2017. The Jags added to WR Donte Moncrief to improve the depth the position. Moncrief has size and speed, but he’s failed to stay healthy or make an impact over the last couple of seasons with the Colts.
Tight End has been a problem for the Jaguars over the recent years. They added TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins to take over as the starter and TE Niles Paul for depth. Seferian-Jenkins will improve the scoring in the red zone while offering complementary value in the passing game.
The emergence of Leonard Fournette led to RB Chris Ivory being expendable. Ivory had grinder value with minimal upside in the passing game.
G Patrick Omameh signed with the Giants after being a liability in all areas last year. His game was league average the previous two years with part-time snaps. Jacksonville brought in G Andrew Norwell to take over the in the starting lineup. Norwell played at a high level in all areas in 2017 with strength in his resume over the last four years.
Backup QB Chad Henne signed with the Chiefs.
CB Aaron Colvin became expendable with Jacksonville having two top starting CB (A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey). He played well as the third CB in Jacksonville in 2017 with his best value coming in coverage. The Jaguars added S Don Carey, S Cody Davis, and CB D.J. Hayden to improve the depth in the secondary. Hayden is the only player with upside. The Raiders drafted him in the first round in 2013, but he’s never been an asset in his career in the NFL.
Two of the Jaguars first three picks were dictated toward the defense. In the first round, they selected DT Taven Bryan. He lacks the base to anchor a run defense on the inside, but Bryan shows explosiveness off the snap with plus strength. His next step in his development is a better plan off the snap. Taven doesn’t have the foot speed to add value rushing the QB as a defensive end.
In the third round, Jacksonville drafted S Ronnie Harrison. His game projects well in both run support and pass coverage. Harrison offers size (6’2” and 207 lbs.) and speed, but his aggressive style can be his downfall on some plays. Ronnie needs to improve his tackling, which comes from translating from hitter to finisher. He adds value rushing the QB as well.
WR D.J. Chark was the choice in the second round. He has impact speed (4.34) with enough size (6’3” and 199 lbs.) to add scoring value in the red zone. Clark needs to improve his release and route running to become a complete WR. His game is built for long plays where his open field ability helps create a winning window on pass action type plays. D.J. needs to improve his hands under fire plus maintain his deep edge when tracking the ball. Clark may add value in the return game in his rookie season.
In the fourth round, the Jaguars invested in T Will Richardson. His best value will come as power run blocker while possibly projecting as an interior option on the line. The style of the Jaguars’ run game should work within his strengths with a healthy Leonard Fournette at RB. If asked to play at tackle, Richardson will have risk defending in the pass rush vs. speed rushers.
If Blake Bortles can’t get it done in the playoffs in 2018, QB Tanner Lee won’t be an option in 2019 after being acquired in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Lee lacks vision while needing to improve his reads before and after the snap. His mechanics will be address to help clean up his accuracy. Overall, his feel for the game is well below NFL standards even with a viable arm.
With the last two picks in the seventh round, the Jaguars added DE Leon Jacobs and P Logan Cooke. Jacobs offers speed (4.48) with strength, but he’s undersized (6’1” and 246 lbs.) to play at defensive end. His lack of feel for the game hurts him at linebacker due to below average vision and anticipation. Jacobs has the best value when attacking the run or QB moving forward, but his value in sacks won’t improve until he shows he can beat his man on the inside with power. Cooke kicks long and high!
Jacksonville led the NFL in rushing yards (2,262) in 2018. They averaged 32.9 carries per game with 18 TDs. They had five runs of 40 yards or more.
The Jaguars were about league average in passing yards (3,593 – 17th) with 21 TDs and 13 Ints. Their offensive line allowed only 24 sacks and 78 QB hits.
LT Cam Robinson started 13 games in his rookie season after being selected in the second round in 2017. Robinson struggled in all areas last year. Cam should add value to a power run game with his edge when he reaches the second level of the defense. His biggest weakness comes from his movements on certain plays. Robinson needs to fire more at the point of contact in pass sets plus not over commit in the run game. Walks a fine line between aggressiveness and being passive leading to his body being out of position at the of contact and losing battles resulting with him on the mat.
LG Andrew Norwell will be a huge upgrade to the offensive line for the Jaguars. He’s started 54 of the last 55 games for the Panthers with an edge in both run and pass blocking. His presence should help take some pressure off of Cam Robinson. Jacksonville will look to run left in the biggest moments of the game.
C Brandon Linder ended up being one of the better centers in the league with growth in both runs and pass blocking in 2016 and 2017. His skill set will have the most value in the power running attack. His lack of quickness hurts him when trying to block at the second level of the defense. His character is a plus with a solid work ethic. He started 14 games in 2016. The Jaguars selected him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
RG A.J. Cann started 15 games last year after Jacksonville drafted him in the third round in 2015. Cann has the talent to upgrade a power running game, but he had a regression in his third year in the NFL despite the Jaguars having the best rushing attack in the league. His pass protection remains well below league average while his skill set projects some upside with improvement in his technique.
RT Jeremy Parnell has been a steady league average player over the last four seasons. He signed a five-year contract with Jacksonville in March in 2015. Parnell was an undrafted free agent in 2009 with limited playing time before his success in 2014. Last year Parnell was slightly better in pass protection than run blocking.
The reoccurring theme in the structure of this line is power, which fits the exact profile of their top running back. Jacksonville has one player that offers an edge plus two steady pieces to a winning puzzle. Their next step is growth at left tackle while also adding a sixth option for depth in this year’s draft. The Jaguars did a nice job limiting the damage in sacks in 2017, which is checkmark given to the overall play on the offensive line. Overall, this line should be better in 2018, which offers Leonard Fournette a brighter green light.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
Jacksonville has a league average schedule for their rushing attack. Their toughest matchups come in two games vs. the Titans and one against the Eagles. Their only contest with a clear edge is against Washington.
The Jaguars start the season with three straight games (NYG, NE, and TE) against teams with risk defending the pass. They have three other favorable games (IND X 2 and TEN) for their passing attack. Jacksonville only has one matchup (PIT) that grades as a tough test based on last year. Overall, they have a favorable schedule for their passing offense.
The Jaguars ran the exact number of run and pass plays in 2017. Their team is built around a strong defense and power run game, which will be the case again in 2018. Jacksonville has talent and speed at WR, which will test a defense if they try to put eight men in the box to defend Leonard Fournette. More of the same in 2018 while adding an upgrade at TE and making some changes in the depth of their WR core.
QB Blake Bortles – After a strong push from Week 12 to Week 16 (1,563 combined yards with 11 TDs and four Ints), Bortles finished as the 13th highest scoring QB in 2017. More importantly, he has the best Fantasy QB from Week 14 to Week 16 (1,005 yards and seven TDs) to help at least one team with an overall championship in the high-stakes market and a huge prize ($100,000). On the year, Blake finished with only 23 combined TDs and 4,009 combined yards. Only twice all season did he attempts over 35 passes in a game (Week 10 – 51 and Week 16 – 50). Bortles had four games with over 300 yards passing, which came over the last ten games of the year. Over his first 11 games, Blake had one passing TDs or fewer in ten games. The change in team structure on offense and an improved defense led to a sharp decline in passing attempts (523) from 2015 (606) and 2016 (625). His slight step up in completion rate (60.2) was mainly due to more involvement by the RB position in the passing game (96 catches for 785 yards and three TDs on 132 targets – 72.7 percent success rate). From a Fantasy perspective, Bortles is only a backup Fantasy QB due to a downgrade in pass attempts created by a top running game and the Jaguars playing from the lead in many more games. In 2015, Bortles completed 72 passes for 20 yards or more with 11 of those gaining over 40 yards. He has deep speed in the passing game, which will lead to sneaky value in some matchups. Possible 4,000 combined yards with a push closer to 30 combined TDs.
QB Cody Kessler – Cody lacks an impact arm while offering some upside as a game manager. Cody plays more not to lose rather than seizing the moment with impact throws in tight coverage. His accuracy plays well within the pocket with a solid feel for the pass rush. When forced to run, his game loses value leading to minimal big plays and declining success. In his first season in the league, Kessler went 0-8 in nine games played. He completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,380 yards with six TDs and two Ints. Cody was sacked 21 times in 195 attempts (9.7 percent of the time). As expected, he had no value as a runner (11/18). Last year the Browns only had him on the field for 23 pass attempts, which led to 126 passing yards and no TDs and one Int. Kessler is the top backup QB for Jacksonville in 2018.
QB Tanner Lee – Over three seasons at Tulane (2) and Nebraska (1), Lee passes for 6,744 yards with 46 TDs and 37 Ints. His competition rate (55.2) has been a weakness in his whole college career. Lee did show growth in 2017 (3,143 passing yards with 23 TDs and 16 Ints). Tanner is a project. He needs to clean up his mechanics while doing a much better job in his reads and decision making.
RB Leonard Fournette – Despite missing three games, Fournette was the 9th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues. He finished with 304 touches for 1,342 yards with 11 TDs and 36 catches. His success projected over 16 games would have led to 1,652 combined yards with 13.5 TDs and 44 catches. Most Fantasy owners were surprised with his value in the passing game. Leonard has three down value with the overall skill set to match the top RBs in the game. His opportunity in the passing game is well below the elite RBs in the game, but he can beat many of them with his scoring ability. Fournette runs with power with enough speed to make a long scoring TD. The Jaguars have a top defense with an offensive that is built to run a power rushing offense. Their offensive line has a chance to be improved in multiple areas. The biggest question for Fantasy owners is: can he stay healthy? In Fantasy football, talent always outweighs injury risk. In 2017, Jacksonville RBs combined for 2,730 yards with 19 TDs and 96 catches on 561 touches. There’s a great opportunity here for Fournette. Next step: 1,800 combined yards with 15+ TDs and 50+ catches. For a team that starts with a WR in PPR leagues, Fournette is going to be a great value in the second round in many drafts.
RB T.J. Yeldon – After three seasons in the league, Yeldon didn’t live up to his second-round draft value in 2015. In his rookie year, he had 1,019 combined yards on 218 touches with 36 catches and three TDs. T.J. gained only 3.6 yards per rush and 6.2 yards per catch in 2016. He rarely saw early down action close to the goal line with Chris Ivory in the mix for touches. After missing the first six games in 2017 with a hamstring issue, Yeldon flashed in Week 7 (137 combined yards with one TD and two catches). Over the last eight games. T.J. worked his way into more playing time on third down (26 catches for 198 yards and no TDs on 35 targets). He continued to struggle to make plays in the run game (29/90/1). Change of pace back with enough talent to steal third-down chances in the passing game from Fournette.
RB Corey Grant – The most interesting backup RB in Jacksonville is Corey Grant. Over the last two seasons, he’s flashed big-play ability in the run game and a couple of fake punts. Corey gained 412 rushing yards in 2016 and 2017 with three TDs while gaining over forty yards on three plays. Grant only has nine catches for 90 yards and one TDs over three seasons in the NFL. For now, Grant is just a returner on kickoffs, but he may get a chance at more touches in 2018 if Leonard Fournette has an injury.
Other Options: Tim Cook, Brandon Wilds
WR Marqise Lee – Over the last two seasons, Lee caught 119 passes for 1,553 yards and six TDs on 201 targets. In 2017, Marqise had seven games with five catches or more, but he never gained over 90 yards in any game. Lee had five games with double-digit targets. His season ended in Week 15 with an ankle injury. He’s a former second-round draft pick (2014) who expects to be the top WR in the Jaguars’ offense in 2018. Last year WRs in Jacksonville caught 177 passes for 2,426 yards and 12 TDs on 306 targets. Possession type WR with a skill set to produce 5/50 games in many weeks. His value in TDs has limited minimal upside. At best, 75 catches for 900+ yards with about five TDs.
WR Keelan Cole – The pleasant surprise in the Jaguars’ WR corps in 2018 was Cole. He offered difference maker stats in Week 14 to Week 16 (3/99/1, 7/186, and 6/108). Over the last eight games of the season, he caught 31 of his 57 targets for 590 yards and three TDs. In a way, Cole produced the game stats expected of Dede Westbrook in 2017. Over three seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan, Keelan caught 205 passes for 4,303 yards and an amazing 53 TDs. He runs good routes with comparisons to Stefon Diggs by R.C. Fischer at Fantasy Football Metrics. I’d like to see a higher catch rate (50.6), but I respect his ability to make big plays (11 catches for 20 yards or more and four catches over 40 yards). Cole should emerge at the WR2 in this offense with his best value coming in the deep passing game. Possible 65+ catches for 1,000+ yards with about seven TDs.
WR Donte Moncrief – 2016 was a wasted season for Moncrief with minimal value again in 2017 (26/391/2). In his 12 games last year, Donte had two catches or fewer in eight of his 12 games. He has four impact games on his career resume (7/113/1, 3/134/2, 7/122/1, and 8/114) despite making only 27 starts in his 53 career games over three seasons. Moncrief does have 18 TDs, which matches up well with his starts. His best value came in 2015 (64/733/6) with Andre Luck behind center. His size (6’2” and 220 lbs.) and speed (4.4) should be an attractive combo for the Jaguars’ coaching staff, but Moncrief needs to stay healthy and regain his previous form. He’ll start the year at age 25 with a nice one-year contract ($9.6 million). Paid to produce, but I need to see progress this summer before placing a high Fantasy bet on draft day. My leeriness points to about 40 catches for 500+ yards, but he could be the top scoring threat in the red zone in the passing game.
WR Dede Westbrook – After a quiet junior season at Oklahoma (46/743/4), Westbrook broke through with an impactful senior campaign (80/1524/17). His best success came over a four-game stretch starting in game 4 (7/158/2, 10/232/3, 9/184/3, and 9/202/2). He scored all of his TDs over the last ten games of the year. Most of his scoring came only long passes where he has his man beaten by more than a step and more than a few TDs coming on wide open looks. Dede has a DeSean Jackson feel to him, but he’ll be challenged more off the line of scrimmage in the pros while facing tighter coverage. His lack of size (6’0” and 178 lbs.) hurts his ability to make long plays in his rookie season. Over seven games in the NFL, Dede caught 27 of 51 targets for 339 yards and one TD while never gaining over 20 yards on any game. His best value came over a three-game stretch from Week 12 to Week 14 (17 catches for 200 yards and one TDs on 27 targets. Westbrook missed the first nine games due to a slow recovery from an abdomen injury. With a full season of health, Dede should be more valuable as a Fantasy option. I’d temper my expectation for Westbrook in 2018 due to the depth at WR. Big play upside with a chance at 50+ catches for 750+ yards and a handful of TDs.
WR D.J. Chark – Over the last two season at LSU, Chark caught 66 passes for 1,340 yards and six TDs with some value in the run game (24/185/3). D.J. has the game to add value in the deep passing game, but his route running isn’t NFL ready with risk in his hands. More of a project after being drafted in the second round in 2018.
Other Options: Jaydon Mickens, Rashad Greene, Allen Lazard, Shane Wynn, Lamar Atkins
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Health has always been an issue for Seferian-Jenkins in the NFL. He’s missed 26 games over four seasons with his best success coming in 2017 (50/357/3 on 74 targets), but Austin only gained 7.1 yards per catch. His best value in 2017 came over a four-game stretch from Week 3 to Week 6 (23/152/2 on 29 targets). Over his last seven games, he caught 19 of his 35 targets for 156 yards and no TDs. Last season the Jaguars’ TEs caught 43 passes for 505 yards and five TDs on 76 targets. ASJ should be an upgrade, but I don’t see enough of an opportunity to believe in him as starting TE in the season-long games in the Fantasy market. Tough to trust, which points to about 45 catches for 500 yards and some value in TDs with a full season of games.
Other Options: Niles Paul, Ben Koyack, James O’Shaughnessy, David Grinnage, Zach Conque
K Josh Lambo – The Jaguars signed Lambo before Week 7 in 2017. Over the last ten games, he made 19 of his 20 field goals to raise his career success rate to 84.5 over 42 games in the NFL. In his career, Josh has ten missed extra points in 102 chances. Lambo is 6-for-10 from 50 yards or longer. Last year Jacksonville scored 47 TDs while producing winning field goal attempts (35). Tempting play in the season-long games, but the Jaguars will have success rushing the ball in for TDs in the red zone. Lambo has matchup value with top 12 upside with better QB play in 2018.
Jacksonville will be tested in the run game by the Cowboys and the Eagles. They have two games (WAS and MIA) late in the year vs. teams that have risk running the ball.
The Jaguars have strength at CB leading to one of the best pass defenses in the league. They have one tough matchup (NE) while the Chiefs could be an issue. They face ten teams with weak success throwing the ball with the best edge coming against the Colts (2) and the Bills. Jacksonville has a very winnable schedule for their pass defense.
The next step in the development of the Jaguars’ defense is better success against the run. Last year they finished 21st in rushing yards allowed (1,860) with nine rushing TDs. They allowed 4.3 yards per rush with rushers gaining only six runs over 20 yards.
Jacksonville had the top pass defense in the NFL last year. They allowed 2,718 yards with 17 TDs and 21 Ints. They did get beat for 12 catches of 40 yards or more. The Jaguars finished second in the NFL in sacks (55) with QBs gaining only 6.0 yards per pass attempt.
DE Calais Campbell was a beast in the Jaguars’ defense. He posted 67 tackles with a career-high 14.5 sacks while adding exceptional value against the run. DE Dante Fowler had a career high in sacks (8) in his second season in the NFL, but he still ranks as an overall liability due to his risk against the run and in coverage. Fowler was the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
DT Malik Jackson has been a stud on the interior line over the last four seasons with the last two coming with the Jaguars. Jackson finished with 40 tackles with a career-high eight sacks and three defended passes. DT Abry Jones added rotational value in all areas, but the addition of DT Marcell Dareus hurts the role/opportunity of Jones. He played his best ball over his first four seasons with the Bills when Dareus recorded 28.5 sacks over 63 games. After his trade to the Jaguars, Marcell had 20 tackles and one sack over nine games. I expect him to better in 2018 with a full offseason in this system. Rookie DT Taven Bryan will add rotational value against the run. DE Yannick Ngakoue added 12 sacks and 30 tackles in his second season in the NFL.
LB Myles Jack set a career high in tackles (90) with two sacks, three defended passes, and a TD in his second year in the league after getting drafted in the second round in 2016. LB Tevin Smith has 453 tackles over four seasons in the NFL while adding value in pass coverage in his career (24 defended passes, seven Ints, and three TDs. Smith was a huge edge against the run. The other starting linebacking job is wide open between multiple players with minimal upside. The best option may be switching Dante Fowler to linebacker.
CB Jalen Ramsey was a top player at his position in his sophomore season in the NFL after getting drafted in the first round in 2016. He finished with 63 tackles, 17 defended passes, and four Ints. CB A.J. Bouye repeated his success in coverage after signing last offseason. Bouye posted 56 tackles with 18 defended passes and a career-high six interceptions.
S Tashaun Gipson was terrific in run support while chipping in with seven defended passes and four Ints. Gipson is one of the better players at his position with strength in all areas expect the pass rush. S Barry Church played at a high level over each of the last two seasons. Last year Church had 74 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight defended passes, four Ints, and one TD. Twice in his career, Barry had well over 100 tackles in a season (2013 – 135 and 2015 – 117).
The great success of the Jaguars’ pass defense starts with their pass rush. With any step back in production, teams will have a larger passing window to beat their secondary. Jacksonville has talent at all levels of the defense with only one spot in the starting lineup in transition. The Jaguars should be one of the top Fantasy defenses in 2018 with a nice schedule at the end of the season.
2018 NFL Team Outlooks