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Laviska Shenault's Huge Fantasy Football Upside

Laviska Shenault has tremendous upside, but is a significant injury risk. Is he worth drafting in fantasy football in 2020?

Former Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault waited for only ten picks into the second round to hear his name called, as the Jacksonville Jaguars took him at pick No. 42. He joins a Jaguars team in need of a complement to D.J. Chark, who broke out last season. 

Can Shenault make an immediate impact on a Jaguars team that is planning to start Gardner Minshew III and possibly trading star running back Leonard Fournette?

The 6-foot-1, 227-pound receiver has a high football I.Q., has experience playing all three receiver spots and projects as a future leader/captain on offense. He's deceptively quick attacking off coverage, has strong hands, and has high run-after-catch potential because he routinely runs through arm tackles. Shenault sometimes tips his hand as a route runner, and bigger corners can pin him to the sideline, but those are the only real flaws in his on-field game. However, his injury history is concerning.

Shenault has missed time in each of the last two seasons with injuries. He had labrum and toe surgeries before the 2019 season and had core muscle surgery last month. His doctor anticipated pre-draft that he'd be cleared for all football activities by April 25. 

Here's what Jaguars team reporter Kassidy Hill found out after Shenault chatted with the media.

He relates himself to Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones. That’s a trio that has little in common other than a shared position, but what they each bring to the table is what Shenault would like to emulate.

So what does all that mean for fantasy?

Shenault's ceiling is a true No. 1 receiver who gobbles up targets and wins all over the field—a significant fantasy asset that could be a steady WR2 for years to come, maybe a WR1 with the right quarterback. His floor is mostly injury-related. He could become a yearly "what if" or "high-risk, high-reward" option that fantasy managers gamble. Is he worth the risk in 2020?

As far as rookie wide receivers go, Shenault ranks eighth behind the Raiders' Henry Ruggs III, the Broncos' Jerry Jeudy, the Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb, the Vikings' Justin Jefferson, the Colts' Michael Pittman Jr., the Bengals' Tee Higgins and the 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk (49ers). That puts him somewhere in WR5 territory as a bench option with upside.

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Rookie wide receivers can have a tough time adjusting to the NFL early on in the best of circumstances. Shenault has to do it coming off a current injury, with a below-average quarterback and the shadow of a significant injury history looming large. The flip side is that Chark is his only real competition for targets, and Shenault is a more complete wide receiver. The former Buffalo is worthy of a bench spot or a place on your waiver wire speed dial, but I need to see him on the field healthy before he earns a spot in my lineup, even in multi-flex leagues. 


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