• Laviska Shenault: Was he Overhyped?

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    Expectations for Laviska Shenault entering 2021 were through the roof. Has Shenault regressed or were expectations too high?

    Laviska Shenault is a physically gifted player and if it was not for nagging injuries at Colorado then he could have been drafted much higher than the second round by the Jaguars. There were glimpses of how good he could be but he also dealt with injuries his rookie year. With new coach Urban Meyer, many thought Shenault was the perfect player for that offense, and fantasy stock was going through the roof.

    Urban Meyer

    In college, Urban Meyer has been successful at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State. At Florida and Ohio State he used RB/WR hybrids in the slot quite a bit with Percy Harvin and Curtis Samuel. I think this is why everyone put huge expectations on Shenault but he didn't fit this type. Harvin and Samuel are both 5'11" and around 190 lbs, while Shenault is 6 ft 1 in and 227 lbs.

    All of these players are great after the catch but Shenault is a more physical player who likes to run you over. A better comparison would be Cordarelle Patterson and it took him nine years to really find an established role.  Before the season many were expecting big numbers from Shenault but I was more in line with the IDP Offensive Dynasty Rankings WR32.

    Another argument can be made that Meyer's offense has looked clunky and ill-prepared. I agree with this and some personnel decisions have put the Jaguars in a tough spot. Once DJ Chark went out for the season, the WRs were down a significant piece and Shenault out of necessity would have to play outside a little more.

    How do Shenault's numbers stack up?

    Many are disappointed with how Urban Meyer and even Trevor Lawrence with the lack of production for Shenault through seven games. As you can see below the numbers are almost identical from a year ago. He is actually getting seven more targets and the rest the difference is negligible. Shenault is averaging around one fantasy point less a game and has three double-digit fantasy games compared to four last year.

    I took a look at some more metrics from Player Profiler and much like the box score there is not much difference and if anything the metrics are better in 2021. The only metric where Shenault is not doing better this year is the True Catch rate. Both Target Accuracy and QB RTG have more to do with QB play.

    The complaint by many is that he is not being placed in the slot enough and that a former CB, Jamal Agnew should not be getting targets. As you can see, Shenault is getting steady numbers of targets and snaps out of the slot. I have been pleasantly surprised with Agnew. Many just hear "former CB" and think he is not a good WR.  He is #2 in target separation (2.93) and #27 in True Catch Rate (92.3%).

    What Does this mean going forward?

    I think Laviska Shenault is a very good player but not the prototype for this offense than many believed. Also while Trevor Lawrence is talented, he is still a rookie and learning his way. Last year there were fewer talented passers so they would go for the closest receiver. Lawrence looks to push the ball down the field more. The injuries of Travis Etienne and DJ Chark really have hamstrung the talent on offense.

    Now every receiver is pushed up a spot that they normally wouldn't have to have been before. Shenault needs to find more consistency and the coaches before the season mentioned they want him to develop as a well-rounded receiver, not just a slot and gadget player. There will be better days for him moving forward, as Meyer and Lawrence gain experience the offense should continue to grow.

    I am not sure that Shenault will ever break into a top 24 WR range but he is well within the top 32. He will have games where he can explode to the top 12ish range, just not consistently. I do not think he has taken the steps everyone thought. However, the expectations were just not realistic in this offense that is still finding itself. People should not forget this team lost 15 straight games last season.

    Thanks for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it and any feedback is welcome. Please continue to check out my articles IDPGUYS.ORG and follow me on Twitter @hayeb3

    Brandon Haye

    Dog & Craft Beer Lover. Go Browns, Jags, & Wolverines. Devy Dude for IDP GUYS and fantasy football analyst
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