What better way to start the Jaguars portion of this series than with #DUUUVAL fan favorite Gardner Minshew. The second year quarterback comes into the season with low expectations from the fantasy football community, but there are a multitude of reasons he should exceed value and contribute this year.
What happened in 2019?
Minshew got thrust into the spotlight in Week 1 when prized free agent addition Nick Foles went down with an injury. He responded by completing 22 of his 25 passes for 275 yard and 2 TD’s. After 14 games and 12 starts he ended the season with 285/470, 3271 yards, and 21/6 TD/INT. This resulted in one of the best rookie fantasy seasons of all time and was good for QB19. While these stats seem pedestrian overall, they do not tell the whole story.
In 2019, Minshew was tied for sixth lowest INT%, fifth in QB rushing yards, and in the top half of the league in ANY/A (Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt), yards/completion, and QB rating. Also, per NextGenStats his completion percentage was nearly 6% below expected, suggesting his season could have been even better and there is room for growth.
Minshew was one of the best in the league last year at play action; finishing second in completion percentage, third in passer rating, and fourth in adjusted YPA. However, the Jaguars ran play-action only 13% of Minshew’s dropbacks; the worst in the NFL.
One thing he displayed in 2019 that is often overlooked from a fantasy perspective are the intangibles. He was often able to create plays out of nothing, thrived in high pressure situations (he had the second most comeback wins in 2019), and has already stepped up as the leader of the team.
Data and stats are for the most part king in fantasy sports, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t watching Minshew film. The below clips are prime examples of what Gardner Minshew brings to the Jaguars.
One of the most impressive aspects of Minshew’s game was his ability to throw with timing and anticipation right off the bat. This was his first game as a pro. pic.twitter.com/fU327fE7AZ— NFL Film Review (@NFLFilmReview) May 8, 2020
Minshew somehow evades the tackle from Jamal Adams and finds a wide open receiver down the field for a TD. pic.twitter.com/Gr8mjJq3Zs— NFL Film Review (@NFLFilmReview) May 9, 2020
These are the types of plays you expect out of seasoned veterans. Those instincts cannot be taught. Plus, Sundays are always more enjoyable when your players are as fun to watch as this.
What to expect in 2020
The Jaguars have made some big moves to bulk up the offense while hoping to build on the promise shown last year.
Between new additions and players returning from injury, the Jags have given Gardner Minshew all the help he could want. They return breakout wide receiver DJ Chark, workhorse running back Leonard Fournette, and get their two top tight ends back from injury in James O’Shaughnessy and Josh Oliver.
As laid out in my last article, the addition of Jay Gruden might be the best signing of the offseason from a football perspective for Jacksonville. He has helped develop Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins into quality players, he runs a QB friendly offense, and can get playmakers in space. This will be key as Minshew had one of the lowest average depth of target (aDOT) in the league at 7.9 yards.
Another thing to look out for this season is a much bigger role for the tight ends. The tight end room in 2019 only managed 69 targets as a whole, while only James O’Shaughnessy topped 20 targets. The average targets for the primary tight end in Jay Gruden’s offenses between 2013 and 2018 is 81 targets. This will help open the field up for Minshew and add another level to their offense.
The Jaguars have the lowest expected win total in the league and should be playing from behind quite often. This means that we should expect an uptick in pass attempts for this offense.
Furthermore, per SharpFootballStats, the Jaguars have the fourth easiest strength of schedule in terms of defenses they will face. Only five games this season will feature teams in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency and none in the first half of the season. We want to target players in drafts who should get off to a hot start and Minshew fits that bill perfectly.
In 2019 the Jaguars QB room managed 364/589, 4023 yards and 24/8 TD/INT; good for 267 fantasy points and the QB 11. Minshew is currently being drafted as the QB 28 which seems absolutely asinine considering the potential. He enters the year as the unquestioned starter and should see the year out barring injury.
However, in a run of the mill redraft league he should not be someone you are targeting as your starter. His main value is in dynasty and superflex leagues in particular where he could be a league winner.
Projections: 357/575, 4021 yards, 26/11 TD/INT and he is rated as my QB17. The smart fellas at TimeSkew have Minshew ranked at their QB16 in redraft and dynasty.
At the bare minimum he is a solid QB2 with low end QB1 upside if everything goes his way. There’s way more to Gardner Minshew than his jorts and ‘stache and he can be had for free in most drafts.
Take advantage and collect your winnings at the end of the year.