Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon looked like a huge fantasy steal this season as he made an instant impact after serving a four-game suspension to start the year. He now has little value to owners outside of dynasty leagues, though, as another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy means he will be suspended for the remainder of the season, according to Jon Breech of CBSSports.com.
While that is obviously a huge loss for the Jags, they are on the road to 0-16 with or without Blackmon, so fantasy owners are the ones who will truly feel the sting. It will be very difficult to replace a guy like Blackmon at this point in the season, but Blackmon's absence will certainly have a notable effect on many of his Jacksonville teammates.
Here is further analysis of how the likes of Cecil Shorts, Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Brown will be impacted from a fantasy perspective with Blackmon out of the picture.
He may not receive much attention playing for the Jaguars, but Shorts is one of the top up-and-coming pass-catchers in the game today. Shorts fell just short of a 1,000-yard season last year as he racked up 979 yards and seven touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. He is currently on pace to break that barrier in 2013, and there is little doubt that Blackmon's absence will help in that regard.
The Jaguars are constantly playing from behind, so quarterback Chad Henne is bound to continue throwing at a high rate. Even though Shorts' yardage and touchdowns may not help the Jaguars win games, they will certainly help your fantasy team. Henne doesn't have many options in terms of established weapons, so he'll be fixated on Shorts. The Mt. Union alum was targeted with great regularity during Blackmon's previous suspension, according to Ryan McDowell of DynastyLeagueFootball.com, and there is no reason to believe that will change.
Perhaps the one thing to be concerned about is the fact that Shorts will be the main focus of opposing defenses moving forward. That will lead to increased double coverage, but the sheer amount of looks that he will receive should make up for that. The one hole in Shorts' game this season has been a lack of touchdowns, but that should improve moving forward as Shorts has the upside of a great WR2 or perhaps even a low-end WR1.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been the face of the Jaguars franchise for the past several years, but he has been little more than a mediocre player this season. While some of that may have to do with the fact that the wear and tear of the NFL is starting to catch up with MJD, it isn't as if he has received much help either. It's nearly impossible for Jones-Drew to establish himself with Jacksonville constantly trailing, and that doesn't figure to change much.
Jones-Drew ran for more than 1,600 yards two seasons ago, but he currently isn't even on pace to reach half of that total this year. MJD's usage has been erratic as he has eclipsed 20 carries in a game just once this season. He also has just two touchdowns, which is extremely uncharacteristic. The Jags have been forced to abandon the run at some point in essentially every game this season, and Blackmon's absence won't help matters.
The only thing that could potentially increase MJD's fantasy value is if he gets more involved in the passing game. Jones-Drew had only 10 catches entering Week 8, but Henne checked it down to him far more often against the San Francisco 49ers as he recorded six receptions for 47 yards. MJD was once an elite pass-catching back, so this should be a more regular part of his game. If nothing else, Jones-Drew should be an intriguing play in point-per-reception leagues moving forward.
Even with Blackmon in the lineup, rookie receiver Mike Brown has stepped up to become a part of the offense in recent weeks. The former Liberty star has settled into a slot role, which has allowed him to average four catches per game in his past three contests. That may not seem like a lot, but he has a 100-yard game and a touchdown to his credit during that stretch as well, which means Henne is clearly gaining some confidence in him.
Brown may not be the most exciting fantasy option out there, but there is value in a No. 2 receiver in an offense that is going to be airing it out. That isn't to say that Brown is going to be an every-week starter, but it definitely makes sense to have him on your roster, especially if you own Blackmon. According to NFL.com's Michael Fabiano, Brown should be added off the waiver wire following his bye in Week 9.
If you want to ensure that you land him, though, don't hesitate to pick him up right now. Blackmon is doing you no good, so cut bait as soon as possible. Brown is somewhat reminiscent of Mike Thomas, who had a couple solid seasons with the Jaguars, in that he isn't going to blow you away, but he's pretty sure-handed. If you're in a deeper league and need a receiver, Brown is definitely a solid option with Blackmon out.
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