Jacksonville has very few options other than Shorts to work with, and trading Mike Thomas to the Detroit Lions (per Mike Garafolo of USA Today) on Tuesday solidifies that fact. Now, with Thomas headed to the Motor City, it's Shorts, Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis who will battle for targets from Blaine Gabbert.
Thomas has only 13 catches for 80 yards on 27 targets this season, but he was still one of the Jags' lone threats.
Granted, fighting for receptions from the hand of Gabbert is a tall task. The second-year quarterback is completing 55.6 percent of his passes and only averages around 154 yards per game, but production on the outside is achievable.
Just look at Shorts. He's done just fine so far, despite being passed over by the majority of fantasy football owners on the waiver wire week after week.
The unheralded second-year wideout out of Division III powerhouse Mount Union only has 20 catches this season, but he's averaging 20 yards a pop for 400 yards total. He also has three touchdowns. As a fellow fantasy owner, why is Shorts still available in your league? Waiver-wire pickings are slim this time of year, and he's an above-average addition to any bench.
Now that he's been properly introduced, let's go over a few specifics.
Shorts is out there, unless you play with one of the 3.4 percent of owners who own him in ESPN standard-scoring leagues. He's averaging 7.6 points per game for a total of 53 fantasy points overall, making him a worthy addition whether it be long-term or a short-term bye-week fill-in.
To put those points in perspective, he has more than some guys who are owned by the majority of fantasy owners. Receivers like Anquan Boldin, Sidney Rice, Antonio Brown and Malcom Floyd all have produced less at this point in the season.
Wait, it gets better. Andre Johnson, one of the best receivers in the league, has 53 points as well. Not owning Johnson would be considered ludicrous by most savvy fantasy participants.
Shorts, for one reason or another, is out there. The stigma surrounding the Jags' abysmal offense is hard to miss, especially with their one-win season so far, but Shorts is the lone positive thing that this team has.
Scoop him up, hang onto him and start him against any defense that struggles to stop the big play.
Jacksonville isn't going to be favored in any games from here on out, but that's beside the point. Looking at the team's remaining schedule should encourage people to pick up Shorts.
The Jaguars will face a few tough pass defenses. Teams like the Colts, Texans and Jets will present stiff challenges through the air, although Shorts did have an 80-yard, one-score game against Indianapolis earlier this season.
On the other hand, bad pass defenses also lie in wait. Two matchups against Tennessee (29th) and one each against the Bills (22nd), Dolphins (27th) and Patriots (28th) will all help, not to mention that Jacksonville will probably be trailing at some point in all of these. That will force Gabbert to air it out, probably looking for Shorts down the field more often than not.
Expecting Shorts to catch eight to 10 passes for 100-plus yards every week is unrealistic, but he averages 20 yards per catch for a reason. He's got rare big-play ability, and it only takes one touch for him to find the end zone.
Trading Thomas isn't a major blow to Jacksonville. Actually, it could be a good thing. Allowing guys like Shorts and Blackmon to receive more attention moving forward is only going to benefit the Jags' future.
Shorts isn't a household name, and he may never be, but fantasy football benches across the board could benefit from adding him to the fold. He's proven that he's dangerous, and those points are going to waste.
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