Jaguars fans fully embraced the mustache mania after Gardner Minshew burst onto the scene in 2019. The former 6th round pick impressed everyone as he rifled passes downfield and made plays with his legs. In 14 starts, Minshew won six games and solidified himself as a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL. Now, he gets the chance to prove it again in 2020 with the departure of Nick Foles and no viable backup quarterback. Given an above-average offensive line, a strong receiving corps, and all-pro talent at the wide receiver position, I think Minshew is set up to improve upon 2019. The question becomes whether his rookie season was a fluke and whether Minshew can progress against opposing defenses who have now had the entire offseason to prepare against him.
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The 2019 season was another disappointment for the Jaguars, a team a quarter away from making it to the Superbowl in 2017. At 6-10 and a large portion of the 2017 nucleus gone or on their way out, the Jaguars look lost heading into the future. However, the one positive out of all their turmoil was the play of quarterback Gardner Minshew. In 14 games, Minshew threw for 3271 yards, 21 passing touchdowns, and ran for 344 rushing yards. He produced a solid 265 fantasy points and was one of the main reasons fans tuned into Jaguar’s games.
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Given his quality season, questions have emerged on whether Minshew’s season was a fluke. Could he replicate his success in 2020 when defenses have more time to gameplan? Does he fit with the weapons around him? Will contributors like Leonard Fournette take the load off of Minshew?
Lineups projects some of these concerns to impact Minshew. Lineups projects the quarterback to finish 2020 with 3187 passing yards for 21 touchdowns. They also expect him to somewhat contribute to the rushing game with 266 rushing yards and two touchdowns. In total, Lineups projects Minshew to finish with 229 total fantasy points.
I see where the projection comes from, but I am a bit more optimistic about Garner Minshew. The Jaguars bolstered their passing game by drafting wide receiver Laviska Shenault and signing veteran tight-end Tyler Eifert. Alongside a good running back, an above-average offensive line, and other receiving threats like DJ Chark and Dede Westbrook, the Jags have an underrated offense. I project this unit to have a more positive effect on Minshew’s performance than most others.
Highest graded QBs in the red-zone last season
1. Ryan Tannehill
2. Drew Brees
3. Lamar Jackson
4. Gardner Minshew pic.twitter.com/rTQy04q60T
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 3, 2020
ADP: 157.9 QB: 23
Auction Value: $1
Minshew is currently projected as a bottom-tier quarterback prospect with fantasy owners drafting him lower than Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Tyrod Taylor, and Tua Tagovailoa. I disagree with this ADP. Minshew showed he is capable of being an average to an above-average quarterback in the NFL. Combined with his scrambling ability, more explosive receiving targets, and a quality offensive line, I don’t see where the hate with Minshew comes from. If he is available at his current ADP, I would pick him up in a heartbeat. Fantasy owners should consider drafting Minshew in the late 120s. At this range, guys like Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, and Jared Goff are just getting taken, all of whom I don’t think Minshew is too far behind.
Minshew’s floor is low because we have no idea how he will perform in 2020. While he had quite a few eye-opening performances, he also produced quite a bit of duds. Against the New Orlean Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Atlanta Falcons, Minshew had a QBR of below 15 and passed for less than 150 yards. He combined for only two touchdowns and looked lost on the field. Luckily, Minshew does not have to face off against the NFC South in 2020.
Given some mediocre performances, and unproven consistency, I have to give him a low floor. However, given his ADP and quarterback rankings, this floor should not deter fantasy owners from drafting Minshew. If you have a solid quarterback rotation, especially one that lacks mobility, Minshew is one of the better options given the remaining quarterbacks.
Minshew has a higher ceiling than most quarterbacks. After displaying an above average rookie season, Minshew could come into 2020 even more prepared and explosive. Minshew has the playmaking instinct that separates game-managers from elite quarterbacks. Having a full offseason to get first-team reps – something he didn’t have his rookie season – allows Minshew the opportunity to build more chemistry with his receivers. I expect Minshew to generate 3,600+ yards passing, 24+ touchdowns, and 400 yards rushing.
As mentioned before, I think fantasy owners and analysts are severely underrating the Jaguars offense. While injuries remain a key question with many of their pieces (Tyler Eifert, Leonard Fournette, and Laviska Shenault), when healthy, they all complement each other. Shenault is the bruising inside receiver with elite yards after catch ability while DJ Chark is a quintessential deep threat. Fournette plays to their offensive lines’ strengths in rush protection. Tyler Eifert is the red zone threat the Jaguars missed in 2019. Expect this unit to play well off of each other’s strengths.
Strength of Schedule
The Jaguars benefit from being in the AFC South, a division with no premier defense. The Colts have holes in the secondary, the Texans lost key players like Jadeveon Clowney, and the Titans have no elite playmakers. With six games against average to below-average defenses, expect Minshew to shine.
Minshew also has the luxury of going up against the Bengals, Lions, Vikings, and Browns – all of whom have huge questions at the cornerback and/or safety positions. With so many games against suspect opponents, I think the schedule should not detract fantasy owners from selecting Minshew.
I’m a huge fan of Gardner Minshew in fantasy because of his upside. At his ADP, you aren’t drafting him as a number 1 quarterback, but a borderline #2 or bench player. Given his potential to hit over 3,600 yards passing and 500 yards rushing in a complete season, I project Minshew to exceed his fantasy expectations. Fantasy owners should definitely look to draft Minshew if still available in the 130s.