Cecil Shorts: Fantasy Outlook and Injury Update for Week 2 of NFL

David Pratt, DPTContributor IIISeptember 14, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 10:  Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III  of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs upfield on an end around play in the first quarter against the New York Giants in a pre-season football game August 10, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts underwhelmed his fantasy owners in their Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (28-2) with his three receptions (10 targets) for 40 yards and no touchdown. He also injured his groin in the game and has since been on the Jaguars' official injury report. Because of his dismal performance and acute injury, there is great uncertainty regarding his fantasy value for the remainder of the season.

Shorts finished 2012 as the Jaguars’ best wide receiver and had an average draft position of a top-30 wide receiver in ESPN and NFL.com fantasy leagues for this season. However, he failed to be a top-50 wide receiver in standard scoring and point-per-reception (PPR) formats for Week 1.

Is this a sign that Shorts’ talents have dwindled since last season?

The game tape of Week 1 shows the contrary. Shorts made a few acrobatic receptions and showed a knack for making difficult adjustments to poorly thrown passes.

The primary hindrance for Shorts in Week 1 was the horrific quarterbacking of Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert targeted Shorts nine times for only two receptions (both hook routes of less than 10 yards).

The seven incompletions by Gabbert were either significantly overthrown or underthrown, and one was intercepted. If Shorts had not made so many excellent adjustments to the poorly placed passes, a few of the incompletions would likely have also been interceptions.

However, there was one promising takeaway from Week 1 regarding Jaguars quarterbacks. After Chad Henne replaced Gabbert as quarterback, Shorts was targeted once for a 24-yard reception on a fade route.  

It’s worth noting that once Henne took over the starting quarterback job in Week 11 of the 2012 season, Shorts’ average fantasy points per game (standard scoring) went from 7.92 to 12.47, according to Pro Football Focus statistics (subscription required).

Because Henne has been named the official starter for the Jaguars’ Week 2 game against the Oakland Raiders, Shorts’ fantasy production will likely be higher than it would be if Gabbert were still under center.

As for Shorts’ injury status, he was listed as questionable until Wednesday, but he was upgraded to probable on Thursday despite being limited in practice throughout the entire week.

Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley surmised that Shorts had a “little” groin injury, and the coaching staff was conservative with Shorts during this week’s practices, according to John Oehser of the Jaguars’ official site.

“We got him in on the plays we need to see. On the plays he wasn’t so much involved in, we didn’t have him in there. We just tried to take care of him that way,” Bradley said, via Oehser.

Groin injuries are typically hip adductor muscle strains. The hip adductor muscles are located along the inside of the thigh. A muscle strain is an injury in which a muscle tears because it actively stretches beyond its threshold for elasticity.

Because Shorts has been listed as probable for Week 2, it is likely that he only has a mild hip adductor strain (i.e. Grade 1 strain). He should be able to play near full speed, but he will have mild pain while running.

The major concern about Shorts’ groin injury is the possibility he may aggravate the groin during the game. If this happens, he may have to be pulled from the game and possibly miss the following game.

Groin injuries need to heal sufficiently before returning to competition. If Shorts returns too soon, the groin injury could become more chronic in nature and bother him for the rest of the season.

Barring any aggravation to the groin, Shorts’ groin injury should not significantly impede his performance in Week 2 or beyond.

His fantasy owners should feel safe starting him due to the minor nature of his groin injury. They should be optimistic about his Week 2 value considering his 2012 fantasy success with Henne quarterbacking. After all, Henne could not possibly play any worse than Gabbert did in Week 1.