The backup quarterback darling of the NFL, Nick Foles, is headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Foles has long been an interesting story in the NFL. From starter to backup, to starter, and finally to Superbowl MVP, he has truly done it all. But, who is Nick Foles? We’ve seen dumpster fire Nick Foles and Superbowl MVP Darling Nick Foles and just about everything in between. Now given a chance to lead a team for a full 16-game season, what will Foles bring to the players around him? How much of an upgrade is he for the Jaguars and for fantasy?
We are going to take a look into some statistics not only from Foles himself but from the quarterback he’s replacing and the new wide receiver core he’s surrounded by. In the end, we will have a better understanding of which wide receivers to target for fantasy football.
Fantasy Football: Which Wide Receivers to Trust With Nick Foles
Nick Foles Past
Two seasons ago, Nick Foles resurrected his image with the Philadelphia Eagles with an underdog postseason that culminated in a Superbowl victory. The 2018 season saw him once again come on in relief of Carson Wentz yet again, but with mixed results. In the NFC divisional playoffs, Foles magic ran out. The Eagles lost to the New Orleans Saints, ending their season. Foles completed 18-of-31 attempts for only 201 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
This is one example of the up-and-down career that has encapsulated Nick Foles. He showed promise his rookie season, where he played in seven games. During that span he completed 60.8% of his passes with six touchdowns to five interceptions. He started most of the following season and posted the best numbers of his career thus far. He completed 203-of-317 attempts (64%) and threw 27 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
His career and statistical performance took awkward turns since then. He moved to a couple of different teams on one-year stints before returning the Eagles to be a backup to Wentz.
All tolled, Foles has completed 61.6% of his passes, thrown for 68 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. The touchdown-to-interception rate is skewed drastically by his fantastic 2013 season. If that season were removed, he’s thrown for 41 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.
Foles comes in to supplant Blake Bortles and is widely perceived to be the immediate starter for the 2019 season. Bortles has had fantastic games typically followed by monstrously awful outings. Throughout his career, Bortles has completed 59.3% of his passes for 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions. While Bortles offers some additional value with some rushing ability, his lack of consistency and growth made him the face of scrutiny in this offense.
Jaguars Wide Receiving Corps
Foles joins a very young, but talented, group of wide receivers. There are benefits and drawbacks that should be immediately pointed out. Chemistry being the first. The downside here is that Foles has zero rapport with any of these young men or they with him. Chemistry builds over time, so paying attention during training camp, beat reporters, and preseason games will be highly recommended. The other downside is the lack of a clear number one target. Heading into the 2018 season, there was speculation that either of the top-three receiving options would lead the charge.
Dede Westbrook is entering his third season and managed to stay healthy for his 2018 campaign. He showed some growth last season primarily lining up in the slot. More importantly, he led the team with a 19.2% target share among his teammates. He led the team in targets (101), receptions (66), yards (717), and touchdowns with five on the season. Westbrook is a solid slot receiver with good hands. There is still some growth potential, and a more accurate quarterback may help facilitate that. For fantasy purposes, slot targets are valuable targets and a 19% target share is coveted. Westbrook will remain the more expensive ADP selection of this group but may be the most consistent option at this time.
There are few things as exciting as finding a diamond-in-the-rough receiver in fantasy football. The way the 2017 season ended, that’s exactly what people thought they had in former undrafted free agent Keelan Cole. The last five games of 2017, Cole put up 475 receiving yards and three touchdowns on only 36 targets. He was the WR2 for fantasy during that stretch. The following season, Cole was regarded as a true breakout candidate and drafted accordingly.
Cole disappointed owners who were chasing the previous season’s explosive finish. However, the 2018 season saw some growth and acclimation to the NFL. He finished the season with 748 yards and three scores. The number that jumps out though is his 17.8 yards-per-reception. Cole represents a big-play threat that can make his week on two or three deep catches. Based on a disappointing finish for 2018, Cole’s draft price may dip quite a bit, making him an excellent late-round investment or best ball target.
D.J. Chark showed some glimpses of being a decent rookie wideout, but his season was hampered by injury, causing him to miss five games. He also showed the ability to stretch the field but finished with an unimpressive 43.7% catch rate. Some of that lands squarely on Bortle’s shoulders while some were simply missed catches. Growth is expected but the opportunity is questionable. If Marqise Lee returns this season, “Baby Chark” will be the first to lose targets.
It is difficult to project how Lee will be utilized this season. His 2017 season showed enough to management to offer him a contract while allowing both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to leave. After missing all of 2018 with an ACL tear, he will be returning to an almost entirely new offense. With Donte Moncrief expected to be gone, Lee would most likely slide back to the perimeter. Lee has always struggled to stay healthy and only has two fantasy relevant seasons under his belt. His quick acceleration may be hampered by the surgically repaired knee. He has some value as a hold in dynasty leagues, but otherwise, a hopeful stash or a wait-and-see approach is recommended.
Last Word on Jaguars Receivers for Fantasy
The Jaguars are built on strong defense and a desire to run the ball. Foles is an upgrade over Bortles and may increase Leonard Fournette‘s value in the run game. However, how much of an upgrade is still under speculation. He has also has struggled with consistency. The immediate upgrade is leadership, Foles excels at being the leader of a locker room where Bortles obviously struggled in that department. Foles doesn’t scramble as well as Bortles, which could be a factor behind the Jags porous offensive line.
Foles is also willing to push the ball downfield more than Bortles did. His willingness to look downfield is a great thing for a receiver like Keelan Cole. Cole is slipping in early ADP rankings and may represent a sneaky low-risk, high-reward pick once the draft season arrives. Westbrook will cost more on draft day but may be the most consistent receiver for PPR leagues. Lee remains a question mark based on health and how he fits in this new-look youth-movement offense.
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