Thu Aug 14 04:02pm EDT
The Juggernaut Index is our annual attempt to rank every NFL team for fantasy purposes. We're not concerned with real-life wins and losses here, only fantasy potential. These rankings rely entirely on
personal biases hard, incontrovertible math. They are not to be questioned.
The names just don't get much bigger. Taylor is a good bet to finish his career with over 13,000 rushing yards, which would place him in a group that currently only has six members (Emmitt, Walter, Barry, Curtis, Jerome, Eric).
During the hamstring years, we often criticized Taylor's fragility. But he's actually played 14 or more games in five of the last six seasons. In 2007, at age 31, Taylor rushed for over 1200 yards in 15 games, and he gained an astonishing 5.4 yards per carry. He still has plenty of speed. Running behind a terrific line, there's no reason to think he can't reach 1000-plus yards again.
And Taylor isn't even the most valuable fantasy running back on the Jacksonville roster. That, of course, would be Maurice Jones-Drew, who Brad Evans calls "the Oompa-Loompa" and Shawne Merriman simply calls "sir"...
Taylor has carried the ball more often than Jones-Drew over the past two seasons (454 to 333), but Jones-Drew dominates the receptions (86 to 32) and the touchdowns (26 to 11). This is a job-share situation that has actually managed to produce two useful fantasy backs. You'll notice the Jaguars' remarkable 2007 per-game rushing total below (149.4 YPG). Thus, Taylor is 32nd in the Yahoo! running back ranks, and Jones-Drew is 13th.
Quarterback David Garrard was terrific last season, throwing 18 touchdown passes and only three interceptions in 12 games. He also completed 64 percent of his throws. Garrard won't give you many negative plays, and he's generally a safe start. He's 12th in our quarterback ranks, so you're definitely drafting him. While he's not an unusually talented runner, he'll still manage a rushing TD or two, and he can use his feet when necessary. Just ask the Steelers. Cleo Lemon backs him up.
The Jaguars best receivers aren't healthy right now, which is a problem. Jerry Porter is recovering from hamstring surgery, and probably won't be available before the regular season opener. Reggie Williams, a former first-round pick who caught 10 TDs in 2007, is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Those two made the receiver rankings, but they're 44th and 49th, well outside the approved Week 1 starters.
Matt Jones' biggest problem isn't his health or his camp performance, but is instead an alleged fondness for cocaine. He says "not guilty"; the State of Arkansas disagrees. Bottom line: you're not drafting Jones. In all likelihood, you're not drafting Troy Williamson or Dennis Northcutt, either, although they're currently atop Jacksonville's depth chart at WR.
The 6'6" Marcedes Lewis is a fringe option at TE in deeper leagues. He's this year's tight end who's supposed to get more involved. Here's Garrard on Lewis, via the Florida Times-Union:
"He's a great talent, big size, big target for me to throw to, and we need to make sure we are on the same page," Garrard said. "This is something that both of us just have to take to a new level because tight ends are usually my favorite targets.
"They are reliable and always around the middle. They are a whole lot easier to throw to, so I definitely want to get his receptions up and get his play to where [Lewis is] one of the elite tight ends in the league."
Expect the Jacksonville defense to finish in the top-ten in fantasy points under coordinator Gregg Williams. The unit is ninth in our ranks, but some of us (Pianowski and the blog editor) have them a bit higher than our colleagues. The best IDP plays are Mike Peterson, Reggie Nelson, Rashean Mathis, and, if he ever shows up, possibly Derrick Harvey.
2007 Jacksonville team stats
Rushing: 149.4 Y/G
Passing: 208.0 Y/G
Points per game: 25.7
Red Zone possessions and TDs: 58, 33
'08 Schedule strength: .559
The rest of the Index...
32) Chicago, 31) Tennessee, 30) San Francisco, 29) Miami, 28) Baltimore, 27) NY Jets, 26) Oakland, 25) Tampa Bay, 24) Atlanta, 23) Houston, 22) Kansas City, 21) Buffalo, 20) Carolina, 19) Detroit, 18) Seattle, 17) Denver, 16) Washington, 15) St. Louis, 14) Minnesota, 13) Arizona, 12) Jacksonville
---Photos via Getty Images