Last season was another nightmare for head coach Gus Bradley and the Jaguars. They went 5-11 and their defense allowed 28.0 points and 375.0 total yards per game. It was bad for them, but boy was it good for Fantasy owners!
Be it because they trailed in a lot of games or because they have a talented offense (it's both), the Jaguars averaged 256.8 passing yards per game, 10th best in the league, and 23.5 points per game, 14th best in the league.
It's a step in the right direction from a club anchored by quarterback Blake Bortles, who easily had his best season with 4,428 yards and an impressive 35 passing touchdowns.
Fantasy owners would be happy with another year of Bortles chucking the ball around, but the Jaguars are actually trying to win some games. To that end, they spent lavishly this offseason on their run game and their defense, two aspects that could actually hurt Bortles' chances at another huge season.
Chris Ivory cashed a big check to run with Jacksonville while the defense picked up defensive lineman Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback Prince Amukamara in free agency and cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack in the draft.
Mesh those guys with the eventual on-field arrival of pass rusher Dante Fowler, and the Jaguars defense should improve. Ivory will also help stabilize the Jaguars run game which ranked 27th in the league thanks to a paltry 92.1 rush yards per game and just five touchdowns, including two from Bortles.
The Jags are doing everything within their power to keep their offense balanced and their defense stout. That's what teams do. But with a schedule against a number of high-powered offenses including the Packers, Chargers and Colts in three of their first four games, the Jaguars could be looking at another season of scoreboard chasing.
And that would be just fine with every Fantasy owner reading this.
It shouldn't be this way. Ivory is coming off of his best season and Yeldon was poised to be the full-time running back for the Jaguars. Instead, one is joining with the other to form a conglomerate that, together, should be good. But in typical running back tandem style, they'll split work and take away numbers from each other. One might be great one week, the other the next -- or, if it's anything like last year, neither will get enough touches to be consistent or effective behind a below-average offensive line. If there's one to draft it's Ivory, because he should be good for at least six scores, but no one will feel confident starting him week in and week out. The best-case scenario is that one gets benched or misses time so the other can have a shot at 20 touches a week, something Jags running backs did only five times last season. Neither player should get picked before 70th overall.
Asking Bortles to deliver close to 4,500 yards and 37 total touchdowns like he did last year might be a bit too much. It's not that his schedule is that much harder, but the Jags would probably prefer he attempt fewer than 600 passes in a season. Not many teams win a lot of games that way. But Bortles should still find himself passing a bunch, so a season with over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns is a reasonable expectation. Here's the deal: the quarterback position is the deepest in Fantasy, so there's no reason to rush for one if you don't want to. Bortles is a fantastic choice for those procrastinators who want good value on Draft Day. Getting him at any point after the 80th pick in your draft is a win.
Fantasy owners got a huge treat when receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns each went for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. But don't expect it to happen again, especially when it comes to scoring touchdowns. Robinson is the clear go-to receiver in Jacksonville, and Hurns is good enough to warrant significant coverage and keep Robinson from getting consistently double-teamed. Between the defensive improvements and the recommitment to the run game, look for both Allens to lose some targets. Because Robinson is the lead guy, his decrease should be less significant than Hurns. If there's one who has a shot at well over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns again, it's Robinson. Hurns' expectations should be reeled in from what he did last season. Bank on Robinson as a Top 20 pick, while Hurns tumbles to roughly 60th overall.