Are the Jaguars fun? I only ask because I would usually spend far too much time making fun of our collective Stockholm syndrome when it comes to primetime football; but it now appears that there’s some actual reason to be excited about the annual Thursday night trip to Jacksonville. I mean, the team’s starting QB dresses like Josh Brolin from “The Goonies” and has just been out here throwing touchdowns in 2020. What’s not to like?
With that in mind, let’s break down Dolphins-Jaguars from a Showdown perspective.
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Gardner Minshew ($16,500 CP) - The aforementioned Brolin wannabe. I’m not sure how Minshew and new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden have been able to click so quickly in a year without preseason, but the sophomore’s numbers through two games look phenomenal. Minshew’s scored 20-plus DKFP in back-to-back starts, he’s averaging a fantastic 0.59 fantasy points per drop back and, maybe most impressive of all, a whopping 85.9% of his throws have been on target according to Pro Football Reference. The only quarterback with a better mark in that latter category? Russell Wilson, of course. Minshew should be able to pick apart a Dolphins secondary that has surrendered an NFL-high 10.2 yards per opponent pass attempt, especially with stud corner Byron Jones having already been ruled out for this game.
Mike Gesicki ($11,100 CP) - As much as this could be about recency bias, I think we learned a lot about how Gesicki is going to function within this Miami offense in Week 2. It would appear — with the absence of Albert Wilson — that the third-year tight end is almost going to be the Dolphins’ slot “receiver” in 2020. To wit, Gesicki currently leads all TEs with a massive 70% of his routes being run out of the slot. While this might not seem like an Earth-shattering development, consider that Gesicki isn’t being asked to pass block in those scenarios, as some tight ends might. That means more overall pass-catching opportunities, which is great news for prospective owners, with Gesicki currently averaging a hyper-efficient 2.71 yards per route run with a team-best 20.7% target share. Jacksonville just conceded eight receptions, 129 yards and two touchdowns combined to the likes of Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Gesicki could be in for a huge night.
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James Robinson ($7,800) - While it initially seemed like the Jaguars’ RB committee was going to be a massive headache, it’s actually been a pretty simple two-back split through two games. Robinson is getting the early downs — translating into a 57.6% snap share — and Chris Thompson ($2,600) has been getting a majority of the third-down work. Still, that doesn’t mean Robinson is one-dimensional. The rookie comes into Thursday with the 15th-most touches of any player in football (36) and he’s averaged a respectable 5.8 yards per opportunity. I doubt his success is a weird outlier, either, as Robinson is directly on the heels of leading the FCS in yards after contact in college. This is an extremely fair price for an asset in this type of role and, with Myles Gaskin ($7,200) also relatively cheap, this won’t be a slate where you have to spend heavily for backfield production.
Keelan Cole ($5,400) - Who you choose to stack Minshew with is one of the key decisions on this slate. The choice will obviously be made a little easier if DJ Chark ($9,400) is ruled out due to his chest injury; but even if that doesn’t come to pass, Cole is an enticing pivot. First and foremost, the wideout is too inexpensive for what his role has been through two weeks. Not only does Cole rank second among Jaguars WRs in snap count (67.2%), but he’s averaging 0.57 PPR fantasy points per route run — the sixth-most of any qualified receiver in 2020. Cole should also benefit from the fact that he’s run 73% of his routes from the slot this season, a place where he won’t often be matched up with Xavien Howard.
Editor’s Note: Jaguars WR DJ Chark (chest/back) has been ruled out for tonight’s game vs. the Dolphins.
Isaiah Ford ($3,000) - I mentioned above that that Miami’s wide receiver depth took a hit this offseason when Wilson (and Allen Hurns) decided to opt out. One of the main beneficiaries of that news was Ford, who is suddenly a consistent element of the Dolphins’ game plan. The former seventh-round pick has logged at least 64.0% of the offensive snaps in both Week 1 and Week 2, clearly establishing himself as the WR3 in front of Jakeem Grant ($1,400). Most encouraging of all is that Ford remained involved in last Sunday’s loss to Buffalo even with DeVante Parker ($8,400) being able to play 88.0% of the snaps himself. Ford finished with seven catches and 76 yards on nine targets, and while some of that was likely specific to what the Bills were willing to concede, that’s a lot of potential for someone with a salary of just $3K.
Jaguars D/ST ($6,400) - I’m legitimately confused by this price point. Obviously I understand that Ryan Fitzpatrick ($10,200) and his gunslinging ways are set to oppose this unit on Thursday, but it’s rare to see a defense priced this extravagantly on a Showdown slate, especially one that frankly isn’t any good. In fact, it’s Jacksonville’s offensive line that’s surrendered an 8.6% adjusted sack rate through two weeks and it’s Minshew that’s coming off a three-turnover performance against the Titans. If you’re going to try and predict a defensive touchdown in this matchup, I assure you, Dolphins D/ST ($4,000) has just as good a chance of making that happen. Or, maybe you’ll just want to steer completely clear of teams that come into Week 3 ranking worst and second-worst in pass defense DVOA.
While the Dolphins are 0-4 ATS in their past four Thursday night games and 7-15 ATS in their past 22 road games, I’m still not feeling great about buying into a publicly backed Jaguars team. I mean, there is an obvious difference between being a fun surprise and actually being good. Miami’s also held tough against stouter competition, playing competitive contests against both the Patriots and the Bills — arguably both top five organizations in the AFC this season. If I’m betting this one on DraftKings Sportsbook give me the points.
Final Score: Miami 27, Jacksonville 24
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