Julius Thomas
News out of the Jacksonville Jaguars camp is that tight end Julius Thomas has been “nearly unstoppable” during OTAs. It wasn’t long ago that Thomas was one of the premier tight ends in the league with 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He followed it up with just 489 yards, but another dozen touchdown catches. He cashed in with Jacksonville but injuries limited him to 12 games with 455 yards and five touchdowns. If he’s healthy he can certainly exceed those numbers, but can he reach TE1 form?
Durability has been a concern for Thomas. He has played in 44 or 64 games in his four seasons. Red zone prowess has not been an issue though as he has 29 touchdowns in his past 39 games. That puts him on an average of 11.9 in a full 16 game season.
Outside of durability, a secondary concern is his fantasy value reliance on the touchdown. He has averaged just 37.8 yards per game over the past two seasons and just 44.4 in his past three years.
He was literally all or nothing last year. In the seven games in which he did not score Thomas averaged 23.4 yards per game with just one game with over 25 yards. He did have one game with 79 yards to give him six solid games. In the five games in which he did find paydirt, he averaged 58.2 yards and had three games over 50 yards. In those seven scoreless games he averaged 2.6 receptions. In the other five games he averaged 5.6 receptions. Not only did he lack good yardage totals, he wasn’t PPR friendly.
I currently have Thomas ranked outside of the top 12, based on injury history and his dependence on scoring touchdowns. He’s a really good TE2 option though, particularly if you wait on filling the position. The tight end landscape is deep enough that you can afford to pair a couple of solid options.
What are your thoughts on Julius Thomas?

Chris Ivory
In a head scratching move the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to terms with Chris Ivory. Ivory, at 6’0, 222 pounds, finished last year with 1,287 total yards and 8 touchdowns. His 247 carries mark the first time he had over 200 carries in a season. He’s a power runner that has averaged 4.6 yards per carry throughout his career, but has often battled the injury bug. While he is talented (when healthy) the move makes little sense as the Jaguars drafted 6’1″, 225 pound T.J. Yeldon last year.
Yeldon ran for 740 yards on 182 carries (4.1 ypc). He only ran for two scores with on of them coming on a 28-yard run. It appears that Ivory will be handed the goal line work. Yeldon caught 36 passes. Ivory caught 30.
This will be an interesting battle to watch but it just feels like a full blown running back by committee approach. It may work for the team, but it will be frustrating for fantasy owners.

The AFC South features three of the top running backs in the league.
Arian Foster is arguably the top ranked fantasy player in the league. The furthest I could see him tumble, at least at this point, is to three. He racked up 1616 yards and 16 touchdowns. As good as those numbers are, he also caught 66 passes for 604 yards and two more scores. Week in and week out he was one of the top fantasy players in the league. Ben Tate and Derrick Ward will get some carries, but neither threaten the stud running back.
One of the players (along with Adrian Peterson) that could conceivably go before Foster is Chris Johnson, who was generally the number one pick in last year’s fantasy drafts. Johnson’s “down year” looks like a career year for anybody else. He had 1609 total yards (1364 rushing, 245 receiving) and 12 touchdowns (11 rushing, one receiving). The Titans are going to be more creative next year to get him the ball in space, so CJ2K should be particularly effective in PPR leagues. He doesn’t really have a threat for carries and is a likely top three pick.
Maurice Jones-Drew keeps turning out big year’s as well. There were concerns about his knee heading into last season, but he responded with a 1641 total yard (1324 rushing, 317 receiving), seven touchdown (five rushing, two receiving) season. Rashard Jennings will get some carries, but isn’t a big threat week-to-week. MoJo will probably be a top five to eight pick depending on your format. Personally, I prefer some of the younger guys like Rahsard Mendenhall and LeSean McCoy.
Indianapolis is the only stick situation because Joseph Addai is a free agent. He is expected to return to the Colts though, and his knowledge of the system and ability to pick up the blitz will likely keep him as the main back. Donald Brown and rookie Delone Carter will also vie for touches.

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The AFC South made a big splash in the quarterback department in the recent NFL Draft.
The division continues to be dominated by the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning is consistently among the best fantasy quarterbacks in the league. He never has a shortage of weapons, and even when they break down like Dallas Clark last year, someone else (Jacob Tamme) steps up. One thing that needed more than a temporary fix was their offensive line. The Colts walked away from the draft with tackle Anthony Castonzo and guard Ben Ijalana. With better protection look for Manning to turn in another impressive season. Would you expect anything less?
Matt Schuab regressed a little statistically, but that can be expected when you have the NFL rushing leader.  He still threw for 4370 yards and 24 touchdowns (12 INTs). With Andre Johnson, one of the more physical receivers in the league, look for Schaub to remain a quality QB1. The team did not give him any new weapons in the NFL Draft, instead using their first five picks on defense.
In Jacksonville David Garrard will hold down the fort until Blaine Gabbert is ready to take control of the team. Garrard had a solid year throwing for 2734 yards and 23 TDs (15 INTs) while adding another 279 yards and five scores on the ground. The Jags are limited in the playmaker department. Marcedes Lewis scored ten touchdowns, but had just seven scores in four seasons before busting out in a contract year. Mike Sims-Walker is a free agent that will likely have a new home in 2011. Garrard is a quarterback to use during the bye weeks and little more.
The Titans turned heads by taking Jake Locker with the eight pick in the draft. He will likely start the year on the sidelines while a veteran (possibly Matt Hasselbeck) acts as a bridge. Despite the presence of Kenny Britt, this is not a great quarterback situation. We’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out.

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI


If you look at the aggregate numbers Mike Sims-Walker had a good season. He caught 63 passes for 869 yards and 7 TDs. In Weeks 2 through 11 he averaged 86.8 yards per game with 6 TDs in 8 games (he missed Week 5 and had a bye in Week 7). That’s an average of 13.18 fantasy points per game, which justifies his ADP of 18 among WRs (52 overall) according to Mock Draft Central. Who wouldn’t want those numbers?


There is more to the story though. For instance, he finished with an average of 29.2 yards over the last six weeks of the year, scoring just one TD over that stretch. Aside from a Week 15 six catch, 64 yard, TD performance, he was unusable in down the stretch.


He was also a guy to avoid like the plague in road games. His splits are staggering:


Home:  8 games, 44 catches, 637 yards, 6 TDs
Road:  7 games, 19 catches, 232 yards, 1 TD


What are you supposed to do with that?


It’s not like the Jaguars surrounded him with playmakers to take away some of the defensive focus on him in passing situations. Sure they have Maurice Jones-Drew, who commands the majority of the attention on offense, but that’s it. Mike Thomas (48, 453, 1), Troy Williamson, Kassim Osgood offer little help at WR. Marcedes Lewis (32, 518, 2) is a decent option at TE, but it’s not like teams are game planning for him.


Plus, he’s going to face some tough cornerbacks at home like Champ Bailey (Week 1), Asante Samuel (Week 3), Cortland Finnegan (Week 6), and Nnamdi Asomugha (Week 14). He’s going to have to be more productive on the road with that schedule.


These factors have Sims-Walker lower on my board (click to see my 2010 fantasy WR rankings) than the majority. I simply do not trust him as a WR2, especially one that is going off the board in the 5th round.


Prediction:  70 catches, 910 yards, 5 TDs

What do you expect from Mike Sims-Walker?



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The Jaguars could have the steepest drop-off from their top fantasy option to their other options.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Jags take on the Raiders (home), Colts (away), and Redskins (home). The schedule looks very promising for Maurice Jones-Drew. The passing game could really struggle though.


Five Star Fantasy Options
Maurice Jones-Drew – Mojo had no problem assuming the role as primary ball carrier with Fred Taylor moving on to New England. He had 1765 total yards (1391 rushing) and 16 TDs (15 rushing). There is a case to take him #1 overall with Chris Johnson’s potential holdout and Adrian Peterson’s fumbling issues.


Four Star Fantasy Options


Three Star Fantasy Options


Two Star Fantasy Options
Mike Sims-Walker – Sims-Walker had a solid season with 63 catches for 869 yards and 7 TDs. He has good size and speed, but will need help, be it from his receiver mates or creative play calling, to keep him effective. He failed to top 64 yards the final six games. In fact, he only had 175 yards in those games (29.2 ypg).


Marcedes Lewis – Lewis had an excellent yard per catch average (16.2). Still, with 518 yards last year he makes for a solid backup fantasy TE.


One Star Fantasy Options
David Garrard – Garrard is simply not a good fantasy QB. His career highs in passing yards (3620) and TDs (18) just don’t translate into a quality fantasy QB. He has ran for 300+ yards in each of the past two seasons, but there is zero upside to Garrard. His home-road splits are ridiculous. 
- Home:  2019 yards, 12 TD,  5 INTs
- Away:  1578 yards, 3 TDs, 5 INTs


Mike Thomas – Thomas showed some flashes last year, and while he managed at least 52 yards on six occasions, he never topped 65 yards. Plus, he had just 1 TD.


Jaguars Defense/Special Teams – They have some good match-ups with Buffalo (Week 5), Kansas City (7), Cleveland (11), and Oakland (14). They had just 14 sacks and 15 INTs last year though. They are no more than a spot start.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Maurice Jones-Drew TD
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Maurice Jones-Drew finally gets a chance to prove that he can be an NFL feature back.  Given what he’s done in a somewhat limited role, the fantasy world is salivating at the thought of what he could do in an expanded role.  Naturally there is some risk in taking a player who has never had 200 carries in a season, but that can be viewed as a plus since he hasn’t put on a lot of mileage.  Despite his 5’7″ stature he is quite durable.  That’s because he packs 208 pounds of muscle on that frame.  He is a bowling ball with great moves and quickness.  What’s more impressive is his nose for the end zone.  Mojo has 40 TDs (34 rushing, 4 receiving, 2 return) in his three years.  He also is extremely gifted at catching the ball out of the backfield.  He has had 40+ receptions every year, including a career high 62 last year.  He should benefit greatly from a healthy Offensive Line, which was the main reason behind Jacksonville’s disappointing 2008 season.

This year Jacksonville has some nice matchups agaist Arizona in Week 2, St. Louis in Week 6, Kansas City in Week 9, and Cleveland in Week 17, which doesn’t help most fantasy owners.  His fantasy playoff schedule consists of Miami, Indianapolis, and New England, which is less than desirable.  Of course a RB with MJD’s versatility has the ability to produce against anyone.

Mo-Jo will likely go in the top three picks in most league, perhaps #1 overall in PPR leagues.  I fully expect him to meet his lofty expectations.  I’m putting him on 2000 total yards with 14 total TDs.

David Garrard
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David Garrard had a disappointing 2008 season.  Most of the team did, in fact.  Their Offensive Line was crippled with injuries.  Their Defense took a major step back.  About the only productive players was Maurice-Jones Drew.  2009 should look a little better as they bolstered their O-Line in the offseason with the addition of Tra Thomas, Eugene Monroe, and Eben Britton.  They also added Torry Holt to improve their WR play.  Maurice Jones-Drew is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and Marcedes Lewis is a solid pass-catching TE. 

Jacksonville’s fantasy playoff schedule consists of Miami, Indianapolis, and New England so it’s unlikely you’ll use Garrad in the fantasy playoffs.  During the season they have some decent matchups against Arizona in Week 2, St. Louis in Week 6, and Kansas City in Week 9.  Peyton Manning and Tony Romo have byes in Week 6 so he could be a decent option to pair with them.  I wouldn’t trust any of the Week 9 bye teams as a #1 QB so it doesn’t pay to pair Garrard with them.

ESPN is reporting that Torry Holt has agreed to a three-year contract with the Jacksonville Jagaurs.  The contract has accelerators that will pay him more if he performs well. 

The move is great for Jacksonville and QB David Garrard.  His top target, Matt “Crackman” Jones was cut because he couldn’t stay clean and sober.  Reggie Williams also had run-ins with the law and won’t return.  Jacksonville will still have to address the position in the upcoming NFL Draft because the cupboard is pretty bare and Holt, at 32, is not a long-term answer.

Holt’s fantasy value takes a hit as he joins a team with a Run First mentality.  If his knee holds up though, they still can produce decent fantasy wideouts.  When he played last year, Crackman was solid.  Same with Reggie Williams a couple years ago.  Holt’s other primary choice was Tennessee, which is pretty much the same smell.  Heavy on the run, heavy on the D.

The Jags are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in the NFL.  They, along with the Cleveland Browns, were the chic pick to get to at least the AFC title game.  Yet they finished at 5-11.

For starters the Jaguars need improved health next year, especially on their Offensive Line.  Their Left Tackle Khalif Barnes is an Unrestricted Free Agent.  He played poorly last year, and won’t likely return.  There is a good chance Charles Spencer takes over.  Center Brad Meester is also an UFA, but he may be in their plans.  Assuming Fred Taylor gives them a hometown discount, he’ll be back to compliment Maurice Jones-Drew.  I’d like to see them work another RB in the mix so he’s ready when Taylor does call it quits.  Reggie Williams took a major step back and he’s a UFA.  I could see the team going in a different direction.  Matt Jones played through the distraction of his suspension and put up solid numbers.  He could be a nice value pick next year.  TE Marcedes Lewis showed promise.  Jerry Porter is likely to be shown the door.

There aren’t too many FAs on Defense for Jacksonville.  Mike Peterson led the team in tackles, but was a major distraction.  He won’t be back.  The Jags need to get some pressure on the QB.  They were tied for 20th last year with just 29 Sacks.  Reggie Hayward’s 4.5 were good for the team lead.  Not only that, but they had the second fewest turnovers (17) in the league.  Clearly their biggest needs lie on Defense.

**Update:  Fred Taylor was cut**

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
RB Alvin Pearman Re-signed Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
WR Reggie Williams UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
TE Charles Davis Re-signed Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
OG Charles Spencer Re-signed Jacksonville Jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars
OT Khalif Barnes UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
OT Richard Collier RFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
C Brad Meester UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
C Joe Zelenka UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
DL Tony McDaniel RFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
LB Brian Iwuh RFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
LB Mike Peterson UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent
CB Scott Starks UFA Jacksonville Jaguars Free Agent

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