July 21, 2010
The Juggernaut Index is our annual ranking of NFL teams for fantasy purposes. Repeat: FOR FANTASY PURPOSES. This is not an NFL power ranking. We're not predicting wins and losses here. Instead, we're reviewing each team's projected fantasy contributions — that's it.
Football is often described as the ultimate team game … but not in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are basically a one-man show. Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) dominates the scoring (and the non-scoring) for Jack Del Rio's squad.
MJD accounted for 16 of Jacksonville's 34 touchdowns last season. In 2008, he reached the end zone 14 times for an offense that scored 32 total TDs. Jones-Drew ranked third in the league in touches last year (365), fourth in scrimmage yards (1,765), and he tied for second in touchdowns. He's also finished second on his team in receptions in three of his four NFL seasons.
Jacksonville's offense doesn't exactly light up the scoreboard, but Jones-Drew gets an obscene share of the points and yardage. He's a top-tier fantasy back, very close to Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson in terms of projected value, and he's never missed an NFL game due to injury. (Because he's such a durable back, Deji Karim(notes) and Rashad Jennings(notes) aren't really worth rostering as handcuffs). If Jones-Drew is selected No. 1 overall in your draft, no reasonable owner will ridicule the pick.
In fact, MJD is such a useful commodity in our game — and such a skilled manager — that he's actually going to host a weekly fantasy football radio show this season on Sirius XM. No lie. And in related news, Eric Karabell will be a gunner on kick coverage for the Eagles.
Beyond Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have one additional skill player who needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues: Mike Sims-Walker(notes), a 25-year-old receiver coming off a breakout season. Injuries have been a recurring theme for MSW — with the occasional non-injury deactivation thrown in — but he led all Jacksonville wideouts in catches (63), yards (869) and TDs (7) in '09. He's also entering a contract year, for those who care about such things.
However, the Jaguars' passing game hasn't produced a 1,000-yard receiver since 2005 (Jimmy Smith), so don't go crazy with your Sims-Walker forecast. He disappeared in the final six weeks last season, too, averaging just 2.7 receptions and 29.2 yards per game while battling calf and knee issues. He's hardly a sure thing. If he manages to reach 80 catches and 1,100 yards in this offense, his name should go directly to the ring of honor. Those numbers won't be easy to achieve.
Mike Thomas(notes) is the No. 2 wide receiver in Jacksonville, though that designation hasn't meant much since Keenan McCardell(notes) left town. Thomas is a teacup wideout (5-8, 195) who closed the '09 season with a pair of solid lines (6-57, 7-65), and he'll clearly see an increase in targets this year. There's hope for him in deeper formats. Jarett Dillard(notes) is currently considered the No. 3, with Tiquan Underwood(notes) and Troy Williamson(notes) chasing. Jacksonville tight ends aren't generally helpful for fantasy purposes; neither Marcedes Lewis(notes) nor Zach Miller cracked the Yahoo! composite top-20.
Everyone should know what to expect from quarterback David Garrard(notes) by now. He's thrown just 30 touchdown passes in his last 32 games, and that rate won't pay the bills in fantasy. Garrard doesn't toss many picks, so you don't have to fret about negative plays. His main problem is the lack of positive plays. He's a bye-week option in fantasy, not an every-week starter. This team didn't draft a QB in 2010 and Luke McCown(notes) is second on the depth chart, so at least Garrard has job security. His ceiling is 16 touchdown passes; his floor is 14 TDs. If that works in your league, then by all means draft Garrard. Enjoy him responsibly.
(Before you ask, I can't take Garrard's '09 home/road split seriously, because Jacksonville's home stadium is at best a neutral site).
The Jaguars' defense allowed 23.8 points and 352.3 total yards per game last season, ranking in the bottom third of the league in both categories. The pass rush was barely a rumor, as Jacksonville finished dead-last in the NFL in total sacks (14.0). This DEF doesn't figure to be a viable fantasy option until perhaps Week 4 at Buffalo. The interesting IDPs are LB Justin Durant(notes) (98 tackles in '09) and a pair of new arrivals, LB Kirk Morrison(notes) (133 tackles) and DE Aaron Kampman(notes) (9.5 sacks in '08, useful in a 4-3).
Surely that's all that needs to be said about this team. In comments, please tell us about the time you benched James Stewart and his five rushing TDs. Or share your experience as a camp counselor at the Mike Hollis Kicking Academy. Or make me an offer on that sweet '97 Natrone Means (perfect corners, ready for grading).
Photo via Getty Images
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