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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Jacksonville Jaguars

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Let's face it, the Jaguars offense has not exactly been fun to watch in recent seasons.

Most people would rather stand in line at the DMV or change a dirty diaper then watch them try to move the football. My friend who covers the Jaguars called their offense "pathetic."

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Aside from Maurice Jones-Drew, who led the NFL in rushing last year, no skill player had more than 460 total yards. And Blaine Gabbert was one of two quarterbacks (Sam Bradford) to attempt at least 350 passes and not reach 2,300 passing yards. Calling the Jaguars offense pathetic might be offensive to anything pathetic.

But this year things should improve. The Jaguars made some exciting additions by signing Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans and drafting Justin Blackmon, who was considered the best receiver coming out of college. Marcedes Lewis should also rebound from his poor 2011 campaign when he saw a decrease in 10 touchdowns from the year before, and Jones-Drew remains a workhorse.

The key for the Jaguars will be Gabbert. If he can hold off Chad Henne as expected for the starting job, he should have the chance for a breakout year. He clearly was overwhelmed as a rookie in 2011 with 2,214 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with just 51 percent completions.

But the Jaguars appear to have plenty of faith in him and have given him weapons to succeed. No one is drafting Gabbert as even a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, but he could turn into a waiver wire addition if he starts off the season playing well.

We're cautiously optimistic about the Jaguars this year, and hopefully new head coach Mike Mularkey can turn things around on offense. Jones-Drew will once again carry the load, but maybe Gabbert and company can make this offense more dynamic. If that happens, some additional Fantasy options just might emerge in Jacksonville, which would be a good thing for all owners.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Blaine Gabbert ND
Chad Henne ND
Running Backs
Maurice Jones-Drew 1
Rashad Jennings ND
Wide Receivers
Justin Blackmon 7
Laurent Robinson 9
Lee Evans ND
Mike Thomas ND
Tight Ends
Marcedes Lewis ND
Kickers/Defense
Josh Scobee ND
Jaguars DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Bust ... Laurent Robinson, wide receiver
Robinson capitalized on his career year in 2011 with a big payday this offseason in Jacksonville. He had career highs in receptions (54), receiving yards (858) and touchdowns (11) in 2011, but that was playing with Tony Romo and the Cowboys. In Jacksonville, Robinson will have to make do with Gabbert, who will have plenty of growing pains. As such, his stats should suffer. Prior to his one-year stint in Dallas, Robinson combined for 89 catches for 1,000 yards and four touchdowns in four injury-plagued years with Atlanta and St. Louis. Don't be the one to reach for Robinson as a starting option, and he should only be drafted with a late-round pick. He is going to help improve the Jacksonville offense, but his production is definitely going to be a letdown after what he accomplished last year.

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Impact rookie ... Justin Blackmon, wide receiver
The Jaguars drafted Blackmon in the first round of the NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, and he is expected to make an impact right away for Fantasy owners barring a suspension for a DUI arrest in early June. Jacksonville needs playmakers, and he has the makings of a star. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Blackmon scored 38 touchdowns in his final 25 games and caught 244 passes for 3,378 yards in his collegiate career (35 games). Catching passes from Brandon Weeden, Blackmon set an NCAA record with at least 100 yards and one touchdown in all 12 games in 2010 and won two consecutive Fred Biletnikoff awards as the top college receiver. If Gabbert can consistently get Blackmon the ball then his Fantasy value will rise, but that's the one thing that could hold Blackmon back. We're not expecting an A.J. Green-type rookie year for Blackmon, but he could end up as a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver. He is worth drafting with a mid-round pick.

Bounce-back candidate ... Marcedes Lewis, tight end
I had Lewis as a bust candidate last year, but I never expected such a steep dropoff in his production from 2010. Lewis went from 58 catches to 39, 700 yards to 460 and 10 touchdowns to zero. You can blame the switch in quarterbacks from David Garrard to Gabbert or that he signed a big contract for his struggles, but he said a family issue ruined his concentration. We hope all of that is behind him. He may never be a Top 5 Fantasy tight end again like he was in 2010, but he could return as a Top 12 option. All he has to do is find the end zone again, and we could see Lewis scoring around five touchdowns. He is not worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but Lewis could be added off the waiver wire as a bye-week replacement. If he plays well enough to become a starting option again then great, but there's little risk and plenty of reward in looking at Lewis this season, especially in deeper leagues.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@MIN HOU @IND CIN CHI bye @OAK @GB DET IND @HOU TEN @BUF NYJ @MIA NE @TEN
Jones-Drew posted career highs last year with a tougher schedule than this. The only fearsome run defenses on the schedule are the Texans twice, the Bears and the Jets, all of which are spread out throughout the season. Opposing pass defenses are fairly weak, too, so if there's anything Mularkey can do to get Gabbert going, he'll have a chance to make some noise. One more big issue for Jacksonville is keeping its opponents from putting up a lot of points -- it might be a lot to ask this defense to do as well as it did last season against these offenses.

Training camp topics

Jones-Drew has stayed away from Jacksonville during offseason workouts because he wants a new contract. He was the NFL's leading rusher in 2011 with 1,606 yards, and he also added nine touchdowns and 43 catches for 374 yards. But with Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster getting significant raises since last year, Jones-Drew wants a new deal. He is scheduled to make $4.45 million this year and has two years remaining on his current contract.

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Maurice Jones-Drew 343 carries, 43 catches
Deji Karim 63 carries, 14 catches
Mike Thomas 44 catches, 3 carries
Marcedes Lewis 39 catches
Jarrett Dillard 29 catches

We fully expect Jones-Drew to report to training camp on time, but his attendance is worth monitoring. He is a No. 1 Fantasy running back and should be drafted in the first round, most likely in the first six overall picks in the majority of leagues. Only a potential holdout would lower his value.

You should also keep an eye on his backup. Rashad Jennings (knee) was out all of last year, but he should be fine for this season. He is a great handcuff option for Jones-Drew and should be drafted with a late-round pick in deeper leagues. If Jones-Drew misses any time this year then Jennings would have increased Fantasy value, and at some point Jones-Drew, 27, is going to slow down. He's had more than 330 total touches in each of the past three seasons, and wear-and-tear could become an issue. Just put Jennings on your watch list because he might end up as a key waiver wire addition during the year.

Injury update

Henne (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Jennings (knee; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Zach Miller (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Paul Posluszny (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) … Rashean Mathis (knee; probable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Bears sign DE Austen Lane
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Bears have signed defensive end Austen Lane, Pro Football Talk reports.

Lane will fill the roster spot of defensive end Willie Young, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Lane was with the Bears during the preseason but didn't survive the final cuts. He's managed three sacks in 30 career games.


Cardinals' Thomas starts practice 'shaky,' finishes 'pretty strong'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated that Week 17 starting quarterback Logan Thomas was "shaky" at the beginning of Wednesday's practice but finished "pretty strong" as he developed an understanding of where to throw his passes, ESPN.com reports.

"He's worked, fundamentally, extremely hard and gotten much better," Arians said. "But putting those fundamentals to use in the offense, that's two totally different things."

Thomas has just three days of practice before facing the 49ers in a game that has the possibility of landing his team with a first-round bye with a win and help from other results.

"It wasn't the greatest, but as it went on, it got better and better," Thomas added. "It just comes with reps and comes with time."

The Cardinals are a 6-point underdog in San Francisco Sunday.


Seahawks' Russell Okung, Max Unger practice Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (lung) practiced in full Wednesday, while center Max Unger (ankle) was able to return to practice in a limited fashion.

Okung is on track to return in Week 17 after missing last week's game with a bruised lung. Unger hasn't played in any of the team's last five game due to a high ankle sprain. The Seahawks will earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win Sunday, and it's possible Unger suits up for the crucial game.

The Seahawks are a 12 1/2-point favorite at home against the Rams in Week 17.


Raiders QB Derek Carr practices Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was able to practice Wednesday despite dealing with an illness.

"I got here early to work out and see how I would feel during that and after that and I felt pretty good," Carr said at a press conference Wednesday. "So, felt good at practice today, obviously not 100 percent but it felt good to practice and be out here."

Carr has been able to start every game for the Raiders this season, completing 58.6 percent of his passes while racking up 3,112 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Raiders are a 14-point underdog in Denver in Week 17.


Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman practices in full Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was able to practice in full Wednesday for the first time since suffering a left foot injury on Nov. 9, ESPN.com reports.

"We've had a chance to watch him all week, participate and he's obviously further ahead than he was this time a week ago," head coach John Fox said after Wednesday's practice. "And the fact we're on grass, not on Astroturf, lot of variables, but I like what I see."

Hillman has been able to practice in a limited fashion during the last two weeks but hasn't been active on gameday since the injury occured. The Broncos are a 14-point favorite at home against the Raiders in Week 17.


Falcons RB Steven Jackson (quad) expected to miss Week 17
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Falcons running back Steven Jackson (quad) is not expected to play in Sunday's Week 17 matchup with the Panthers, ESPN.com reports.

Jackson missed practice Wednesday and the team promoted running back Jerome Smith from the practice squad. Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman are expected to share the workload in the critical regular-season finale if Jackson is indeed sidelined.

The Falcons are a 4-point favorite at home against the Panthers.


49ers RB Carlos Hyde still sidelined
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) 49ers rookie running back Carlos Hyde missed practice again Wednesday with an ankle injury. He sat out Week 16 and appears likely to miss Sunday's game against Arizona, too.

With Hyde out, veteran Frank Gore went off for 158 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against San Diego. Gore should see another big workload against the Cardinals.


Michael Crabtree doesn't sound eager to return to 49ers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Impending free-agent receiver Michael Crabtree was asked Wednesday if he wants to return to the 49ers next season. "It depends," Crabtree said, per the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Crabtree is finishing up a disappointing season. He's played every game but has only 64 catches for 657 yards and four touchdowns, a far cry from the 85 grabs, 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns he put up in his last full season, 2012.


Ravens LT Eugene Monroe bothered by ankle injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Ravens starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, who hurt his ankle Week 16 against Houston, missed practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. His status is uncertain for the regular-season finale at Tennessee.

If Monroe can't play, undrafted rookie James Hurst likely would start, the website said.


Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe (shoulder) unable to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe, who sprained his shoulder in last week's loss at Pittsburgh, was unable to practice Wednesday, reports ESPN.com. Bowe leads Chiefs wideouts with 57 catches for 724 yards.

Kansas City hosts San Diego on Sunday as a 3-point favorite.


 
 
 
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