Four Jacksonville Jaguars players have reportedly been arrested in London prior to the Jaguars vs. Eagles game at Wembley Stadium, per reports from The Sun UK and Black Sports Online.
— Robert Littal (@BSO) October 28, 2018
According to the article, Jaguars safeties Barry Church, Ronnie Harrison, and Jarrod Wilson, as well as cornerback D.J. Hayden are rumored to have been the players arrested by local police for running up a £50,000 tab and leaving the bar without paying. That’s equivalent to just over $64,165 US dollars.
It’s important to note the time difference between U.S. and London time before getting confused over when this happened. The story reports this happened at 4 A.M. local time, and this story broke around 8:30 P.M. U.S. time, that being 1:30 A.M. in London… This happened on FRIDAY night, not last night before the game.
UPDATE: Local Jaguars media has begun to acknowledge the story. More details will undoubtedly emerge. This comes from Brent Martineau of Action News Jax.
Lots of talk tonight on social media about this. We’ve heard rumors but nothing from team yet. It is 1:30am here. The original article says the complaint was dropped after bill was paid. https://t.co/rcL2u7ctDe
— Brent Martineau (@BrentASJax) October 28, 2018
UPDATE: Benjamin Allbright confirms Barry Church and D.J. Hayden are two of the four arrested Jaguars players.
Source: Barry Church and DJ Hayden are two of the Jaguars involved.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) October 28, 2018
UPDATE: Jaguars release statement acknowledging arrests of four players.
Just got statement from @Jaguars on incident here in London @ActionNewsJax @ActionSportsJax “We are aware that 4 of our players were detained over restitution of a bill. The matter is being resolved and the players are with the team. Any discipline will be handled internally.”
— Brent Martineau (@BrentASJax) October 28, 2018
UPDATE: No players have been ruled out of today’s game due to the arrests. D.J. Hayden will not dress due to a toe injury that has sidelined him for six weeks.
— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) October 28, 2018
UPDATE: Five other Jaguars players have been linked to this story, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. LBs Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, and Leon Jacobs, as well as DE Dante Fowler and RB T.J. Yeldon, were all at the club with Church, Hayden, Harrison and Wilson, however none of these five players were detained.
More on this #Jaguars situation: Five additional players were at the club on Friday night but they were not among those detained. They are Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, Leon Jacobs, Dante Fowler, and TJ Yeldon.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 28, 2018
UPDATE: Multiple NFL.com reporters, including Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo, have been told the matters have been resolved and the bill has been paid:
“The players went to a club on Friday night, were sent bottles of champagne and other high-end liquors and ran up a huge bill, sources told Rapoport. The players believed that the bottles were comped, but instead they were on their bill. When the bill arrived, the players refused to pay it, believing that it was not what they owed. An argument ensued and local police made several arrests.”
None of the players will be charged.
You can read the full story here.
2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson
After months of quarterback scouting that have all become relatively moot, it’s time to start going in-depth at other positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars here at Locked On Jaguars.
With quarterback Nick Foles in the fold after signing a four year, $88 million deal with the Jaguars last week, it’s safe to assume quarterback is just about out of the picture for the team’s seventh overall selection in next month’s NFL Draft. Sure, the Jaguars could elect to draft a QB to backup Foles and eventually utilize the two-year “out” to usher in his heir, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. Jacksonville paid Foles to be their franchise quarterback, and they must build around him immediately to get things back on track.
In which case, the Jaguars need to add weapons on offense. During his time in Philadelphia over the past two years, Foles has targeted tight ends on 33% of his 296 passing attempts. It helps that the Eagles had multiple talented TEs on their roster during that time in Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Brent Celek, and Dallas Goedert, but the Jaguars must attempt to replicate the tight end production Foles had that helped him find so much success.
T.J. Hockenson from the University of Iowa can immediately provide a spark at the tight end position and replicate that formula.
The redshirt sophomore burst onto the scene during the 2018 season, hauling in 49 receptions for 760 yards and six touchdowns in Iowa’s 52.9%-to-47.1% run-to-pass offense. Iowa ran a ton of multiple tight end sets, mainly 12-personnel (1 RB/2 TE), in order to add bodies to the tackle box for the run game and best utilize both Hockenson and fellow Hawkeyes tight end Noah Fant – who, like Hockenson, is a projected first round pick. The two tight ends combined for 88 receptions, 1279 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 2018.
The differences between Hockenson and Fant, which were drawn out well by my friend Ryan Keiran of PatsPulpit.com, are their playstyles at the same general position. Fant is going to be a dynamic receiving tight end on a bit of an NFL learning curve as he is far from a polished blocker, who is best utilized as the new “big-slot” TE that the NFL is beginning to transition towards.
I’ll do a full film review on Fant at another time here at Locked On Jaguars, but my early take is he’s an Evan Engram-style of tight end who would benefit from a pass-happy, vertical offense. Not all of these teams need a tight end, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be great fits for Fant who could move him around and play him vertically.
Hockenson is much more universal in terms of scheme fit. He’s athletic enough to play vertically, like Fant, fluid and explosive enough to win in the underneath game, and is the best run-blocking tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated. And that last nugget is something that will undoubtedly catch the eye of the power-run heavy Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let’s get to the film. Be prepared – there’s really no negative aspects to his game.
I typically don’t clip up a lot of run blocking plays for film reviews, because you can usually get a good feel for a player’s ability in that aspect from a couple of early-down reps.
But good lord, T.J. Hockenson makes run blocking a sport of it’s own – and he’s a first-team All Pro in it.
Hockenson’s pure strength and explosion into his block is enough to “wow” you from an entertainment perspective, but his technique makes the difference between a “good” block, and the “great” block that leads to him driving the defensive end 10 yards backwards and into the turf. His fluid explosion through contact out of his three point stance creates instant pad-level leverage by getting the DE vertical. Hockenson maintains the lower pad-level and his strong hands stick in the chest frame despite the defender attempting to wiggle himself free like a fish in a fishnet.
You’ll never, ever see Hockenson quit on a block until the whistle is blown. His rep is won by the time the standing EDGE defender crosses the numbers at the top of the field, but Hockenson drives him out of bounds and into the sideline area a yard behind the line of scrimmage. When Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin stated “I suggest we adopt the term ‘grit’ as a way to define ourselves,” at the Jaguars’ State of the Franchise press conference in 2017, plays like this are what he was referring to.
Hockenson plays with grit on every snap.
Hockenson is more than just an in-line blocker. He’s equally as dominant as a space blocker, which will reap benefits for a team that will use him in pass protection vs. loaded boxes and blitz. Diagnose this look as Cover 2-man underneath with the MIKE linebacker responsible for Hockenson (hovering over the left tackle behind the DE). The MIKE reads pass from the QB – the play was a QB draw – and gets his eyes up to Hockenson quickly, but even with eyes on the tight end, the MIKE was unable to stand his ground from the bulldozer of a blocking tight end and eats dirt. It’s the same thing over and over again, whether it’s in-line or out in space – Hockenson wins with a fantastic combination of athleticism and technique which cements his high floor as a blocker at the NFL level.
Hockenson’s technique becomes important when taking on rush and disengaging moves from opposing rushers and defenders. Hockenson wins with initial leverage and hand placement, but the defender gets an arm free to attempt top rip out Hockenson’s arms. But with the lower pad level, Hockenson can get his disengaged arm back up-and-under through the rip and back into the defenders chest, and turn him 180 degrees away from the play.
The next six clips will be the last of Hockenson’s blocking breakdown before moving to his receiving ability, all displaying his ability to seal-block on designed runs and backfield throws to completely open up the field. This obviously requires the previously stated technique and strength through blocks, but the processing speed to diagnose his responsibilities and time his blocks, as a lead-block from H-back/fullback, in-line, and out in space. He can do it all.
Simply put: Enjoy.
You’ve probably had a lot of fun watching T.J. Hockenson, the blocker, so far… (or maybe not, and maybe I’m just a football nerd).
But I promise you, that’s not all the Iowa product has to offer. The Jaguars prioritize the ability to run block in their tight ends, but in today’s NFL, tight ends need to contribute significantly as receiving threats in order to be considered dynamic.
Hockenson hasn’t mastered all nine routes of the route tree, but he’s proven he can win multiple routes in all three levels of the playing field. His athletic testing results (see below) also offer promise that Hockenson can develop on just about any route there is, too. It’s not that Hockenson struggled with certain routes – he just wasn’t asked to run them in Iowa’s run-heavy offense.
His high-pointing ability wasn’t often utilized at Iowa given their run-heavy philosophy, but the talent, size, and technique is there for Hockenson to be the redzone threat the Jaguars have desperately been searching for.
Hockenson squeezes through a tight, two-defender gap on an outside release with explosion off the line in order to breeze by the coverage LB and separate despite little field room in the redzone. The QB lofts a ball to the back of the endzone, and Hockenson’s mix of technique and athleticim finishes the rep. He identifies the ball and times his full-body extension at the top of his vertical jump in order to get both hands on this ball and bring it down in bounds without ever letting the closing defender have a chance to make a recovery play.
In order to win in contested areas such as the redzone, fighting through contact and adjusting to throws is as important as anything. Being nearly 6-5 with a 90th percentile vertical jump (see his athletic profile later in the report) is obviously a benefit in this category, but Hockenson has the natural ability to fight for and win contested throws across the field.
Hockenson releases inside to draw the linebacker off of the seam that he intends to get vertical before breaking into a post on a deep mesh concept to keep the safety modest. This is a well-run, pro-style yet schemed-open route that Hockenson can win on at the next level, but the play turns into a YOLO-pass. The QB scrambles left with pressure closing in, and lets this ball rip back towards the middle of the field where Hockenson is playing the scramble drill back towards the left side of the field. He tracks this underthrown ball while navigating back to the side he came from, fights through contact and comes down with a huge gain on what was on pace to become a 4th-and-long punt.
If the Jaguars intend on running the similar, if not the same, passing concepts with Foles in the fold, then plays like this are important in Hockenson’s evaluation – winning in the short-to-intermediate levels of the passing field. Otherwise known as the routes that make a West Coast offense operate.
Hockenson possesses the explosion off the line and agility to maintain speed through his turns in the route to operate in a timing-based passing offense which can be seen in the fluidity of his release from the slot anf through the deep crossing route – a staple of Jacksonville’s offense over the past two years. And with clean footowork, Hockenson cleanly separates with hip fluidity and no wasted movement as soon as the defender begins to pedal vertically again. So long as the QB leads this ball (after years of watching a QB fail to do so, it’ll be a sigh of relief to see that from Foles), this is a yards-after-catch route that Hockenson would wreak havoc with in the Jaguars’ WCO-offense.
Did someone mention yards after the catch?
Hockenson does a great job at keeping his feet underneath him through vertical route breaks, with no wasted movement whatsoever in order to maintain a comfy cushion from the coverage defender. And once again, this is a timing route based off of play action with a relatively immediate release at the top of the route.
And your arm tackles will do nothing to slow down the Hock. He’s a yards after catch and yards through contact machine.
This rep was just disrespectful, and provides another feel for how Hockenson can transcend the offense beyond WCO concepts and integrate some vertical philosophies.
Hockenson lines up in-line in 23 personnel (2 RB/3 TE) – this looks like it’ll be a run play or short-field pass off play-action to get an easy 3rd and 1 conversion, right?
The outside TEs in Hockenson (to the weak side of the formation) and Fant (strong-side – safety help follows) run a Yankee concept that acts like a deep mesh pattern between the most outside players in the formation, getting vertical up the seam and crossing. With the one-on-one matchup and a rub to benefit from, Hockenson gets wide open and the safety tries to recover as the top of the defense is exposed at the rub.
What makes this rep so disrespectful? Watch the second half of the clip. Hockenson wins route-running leverage vs. his man coverage defender by running an inside release. With so many defenders in the box that make an inside release difficult to manuever, Hockenson literally pulls a swim move on the play-action-biting stack linebacker (#14) and breezes to the middle of the field, easily separating from the man-cover #25.
To begin this crucial 4th and 8 rep, with under a minute left in the game tied 28-28, it’s obviously clutch of Hockenson to make a backside sliding catch to get both across the line-to-gain and into field goal range. That’s just a given.
But his explosion off the line of scrimmage is real. Sure, he plays the line at the snap compared to the top outside WR, but to be three yards removed vertically post-snap before the shorter-build, assumptively quicker and nimbler even crosses the line is impressive for any tight end. And Hockenson matches his LOS burst with a fluid hip-turn at the top of this curl to ensure separation from a breaking safety on the most important play of the game up until this point. The QB getting the ball out late eliminates some of that separation, but Hockenson held up to his end of the deal with ease.
Athletic profile (via MockDraftable.com)
Hockenson offers typical height for the tight end position, but based on his NFL Combine testing, he comes in slightly underweight and with below-average length compared to the average NFL TE.
As mentioned while describing his redzone touchdown catch above, however, Hockenson has legitimate athleticism to cover for his lack of elite size at the position. His vertical (37 1/2″) and broad (123″) rank in the 90th and 91st percentiles among NFL TEs in MockDraftable’s database that has collected testing numbers dating back to the 1999 NFL Draft class.
His top speed comes in above average as well, as he recorded a 4.7s 40 yard dash (68th percentile). This is a huge benefit for any team looking to add some vertical field stretching via Hockenson, and if Jacksonville wants to catch teams off guard beyond their traditional WCO passing concepts, Hockensons’s skillset + measurables give them that flexibility.
Last but not least, Hockenson’s 77th percentile, 7.02s 3 cone drill is a cherry on top. A widely praised drill for testing a players ability to change direction, the Jaguars brass is likely salivating at this number. As mentioned previously, Jacksonville’s WCO concepts require short-field route running and the ability to create YAC in a timing-based play. These factors require twitch and quickness from a change-of-direction standpoint. Hockenson’s 3-cone drill proves one thing: He’s anything but stiff, and at bare minimum he can fit the Jaguars current mold as a receiving TE.
What’s nice is that’s just his floor, and his ceiling can provide so, so much more.
Listen, I understand that selecting a tight end in the top 10 is pretty uncommon, but it isn’t unheard of. Eric Ebron (10th overall, 2014), Vernon Davis (6th overall, 2006), Kellen Winslow Jr. (6th overall, 2004) are the most recent to be selected that high.
Winslow Jr. suffered two early setbacks with a broken leg two games into his rookie season and a torn ACL knocking him out of his second season, but currently ranks 31st all-time in receiving yards among TEs. Assuming he met his career average 650 yards per season in those nearly two fully missed seasons, Winslow would rank 13th all-time in the same category. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Davis, who is still active today and plays for the Washington Redskins (he played his first 9 1/2 seasons with the San Francisco) currently ranks 9th in all time receiving yards among TEs with 7439. He was worth the selection in hindsight.
Ebron… is a bit of a different story. He’s entering his sixth season in the NFL and looked like a bust with the Detroit Lions, recording 186 catches for 2070 yards and 11 touchdowns in four years there. However, Ebron signed with the Indianapolis Colts this past season, and tore his bust label to shreds. He more than doubled his career touchdowns with 13 alone in 2018, along with 66 receptions for 750 yards – both career highs. The jury is not out on whether or not Ebron’s ability and skillset were worth his selection.
Forget what I said in the introduction about run-blocking: T.J. Hockenson is the best tight end prospect I’ve ever evaluated, period. He’s also the safest offensive player in this draft, and considering the traditional NFL learning curve at the tight end, it’s really rare to ever hear that label being thrown around at the position.
His combination of poise as a blocker in all facets as well as extremely high floor in the pass game for an offense stylized like Jacksonville’s absolutely makes him worth their 7th overall pick, and the Jaguars’ dire need of a tight end right now only further solidifies that.
Quarterback Nick Foles will need as many weapons as he can get here in Jacksonville to get this Jaguars team steered straight. Considering his success in Philadelphia with tight ends, it’s incredibly difficult to assume T.J. Hockenson wouldn’t be one of Foles’ most trusted receiving targets, and as a whole Jacksonville’s most important non-QB offensive player given his immense skill-set as a contributor to the run and the pass game.
REPORT: Jaguars officially sign former Packers LB Jake Ryan
The Jaguars have officially signed former Packers ILB Jake Ryan. While it was reported on Saturday, the Jaguars would be signing the linebacker, there was still a physical pending. Ryan tore his ACL prior to the 2019 season and is still in the middle of his rehab. Today, the Jaguars made it official.
Officially signed ✒️
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) March 19, 2019
Ryan was signed to a 2-year $8M contract with an option during the 2020 season according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The contract is similar to the contract Austin Seferian-Jenkins deal from last season which essentially boils down to a 1-year prove-it deal.
Jake Ryan (Jaguars), $8M, $1M gtd, $500K signing bonus, salaries $1M ($500K gtd), $5.5M; $31,250 per game active annual, 2020 is option to be exercised prior to 22nd day before 2020 lg yr, if exercised $1M of salary gtd, $1.75M annual playtime incentive
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 19, 2019
Ryan adds another proven veteran linebacker to a group which lacks experience. Before the signing, the Jaguars linebackers on the team were Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Donald Payne, Leon Jacobs, and Nick Deluca. None of them have had much if any experience at the MLB position.
Ryan started 27 games in three seasons with the Packers prior to his injury. He has totaled 213 combined tackles in his career. That is plenty of experience added to the Jaguars linebacker group ahead of the 2019 season. It would not surprise me to see the Jaguars continue to add to the position via the NFL Draft.
It is also worth noting Telvin Smith’s contract cap number reaches its highest point next year ($12.8M). It is possible — if Ryan performs well — for the Jaguars to move on from Smith and move Myles Jack back to his more natural position. Myles Jack will be entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.
2019 Jaguars Free Agency: How each signing affects fantasy football
Last Wednesday, quarterback Nick Foles signed a four-year, $88 million dollar contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The former Super Bowl MVP is a much-needed upgrade at quarterback for a team that hopes to get back into the NFL playoffs. I’m here to tell you how this signing can help you get back into your fantasy football playoffs. Here’s my rundown of what to expect from Foles from a fantasy perspective this year, and what other players are impacted by his addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the passing game…
Foles has not been a historically impressive fantasy quarterback. Foles’ best fantasy season was in 2013, when he finished as QB9 despite only playing 13 games. He hasn’t played in more than 11 games or finished as a top-28 fantasy quarterback in any other season of his seven-year career.
Last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Foles played five regular season games, and averaged 15.00 fantasy points per game… which was tied for 24thin the league with Eli Manning. Foles’ career average for fantasy points per game is 13.04. For comparison, Blake Bortles’ career average is 15.88.
Another red flag is the supporting cast that Foles will have in Jacksonville as opposed to the one he had in Philadelphia. The Eagles offense included three Pro-Bowl skill position players (Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles), while the Jaguars offense currently boasts zero. Foles also targeted tight ends at a high rate in Philadelphia, which was easy to do with weapons like Ertz, Trey Burton, and Dallas Goedert. Jacksonville’s current top tight end is ex-Cowboy Geoff Swaim, who only has 35 receptions in his first four seasons (last season alone, Ertz had 116 receptions). Additionally, the Eagles ranked 17thin pass protection last season and gave up 40 sacks, while the Jaguars were 27thin pass protection and gave up 53 sacks (Football Outsiders). Jacksonville’s offensive line had a serious injury bug, but it is important that they perform better in 2019: as Zach Goodall pointed out in Tuesday’s podcast, Foles completed 70.1% of his passes when facing no pressure and 52.1% of passes while under pressure over the past two seasons.
While I think that signing Foles makes sense for Jacksonville and that he’ll play well, that doesn’t necessarily equate to reliable fantasy production. He’s the perfect example of a “better real-life than fantasy” player. Based on his past fantasy performances and his new environment in Jacksonville, I don’t plan on drafting Nick Foles in any of my fantasy leagues. He should best be viewed as a safe streaming option/cheap DFS play when he has favorable matchups.
Last season Dede Westbrook led all Jacksonville receivers in just about every major statistical category: Targets, catches, yards, touchdowns, red zone production, and fantasy points. He is the best receiver on the current roster, and he does the most damage within ten yards of the line of scrimmage, which is where Foles thrives.
According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Foles had a 101.5 passer rating when throwing between 0-10 yards (the league average was 89.2). Westbrook’s average target distance in 2018 was 8.7 yards (playerprofiler.com). Additionally, Foles had a 122.7 (!) passer rating when throwing to the right side of the field between 0-10 yards (Next Gen Stats). Westbrook lined up on the left side of the field slightly more often than the right side, yet he had more receptions, yards, yards after catch, touchdowns, and less drops when he lined up to the right (rotowire.com).
Foles loved targeting his primary slot receiver Nelson Agholor last season when de facto top receiver Alshon Jeffery was out of the lineup due to injury. In weeks 1-2 (when Jeffery was not playing and Foles was), Agholor ranked 8thin receptions and 9thin targets in the NFL. In weeks 15-17 (when Jeffery and Foles were playing), Agholor ranked 52ndin receptions and 59thin targets. Agholor had a 29% team target share in weeks 1-2, and a 13% target share in weeks 15-17.
It is definitely a small sample size to work with, but the statistics clearly indicate that Foles relied heavily on his slot receiver when he didn’t have a true #1 wide receiver, which seems to be the case for the Jaguars heading into the 2019 season.
Another point worth addressing is slot receiver Adam Thielen’s success under John DeFilippo in Minnesota last season, as DeFilippo was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings last year and is now the Jaguars coordinator. Thielen tied Calvin Johnson for the most consecutive 100-yard receiving games in NFL history (8) and finished the season with 113 catches for 1373 yards and nine touchdowns as fantasy’s WR7.
According to rotowire.com, Thielen ran 60% of his routes from the slot. For comparison, Nelson Agholor ran from the slot 58% of his routes. Jarvis Landry, perhaps the league’s best-known slot receiver, ran from the slot 74% of his routes. Dede Westbrook ran from the slot 84% of his routes. 84 percent!
Based on previous years, slot receivers and tight ends tend to excel the most under DeFilippo and Foles. The Jaguars don’t have a reliable tight end on the current roster, which leads us to the only plausible conclusion: Dede Westbrook is about to feast in 2019. It’s too early to tell which round would be reasonable to reach for Dede, but he will definitely be a top target for me in fantasy drafts as a breakout-candidate receiver to stash on the bench.
Second-year receiver D.J. Chark may stand to gain the most among Jaguars receivers not named Dede from the signing of Nick Foles. Chark had a disappointing rookie year, as he played only 11 games and 14 receptions for 174 yards. Hopefully he’ll have a successful sophomore campaign, and there’s reason to think so: Chark averaged 20.5 yards per reception in his college career at LSU. According to Sports Info Solutions, Foles had the 8th highest passer rating (106.3) on throws that traveled at least 20 yards in the air last season.
Foles will certainly give receivers a better chance on deep throws than Blake Bortles did, so hopefully we’ll see a better year out of Chark as a result of better quarterback play and a full offseason to work out and prepare for the 2019 season. Chark is a fantasy player that I’ll be keeping in mind during heavy bye weeks or as a cheap DFS consideration, especially when the Jaguars are playing against defenses with weaknesses in deep pass coverage.
Other Jacksonville Receivers
I think that Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole have the least to gain from Jacksonville’s signing of Nick Foles. Lee suffered a massive knee injury during a preseason game which prevented him from playing a snap in 2018. In 2017, Lee led the team in targets and catches as Bortles’ go-to target. It seemed like 90% of his routes were crossing routes, yet he had 12 drops, and his 12.5% drop rate was worst in the league (playerprofiler.com). Lee was Jacksonville’s main slot receiver in 2017, but I expect him to cede slot snaps to Westbrook and play more outside in 2019.
On the other hand, who knows what’s going on with Keelan Cole. He broke out midseason in 2017 as an undrafted free agent and ended up leading the team in yards and yards per reception despite only starting six games. In 2018, he started 11 games, but had less targets, receptions, yards, yards per reception, and touchdowns than the year before, and struggled with route running. Cole can also be viewed as an outside deep threat, but I think that Jaguars have more faith in Chark, their 2018 second round pick, to be Foles’ first choice as a deep perimeter weapon.
Former Kansas City wide receiver Chris Conley signed with Jacksonville on Saturday. In his four NFL seasons, Conley is averaging 26 receptions, 310 yards, and 1.5 touchdowns per year. Coincidentally, his best season was in 2016, when Foles played in two games after starter Alex Smith suffered a concussion. In those two games, Conley averaged 4.5 targets for 3 catches and 43.5 yards. Conley did mention that Foles signing with the Jaguars “sealed the deal” in his decision to also join the team. Conley brings playmaking abilities and elite athleticism to Jacksonville, but he likely won’t have a large enough impact or role on the team to be considered in any fantasy format.
As mentioned previously, offenses under DeFilippo and Foles have tended to benefit slot receivers and tight ends the most. Westbrook will likely be the main slot receiver and top wide receiver. Jacksonville will certainly add another pass-catching tight end by the end of the offseason. That leaves Lee, Cole, and Conley fighting for scraps on an offense that will probably have a run-first approach, so I have no interest in drafting them to my fantasy team.
Whoever Starts at Tight End
The Jaguars made a much-needed move by signing tight end Geoff Swaim on Friday morning. Current Jacksonville tight ends combined for zero – none, nada – catches last season before Swaim joined the team.
While Swaim did play well last year on the Cowboys, the Jaguars will likely need to add another pass-catching tight end before the start of the season. Jacksonville’s current receiving corps is young and unproven – there’s room for hope, but expectations aren’t super high for this group. Even Dede Westbrook, who I expect to have a breakout 2019 season, hasn’t yet proved himself to be a fully reliable starting NFL receiver. Whether the Jaguars sign another tight end in free agency or draft one next month, whoever ends up starting week one will likely be in line for a lot of work, based on past seasons from Foles and DeFilippo.
Last season, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz ranked first among team receivers in targets, catches, yards, touchdowns, and catch percentage when Foles started, including in the playoffs. Ertz ranked first in receptions, yards, and catch percentage with Foles the previous year. This was on a team that had several reliable receiving options.
An example of a team that did not have several reliable receiving options is the 2015 Cleveland Browns. Their top wideouts were Travis Benjamin and Brain Hartline, and their tight end Gary Barnidge had 80 receptions in his first seven seasons prior to 2015. That season, Barnidge broke out as a first-team All-Pro, as he finished top-five among all tight ends in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. And who was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator that year? John DeFilippo.
The 2019 Jaguars may be similar to the 2015 Browns in that they have sufficient yet underwhelming wide receivers, and possibly as a result, a great tight end. We don’t know who the Jaguars tight end will be just yet, but whoever it is will likely have an incredible opportunity to be the center of the passing offense and finish as a top fantasy tight end.
And how about the run game?
I don’t expect the signing of Foles to have a large effect on Leonard Fournette. Last season under John DeFilippo, the Vikings had the sixth most pass attempts in the league. DeFilippo was fired before the season ended because his pass-heavy offense didn’t align with head coach Mike Zimmer’s philosophy of a team focused on defense and rushing.
DeFilippo is arriving in an organization which has a similar mindset, so despite his past play-calling tendencies, I’m expecting him to concede to executive VP of operations Tom Coughlin so he doesn’t get fired midseason two seasons in a row. In other words, I don’t the arrival of DeFilippo or Foles in Jacksonville will significantly impact the Jaguars offensive game plan, which is to focus on running the rock. Other questions like Fournette’s future with the team after a dramatic 2018 season and whether or not he can stay healthy for 16 games are more significant. If those questions do get answered, and a 100% healthy Fournette starts for the Jaguars week one, then I expect him to be a fringe-RB1 with a huge workload.
Fournette started in 13 games as a rookie in 2017 and finished with the third most touches per game and the sixth most fantasy points per game among all running backs. Hopefully that’s the kind of season we’ll see from him in 2019.
Similar to the tight end position, Jacksonville will probably be looking to add depth at running back this offseason. if we’re assuming that Fournette will be the team’s workhorse, then whoever is positioned as the team’s second-string or pass-catching running back probably won’t see enough looks to have a fantasy impact. Fournette has started in 21 career regular season games. When he started, his primary backup – whether it was Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, or Carlos Hyde – averaged only 6.5 carries for 24.4 yards and 0.1 touchdowns per game. Of course, Fournette staying heatthy/being the focal point on offense is a very large “if.” But as of now, that’s what the Jaguars’ plan looks like, and barring injury or some other event, Jacksonville’s second-string running back won’t be of much value in fantasy outside of being a handcuff.
Thanks for reading my first article! I’ll be posting more in-depth reviews of each fantasy-relevant Jaguars player throughout the summer, so stay tuned. A lot can change until week 1, including remaining waves of free agency and the NFL Draft in late April, but this is what you should expect from Nick Foles and his impact on other players for the time being.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are via pro-football-reference.com.
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