Week 8 of the season presents us with a few interesting games. The Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaguars each out of division games. The Bucs are coming off a bye. The Jags are coming off a win against a bad Bengals defense, while the Dolphins had a bad fourth quarter in a loss to Buffalo. This week, the Jags again have a great matchup, while the Bucs and Dolphins face good defenses.
The Jags faced a bottom defense in the Bengals that can’t stop the run or the pass. This week they face a Jets team that has struggled to stop the pass. That means you can expect the trio of D.J. Chark (above), Dede Westbrook, and Chris Conley to have good games again. Chark has been held out of the endzone for two games in row, which sounds unheard of. Expect him to find the endzone and end his mini-scoring skid.
Westbrook has missed a few practices, and if he were to sit, that would open up more targets for Conley, who had seven targets a week ago. Leonard Fournette has been a workhorse this season for Jacksonville with three one hundred yard games in the last four. The Jets, though, have a good run defense that ranks top 15 in the NFL and ranking 6th in run DVOA.
The Jaguars will give him the carries. So, he is by no means a sit, but be cautious of a under 100-yard performance. He could be owned less than he would normally be in DFS and could be a good pivot play.
The Bucs will travel to Nashville fresh off a BYE week. Last time out, the offense was a mess in London with Jameis Winston tossing five interceptions. The schedule isn’t any easier here facing a Titans defense that is 9th in the NFL in sacks, and a unit with at least one turnover in every game, except for one. At running back, we don’t even know who to play between Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones.
Jones has eaten into Barber’s workload more and more each week, which might have been a sign of things to come post BYE Week. Against the Titans defense, this may not be the time to play that guessing game, though. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who has three straight 100 yard receiving games, are always in play. And, with this matchup, they should be less owned on DFS apps.
The Miami Dolphins will be playing on Monday night!
Yes, you read that right.
The winless Phins take on a Steelers team fresh off a bye. The offense was better with Ryan Fitzpatrick back at QB. Running back, Mark Walton has emerged as the starting running back for this team. Last week he had 66 yards on 14 carries. Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage combined for nine carries to give you perspective. The wide receivers are still the safer guys to target.
With the Phins expected to be losing a lot, that means more passing, and that only helps Devante Parker and Preston Williams. Parker scored for the third week in a row and had ten targets. Williams had eight targets and led the team in receiving with 82 yards.
The Dolphins have managed to play back to back competitive games after a few blowouts to start the season and may have guys we can begin playing in the flex spots with these bye weeks.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?