Why Fantasy Owners Can Rely on Cecil Shorts in Week 8 vs. 49ers

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 23, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III #84 of the Jacksonville Jaguars tries to catch a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter on September 15, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 19-9. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars might be the most anemic offensive team in the NFL, but that doesn't mean wide receiver Cecil Shorts is fantasy trash.

The winless Jaguars have an unenviable matchup this week against the 4-2 San Francisco 49ers in London, that's for sure. 

However, Shorts has been a reliable WR No. 3 this season, and there's no question about his Week 8 availability after he reportedly played through the pain of a sprained SC joint in his shoulder in Week 7:

Shorts says he still has lots of pain in shoulder, but it is better than last week and he'll definitely play Sunday for #Jaguars.

— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) October 23, 2013

Here's a quick look at Shorts' production through seven games: 

/Getty Images

(*Shorts injured his shoulder in the first quarter of Week 6's outing against the Denver Broncos)

Pretty respectable numbers, right? 

When it comes to fantasy wideouts, first and foremost, owners want targets. 

Shorts is getting plenty of those. 

For perspective, only Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals have seen more targets than the Jaguars wideout thus far. 

If the injury against Denver never occurred, Shorts would probably be the NFL's leader in passes thrown his way.

Don't let the catch percentage of 52.7 scare you away.

Cecil Shorts' 2013 Production
TargetsCatchesYardsTDs
Week 1 vs. Chiefs103400
Week 2 at Raiders148930
Week 3 at Seahawks1581430
Week 4 vs. Colts127610
Week 5 at Rams115741
Week 6 at Broncos0000
Week 7 vs. Chargers138800
Totals76394911
ESPN

It's better than the catch percentage rates of Jackson, T.Y. Hilton and Mike Wallace, and Shorts' 491 receiving yards are one yard shy of Calvin Johnson's current total yet higher than the totals of Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon and Larry Fitzgerald.

Jacksonville's dealt with a quarterback carousel in 2013, and it sounds like Chad Henne will get the nod against a San Francisco defense that's allowed the third-fewest yards per drive this season, per Football Outsiders:

Gus says Gabbert participated fully, but he'll be backup to Henne on Sunday for #Jaguars.

— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) October 23, 2013

Neither Henne nor Blaine Gabbert have shown necessarily encouraging play this season, but Henne has been the more prolific passer of the two:

Shorts has statistically outperformed Hilton so far in 2013
Shorts has statistically outperformed Hilton so far in 2013/Getty Images

Ugly stats, but quite the disparity in general quarterback effectiveness. 

Shorts caught his only touchdown of the year from Henne against the Rams. He made three grabs for 40 yards against the Chiefs and caught seven passes for 61 yards with Gabbert under center.

Comparing Chad Henne to Blaine Gabbert in 2013
Completion PercentageYards Per AttemptYards Per GameTD%INT%
Chad Henne59.57.1186.51.22.9
Blaine Gabbert48.85.6138.01.28.1
ESPN

In short, Shorts' most productive games in 2013 have come when Henne has been in at quarterback for the Jaguars. 

Sure, the 49ers' defense will likely dominate Jacksonville's offense. 

But Shorts will reach his double-digit target number, make some plays—potentially most of them late, with the score out of reach—and piece together another fine fantasy day for his owners. 

If you're in a PPR league—who isn't these days?—although the matchup is ugly, get Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Cecil Shorts into your lineup this week.