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The Dynasty Exchange – Austin Seferian-Jenkins

For most football fans, it’s the NFL offseason. If you play dynasty fantasy football, you already know: there is no off-season. In the Dynasty Exchange, I’m going to be looking at various dynasty topics, such as over- and undervalued players, often-overlooked elements that can help turn your team into a perennial champion, or what roster moves we need to make to be in the best possible shape come Week 1.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins signed a two-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. Is he a buy or sell with his new team?

2017 saw Seferian-Jenkins overcome many off-field issues. After signing with the Jets, he lost 25 pounds, got back into football shape, and was able to emerge as the starting TE. He provided a reliable target for Josh McCown and finished the year with 50 receptions on 74 targets for 357 yards and three touchdowns.

Improvement in 2018?

Jets teams under offensive coordinator John Morton don’t use the TE position as a major part of the offense. Seferian-Jenkins hit 50 yards in only one of 14 games. Of the 68 TEs with double-digit receptions on the season, ASJ ranked 66th. He also wasn’t particularly explosive, averaging a disappointing 7.1 yards per catch. He was also bizarrely unlucky in the replay department, with the NFL’s arbitrary and capricious system negating multiple TDs on overturns.

While those are reasonable demerits, let’s look at reasons that he can still be a dynasty asset. Still only 25, the 2017 season was a stepping stone to getting his career back on track. He has both the size and athleticism to have an impact. At 6 foot 5 and 262 pounds, his 4.56-second forty gives him an impressive Freak Score of 93.1

Can He Make an Impact in Jacksonville?

The downside of Seferian-Jenkins’ move to Jacksonville is the quarterback play with Blake Bortles under center. While Jacksonville will still want to run the ball, that will depend on a lot of things going right again. The Jaguars defense was dominant in 2017, allowing the fewest passing yards on the season.2 They ranked second in total points allowed (268), takeaways (33), and sacks (55), and tied for first in defensive touchdowns. While I expect the defense to be a top-10 unit in 2018, it is fair to expect a regression from the numbers we saw in 2017.

The expected regression in defensive efficiency will lead to more negative game scripts and create more overall passing volume. Jacksonville could lean on Bortles’ arm more than most expect.

The Jaguars have added several bodies to their receiving corps. With Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson leaving in free agency, they signed Donte Moncrief and added rookies D.J. Chark (their second-round pick) and Allen Lazard (a UDFA), both of whom sport a top-three Freak Score among 2018 combine invitees. Marqise Lee will try to build on a very solid 2017 season, and Dede Westbrook enters his sophomore season after drawing heavy targets in limited action as a rookie. It’s a crowded WR group when you include surprising second-year player Keelan Cole.

Lee, Moncrief, and Westbrook should share the majority of WR targets with Cole and Chark next in line. While Cole impressed as a undrafted rookie, averaging 17.8 yards per catch for 748 yards, much of his production came in Week 15 and 16 with Lee out of the lineup.3 Here’s how I project the targets to be distributed in 2018:

Name Position Tar
Lee WR 109
Seferian-Jenkins TE 81
Moncrief WR 76
Westbrook WR 69
Fournette RB 55
Chark WR 42
Yeldon RB 41
Cole WR 32
Grant RB 18
Paul TE 15
Misc * 34
Total 572
*O’Shaughnessy, Lazard, Bohanon, Greene, Koyack, Mickens

Seferian-Jenkins’ 81 projected targets come in as the second highest on the team. This may sound like an optimistic prediction considering what we saw Jacksonville’s TEs do last year. But a little more historical perspective reveals it may actually be on the low end.

Jacksonville’s TE Struggles

It’s true, the Jaguars have not had an effective TE for some time. The best finish by a Bortles TE came in 2015 when Julius Thomas corralled 46 receptions on 80 targets (TE18). However, that was in only 12 games. The following year Thomas had an injury-ravaged season but finished with 51 targets for 30 catches in nine games. Although his full-season finishes in Jacksonville aren’t strong, Thomas’ per-game numbers give us hope that Jacksonville’s reluctance to use the TE was mostly a personnel issue, rather than something systemic.

jax_te

The team released veteran TE Marcedes Lewis earlier in the offseason after they signed both Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul in free agency. Lewis hasn’t caught more than 25 passes in a season since 2012, but he was one of the most effective blocking tight ends in the league. However Seferian-Jenkins is a major upgrade as a receiving threat. Expect him to have a similar snap share to Lewis, but an increased role in the passing attack.Jaguars wrs

 

Thomas averaged a 100-target full-season pace during his two shortened years in Jacksonville. When you consider the recent upgrade from Lewis to a younger, more athletic Seferian-Jenkins, the numbers Lewis put up recently look more like a worst-case scenario for 2018.

Dynasty Outlook

With his current ADP in dynasty startups at No. 178 – in the 14th round as the 22nd TE drafted — Seferian-Jenkins looks undervalued. The landscape at TE is clear at the top. The top tier is made up of three names: Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Zach Ertz, in some order. After that it’s Evan Engram and Hunter Henry, who will now miss the 2018 season with a torn ACL. After that, there really is no consensus.

In part due to all his off-field issues since being drafted, Seferian-Jenkins has only played in 38 games in four seasons, with 105 catches for 1,070 yards and 10 TDs. If he had those numbers without the off-field concerns, we’d be prepping for his breakout now. At 25 years old and with his career back on track, I have Seferian-Jenkins at No. 8 in my TE rankings.4

With many TEs like Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen reaching the later part of their careers – and with Jordan Reed’s concussion concerns – Seferian-Jenkins’ upside propels him past these players in my rankings. I recently acquired him for a 2019 third-round pick in one league and a 2018 third-round pick in an other. In dynasty, you generally don’t get a starting TE in the third round of a rookie draft, so if you need help at the position, go and make that offer!

Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ 2018 Projections

81 Targets 53 Receptions 524 Yards 5 TDs

WHO’S NEXT?

In each “Dynasty Exchange”, I will be looking at players I think are over or undervalued in the dynasty landscape, along with some dynasty strategy. If you have players or dynasty related topics you’d like to see me discuss, let me know in the comments below or via @Overtimeireland or Overtimeireland@gmail.com .

  1. ASJ may not be that fast now, but he’s definitely a size/speed specimen at the position.  (back)
  2. 2,718 — an average of only 169.9 per game.  (back)
  3. In those two games he had 21 targets, 13 catches and 294 yards.  (back)
  4. No other RotoViz writer has him higher than No. 14.  (back)

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