Cecil Shorts' Updated Fantasy Outlook After Justin Blackmon Suspension

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2013

Oct 20, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (84) runs up the field during the first half against the San Diego Chargers at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Cecil Shorts' fantasy value has never been higher.

Once again, Shorts is on the rise as fellow Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon has been hit with an indefinite suspension from the NFL for yet another violation of the league's substance abuse policy per NFL Network's Albert Breer and Rotoworld's Evan Silva:

The news is unfortunate to say the least, as Blackmon was quickly on his way to top-10 receiver status, but his loss is Shorts' gain in a major way.

Shorts is no stranger to being the No. 1 target in Jacksonville with Blackmon sidelined.

He did just that in the first four games this season, which saw him catch 26 balls for 337 yards and no scores, with one game over 100 yards receiving.

Important note—in those first four games the Jaguars foolishly went with a quarterback carousel. Now veteran Chad Henne is implanted as the starter, and Shorts has been consistently productive as a result.

Sep 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts III (84) reacts during the game against the Oaklanld Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jaguars 19-9.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, Shorts has been reliable through and through. He's caught seven or more passes in five of eight contests. Blackmon's absence means even more work, but especially where it matters most—in the red zone—where he'll have more scoring opportunities.

As the only viable option on Jacksonville's offense, Shorts is well on pace to shatter his 55 receptions for 979 yards from a year ago. He's already at 46 for 565 with eight games to go, and in 2012 Blackmon was in the way.

Shorts is a quality No. 2 fantasy receiver regardless of the matchup, and some defenses may elevate him to No. 1 status.

While he won't score many touchdowns in the horrific Jacksonville offense, Shorts is a must-start with Blackmon out of the way.

Jacksonville sits on a bye in Week 9 before an encounter with a top-10 pass defense in Tennessee the week after. Shorts must be in all fantasy lineups regardless.