2023 Fantasy Coaching & Coordinator Breakdown: Jacksonville Jaguars


(Welcome to the FTN Fantasy NFL Coaching & Coordinator Series. All summer, our Adam Pfeifer will be looking at every team’s coaching staff through a fantasy football lens, to see what means what and how a fantasy manager can capitalize on it. Today: The Jacksonville Jaguars.)

Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach: Doug Pederson

Jaguars head coach since 2022


What a difference a year makes.

The 2021 season in Jacksonville was a rough one. The head-coaching situation was awful, leading to the team moving on from Urban Meyer with four games remaining in his first season. All of the chaos and disarray wasn’t the ideal environment for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who had a rather forgettable first season in the NFL. Entering the 2022 campaign, Jacksonville hired Doug Pederson, and everything changed. After a bit of a slow start, the Jaguars won six of their last seven games, made the playoffs, completed one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history and gave the Kansas City Chiefs a game in the AFC Divisional round. Pederson’s offense was obviously way more productive, as Jacksonville finished top-12 in points, plays and yards per drive last year after ranking 31st, 24th and 22nd in 2021. 

Doug Pederson Jacksonville Jaguars 2023 Fantasy Football Coaching & Coordinator Breakdown

West Coast Offense

Pederson runs a West Coast offense, which he picked up while coaching alongside Andy Reid. It was fully expected that Pederson would implement plenty of RPOs in his offense, especially when you consider his track record. Back in the 2019 season with the Eagles under Pederson, Carson Wentz ranked sixth in RPO plays (64) and pass attempts (51). And back in 2018, Wentz was fourth and third in plays and pass attempts out of RPO (79, 68). Lawrence, meanwhile, ran an RPO-heavy offense during his time at Clemson, so it was a perfect marriage. And although his rookie season was disappointing, Lawrence was effective when passing out of RPO concepts that year, completing over 73% of his passes and averaging 8.7 yards per attempt, compared to a 58.3% completion rate and 5.8 yards per attempt on non-RPO plays. Overall, Lawrence finished top-10 in both plays (64) and pass attempts (56) out of RPO sets, while Jacksonville as a team ranked ninth in RPO passes. And according to FTN Data, the Jaguars sported the eighth-highest RPO rate at 5.6%. Pederson did a great job of making Lawrence as comfortable as possible, as Jacksonville mainly operated from the shotgun, which was the case during Pederson’s time in Philadelphia. During Pederson’s final three seasons in Philadelphia, the Eagles sported shotgun rates of 68%, 60% and 65%. 10 of Lawrence’s 12 passing touchdowns from his rookie season came out of the shotgun. And this past season, Jacksonville operated from the shotgun a healthy 74% of the time, the eighth-highest rate in football. Lawrence, meanwhile, attempted 512 passes from the shotgun, which made up about 88% of his total pass attempts last year. The passing game featured more quick game concepts, as Lawrence averaged 2.40 seconds to throw last year, the fourth-fastest mark among qualified signal callers. According to FTN Data, shallow crossing and drag routes made up 7.5% of Lawrence’s targeted routes, tied for the seventh-highest rate in the league. 

Christian Kirk’s Breakout Year

Drafted as the WR42 in fantasy this time last season, Christian Kirk made that ADP look foolish during his first season in Jacksonville. The former Cardinals wideout ultimately finished as the WR12 in fantasy, hauling in 84 passes for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns. Kirk is a really good player, but I absolutely love the way Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor utilized him in their offense last season. This past season, Kirk ranked 12th among wide receivers in both targets and routes (19) off pre-snap motion, according to Sports Info Solutions. And as a team, Jacksonville ranked ninth in the NFL in pre-snap motion rate at 42%. Kirk would line up all over the formation, whether it be from the slot, out wide or even in the backfield. Yes, his main residence was the slot, lining up there 75.2% of the time, the 10th-highest rate among wide receivers. But it wasn’t as simple as just lining up in the slot and getting open. The Jaguars would scheme targets for Kirk, which is what every single team should do for their top pass-catchers. Kirk lined up out of the backfield 17 times last year, as Pederson did his best to get him favorable matchups and free releases. And it worked. According to FTN Data, Kirk ran 89 pass routes with a linebacker as the primary defender. That was the second-most among all wide receivers, trailing only Dallas’ CeeDee Lamb. Entering the 2023 season, Jacksonville now has Calvin Ridley, who will be this team’s top wide receiver. But I’d expect even less defensive attention toward Kirk, who will continue to be utilized in exciting and versatile ways. 

Tight End-Friendly Offense

If you know anything about Pederson’s offenses in the past then you know that the tight end has been an absolute focal point. Of course, those Eagles teams were led by Zach Ertz, who was one of the top tight ends in the NFL during that stretch. But over Pederson’s final three years in Philadelphia, tight ends accounted for 29%, 30% and 32% of the Eagles’ targets, all of which were comfortably above the league average rate during those seasons. This past season, Evan Engram, who was struggling to end his tenure with the Giants, put together a career year under Pederson, catching 73 balls for 766 yards and four touchdowns. He played a huge role in this offense, ranking third among all tight ends in routes run (523), while logging 76% of the offensive snaps. Engram also ranked seventh among all tight ends in route participation, running a route on 77% of Jacksonville’s dropbacks. We’ve seen Pederson’s offenses run plenty of two tight end sets. In fact, the Eagles led the league in two-tight end sets in 2018 (36%), 2019 (52%) and 2020 (35%). This past season, Jacksonville used 12 personnel 23% of the time, the 10th-highest rate in the NFL. But it didn’t stop there. The Jaguars also used 13 personnel (three tight end sets) eight percent of the time, the fifth-highest rate in football. Entering the 2023 season, Dan Arnold is gone, but the team did draft tight end Brenton Strange in the second round of April’s draft. 

Red Zone Offense

I am really interested to see if there are any changes to Jacksonville’s red zone offense this season. Not that the Jaguars were a bottom-of-the-barrel red zone defense because they weren’t. However, they did rank just 19th in red zone touchdown conversion rate (53.4%), so there is absolutely room for improvement. Jacksonville ranked 10th in the league in rush rate when in the red zone this past season (54.3%), but they weren’t the most efficient unit. Running back Travis Etienne carried the ball 10 times from inside the five-yard line last season, but only converted two attempts into touchdowns. Jacksonville would call some Wildcat direct snaps to Etienne in the red zone, though he wasn’t terribly efficient. According to FTN Data, the Jaguars called six Wildcast plays from inside the red zone last year, the third-most in football. Obviously, teams don’t really use the Wildcat outside of the Saints with Taysom Hill. But it was clearly something Pederson and Taylor were comfortable calling in scoring situations. 

Entering the 2023 season, I don’t think anyone is suddenly expecting Etienne to lose his job to rookie Tank Bigsby. Outside of short-yardage carries and the occasional dropped pass, Etienne was spectacular last season. However, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bigsby take over the short-yardage role at some point. During his time at Auburn, Bigbsy actually ran a decent amount of Wildcat and this past season, he converted 80% of his short-yardage runs into either first downs or touchdowns. 

Offensive Coordinator: Press Taylor

Jaguars OC since 2022

After spending time as quarterbacks coach for the Eagles 2016-2020, Taylor became the offensive assistant in Indianapolis for a year before joining Pederson in Jacksonville this past season. It was his first time as an NFL offensive coordinator, and it wasn’t shocking to see him and Pederson work so well together. After all, Taylor was working alongside Pederson when he was the head coach of the Eagles. Pederson should continue to do most of the playcalling for this offense entering his second season.

Defensive Coordinator: Mike Caldwell

Tampa Bay LBs coach 2019-2021, Jaguars DC 2022

After spending the previous three seasons as an inside linebackers coach in Tampa Bay, Caldwell became the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville this past season. Caldwell also coached with Doug Pederson in Philadelphia and implemented a 3-4 scheme during his first year in Jacksonville. Caldwell worked closely with Todd Bowles during his time in Tampa Bay, who has been one of the most blitz-heavy defensive minds in football, so it was interesting to see if Jacksonville would bring the heat. This past season, the Jaguars ranked 15th in the league in blitz rate (23.1%), though they did finish with the fourth-highest pressure rate at 25.1%.


Fantasy Football Takeaways

Trevor Lawrence had an expected second-year leap during the 2022 season, tossing 25 touchdowns to just eight interceptions, while throwing for over 4,100 yards. The change in regime worked wonders for Lawrence and the entire Jacksonville team. And there was a five-week stretch where Lawrence was playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. In Weeks 10-15 last year, Lawrence averaged 26.4 completions, 2.6 passing touchdowns, 289 passing yards and 24.5 fantasy points per game. During that span, he was the QB4 in fantasy and the QB6 in fantasy points per dropback (0.58). Lawrence also provided some value with his legs, rushing for five touchdowns, while ranking sixth among quarterbacks in rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line. Entering his third season, Lawrence is only going to improve, especially with the Jaguars adding Calvin Ridley to the passing attack. Draft Lawrence as a rock-solid QB1 in fantasy.

Trevor Lawrence Travis Etienne Jacksonville Jaguars 2023 Fantasy Football Coaching & Coordinator Breakdown

Travis Etienne missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury but after being limited to start his “sophomore” year, the Clemson product hit the ground running. Etienne took over lead running back duties in Week 7, rushing for 114 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against the Giants. And with James Robinson traded to the Jets, it was Etienne’s time to shine. He certainly didn’t disappoint with the uptick in opportunity, as Etienne ranked fifth in rushing yards (876), second in 100-yard games (5), eighth in yards per attempt (4.9) and third in avoided tackles per attempt during that stretch (0.26). He averaged a little over 17 touches per game from that point, but we also have to keep in mind that he left Week 12’s contest after playing just eight percent of the offensive snaps. If you remove that game, Etienne averaged closer to 19 touches and 15 PPR points per game. Overall, Etienne was very efficient on the ground, ranking fifth in the league in missed tackles forced (57) and runs of 15 or more yards (16). His 5.7 yards per touch was the 10th-best mark among qualified running backs, while his 9.0 yards per target was fifth-best at the position. Etienne is a tremendous player who should be the lead running back for an ascending Jacksonville offense.

Despite being regarded as an amazing pass-catching running back coming out of Clemson, Etienne has not been involved in that aspect to start his NFL career. Yes, it is still very early, but you definitely don’t love to see how little he was involved last year. During his first NFL season last year, Etienne ranked outside the top-30 running backs in target share, while dropping a few passes. And among running backs with at least 20 targets this past season, Etienne sported the fourth-lowest target per route run rate at just 14%. An uptick in passing game usage and more touchdown luck could lead to a top-seven finish for Etienne. 

Perhaps my favorite running back sleeper is Tank Bigsby, who the Jaguars selected in the third round of the draft. We already discussed Bigsby’s strengths in short-yardage situations, which could be enough to get him on the field if Etienne struggles in that department again. Word out of Jacksonville is that the rookie has been impressive so far and while it is possible Bigsby doesn’t enter a fantasy starting lineup all year long, I still love drafting him as a bench player this year.

After missing about two years of action, Calvin Ridley is back, now with the Jaguars. Every single report from practice is how unstoppable Ridley looks and given how dominant of a route-running wideout he is, I believe it. When we last saw Ridley play a full season in 2020, he finished as a top-five fantasy wideout in Atlanta and although it was in a different offense, this Jacksonville offense is obviously ascending with a young star under center. Ridley’s current ADP is high, which makes things a bit risky given how much time he’s missed and the fact that he’ll have more competition for targets than he did in 2021. Still, there is certainly top-12 upside for sure.

Like we discussed earlier, Christian Kirk was one of the best values in all of fantasy last season. The former Cardinals wideout ultimately finished as the WR12 in fantasy, hauling in 84 passes for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns. Ridley might be the WR1 for this team, but Kirk should continue to have a huge role in this offense. Consider him a low-end WR2.

Evan Engram’s first season in Jacksonville was a career-best. The talented tight end caught 73 balls for 766 yards and four touchdowns. He played a huge role in this offense, ranking third among all tight ends in routes run (523), logging 76% of the offensive snaps. Engram also ranked seventh among all tight ends in route participation, running a route on 77% of Jacksonville’s dropbacks. Jacksonville just rewarded Engram with a contract extension and should be ranked as a top-10 fantasy tight end entering his second season with the team.

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