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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
Patriots' Devin McCourty: There's a 'chance that I might not be back'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) With the Patriots deciding to use their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, safety Devin McCourty knows his time in New England could be coming to an end. 

In an interview with ESPN's Josina Anderson, McCourty said he didn't have much information on what the Patriots would do and was going off of various media reports that came down to the organization deciding whether to franchise him or Gostkowski. 

Now that Gostkowski is ineligible from hitting the free agent market, McCourty will test the waters beginning on March 10. 

"I guess it's more realistic now that [there's] a chance that I might not be back there," McCourty said. "Or there's still a chance that I will, but I guess [there's] more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process."

In 2014, McCourty recorded 68 tackles and two interceptions. 


Report: Texans' Andre Johnson given permission to seek trade
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been given permission by the Texans to seek a trade, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle

The Texans told Johnson that he'd have a reduced role this upcoming season opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Therefore, Johnson wanted out of his deal. If a trade cannot be made with a suitor, Johnson will be released

Johnson was the third overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft and is the greatest player in the history of the Texans. He's recorded 1,012 catches, 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in his career.

A trade could be difficult, however, based on Johnson's upcoming $16.1 million cap figure and $10.5 million base salary for the 2015 season. 


Colts RB Vick Ballard (Achilles) 'on schedule' with recovery
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Running back Vick Ballard is poised to be back in the Colts' plans for the 2015 season. 

Ballard, who has missed almost all of the previous two seasons due to injuries, hasn't suffered any setbacks with his recovery, according to the Colts' official website. Ballard tore his ACL in 2013 and suffered an Achilles tear before the 2014 season. 

“Vick’s doing well. He’s going through rehab right now. He’s on schedule,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s been working his tail. When the doctors say he’s 100 percent and ready to roll, then we’ll get him back on the field.”

Ballard led the Colts in rushing as a rookie in 2012 with 814 yards and two touchdowns. He only played in one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL in a practice the following week. His Achilles tear came during the 2014 preseason. 


Report: Jaguars looking for help at RB this offseason
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) It appears Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart will have new role in 2015. 

According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the Jaguars are planning to move Gerhart around on offense at H-back in addition to running back. This also means the Jaguars will be in the market for additional help at running back. 

Gerhart was plagued by injuries in 2014, which paved the way for Denard Robinson to assert himself as a potential starting running back down the road. Robinson, however, is injury prone himself, which goes back to his days as a standout quarterback in college at Michigan.

Robinson's 2014 season ended on injured reserve with a mid-foot sprain.

Gerhart's season ended with just 326 yards and a patry 3.2 yards per carry average. Robinson emerged late in the year and ran for 582 yards and held a 4.3 yards per carry average.  


Report: Titans parting ways with safety Bernard Pollard
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Titans will release veteran safety Bernard Pollard, according to a report from The Tennessean

Pollard had previously requested for the Titans to release him. He's coming off a season that ended prematurely due to an Achilles tear in early October. He was slated to earn $3.5 million with the Titans this year if he stayed on. 

In the five games he appeared in during the 2014 season, Pollard recorded 27 tackles and one sack. 


Report: Browns looking to add another quarterback
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns are not done just yet in their search for quarterback talent, according to ESPN.com. Cleveland is reportedly looking to add at least one more quarterback through the draft or free agency.

The Browns made their signing of Josh McCown to a three-year deal official last week, but appear to want another to go along with him and Johnny Manziel.


Report: Redskins will pursue Ndamukong Suh as free agent
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) After the Lions chose not to use the franchise tag to retain DE Ndamukong Suh, it became more likely that he'll become an unrestricted free agent on March 10. 

When Suh hits the market, the Redskins will be interested in signing him, reported Dianna Marie Russini of DC's NBC 4, citing sources within the organization. 


Browns don't use franchise tag on Jordan Cameron
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Browns won't use their franchise tag on any player, meaning that TE Jordan Cameron will become a free agent on March 10. 

Cameron had 24 catches for 424 yards and two touchdowns last season, at a salary of $1.431 million.


No franchise tag for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Broncos will not use their franchise tag on TE Julius Thomas. The team instead tagged WR Demaryius Thomas. 

Julius Thomas will be able to become a free agent on March 10. He had 43 catches for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Thomas made $645,000 salary last year. 


Report: Bills do not apply franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Bills reportedly chose not to apply their franchise tag to linebacker Jerry Hughes Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Buffalo has been working on signing Hughes to a new, long term deal for the past month. The veteran linebacker racked up 10 sacks and totaled 54 tackles in all 16 games in 2014 for the Bills. 


 
 
 
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