Expectations were high for only one Jaguar last season. It turned out that two Jaguars were helpful to Fantasy owners.
Obviously, Maurice Jones-Drew was the player who matched -- or maybe exceeded -- those expectations. The guy has reached rare air in our game, being one of maybe four or five running backs you can confidently draft and rely on for big stats week after week. With over 1,100 total yards in each of his first four seasons and over 1,700 total yards and 16 total touchdowns last season, it's no wonder the guy is gone soon after league commissioners say, "Let the draft begin."
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But MJD had company last season in the form of MSW -- Mike Sims-Walker. While the receiver didn't top 1,000 yards and was more of a detriment than a contributor when he played on the road, he was a tremendous snare off waivers following a Week 2 explosion and established himself as the biggest threat in Jacksonville's offense.
Sadly, those are the only two threats in the Jaguars' offense heading into the season. You would have thought that Jacksonville would have worked harder to add some talent at receiver, but they didn't. They went defense in the draft instead. Perhaps it's a sign that the coaching staff is fine with what they have.
It's a huge gamble for a team with sizable issues on and off the field this season. It's been no secret that the Jags have had a hard time selling tickets, and their failure to upgrade an offense that essentially relies on one man to shoulder the workload could mean trouble. Quarterback David Garrard's job might be on the line, which in turn could mean that head coach Jack Del Rio's job might be on the line, which then could mean the entire Jaguars franchise could be one bad season away from hitting the reset button.
Not exactly the best scenario to lay out before playing a season of football.
Sleeper ... Rashad Jennings, RB
This is just as much an indictment of the Jaguars' receiving corps as it is us telling you that there isn't a whole lot to look for from the offense here. But Jennings is a player we do like, and with the Jaguars likely to run the ball a ton this season (check out their schedule analysis below), some touches will come Jennings' way. He's improved beyond where he was at the mid-point of last season and should find ways to get on the field here and there. And of course, if Jones-Drew somehow missed some playing time, Jennings would be called upon to pick up the workload. You don't have to draft Jennings by any means, but as far as talented skill-position players on the Jaguars go, he's one of the few who registers.
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Breakout ... Mike Thomas, WR
So if defenses are keyed in on Jones-Drew and paying their fair share of attention to Sims-Walker, we can expect this second-year threat to pick up single coverage. Barely playing in the first three games of the season, Thomas posted a respectable 48 grabs. He didn't do much once he got the ball, averaging less than 10 yards per catch, but his involvement toward the end of the season (13 catches in the team's last two games) can't be ignored. If you're in a league where receptions count, Thomas is a fantastic late-round grab.
Bust ... David Garrard, QB
There are some people who swear by Garrard. They cite the 3,500 passing yards and 300 rushing yards he's topped each of his last two seasons and claim he's as good as it gets for a backup Fantasy option. We cite his declining completion percentage, his relative lack of touchdowns (no more than 18 total over each of his last two seasons), turnover issues (16 in 2008, 18 in 2009) and the upside in other No. 2 passers as reasons to avoid him. He's a good player who is capable of giving you a week here or there of big yardage, but with tons of questions surrounding his receiving corps and his own skills questioned year after year, there's no reason to risk drafting him.
The schedule was tailor-made for Jones-Drew, who conceivably won't see a run defense worse than the Cowboys in Week 8. There are some potentially tough matchups, of course, but considering how strong Jones-Drew has been against most of these opponents over his career, he might have a shot at 2,000 total yards. By the way, this schedule is yet another reason to not love Garrard, as pass defenses from the AFC West and NFC East should have no trouble with Jacksonville's wideouts.
Training camp topics
The Jaguars should spend training camp looking for a second aerial threat. Be it any of their second-year receivers like Thomas, Tiquan Underwood, Jarett Dillard or perhaps second-year tight end Zach Miller (who made some contributions late last season), they need to find a guy to give Garrard help. And anyone who can do that can also take some pressure off the run game, which Jones-Drew would surely appreciate.
But the Jaguars' successes and failures will likely hinge on how their defense hangs in games with the likes of the Colts and Texans. They got swept by the Colts but swept the Texans last year. They hope that the additions of first-round pick Tyson Alualu and veteran pass rusher Aaron Kampman can make an impact up front, but remaining issues in their secondary, particularly at safety, makes the Jaguars vulnerable.
Mike Sims-Walker (ankle; probable for the start of training camp) ... Jarett Dillard (ankle; probable for the start of training camp) ... Zach Miller (foot; probable for the start of training camp) ... Greg Jones (ankle; probable for the start of training camp) ... Aaron Kampman (knee; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Bryan Smith (knee; out for the season).
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