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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
Giants' Bennett Jackson making transition to safety
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Giants second-year cornerback Bennett Jackson is spending the offseason transitioning to safety. 

"At the end of the day, I’m a DB,’" Jackson said, per the New York Post. "I think my strengths are cover skills, I got good speed and I got good ball skills. The thing it’s gonna take for me to get out there and make an impact is, I just got to learn the defense and really just communicate the calls fluently."

"It is all in front of him," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he can cover. He has done a good job of getting us lined up and then we will see how he plays."


O'Brien impressed with Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Texans coach Bill O'Brien has been impressed with the work defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has put in to recover from microfracture surgery in his knee. 

"I've been impressed with the way JD's been working," O'Brien said, per HoustonTexans.com. "He's been out there. He's in early. He's rehabbing. But he's also being able to take part in some of the things that we do in the weight room. He's not able to do all of the things that we do on the field just yet, because of his rehab. But he's on the right track."


AJ McCarron throwing deep for Bengals
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron has recovered from the shoulder soreness that bothered him for most of his rookie year. 

McCarron is now throwing deep again. "I feel great," McCarron said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Body feels great and I feel like I'm slinging it better than I ever have, really."


Brooks Reed injured, may miss time at Falcons' OTAs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Falcons linebacker Brooks Reed suffered a groin injury during the recently-completed voluntary minicamp, per ESPN.

The injury was termed "minor", but it still might keep Reed from full participation in the Falcons' upcoming OTAs, which start Tuesday. 


GM: EJ Manuel on 'equal footing' with Bills' other QBs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bills general manager Doug Whaley denied reports that the team is moving on from quarterback EJ Manuel

The team acquired Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor in the offseason.

In an interview with Jim Rome, Whaley said, "I look at it this way, in this business controversy sells,. The more controversy that you can drum up then the more intereste people are going to be."

"For us we’re excited about the future of all three of those guys," Whaley said. "It’s going to be a great competition. And we can keep three quarterbacks. So I dismiss that as just someone trying to get something stirred during this down time and lack of media stories for the NFL." 

Whaley said all three quarterbacks have an equal shot of winning the starting job. 

"I look for him to come in and compete and try to take the job," he said. "Everybody has got an equal footing. It’s a clean slate for all four of our quarterbacks. We’re not tied to anybody. We just want the best man to start."


Bengals' Vontaze Burfict may start year on PUP
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's rehab may not be progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.

Burfict had microfracture knee surgery and initial post-surgery reports said that he could be recovered by the start of training camp. 

This week, the team's website said that Burfict's status was "up in the air" and that a return by the start of the season would be a "tight call".

If Burfict isn't ready by the opener, the Bengals may choose to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. 


So far, so good for Texans rookie CB Kevin Johnson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) First impressions aren't necessarily important for first-round picks in the NFL. They are far more critical to lower selections and undrafted free agents who desperately need to raise a few eyebrows immediately lest they be back out looking for work.

But whether necessary or not, Texans first-rounder Kevin Johnson is making one heck of a first impression on Bill O'Brien. The clornerback opened some eyes at minicamp.

"This is a guy that's a very quick guy," O'Brien said. "He's a tall guy. He's a guy that has really good transition ability. He's got what I call really good recover transition. If he's getting beat, he can stick his foot in the ground and really make up a lot of ground.

"He's a very bright player. If you ask him questions in the morning meeting, he really has obviously studied the night before. He's working out on his own and doing things to help stay up on material that's being installed."

Johnson believes he needs to do the little things right to make a big impact in his rookie year.

"From the training room to the classroom to the film study, everything is just more detailed," he told the team website. "I'm just trying to take it all in and use everything around here and just get better."


Bears CB Tim Jennings could transition into slot role
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/23/2015) Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is "still trying to figure out" where he will fit into the secondary this season, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.

The nine-year veteran, who is entering his sixth season in the Windy City, has 95 career starts and led the league in interceptions in 2012. He is even a two-time Pro Bowler. But he spent significant time as the slot corner in minicamp. That's an unsatisfying role for him that he just might be forced to embrace.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers his outside corners tall and physical. Jennings is 5-8, 185 pounds. He might still earn an outside role opposite Kyle Fuller, but do achieve that goal he must at the very least outperform free agent pickup Alan Ball, who better fits the ideal description.

If the words of new coach John Fox are any indication, that's unlikely to happen.

"Dimension-wise, he's built like a nickel corner," Fox said. "He's played it before."

Jennings has started all but three games over the last seven years.


Report: Cardinals' Daryl Washington unsure of NFL standing
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is approaching the one-year mark for his suspension though his NFL status is still in limbo. 

But according to a report from FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix, Washington is unsure about his status with the league. He was suspended a year ago on May 30, 2014 for being a multiple offender of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

However, he was expected to apply for reinstatement a month ago but did not do so. 

Assuming Washington is reinstated to the NFL at some point he will likely be subjected to punishment under the NFL's domestic violence policy. On March 24, 2014, he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. 


Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


 
 
 
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