Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Preview

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You remember the play.

Fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Playoffs and the Jacksonville Jaguars desperately needed a first down. Things were looking bleak as quarterback David Garrard dropped back from center, wide receivers blanketed like they stole something as the pocket collapsed around him.

Garrard did the only thing he could and rumbled his way upfield, picked up the improbable, no, impossible first down and led the Jags to an amazing comeback victory.

The Jags' season would end the very next week, but from that game alone we learned quite a bit about the team and its leader under center. There's a lot to like up and down this lineup for fantasy football purposes and today we'll take a look at each one of them:

Quarterback

David Garrard
2007 stats: 2,509 yds, 18 TD, 3 INT

I won't bore you with another descriptive narrative about Garrard, we'll just get straight to the analysis.

The first thing you'll notice is his TD to INT ratio. Garrard didn't throw his first interception until the thirteenth game of the season, and didn't have a game with multiple picks until the Wild Card game in the playoffs. As opposed to many of the preferred fantasy quarterbacks, Garrard won't hurt you with turnovers and take away valuable points.

He started off slow in '07, with six touchdown passes in as many games. But in five out of the last six games of the season, Garrard threw at least two touchdown passes and threw three against the Steelers in week 15.

So what does that all mean?

Because Garrard only became the starter last season after head coach Jack Del Rio uncerimoniously cut Byron Leftwich, it almost looked as if Garrard still played with someone looking over his shoulder in the first half of '07.

What he came to understand in the second half is that an interception is going to happen in the NFL regardless of how careful you are. Garrard started to look comfortable not only in the offense, but also with the idea that he is the permanent starting quarterback of the Jaguars, thus allowing him to take the chances that lead to multiple touchdown performances.

Garrard is going to clear the 20 TD mark this season and will be drafted in rounds five through six. He's as consistent as they come and could be primed for a breakout campaign in 2008.

Running Back

Maurice Jones-Drew
2007 stats: 768 yds rushing, 9 TD

Fred Taylor
2007 stats: 1,202 yds rushing, 5 TD

The two-headed beast worked well for the Jaguars and looks ready to feast again in 2008.

Both MJD and Taylor are excellent fantasy options and each for different reason.

With thighs the size of tree trunks, MJD has impressed fantasy owners with his ability to grind out the tough yards and deliver inside the red zone. But he disappointed last year, taking a step back statistically from his 2006 season in which he ran for 941 yds and scored 13 TD. Not to mention the fact he only had two games over 100 yds rushing and seven games with less than 40 yds rushing. But MJD still found the end zone more than his counterpart, a great equalizer in fantasy football.

Taylor was the more consistent back in terms of yardage and actually got stronger as the season wore on. He ran for over 100 yds in five straight games to end his regular season, and failed to score in only one of those contests. For a guy so many believe to be injury prone, Taylor has posted back to back seasons with at least 1,400 yds rushing and 5 TD. I'll take stats like those any day of the week.

Despite Taylor's consistency, it's MJD who possesses the higher upside in fantasy football for the most obvious of reasons. He receives the goal line carries. He's younger than Taylor and in certain situations, MJD makes the kind of plays that make your jaw drop to the floor.

Look for Jones-Drew to be drafted in the third round, while Taylor could go anywhere from the fourth to the six round. Either way you can't really go wrong, but if you want the home-run hitter, MJD is your guy.

Wide Receiver

Jerry Porter
2007 stats: 44 receptions, 705 yds receiving, 6 TD

Reggie Williams
2007 stats: 38 receptions, 629 yds receiving, 10 TD

Dennis Northcutt
2007 stats: 44 receptions, 601 yds receiving, 4 TD

Looking up and down the WR corps on the Jags roster and it's hard not to get the feeling the front office is just loading up at the position in hopes that a few pan out in the end.

But I'm most excited about the signing of Jerry Porter to a Jags offense that is in desperate need of his playmaking ability. After some productive seasons in Oakland, the last two have been very disappointing. Instability at the quarterback position never gave Porter a chance to repeat his successes from 2004 (998, 9 TD) and 2005 (942 yds, 5 TD). But with Garrard, we may get a chance to see the Porter of old.

The Porter signing will also help out the Jags' breakout WR from '07, Reggie Williams. He was Garrard's most consistent option during the season and was his preferred target through the air when down in the red zone. Hopefully with Porter on the other side, defenses won't be able to key on Williams in 2008, allowing him to improve upon his totals from a year ago.

Between Porter and Williams, you're going to want to look at Williams first on draft day. He has the established connection with Garrard and has also earned his trust. Look for him to go in the seventh to ninth round of the draft, while Porter will probably hang around until the tenth or thirteenth.

The guys you probably don't want to draft but may be looking for during the season on the waiver wire are Dennis Northcutt, Troy Williamson and Matt Jones.

Chances are Jones either won't be on the team or won't play at first after getting arrested with a little nose candy with some old college buddies.

Northcutt has always been the speedster deep threat and is capable of scoring at any given moment if Garrard finds him with the deep ball.

And Williamson is the first round draft pick bust the Jags acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason. The potential may be there, but we haven't seen enough of it yet.

Tight End

Mercedes Lewis
2007 stats: 37 receptions, 391 yds, 2 TD

There's really not much to say about Lewis. His best game of the season came against the Patriots in the playoffs, catching four balls for 74 yds. Don't even think about speaking his name on draft day until the very last round if you truly feel the need to do so at all.

Defesne
2007 stats: 37 sacks, 20 INT, 3 TD, 25.7 points per game

The NFL's eleventh ranked run defense, and fifteenth ranked passing defense has some tough matchups this season, but still remains a valid fantasy option.

However the Jags weren't satisfied and selected a defensive player with their first four picks of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Look for them to go somewhere after the thirteenth round, depending on the players in your league and their preference for drafting defenses.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on July 18, 2008 11:02 AM.

New York Giants Fantasy Preview was the previous entry in this blog.

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