Blake Bortles – Grade: B+
I want to take a look at Bortles because many people are throwing shade at him because there is a regression expectation based upon the investments the club has made in defense and while there may be some regression, I think people are selling him short.
Let’s start with what his stat line looked like last year:
Passing Yards: 4,428 Passing TDs: 35 Ints: 18 Rushing Yards: 310 Rushing TDs: 2 Fumbles: 5 RTG: 88.2
I know you cannot base everything on prior year production, but that is one heck of a stat line for a sophomore QB. Let’s take a look at how the team has changed in the last year and how that could affect BB.
In the draft, the Jags added 2 of the most exciting defensive talents in Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack… and then more defense… and then more. As for free-agents, they added significant defensive talent in Malik Jackson and Prince Amukamara. I will agree with the rest of the community that this likely means less shoot-outs and therefore less garbage-time and deep desperation tosses; however, I do not believe this necessarily means less QB productivity.
First, let’s not pretend like BB had a huge anomaly season and was the #1 passing QB. By points scored, Jacksonville was not even in the top 10, and in yards total, they were the #10. Second, do the numbers really prove out that the best fantasy defenses lead to poor fantasy production in the passing game?
Top 10 defenses last year (pts allowed):
Top 10 passing attacks (pts scored):
6 of the top 10 defenses in points allowed were also in the top 10 in pts scored in passing.
Combined with the information above that says Bortles is getting close to the beginning of the normal peak for a QB career, I have other reasons to believe that the team, and his production, will continue to grow… Their passing attack age is the second lowest in the NFL at 23.9, but they ranked in the top 10 in yards. The next closest aged team in the top 10 of yards was the Detroit Lions at 27.4. (stats from FootballPerspective.com). This core isn’t changing soon as Allen Hurns is locked up through 2020, Julius Thomas through 2019, T.J. Yeldon through 2018 and Allen Robinson through this next year. As such an integral piece and a young star talent, Robinson is likely to be extended.
The addition of Chris Ivory may worry some, but he doesn’t have many years left in the tank and with BB’s ability to run the ball and Yeldon as a receiving option out of the backfield, I expect Ivory to mostly help open up the offense. If I am wrong and there’s even a 10% regression, that would leave BB over 4,000 yards and 30 TDs passing; heading into his prime years, that is exactly the kind of value I’m looking to build a dynasty around. Current ADP has BB going in the middle of the 7th (after many of our other young QBs we will examine). If I can pair BB with a late-round veteran in case this year is a big regression, I would be thrilled to have him as my QB core for the next decade.