Top2 Throwdown: Jacksonville Wide Receivers

With our Top2 throwdown series we aim to show the argument for all sides of a particularly debated topic in the fantasy football world. For this article, 5 writers for Top2Sports give their take on which wideout will make it to the top of the Jacksonville depth chart and make a splash on fantays rosters. From what we can tell, only one thing is certain: a Jaguar wide receiver will breakout this season; it’s for you to decide which one.

It’s Marqise Lee’s Job to Lose (Mike Wallace)

When it comes to the Jaguar WRs opinions vary greatly, none of them are being drafted before the 11th round so none have a high draft cost. Out of the group I prefer Marqise Lee for a few reasons, but mainly it comes down to opportunity and going in 2018 Lee has the most defined role. Over the last 2 seasons in 29 games (he appeared in a 30th but only played 11 snaps before leaving with an injury) Lee has averaged 6.9 targets per game. In those 29 games he had a target share of 19.4%. In a crowded receiving core give me the guy with the most obvious path to a significant workload. As usual in fantasy opportunity is king and ultimately targets are the key to value for a WR.

The Jaguars are going to be a run first and defense heavy team. The passing offense will be designed to make safe, high percentage plays. In 2017 Lee led the returning WRs in Jacksonville with a catch rate of 58.3%, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole had catch rates of 52.9% and 50.6%. Lee also saw the most targets in the offense last season with 96. In the offseason the Jaguars moved on from Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, but they resigned Lee to a 4 year contract worth up to $34 Million. The Jaguars did not re-sign him to involve him less in their offense.

If you are drafting any of the other WRs in Jacksonville for 2018 at best it is a flier and the hope you guessed right. That may work based on how you built your team, but if you want to have a player who has a role and will be fantasy relevant Lee is the obvious choice. The Jaguars have made it obvious he is a part of their plans; their offense over the last 2 seasons clearly shows his role. When all is said and done Marqise Lee will be the most reliable WR in Jacksonville for fantasy. Some of the others might have flashier plays, but week to week Lee will be the guy owners want.

The Big Target is Donte Moncreif (Josh Padgett)

Moncrief has been in the league for 4 rather unproductive years.  He was not terribly successful in Indianapolis, but he has the talent necessary to make an impact in Jacksonville.  Moncrief has the size and the play style to attack the middle of the field and fill a role that he has little competition for.  Chark and Westbrook are more field stretchers and Lee is smaller and less athletic. Moncrief stands out physically. Bortles is much more accurate and successful in the short and mid range and Moncrief’s skill set and stature fit that bill.  He is bigger and stronger than the rest of the receivers being discussed here. The bigger catch radius and larger target will help make Bortles more successful even he is isn’t pinpoint accurate. He has been in the league longest of this group (tied with Lee) and he is still only 24 years old.  The major knock on Moncrief has been injury and I have always been one to turn a blind eye to the injury prone label in all but the most extreme situations. The ceiling (both overall and TD based) is highest for this guy who hasn’t really had the chance to figure it out yet and that is what I want in a group where everyone has a floor of about 0.

Don’t Sleep on Chark (Marc Szymanski)

The long shot, DJ Chark is the fifth WR on the depth chart of a run-first-offense. Thankfully, his ADP is so low that Fantasy Football Calculator doesn’t even have him ranked. DJ Chark will not be in your starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Except for deep dynasty, I can’t recommend drafting him. What I can do is tell you to watch him. He is 6’4” tall, the tallest WR on the team. He ran the 40 yard dash in 4.34 seconds. This equals Dede Westbrook’s speed and is faster than the other three WRs above Chark on the depth chart. Chark’s college QB (Danny Etling) completed 60% of his passes, just like Blake Bortles.

He is fast and he has the height to grab the toss ups. His college tape showed that he was able to accommodate the occasionally poorly thrown ball. He has a similar build as Allen Robinson, but is faster. We all remember what Allen Robinson did in 2015 with the same Blake Bortles throwing to him (80 receptions for 1400 yds and 14 TDs). Taller people certainly make easier targets. Taller people who get open get those targets.

I see three possibilities:

  1. DJ Chark naturally becomes the #1 WR on the team when the Jags’ WR kingdom of mediocrity stumbles out of the gate
  2. Injuries to the run game force Chark into a dual role and he gets some rushing touches as well as an increased role as a receiver (he did some occasional rushing in college, even scoring touchdowns)
  3. Bortles falters, Cody Kessler is handed the starting job and has chemistry with Chark from their second team practices

Cole Has the Highest Ceiling (Matt Hicks)

Despite starting just 6 games last season, Cole finished as the second best fantasy wideout in Jacksonville last season. The undrafted free agent out of Kentucky Wesleyan averaged 17.8 yards per reception in his rookie season; second among any wide receivers with more than 20 receptions. Cole gained momentum as the season went on; after week 13 Cole was targeted 36 times, caught 23 passes (63%), for 475 yards and 3 touchdowns. He finished as a WR1 in 3 of those weeks, including finishing as WR1 overall in Week 15; after totaling 186 yards against the Texans.

For me, this one is easy; Cole gained significant momentum over the course of the 2017 season; and has established rapport with Blake Bortles. Cole has more targets from Bortles than Westbrook (51), and the new additions of Moncrief and Chark. In his four seasons with Bortles, Lee has brought in more than 748 receiving yards (Cole’s 2017 total) just once and has never caught more than 3 touchdowns per season (Cole’s 2017 total).

Here’s the icing on this glorious fantasy cake: Cole is being drafted, on average, behind both Lee and Westbrook. Lee is the first Jaguar wideout off the board; being drafted at 11.05 (WR50) in redraft. Westbrook is going much later, at 14.07 (WR65). Cole, however, is currently going undrafted in Fantasy Football Calculator ADP. This is 1: absurd, and 2: a fantastic opportunity for value. These are the type of picks which win you fantasy championships, the time of picks you look back on and kick yourself for passing up; Keelan Cole is the most valuable fantasy assett in Jacksonville and will finish as WR1 for them in 2018.

With No Limit, DeDe can Breakout (Jason Plummer)

The Allens are gone and the Jags look forward to another season with Bortles at the helm. Their receiving core looks vastly different compared to the start of 2017 and we’re looking at one, DeDe Westbrook. Now, the young receivers Keelan Cole and Mr. Westbrook showed up when the Jags needed them down the stretch. Keelan played the entire season, whether in full action or limited action, Westbrook on the other hand only got his chance in the last 7 games of the season. In that time, he had a 27-339-1 stat line on a 52% catch rate. Not the greatest stats but he’s a rookie and was finally getting his time to shine.

He had 51 targets through 7 games. That’s over 7 a game and that is something to look at and 3 more than Cole in the same time frame. I know, that’s a small number, but it’s a positive point on his record. Andddd maybe the only one. I want to root for him, I do. He showed some skill in his first 7 games in the league, but he didn’t seem to be a red zone target, nor did he seem to be the biggest target of the Jags rookies.
I mentioned the Allens are gone which, most would think, means he and Cole are fighting for the 1 or 2 spots. Sorta right. Marquis Lee is still there and when he’s healthy, he’s the number 1 for the Jags, they showed that by letting Allen Hurns walk. So that poses an interesting question, when will he be injured and allow Cole and Westbrook to duke it out for targets? Otherwise, I think Westbrook is the number 3 WR going into the season.

Lee has a slight injury history so we can look at this as a very possible thing in which case, owning either Cole or Westbrook is beneficial, in a deep league. I’m not totally sold on Westbrook but he has room to grow into something of a role player this season. If you’re playing PPR and looking for a late late round flyer, Westbrook is your guy. If you’re playing PPR and want someone to watch for that you aren’t going to draft, Westbrook is your guy. I want to emphasize PPR, he didn’t show that he was a red zone target, but he could become one. If he doesn’t turn into that, he’s really only a PPR flex play because of his targets.

Published by

Matt Hicks

Matt’s writing is focused on dynasty and devy fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @TheFF_Educator

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