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Offseason Primers: Jacksonville Jaguars

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Gus Bradley hopes to be the man that fixes the Jaguars' woes after years of mediocrity.

The team hasn't had a winning season since 2007 and have failed to rank among the Top 10 in total offense or scoring in that time. The defense has barely fared better, owning one Top 10 ranking in yards allowed.

Defense is Bradley's specialty after coordinating Seattle's attacking unit. But he's going from a team rich in talent to a team poor in just about everything on his side of the ball. The team's leader in sacks in 2012 was defensive tackle Tyson Alualu with 3.5. Of the 12 interceptions, only eight were made by members of the secondary. And speaking of that secondary, three quarters of the starters along with the nickelback have already left the team either via free agency or release. And by the way the Jaguars have not made a splash in free agency so far -- their biggest signings have been Cowboys and Texans outcast corner Alan Ball and defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks -- Bradley will have his work cut out for him.

2012 Touches Leaders
686 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Rashad Jennings 120 (101 car., 19 rec.) 17.5%
Maurice Jones-Drew 100 (86 car., 14 rec.) 14.6%
Justin Blackmon 66 (64 rec., 2 car.) 9.6%
Cecil Shorts 56 (55 rec., 1 car.) 8.2%
Marcedes Lewis 52 rec. 7.6%
Montell Owens 50 (42 car., 8 rec.) 7.3%
Jalen Parmele 47 (40 car., 7 rec.) 6.8%
All Others 195 28.4%

Things are better on the offensive side of the ball ... well, except at the most important position. The Jaguars are seemingly going to give Blaine Gabbert a chance to earn the starting quarterback job in camp despite completing 58.3 percent of his passes for an average of 5.98 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns and six interceptions last season (nine games). Chad Henne replaced Gabbert after he got hurt two passes into a start at Houston and totaled 11 touchdowns and averaged 267.0 pass yards per game over the Jags' final seven matchups. And it was Henne who got rookie Justin Blackmon going, not Gabbert.

Fellow receiver Cecil Shorts also blossomed with Henne after some great catches with Gabbert. It's those receivers along with running back Maurice Jones-Drew and tight end Marcedes Lewis (who new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch seems to love) that will give the starter some opportunities to put up some numbers in 2013. The only issue is that no one will trust them for Fantasy purposes.

The Jaguars are in a tough spot: They got lapped in the division by the Colts, who appear to be a perennial playoff contender with Andrew Luck under center, the Texans remain a serious threat and the Titans have added talent this offseason in hopes of a playoff push. Tack on a tough schedule that includes a trip to London and challenging matchups at Denver and at Seattle, and it's tough to expect a winning season in Bradley's first year.

Maurice Jones-Drew -- High risk, high reward

2012 Target Leaders
586 pass attempts
Justin Blackmon 133 22.7%
Cecil Shorts 106 18.1%
Marcedes Lewis 78 13.3%
Laurent Robinson 43 7.3%
Jordan Shipley 39 6.7%
All Others 187 31.9%

Those who have played Fantasy Football for years know just how good MJD is. Before last season he averaged over 110 total yards per game over the three years he worked as a high-touch running back. Last year was different -- he held out of training camp and got off to a slow start (only 83.3 total yards per game) before suffering a Lisfranc fracture in Week 7 and missing the rest of the year. Jones-Drew is taking a back-to-basics approach as he enters the last year on his current deal: He's planning to come to training camp on-time, zip his lips about money and show he's recovered from the injury after rehabbing it this offseason (he didn't get out of his walking boot until late March). It sounds like a great plan for the 28-year-old but the track record of players coming back from a Lisfranc isn't great. Coming into a new offense with a new zone-blocking scheme could further impact Jones-Drew. But he's also been a true professional and a productive player with the exception of last season. Every Fantasy owner is going to have to decide whether or not they want to take a chance on Jones-Drew on Draft Day, though we suspect most people should be happy to snare him with a third-round pick knowing he could deliver like a first rounder.

Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon -- Contingent on QBs

Both of the Jaguars' breakout receivers from 2012 will be on the minds of Fantasy owners on Draft Day, but their success might be directly tied to who's throwing them the football. With Gabbert, the Jaguars' receivers totaled five games with 10 or more Fantasy points -- all by Shorts -- including two early-season games where he caught long passes for touchdowns. With Henne, the Jaguars' receivers totaled nine games with 10 or more Fantasy points including four by Shorts and four by Blackmon (and one by Jordan Shipley in Week 17). Henne let loose more than Gabbert did as evidenced by his better passing averages per attempt and per game as well as his superior completions of 20- and 40-plus yards. Both had an affinity for Shorts but Henne connected immediately with Blackmon whereas Gabbert rarely did. Fantasy owners might be more comfortable drafting Shorts and Blackmon with anyone other than Gabbert or Henne under center for the Jaguars, but as it stands now, there's plenty to feel good about drafting Shorts as a middle- to low-end No. 2 option and Blackmon as a solid No. 3 wideout.

Marcedes Lewis -- Keep on the radar

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Blaine Gabbert Undrafted
Chad Henne Undrafted
Maurice Jones-Drew 25-35 overall
Cecil Shorts 60-70 overall
Justin Blackmon 70-80 overall
Marcedes Lewis Undrafted
Josh Scobee Undrafted
Jaguars DST Undrafted

Everyone is on the lookout for the next great tight end, but what if it's one that previously broke out? The new coaching staff have both spoken highly of Lewis, which is sort of strange since he has just four touchdowns in his last two seasons after getting 10 in 2010. But Lewis is a big, rangy target who can serve as a short-area target for Jacksonville. The sooner the Jaguars' receivers re-acquaint themselves to the rest of the NFL, the sooner Lewis will see coverage he can take advantage of. Lewis had two of his three 10-plus-point Fantasy games in the final seven weeks of the season when Blackmon broke out. There isn't a great track record of tight ends doing amazing things under Fisch's play calling, but maybe he'll get off to a hot start and be worth picking up off waivers. In deeper leagues maybe he'll be worth a late pick.

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

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Player News
Darren McFadden a worthy start?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:13 pm ET) Thanks to a season-high 80 rushing yards in one game and a rushing touchdown in the other, Raiders running back Darren McFadden has been at least passable in Fantasy the last couple weeks. In Week 8, he has a rare opportunity to be something more than that.

The Raiders are visiting the Browns, who rank dead last against the run, allowing 155.5 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. They were responsible for Denard Robinson's breakthrough 127-yard performance in Week 7 and Lorenzo Taliaferro's 91-yard effort that got everyone so excited back in Week 3. The Browns also don't have such an explosive offense that the Raiders will be forced to pass all day.

McFadden has a good enough chance of delivering respectable numbers that you should at least pay him a second thought as a flex option in a standard 12-team league. Both Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank him among their top 24 running backs for this week.


Raiders looking to get Maurice Jones-Drew more snaps
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:03 pm ET) The Raiders are looking to get running back Maurice Jones-Drew more snaps, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Coach Tony Sparano said the club needs to start involving Jones-Drew more. Jones-Drew had hand surgery earlier this season, but Sparano said he's "as healthy now as he's been." Jones-Drew received just three carries Week 7. 


Colts RB Trent Richardson unable to go Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Colts running back Trent Richardson was unable to practice Thursday.

Richardson was expected to be back on the practice field, so the move comes as a surprise. Richardson is dealing with a hamstring injury. His status will be determined based on whether he can get out on the practice field Friday. 


Doug Martin at least has matchup going for him
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:55 pm ET) Chances are most Doug Martin owners didn't really miss him with the Buccaneers on bye in Week 7. He has yet to rush for more than 45 yards in the four games he's played this season, and he's scored just one touchdown.

But for better or worse, he remains the Buccaneers' go-to running back, and that role keeps him relevant enough in Fantasy that you shouldn't ignore him when he has a favorable matchup. And he has such a matchup Week 8 against Minnesota.

The Vikings rank 19th against the run, allowing 118.1 yards per game, and have surrendered the sixth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs. Like the Buccaneers, their offense is a work in progress with an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, so they may not force the Buccaneers' into catchup mode so early, allowing Martin to get more than his usual dozen or so carries.

You're probably still not excited about starting Martin this week, but if you don't like your other options for the flex spot, he may be your best choice.


Texans refuse to rule out Brian Cushing yet
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) The Texans have not ruled out linebacker Brian Cushing just yet, according to ESPN.

Cushing missed practice for the second straight day Thursday, but coach Bill O'Brien wasn't willing to rule him out for Week 8. "He's day to day," O'Brien said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. We'll bring him to Tennessee and see how he is before the game."

O'Brien also denied a previous report that Cushing would be out until after the team's bye week. Cushing is dealing with a knee injury.


Jerick McKinnon a clear start for once
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:45 pm ET) You may have been tempted to start Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon in Week 7 after he appeared to wrestle the starting job away from Matt Asiata in Week 6, but a bad matchup coupled with a shortage of information made it too risky to justify in most leagues. But after he once again carried the load with 19 rushes for 103 yards -- and against the Bills, no less -- the time has come to activate McKinnon in Fantasy.

And you couldn't ask for a better matchup for it. In Week 8, the Vikings visit the Buccaneers, who rank 25th against the run, allowing 128.3 yards per game. Prior to their bye in Week 7, they gave up 172 yards to the Ravens' trio of Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro in Week 6 and 124 yards to the Saints' duo of Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas in Week 5. Not exactly household names there.

McKinnon might have more potential than all of them, if only because he has the role mostly to himself. Of course, you'd like to see the Vikings put him in a position to score, but the yardage potential alone makes him worth starting in all Fantasy leagues. Keep in mind the Buccaneers have surrendered the fourth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs this season.


Denard Robinson looking more like a Week 8 sleeper
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:32 pm ET) With the news Thursday that Week 7 breakout Denard Robinson will get the bulk of the carries Week 8 against Miami even with the return of Toby Gerhart from a sprained foot, Robinson goes from a shaky start in Fantasy to at least a decent one.

Working behind the same offensive line with the same supporting cast that has reduced Toby Gerhart, Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman to a combined 2.7 yards per carry this season, Robinson had 127 yards on 22 carries in Week 7. Granted, that was with an especially favorable matchup against the Browns, who rank 32nd against the run, and this is with a not so favorable matchup against the Dolphins, who rank 10th. But still, a running back with a big workload is a valuable thing.

Before that news, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard barely had Denard Robinson in their top 30 running backs for Week 8, but with it, he jumps to about 20th for me, ahead of Doug Martin, Tre Mason and Chris Ivory, among others.


Report: Broncos cut safety Boyett from practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:31 pm ET) The Broncos have parted ways with safety John Boyett, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Boyett was arrested for misdemeanor battery, and the team quickly decided to part ways with him after looking into the situation. Boyett was on the team's practice squad, and did not appear with the club this season.


Vikings C John Sullivan passes concussion protocol
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Vikings center John Sullivan passed the league's concussion protocol and is on track to play Week 8 against Tampa Bay, according to ESPN. Sullivan was a limited participant in practice Thursday, but coach Mike Zimmer told reporters he "did everything."

Cardinals DE Calais Campbel limited in practice Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:20 pm ET) Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell practiced in a limited capacity Thursday, according to the team's official website. He has missed the last two games after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain against Denver in Week 5. Campbell, who practiced for the first time since the injury, told reporters earlier in the week that he's hopeful of playing Week 8 against Philadelphia.

 
 
 
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