The Jacksonville Jaguars pass game caused untold arguments this offseason among the fantasy football cognoscenti. Some backed D.J. Chark, some backed Marvin Jones Jr. (raises hand), and others backed Laviska Shenault. Those who backed Laviska Shenault this offseason have to be concerned at this point. He hasn’t lived up to his draft capital, there isn’t much under the hood to think he will live up to his draft capital, and it has us all wondering: is it time to drop Laviska Shenault?
Laviska Shenault Draft Capital
In the fantasy football draft season, Laviska Shenault went as a speculative upside wide receiver. On average, he went off the board in the eighth round, at about WR40. This put him in the range of teammates D.J. Chark (WR41), Marvin Jones (WR47), Mike Williams (WR44) and Brandin Cooks (WR39). So, to take Laviska Shenault left you eschewing a number of wide receivers who have otherwise produced up to (and exceeded) their draft stock this offseason. I don’t put this information in here to beat up on Laviska Shenault drafters. It could have easily been Shenault or Will Fuller, or Jarvis Landry, or Corey Davis, or a whole other group of wide receivers who haven’t produced.
I bring up Shenault’s draft stock because drafters have to look at the guys that they skipped over at the position to take Shenault and wonder what could have been. Other than going on tilt, the psychological aspect of fantasy football doesn’t get discussed often enough. To this point, Laviska Shenault is a miss. It’s also unlikely he will be a hit, when you look under the hood. But, given that you skipped two guys on his own team who outperformed Shenault through three games, you need to take a look in the mirror and wonder if you should get him off of your fantasy football roster.
Laviska Shenault Production
Let’s look at Laviska Shenault’s performance so far this season. Through three games, he has a WR50 finish, a WR110 finish, and a WR52 finish (half-PPR). He currently averages 31.7 yards per game receiving, and his rushing is almost nonexistent, turning in just 9 rush yards through his three games. He’s been an afterthought for the woeful Jaguars’ passing game. At this point, his on-field performance shows me nothing that garners excitement for Shenault’s prospects. But what about his under-the-hood prospects? Are those any better?
Currently, DJ Chark ranks third on the Jags in targets, with 21. He sits just one behind DJ Chark and seven behind Marvin Jones. All told, 7 targets per game isn’t too bad. That’s the one bit of encouragement for him. Unfortunately, he has just three more yards than James Robinson, who has six fewer targets than him on the season. Why? His air yards are trash. He doesn’t get the ball far enough downfield for it to matter.
Under Laviska Shenault’s Hood
As I write this, comprehensive week three air yards data doesn’t yet exist, but per FTNFantasy, through two weeks, Shenault ranked a distant third in air yards on the Jaguars: both Marvin Jones and D.J. Chark rank in the top-five, and Shenault ranks 74th. His targets, on average, are about 4.4 yards downfield. This is likely due to the biggest problem with Shenault coming out of college: his ball-tracking issues. It necessitates a shorter passing game because Shenault cannot handle a longer one. His average depth of target is 4.4 yards downfield, but his yards before catch per reception is just 1.4. At this point, he has two more air yards than Trent Sherfield, who splits snaps with Brandon Aiyuk.
Speaking of snaps, Shenault is the odd man out in Jacksonville there, too. Through three games, Marvin Jones averages 92% of snaps, D.J. Chark averages 84% of snaps, and Laviska Shenault averages 72% of snaps. That’s a lot of snaps, but he’s clearly the third fiddle to both Jones and Chark in terms of air yards, targets, and snaps.
At this point, I’m not quite sure what we can point at with Shenault that will get him some fantasy football production. He’s WR74 right now, he has 2.5 yards after catch per target, no red zone targets, and his air yards share is 9%. Despite all the short targets, he also has just a 56.3% catch rate and almost no target separation. He’s just been bad this year, and the offense is sputtering. To me, he makes for a solid drop candidate.
I just don’t see the upside to Laviska Shenault’s 2021 at this point, and it’s high time we move on from him in our redraft leagues.