NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Jaguars projections with Gardner Minshew solidified after Nick Foles trade
Nick Foles has been dealt to the Bears, leaving the Jags offense in the hands of Gardner Minshew.
Minshew Mania took over Jacksonville after Nick Foles suffered a Week 1 injury. Even after Foles recovered, Gardner Minshew remained a fan favorite -- and the team's most productive quarterback. That combined with the financial reality of their contracts led to the Jaguars trading Foles to the Bears on Wednesday. Presumably, Foles will compete with Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job in Chicago. In Jacksonville, Minshew looks like the starter, and maybe the future.
Minshew appeared in 14 games as a rookie, 12 as a starter. In those 12 games he threw for 2,849 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. On the season he averaged 7.0 yards per attempt and had a quarterback rating of 91.2 He was by all statistical measures the best rookie passer in the NFL, but he was also below average as an NFL passer. In terms of Fantasy, he was a high-end No. 2 quarterback on a per game basis.
As with all second-year quarterbacks, there is a high error bar on projections. As a rule we expect improvement, but 2018's class showed us very well that improvement can vary or even be non-existent. Adding to the mystery is that Minshew will have a new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden. New schemes can be difficult for young quarterbacks, but Gruden has a pretty good history with quarterback production. For five straight years he had top-12 passing offenses in Cincinnati and Washington.
I'm banking on improvement in the passing game, with Minshew averaging 7.4 yards per attempt, but regressing in the running game as a lot of his production was on scrambles, and his athletic profile doesn't suggest he'll be able to maintain that production on the ground. The final projection puts him at QB14, pretty close to what he was last year.
The rest of this offense will remain a bit of a mystery. Gruden's quarterbacks have historically thrown to their backs and tight ends a lot. Leonard Fournette could be in for another high-volume year depending on what the team does in the draft. At tight end, Josh Oliver seems primed for an opportunity after the Jaguars cut Geoff Swaim.
Here are my full projections for the 2020 Jaguars as of March 18:
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