by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After being carted off the field with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, we wait to hear just how bad things are for Marquise Lee. Unfortunately, with a lack of clear information, fantasy owners need to prepare for the worst. For those who haven’t drafted passing on Lee makes sense, as it appears likely that he misses a significant chunk of time (and potentially the entire season). The followup question is, barring an outside addition (Dez Bryant?), how do we now value the remaining wide receivers in Jacksonville? Let’s take a look:
Cole actually started the third preseason game, across from Lee, and that shows that he could be the man to step up and get the bulk of the opportunities. He showed an ability to make big plays as an undrafted rookie, averaging 17.8 yards/reception (42 catches for 748 yards and 3 TD) last season.
Coming out of Kentucky Wesleyan there obviously wasn’t much hype, but he got better and better as the season progressed. Just look at his production by month:
- September – 3 catches for 26 yards
- October – 5 catches for 85 yards
- November – 11 catches for 162 yards
- December – 23 catches for 475 yards & 3 TD
He was targeted at least 8 times in each of the final three games, and while he didn’t see similar opportunity in the playoffs (6 targets over three games) it shows what is possible. Even if he averaged 5-6 targets per game as the “lead” receiver, he has the upside to post big numbers. We expect his current ADP to rise (192.3) and he may not be a WR1/WR2 as the offense will run through Leonard Fournette, but there’s more than enough here to make him a strong target. As a WR4 he’s a no-brainer, with the upside of being a WR3 (or low-end WR2).
Signed to a 1-year deal this offseason, he appears to be the favorite to step in and start across from Cole. That said he’s battled injuries each of the past two seasons (he’s played in 21 of 36 games) and even with Andrew Luck under center never posted more than 64 receptions or 733 yards. There’s some upside, and maybe he pops off a few big games, but he was already clearly behind Cole and there’s going to be competition for the remainder of the targets. He’s a late round flier and nothing more.
There was a lot of hype for Westbrook last year, and that has continued this preseason. According to John Oehser of jaguars.com (click here for the article https://www.jaguars.com/news/sexton-oehser-quick-thoughts-vikings-week):
But a day rarely has gone by in camp that Westbrook hasn’t stood out, and starting quarterback Blake Bortles appears to be going his way more quickly as camp continues. Bortles talked early in camp about Westbrook’s grasp of the offense having improved. Westbrook last week talked about having improved as a route runner. This is a player, remember, who won the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s best receiver, so he has enormous physical ability. Now, in his second season, he appears to be putting together the entire approach necessary to be a consistent, productive NFL receiver – and that could be earning him a far bigger role this season than some observers expected.
It wouldn’t be crazy if Westbrook entrenched himself as the team’s #2 receiver, and he could potentially push Cole for top duties. Remember, in his final season at Oklahoma Westbrook racked up 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 TD and once he returned in ’17 was routinely targeted by Bortles. While he may have to start behind Moncrief, it shouldn’t take long for him to emerge.
With a current ADP of 177.8, he’s an easy selection as a WR5 type with upside.
The 2018 second round pick out of LSU has been getting a lot of hype this preseason, though the best case scenario is likely for him to be the third receiver (at least initially). While losing Lee hurts, the Jaguars actually have a lot of young upside and both Cole and Westbrook already have a valuable year of development under their belts.
That said, as Oehser noted in the same article:
A big camp storyline has been rookie DJ Chark Jr., with the second-round selection from Louisiana State showing signs of developing into a go-to wide receiver.
As a late round stash it makes sense, especially in dynasty formats, though his time may not come until the second half (much like Cole a year ago).
Draft Day Priority:
- Keelan Cole (target as your WR4/5 around Round 10 or 11)
- Dede Westbrook (target as your WR5 in last few rounds)
- D.J. Chark (final round stash)
- Donte Moncrief (desperation reach)
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: