There’s aren’t a lot of players on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster that are quality pickups for your fantasy team. We’ve taken a look at rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee and veteran running back Toby Gerhart in our Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Value Picks series, but today we’ll look at a familiar face: tight end Marcedes Lewis. This is Marcedes Lewis Fantasy Football Value Pick.
A few years ago, the discussion of Lewis among the NFL’s best tight ends was a common occurrence. With the emergence of David Garrard at quarterback and a running-first offensive gameplan, Lewis was almost always guaranteed to be in on every play and able to get his hands on the ball. But the honeymoon for Lewis was short lived and he very quickly fell back to earth. Or, more accurately, his quarterbacks fell back to earth.
Lewis was selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft and he deserved every look. His massive 6’6″ 255 pound frame proved effective at run blocking, bailing out his quarterback, and presenting a red zone target rivaled by few coverage teams. It took a few seasons for Lewis to emerge, but in 2010 he came on with a vengeance. He amassed 58 catches, 700 yards, and 10 touchdowns. But the next year, with the sudden departure of Garrard and the poor play of Luke McCown and Blaine Gabbert, Lewis sunk down to a meager 39 receptions, 460 yards, and zero TDs. After that abysmal 2011 campaign, LEwis was all but written off by fantasy owners.
Lewis is entering his ninth season in the league, but don’t sell him short. He’s still just 30 years old, has more experience than ever before, and for the first time in a long while he has some quality wide receivers to take the burden off of him as the primary receiving threat. Last year was a major disappointment for the Jaguars with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield, but with a rejuvenated workhorse in Gerhart, Lewis should also have the benefit of a respectable running game to rely on and get open for more balls from the quarterback. Lewis was also battling nagging injuries through the season but is coming back at full strength.
It’s the consistency at quarterback that will prove to be the most important factor for Lewis, though. Lewis is able to dominate a game if the quarterback can get the ball anywhere near him. He displayed this ability again in the preseason, accumulating 100 yards on just six receptions for a healthy 16 yard per reception average, the likes of which we have not seen since 2009 (when he had a at least a moderately competent quarterback). Under Chad Henne or Blake “Preseason-Sensation” Bortles, Lewis should be fed plenty of balls to keep the yards coming. Henne is already on board:
"Yeah, I definitely feel very comfortable with him. I think he’s doing a really good job this spring and this summer by getting open and just his big target (allows me to) put the ball in a vicinity that the defender can’t get. He keeps doing good things; we’re just going to keep feeding him and make him a playmaker."
Ultimately, this isn’t just the hopeful opinion of one Jaguars writer. Lewis is being eyed as a tight end with upside across the league. NFL.com’s Alex Gelhar had this to say:
"The Jaguars offense was gelling last week against the Bears when Lewis caught three passes for 46 yards, and could be a sneaky one for fantasy points in 2014. Lewis caught 10 touchdowns passes in 2010, but suffered from the Blaine Gabbert-effect and general Jaguars-ness the subsequent three years. If you wait on tight ends, Lewis is an option worth considering at the end of fantasy drafts as a TE2 with upside."
With the general “Jaguars-ness” coming to an end in favor of the new, competitive era under general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, expect Lewis to reemerge as a quality player who can be an important member of your fantasy team. This is a low risk, high regard pickup for your fantasy team, especially as many of your competitors may avoid Lewis because of the team he plays for and his lower production in recent years. Lewis has said he is in the best shape of his career and this may be the best offensive situation for him since he arrived in Jacksonville. He’s a player with a proven ability to succeed and it sounds like he is able to get back to that level.