The Jacksonville Jaguars came into 2021 with shiny new toys at quarterback (Trevor Lawrence) and running back (Travis Etienne), but they were led by a head coach (Urban Meyer) who struggled to handle adversity, losing and professional football players. Lawrence played far below his college resume, and Etienne suffered a season-ending foot injury before playing in one regular-season game. On the positive side, Jacksonville added another pair of first-round draft picks this year to help their rebuild process. The offensive stars should rise and have growth this year. I expect Etienne to develop into a stud at running back in 2022. In the offseason, the Jaguars gave Lawrence more passing weapons (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram), pointing to a much better passing attack. Best of all, they have a new fearless leader in head coach Doug Pederson).
Game score and a losing record led to the Jaguars running the ball only 38.7% of the time despite gaining 4.5 yards per carry. They averaged only 23.1 rushes per game. Their passing success was hindered by 22 turnovers by their quarterback. Jacksonville must improve its passing accuracy (59.6) and create more significant distance plays passing the ball in 2020.
The one area that stands out for Lawrence to improve on is his usage and accuracy with his running backs. He completed only 62.8% of his passes to his backs with a low overall output (59/419/1 on 94 targets). The best quarterbacks tend to pad their completion rate with the backs a la Tom Brady in 2021 (110/698/6 on 138 targets – 79.7%). The additional value of passing the ball to the running back position is extending drives and avoiding many zero and negative plays. Running the ball (312/1,412/11) wasn’t an issue for Jacksonville’s backs last season, and those stats will only be helped with a healthy Travis Etienne on the field.
The whole Robinson experience was bizarre last year. He had a fantastic rookie season (1,414 combined yards with 10 touchdowns and 49 catches), and the injury to Etienne cleared the path for another high-volume ride in 2021.
After struggling over his first two games (16/72 with six catches for 46 yards) with only 22 combined touches, Robinson played well over his next four games (458 combined yards with five touchdowns and 11 catches) while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Unfortunately for Robinson, after a bye week, a heel issue knocked him out of a game early and led to him missing the following week.
Over his next seven games, Robinson wasn’t the same player (76/285/3 – 3.8 yards per rush with 13 catches for 89 yards). A torn Achilles ended his season in Week 16.
Fantasy outlook: An NFL player's timetable for a full recovery from a torn Achilles tends to be 9-12 months. There is a chance that Robinson will be ready for Week 1, but he will most likely trail Etienne in reps and game shape. His ADP (126) in the NFFC ranks him as the 41st running back in late May. At the very least, Robinson should be a targeted handcuff for his teammate with an expected 10- to 12-touch opportunity. His fantasy value will rise and fall based on summer updates in his recovery time.
Other Options: Ryquell Armstead, Snoop Conner, Mekhi Sargent
The Jaguars wide receivers finished in a tight range for catches (222, 228, 217) and targets (374, 360, 356) over the past three seasons. Last year, Lawrence struggled to deliver passing touchdowns (8) while gaining only 11.0 yards per catch.
Over the last two seasons, Jones posted two career-bests in receptions (76 and 73) at age 30 and 31. Over this span, he gained 1,810 yards with 13 touchdowns on 235 targets. In addition, Jones has three seasons on his nine-year resume with at least nine scores (9, 9 and 10).
He gained over 100 yards in only one game (7/100/1) while offering four other weeks of value (5/77/1, 6/55/1, 6/70, 7/88/1). Over his final 14 starts, Jones gained over 50 yards in only five matchups.
Fantasy outlook: Jones can make some long plays, but he has been working closer to the line of scrimmage over the past three seasons (12.6, 12.9, 11.4 yards per catch). His role and chances will overlap with Kirk, so the Jaguars may be inclined to focus on getting more out of the investment by tapering the looks for Jones. His ADP (194) in the NFFC ranks him 75th at wide receiver. He is trending toward 60 catches for 750 yards with 4-6 touchdowns.
Last fantasy draft season, Shenault gained momentum with him expected to improve off his rookie season (58/691/5). In the end, he struggled to find his identity in Meyer’s offense and connect with Lawrence. Shenault finished with 63 catches for 619 yards and no touchdowns while averaging 5.9 targets. Jacksonville also gave him fewer chances in the run game (11/41 – 18/91 in 2021).
His only game with a fantasy pulse came in Week 4 (six catches for 110 yards on seven targets and one rush). From Weeks 8-17, over nine games, Shenault had only 32 catches for 251 yards (7.8 yards per catch) while failing to gain over 50 yards in any matchup.
Fantasy outlook: The rumors over the winter suggested that Shenault may be traded. He owns a second-round draft pedigree (2020) with the size (6’1” and 225 pounds) to be productive in scoring. I have to believe his game will be improved this year, and his ADP (223) in the NFFC puts Shenault in the risk-free zone. I’m going to set his bar at 75 catches for 850 yards with the potential to score between six and eight touchdowns, with the hopes his summer camp reports are positive.
Jones parlayed a 47/546/1 season with the Raiders to a cool $24 million for three seasons. He came into the NFL in 2017 after getting selected in the second round by the Bills. After a progression year in 2018 (56/652/7), Jones barely had an opportunity over the next two seasons (27/216 and 14/154/1) with Buffalo and Las Vegas. To his credit, He worked hard to gain reps and playing time, which showed over his final five games (6/67, 6/50, 8/120, 5/27, 5/61/1 on 43 targets) last season.
Fantasy outlook: Jones was a high-volume catch receiver in his college career, highlighted by two seasons (98/1,099/5 and 158/1,746/8). Jacksonville likes what he brings to the table, meaning he will have plenty of chances to build on his late 2021 success. No one will fight for Jones based on his ADP (258) in the NFFC, but keep an open mind if his targets are high enough to produce a top 48 wide receiver this year.
Other Options: Laquon Treadwell, Jamal Agnew, Marvin Hall
Lawrence helped the Jaguars TEs set three-year highs in catches (74), receiving yards (774), yards per catch (10.5) and targets. His most significant area of struggle came throwing touchdowns (2), something Jacksonville had issues with over the past three seasons (3, 1, 2 tight end scores).
It’s not often in the NFL when a receiver has his best output in his rookie season. Engram caught 64 passes for 722 yards and six touchdowns on 115 targets in 2017, and all stat categories remain career bests. He missed 13 games in 2018 (45/577/3) and 2019 (44/467/3), foreshadowing a possible higher ceiling with a healthy year. The Giants gave him 109 targets in 2020, leading to a TE2-type season (63/654/1). Last year, Engram finished as a fantasy bust (46/408/3). After missing two games, he scored fewer than 10.0 fantasy points in PPR leagues in 10 of his 17 starts.
Fantasy outlook: Engram will start the year at age 28. He still has the talent to be a top 12 fantasy tight end. This season, the Jaguars have many similar receiving options, making it difficult to determine who will emerge as their best pass catchers. With the Eagles, Pederson featured the tight end position while also having star players (Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz). At the very least, with 17 games played, Engram should catch about 55 balls for 650 yards and light scoring.
Other Options: Dan Arnold, Chris Manhertz, Luke Farrell
The early battle for the starting kicking job for the Jaguars is between Ryan Santoso and Andrew Mevis. Jacksonville signed both players this spring.
Last season, Santoso played in four games, leading to four of his five field goals going through the upright while missing two extra points in six chances. His college experience came at Minnesota when he made 74.4% of his 39 field goals.
Mevis worked his way to the NFL via Fordham and Iowa State. He worked as a punter and field goal kicker. Between the two schools, Mevis made 41 of 52 field goals (78.8%). Last season, all of his 32 extra points were successful, with a high rating in his 23 field goals (87.5%).
The Jaguars scored only 28 touchdowns last season while creating 27 field goals.
Pederson returns to the head coaching ranks after sitting out 2021. Over five seasons with the Eagles, he went 42-37-1 with three postseason appearances and a Super Bowl title in 2017. Pederson has 12 years of coaching experience in the NFL.
The Jaguars named Press Taylor their offensive coordinator. He also spent eight seasons with Philadelphia before moving to senior offensive assistant with the Colts in 2021. In 2017, Taylor worked as the assistant quarterback coach for the Super Bowl-winning Eagles.
Jacksonville fell to last in the NFL in points scored (253 – 53 lower than 2020). In addition, they ranked 27th in yards gained. The Jaguars have been a disaster offensively over the past four seasons.
Mike Caldwell takes over as defensive coordinator after serving as inside linebackers coach for three seasons with Tampa Bay. He is a former player with 14 years of coaching experience in the NFL.
Over the previous two years, the Jaguars have been outscored by 390 points (11.8 per game). They finished 20th in yards allowed, with offenses scoring 457 points (28th).
The Jaguars added three receivers (WR Christian Kirk, WR Zay Jones and TE Evan Engram) via free agency in the offseason. They took a flier on G Brandon Scherff to upgrade the offensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, Jacksonville signed CB Darious Williams, LB Foyesade Oluokun, DT Folorunso Fatukasi and edge Arden Key for a combined $69 million of combined money. Their top losses were WR D.J. Chark, G Andrew Norwell and G A.J. Cann.
Jacksonville focused on their defense with five of their seven picks in the 2022 draft. The first two choices (DE Travon Walker and LB Devin Lloyd) came in the first round. The final three pieces were LB Chad Muma (3.6), CB Gregory Junior (6.19) and CB Montaric Brown (7.1).
The Jaguars ranked 22nd in rushing yards (1,755) with 13 touchdowns. They gained 4.5 yards per carry but 30th in rushing attempts (392). Jacksonville allowed 32 sacks while finishing 24th in passing yards (3,674) with a league-low in passing touchdowns (12) and 17 interceptions.
The two tackles on the Jaguars ranked below-par in run blocking while playing better in pass protection. Incoming rookie C Luke Fortner should move into the starting lineup. He brings leadership with quickness off the snap, pointing to more success earlier in his career in run blocking. When adding in G Brandon Scherff, Jacksonville has the offensive line to push above the league average if their young core improves.
The Jaguars climbed to 23rd in rushing yards allowed (2,127), with opponents scoring 22 touchdowns (68 over the past three seasons). They allowed 212 runs of 20 yards or more. Ball carriers gained 4.3 yards per carry while averaging 29.0 attempts due to game score.
Jacksonville jumped to 17th in passing yards (3,875). They allowed 24 passing touchdowns while intercepting seven passes. The Jaguars ranked 27th in sacks (32), with quarterbacks gaining 7.6 yards per pass attempt.
Their defensive line won’t produce too many sacks, but the Jaguars tried to solidify their defense up front against the run. LB Josh Allen has 20.5 sacks over his first 32 games while setting a career-high in tackles (71). Jacksonville added two young elite players (Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker) to their linebacker corps along with Foye Oluokun (192 tackles and two sacks). The Jaguars’ secondary looks to be a work in progress that would be helped by a shorter passing window. Overall, this defense should improve as the season moves on while offering occasional matchup value.
2022 FANTASY OUTLOOKS
AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Patriots | Jets
AFC North: Ravens | Bengals | Browns | Steelers
AFC South: Texans | Colts | Jaguars | Titans
AFC West: Broncos | Chiefs | Raiders | Chargers
NFC East: Cowboys | Giants | Eagles | Commanders
NFC North: Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South: Falcons | Panthers | Saints | Buccaneers
NFC West: Cardinals | Rams | 49ers | Seahawks