26 Aug Laviska Shenault: #1 WR to Buy in Dynasty
Laviska Shenault: #1 WR to Buy in Dynasty
The NFL pool of wide receiver talent seems to grow deeper and deeper each year. Most teams already have at least two or three starting-caliber receivers, but then we were blessed with multiple highly productive rookie wideouts in the last two rookie classes. This makes it tough for fantasy owners when deciding which receiver will be most productive out of a team’s duo or trio.
The new-look Jacksonville Jaguars have been heavily debated in fantasy circles this off-season. They have a new head coach in Urban Meyer and just drafted the messiah of quarterback prospects, Trevor Lawrence. The big question is: Who will be his favorite “go-to” guy to target? There is a lot of talent in their wideout room, but here is why Laviska Shenault will be the one to rise to the top, as well as become the #1 WR to buy in Dynasty.
Shenault was a 3-star recruit that committed to the University of Colorado in 2017. He did not redshirt his freshmen year, but there wasn’t much production to show for it with only seven receptions. Going into his sophomore season, Shenault had secured a starting role and opened the season with a 211-yard performance against Colorado State. From that point, he went on to have a First-team, All PAC-12 campaign by putting up 1,011 yards on 86 receptions and scoring 11 total touchdowns in 9 games.
As a junior, Shenault wasn’t quite as productive as his second year, but he still flashed enough to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft and be selected in the 2nd round of what was a stacked wide receiver class. The Jaguars pulled the trigger on Shenault with the 42nd overall pick, even though he recently had core muscle surgery. Many believe that a healthy Laviska would have pushed for 1st-round draft capital. In college, he was known for making plays from all over the field, including as a rusher. Shenault received 42 carries in his college career and averaged 6.7 yards per rush.
Laviska’s overall stats as a rookie won’t blow anyone away, but he proved that he can be a playmaker at the NFL level. He was often used as a runner out of the backfield in college, and that didn’t change at the next level. Shenault ran the ball 18 times last season- the only wide receivers with more attempts were Robert Woods and Curtis Samuel. He was also Top-10 among all wideouts in broken tackles. When you consider that Jacksonville had one of the least effective passing attacks in 2020, 58 receptions for 600 yards and 5 touchdowns in 14 games is a decent start for the rookie receiver.
There’s a notion that Shenault is only a “gadget player”, but his ceiling is much higher than that. His 17.6-percent Dominator Rating (% of team’s total TDs + Yardage) was 7th-best among rookie receivers, according to Expandtheboxscore.com. Right after the obvious rookie breakouts (Jefferson, Lamb, Higgins, Claypool, Aiyuk, Jeudy), Shenault was atop the next tier, with no other rookie above 16-percent. He also led the team in yards-per-target and yards-per-route-run. It didn’t quite come together for Shenault because of poor quarterback play, but he showed flashes of being a lead receiver and his role will grow in 2021. Laviska Shenault is #1 WR to buy in Dynasty.
While Shenault has been a popular breakout candidate among the fantasy community, there are some concerns about his ability to overcome the crowded receiver room. Back in March, the Jaguars signed wideout Marvin Jones Jr. to a 2-year $14.5 million deal. While that’s enough money for him to live like the King of Duval County, it’s nowhere close to “alpha” receiver pay. His $6.2 million salary for 2021 will rank him as the 35th-highest paid receiver, just above A.J. Green, Emmanuel Sanders, and Keelan Cole who are all veterans that were brought in to be role-players. In Jones’ 8-year career, 2020 is the only season he’s led his team in targets. It’s safe to say that Kenny Golladay’s absence in Detroit led to that single instance, so I’m not worried about Jones preventing Shenault from becoming the top receiving option for the team.
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D.J. Chark has been atop the wide receiver depth chart for the last two seasons. I’ve already covered how Shenault (as a rookie) was more efficient than him, leading the team in yards-per-target/route-run. During one of Urban Meyer’s first interviews as the Jacksonville head coach, he criticized Chark for playing “little” and expressed how he wasn’t pleased with what he saw on tape. Chark is in the final year of his rookie deal, and we’ve seen no reports about talks of an extension. With Jones under contract through 2022 and Shenault still on his 4-year rookie deal, I can easily see Jacksonville allowing Chark to walk and focusing their resources on building up the dreadful defense.
We all love to get excited about the preseason while making sure our fellow fantasy enthusiasts don’t overreact to it (especially when we disagree with them!). As I’m writing this, the Jaguars have played two preseason games. D.J. Chark has yet to play due to a recent injury and Marvin Jones Jr. left the second game earlier than the other starters, so this should be taken with a grain of salt, but Meyer has made sure to put the ball into Shenault’s hands early and often. Laviska received 3 targets on Jacksonville’s first drive of Week 1 and then led the team in Week 2 targets. Again, we can’t buy too much into a couple of preseason games, but this is exactly how you want to see Shenault used if he’s going to break out this season.
The 2020 rookie class has already produced a fine number of fantasy studs, but we haven’t even begun to see the late bloomers. Laviska Shenault is at the top of the list of players that I expect much more from in 2021. Because of his subpar rookie season production and the tough competition for targets on his team, he can still be acquired in dynasty leagues for a reasonable price. The highly anticipated arrival of the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck will finally take place in Jacksonville this year and now is your chance to go out and acquire his future No. 1 receiver! #VISKA
A hardcore St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, Andrew found a passion for football via the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf”. He works in IT sales during the day, but much of his free time is spent obsessing over his Dynasty teams.