Few teams have higher hopes for their franchise than the Jacksonville Jaguars. They enter 2021 with a new head coach in Urban Meyer and a shiny new quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. Those two marquee additions have been tasked with forming an offense that can help to propel the team back to the playoffs, among other things. While the Jaguars spent their other first-round pick on Lawrence’s college teammate, Travis Etienne, Lawrence will be passing to a new crop of faces in Jacksonville. D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault return for the teal and gold, while Marvin Jones joins the squad to help alleviate the departures of Keelan Cole (Jets) and Chris Conley (Texans).
But how will the trio fare in fantasy? As it stands, Chark is typically being drafted as WR31, Shenault as WR44, and Jones as WR53, per Underdog Fantasy. Is that price justified? Which Jaguars’ wide receiver will emerge as Lawrence’s top target? Using Underdog Fantasy’s rankings and ADPs as well as Jaime Eisner’s rankings here at TDN, I’ll dive into each pass-catcher and see which one is worth drafting at their current value, if at all.
Underdog Fantasy ADP: WR31
Jaime Eisner’s Ranking: WR48
It seems Jaime is a bit lower on Chark than most people, and it’s hard to fault him for it. It’s tough to have much confidence in a player who’s yet to play a full season in his three-year career. His 2020 season saw him miss three games with three different injuries. Despite the missed time, Chark still averaged more than seven targets a game—the most on the team. What concerned me the most about his production was he only posted six games of double-digit points. This led to a volatile range throughout the season; he scored as many as 29.5 points (in PPR) and as low as 3.6 points.
Luckily, there are encouraging signs for an improved season. After dealing with the likes of Gardner Minshew and Jake Luton, Chark may be the prime benefactor of Lawrence’s arrival. Last season, he had multiple games where his targets more than doubled his receptions. Pro Football Reference only credits Chark with two drops last season, too. On the surface, Chark is set up for a nice bounce-back season.
However, I worry about his health and the addition of Marvin Jones. Although, health is always a tough factor to predict so I won’t spend much time on it. As for Chark’s role, he will likely retain his spot as the team’s right outside receiver, whereas Jones will likely flank the left side. For Chark to improve on his WR44 finish from last season, more targets may be needed. Unfortunately for him, I can’t see Jacksonville attempting more than 616 passes—the seventh-most in the NFL last season. Adding Etienne and Carlos Hyde to incumbent starter James Robinson doesn’t help, either. For now, I’ll probably pass on Chark at his ADP, though I still expect a top-50 finish if he stays healthy.
Laviska Shenault Jr.
Underdog Fantasy ADP: WR44
Jaime Eisner’s Ranking: WR47
Shenault showed some promise in his rookie season as a second-round pick. Shenault accumulated 600 receiving yards and 91 rushing yards while playing roughly 65% of the team’s snaps. Even though an injury impeded three games—he missed two—he still found a way to be third on the team in targets. A season average of 11.22 points is also encouraging, which he improved to 13.9 points per game in the final six weeks. But is it enough to warrant being the 44th wide receiver taken in fantasy drafts?
I don’t think so, and the reason why comes from an unlikely source: Etienne. While Etienne may not eat into all of Shenault’s snaps, his addition may impact Shenault more than any player on the roster, including Robinson. With Robinson and Hyde in tow, it invites Etienne to be used in the passing game like Meyer supposedly wants. Much to the chagrin of the draft community, the running back has been used almost exclusively as a wide receiver early in the Jaguars' voluntary workout sessions. A majority of Shenault’s usage came via the short-to-intermediate passing game and screens. It’s safe to say Etienne may have an upper leg in screens, but he may overtake Shenault in shorter areas of the field as well.
It’s also worth monitoring Shenault’s durability. While he only missed two games in 2021 due to a hamstring strain, scouts had legitimate injury concerns with the Colorado playmaker. Don’t let it distract you from the player he can be, though. Of the 385 routes Shenault ran last season, only 111 of them came in the slot. There’s some upside to improve there in what’s a golden position in fantasy. Despite Etienne’s supposed role, projecting him to be the team’s slot receiver over Shenault seems a bit naive; I’ll need to see it before I believe it. However, unless Etienne isn’t used so often in the passing game, I find it hard to see Shenault finishing as a top-50 receiver. I highly doubt I'll draft him at his ADP.
Underdog Fantasy ADP: WR53
Jaime Eisner’s Ranking: WR27
Jones enters his first season as a Jaguar after spending the last five years as a Lion. Aside from Jones’ strange affinity for cat-themed teams (he spent his first four seasons with the Bengals), there are some interesting points to note here. At first glance, Jones is a 31-year-old receiver who just completed his first full season since 2017. That’s not the greatest leadoff stat, especially when he’s surrounded by a plethora of younger talent.
Much to the surprise of Father Time, Jones was Detroit’s leading pass-catcher in 2020. While the absence of Kenny Golladay certainly had its impact, Jones still proved capable of being a team’s true WR1. He led the Lions with 115 targets, which was a higher total than all but 21 players. After Golladay’s injury in Week 4, Jones only had four games with fewer than 10 points. Perhaps most noticeable was his average depth of target (ADOT) of 12.7 yards. That was the 11th-highest rate among the 53 wide receivers with at least 100 targets.
Now that I have the numbers out of the way, the simple truth is Jones has been a mostly consistent producer in fantasy. I don’t expect the Jaguars to treat Jones like the face of the franchise—his two-year, $14.5 million contract agrees—though he has a relatively steady floor. Like Chark, his role should be mostly untouched along the outside. Knowing what he can produce when healthy, I like Jones at his current ADP. He may have to fend off more players for targets, though, so I probably won’t be reaching for him. Jones is a solid backup to have on your roster.