How will the Jacksonville wide receivers shake out? - Footballguys

The Footballguys staff offers thoughts on the Jaguars wide receiver situation

With Allen Robinson now in Chicago and Allen Hurns gone to Dallas, the wide receiver corps in Jacksonville will be different. At different times in 2017, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook each flashed a good deal of ability. To complicate matters, the Jaguars signed Donte Moncrief and drafted D.J. Chark Jr. Do any of these guys have a defined role right now? Can one (or more) of them provide startable fantasy value?

Bob Henry: I want to believe in Marqise Lee, but he's missed 11 games in his first four years and played all 16 games just once. The talent is there but the Jaguars are a run-heavy, defensive-minded team so he just isn't likely to get the targets needed to support even WR3 consistency. For best ball leagues, he has a little more appeal.

I have a hard time getting behind Donte Moncrief and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Keenan Cole continues to hold weekly flex appeal and do enough to slow the development and playing time for Dede Westbrook. D.J. Chark Jr has insane speed and playmaking ability, but he's unpolished and will need a spate of injuries to get enough snaps to contribute immediately.

Overall, it's an underwhelming fantasy lot, but Lee is easily the one to grab in drafts as a WR4/WR5 with weekly upside.

Jason Wood: To get excited about this group, you have to be excited about Blake Bortles. With the best quarterback class in free agent history, most assumed Bortles would be let go in favor of someone like Kirk Cousins. An injury clause made that impossible, and Jacksonville double-downed on the oft-maligned passer with an extension in the offseason. While Bortles showed last year he can steer the boat, he's not a prolific passer and probably never will be. The Jaguars will win or lose based on the strength of the run game and the defense. Of the receivers on the roster, the two worth paying attention to are Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief. Lee is the No. 1 and is criminally undervalued in drafts currently. Moncrief never blossomed in Indianapolis, but it's hard to judge his progress with Andrew Luck's injury woes. The Jaguars paid Moncrief in free agency and certainly expect him to carve out a starting role.

Daniel Simpkins: I’m liking Moncrief of this group because he’s cheap, he’s talented, and the Jaguars paid him money that suggests his role will be bigger than people think. I think the narrative that he disappointed in Indianapolis does not take into account his expected incubation period in the first two years and that he was missing his starting quarterback for much of that time.

Justin Howe: Daniel, I've held out hope for Moncrief - deep, passionate hope - for quite a while. And as much as I wanted to blame his struggles on missing Andrew Luck, I just can't. By the numbers, he was a similar producer - wildly inefficient - even with his quarterback on the field. He has otherworldly physical ability, on a level that only the true physical freaks of our era possess, but I don't see much there. I'm encouraged by the fact that the Jaguars did spend money on him, but they were a salary-floor team; they spent on everyone. The fact that they only gave him a one-year deal is damning with faint praise, at least in my eyes.

Lee is a relatively low-impact guy, relatively light on splash plays and touchdowns. Outside of volume-driven PPR formats, he's rarely more than a WR4. I have some value-based interest when he falls too far, say, Round 12 or 13. But it's not with any marked expectation of upside; just stopping the slide of a guy who will likely open the season as his team's WR1.

Anyone chasing a ceiling should be looking at Cole and Westbrook. Cole impressed last year, more so then he was given credit for. Anyone who saw his outstanding 45-yard catch in the playoffs knows he has the ability to be a dynamic deep threat. He's a great find in the final round of fantasy drafts. Westbrook is the better-known name, and he does have a path to targets - I think he's competing more with Moncrief than with Lee or Cole. I didn't love him as a prospect, mainly because he's rail-thin, but a year and a half in an NFL program can change that. He definitely produced last year, and the Jaguars like him.

All told, this situation might not wind up as jumbled as it seems. There's a nonzero chance that Moncrief struggles to even get on the field and that the more impressive youngsters share all complementary targets. Given Lee's injury history, Cole and/or Westbrook could conceivably make a run at 60 high-impact receptions. It's hard to parse it all right now, but that's why most of these guys are coming nearly free in drafts. Take advantage.

Mark Wimer: Justin did a great job laying out the Jaguar's top options. There is one other guy I'm grabbing for almost nothing in dynasty leagues right now who's probably close to free in most fantasy league formats - Rashad Greene Sr. He was on injured reserve during 2017. He came into OTAs and minicamp this spring healthy and generated a lot of positive buzz (listen to this report from Jacksonville OTAs starting at 0:56 to hear more about Greene's performance so far during 2018). Greene is only 25 (will be 26 on September 23) so he's in that part of his career where NFL players are in their prime. He played portions of seasons in 2015 and 2016 so he's an NFL veteran now - and in a situation as unsettled/uncertain as the one in Jacksonville, Greene has a chance to move up into a meaningful role as the team's slot receiver.

Picking him up is an inexpensive move that may pay off big during 2018.

Chad Parsons: Overall, I am fading the Jacksonville receivers as a group. Marqise Lee is my favorite to lead the team in targets and fantasy appeal, but I would be surprised if there is upside beyond a mid-WR3 finish in PPR scoring here. Blake Bortles' fantasy value is boosted by his rushing, and their DNA is playing good defense and running the ball whenever possible. They can (and have) make the playoffs with that plan of attack. I hope out some hope for Donte Moncrief, who has an enviable size-athleticism profile, but never put together opportunity and production more than a game here or there in Indianapolis. More of a dynasty slant, but I am skeptical of D.J. Chark Jr to develop into a meaningful No. 1 or No. 2 NFL receiver based on his boom-bust prospect profile.

Phil Alexander: I'm warming to Donte Moncrief as an ADP value for three reasons:

  1. The Jaguars are paying him $9.6 million this year and already shelled out a $4 million signing bonus. He wasn't brought in as depth for that price.
  2. He was signed shortly after Allen Robinson -- a young receiver with a similar physical profile -- left Jacksonville to sign a rich long-term deal with the Bears. It's entirely possible the Jaguars view Moncrief as Robinson arbitrage and plan on deploying him in a similar fashion.
  3. Moncrief is absurdly young for a four-year veteran. As Anthony Amico of RotoCurve recently pointed out on Twitter, he is three months younger than Keelan Cole and a mere four months older than Dede Westbrook, both of whom were rookies last season. It's too early to close the book on Moncrief's potential at age 25.

Considering he is barely being drafted in traditional 12-team, 16-round formats, these three reasons more than justify taking a stab at Moncrief's low-end WR2 upside with one of your last picks.

Andy Hicks: The Jaguars have at least five, maybe more credentialled options at receiver heading into this season.

Keelan Cole and DeDe Westbrook came on late for Jacksonville last year, but the Jaguars will be hoping they are relegated to background roles. Westbrook missed the start of the season and did well with his opportunities late in the season, while Cole was sensational in the fantasy playoffs with 16 catches for 393 yards and two touchdowns between weeks 14 and 16.

Jacksonville will want Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief to be the starters, given the big contracts both signed with the team. The problem is we are not sure if this receiving group will be a meritocracy or not. Cole and Westbrook are cheap and demonstrated enough to be fantasy threats, but will they get an opportunity.

To complicate matters, D.J. Chark Jr was drafted in the second round, but given the four options in front of him, it is hard to see how he contributes much this year, despite his potential.

The ultimate upside of any of these guys is limited given the offensive and defensive plans. These plans don’t always work out though and we have seen that Blake Bortles can be a garbage time king for fantasy before. I really liked Keelan Cole at the end of last year and hope he can land a role. Otherwise, this group may be best avoided.

Devin Knotts: Keelan Cole is the guy to avoid and do not expect his breakout three games during the fantasy playoffs to persuade you otherwise. 53% of Cole's yards came in weeks 14-16 last season and two of those games were against Houston and San Francisco who had two of the worst secondaries last season. So why did Cole all of a sudden breakout late in the season? The answer is simple, Marqise Lee was out for all three of those games.

If you are trying to play it safe with a receiver, Marqise Lee is going to be a nice safe play who is going to get 7 targets per game which that alone is value for where he is being drafted.

However, if you want upside, Dede Westbrook is my favorite wide receiver on this team and was my favorite wide receiver in the 2017 draft. This is a player who would have been a first-round selection in last year's draft if not for legal issues that caused him to slide. He is extremely talented and was a Heisman finalist for his performances at Oklahoma. Westbrook only played 7 games last season but averaged 7.3 targets per game with an average catch of 12.6 yards. This is the number that is going to change this season as Westbrook is a legitimate deep threat as evidenced by his 19.1 yards per catch in college. Westbrook was being compared to Marvin Harrison and Antonio Brown coming out of college which is tremendous praise and if he buys completely into the system will pay off tremendously this year.

Will Grant: The whole Jacksonville wide receiver corps scares the hell out of me. As Jason mentions, it starts and ends with Blake Bortles. In 11 games last season, Bortles had zero or one passing touchdown. He had 13 games with fewer than 275 yards passing. That translates into serious week-to-week risk from the wide receiver side of the ball.

Marquise Lee is the guy to have from this group, but he's a risk vs. reward kind of pick in most fantasy leagues. He'll get his fair share of looks in this offense now that Robinson and Hurns are gone, but Lee's week to week numbers could have you dancing one week and then crying the next. He's worth a flyer pick in most fantasy drafts and can sit on your bench until you need someone to fill in for a bye week or injury. But I don't think he'll generate the week to week value you want to keep him in your lineup.

Justin Howe: Devin, to be fair, Westbrook also did little-to-nothing with Lee on the field.

Westbrook may have some deep-ball potential, but he didn't catch any as a rookie. Cole caught five balls of 30+ yards over the final six weeks (playoffs included.

Devin Knotts: Justin, not sure what you are referring to, as Westbrook's two highest yards and target games were when Lee was in the lineup.

Justin Howe: Cole went for 60+ in four games with Lee in the lineup, though Lee did leave early in one of them. Also, Lee did play in the playoffs.

Enjoy Westbrook; his revised deep-ball total remains at zero. His next will be his first. Tough to swallow for a 175-pounder. Cole crushed him on a per-target basis.

Clayton Gray: I'm dipping my toe into the Jaguars wide receiver corps often in my best-ball leagues. Usually, I'm getting Keelan Cole and/or Dede Westbrook late in drafts. I'm not enamored with either player, but the Jaguars strength of schedule for wide receivers is pretty juicy with six games against a division that is void of quality cornerbacks.