After being irrelevant for the first nine games of his NFL career, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon suddenly looks a lot more attractive down the stretch to fantasy owners around the world.
Through the first nine games of his NFL career, Blackmon had just 26 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. Those are the kinds of numbers you would expect for a little-used slot receiver, but certainly not for the No. 5 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Then, against the vaunted Houston Texans defense, Blackmon had one of the best games any receiver has had all year. He had seven catches for 236 yards and a touchdown, nearly matching his yardage total through the first 10 weeks in one game.
With Chad Henne taking over for the injured Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, Blackmon's value is peaking at the right time for fantasy players looking to solidify their playoff rosters.
So what should be expected of Blackmon over the final six weeks of the season? Here is a breakdown to better prepare you for what is in store.
|JAGUARS' REMAINING SCHEDULE|
|Week 12: vs. Tennessee Titans|
|Week 13: at Buffalo Bills|
|Week 14: vs. New York Jets|
|Week 15: at Miami Dolphins|
|Week 16: vs. New England Patriots|
|Week 17: at Tennessee Titans|
As you can see from the remaining schedule, the Jaguars aren't going up against an elite defense the rest of the season.
The best pass defense the Jaguars will face, at least statistically, is the New York Jets in Week 14. Even without Darrelle Revis, the Jets rank fourth in the NFL against the pass. They are allowing just 200 passing yards per game and opposing quarterbacks are only competing 56 percent of their passes.
The Titans, Bills, Dolphins and Patriots all rank in the bottom half of the league in pass yards allowed. In fact, with the exception of Buffalo (18th), they all rank 26th or worse against the pass.
That would seem to give Blackmon plenty of chances to showcase his abilities. I mean, if he can put up 236 yards against Houston, he should be able to get at least 100 a couple of times in the final six weeks, right?
Here is where things start to get tricky for Blackmon and anxious fantasy owners thinking of picking the rookie up.
Blackmon's emergence came thanks to an injury to Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne playing the best game of his five-year career.
However, it is important to keep some things in perspective here. First, Henne was able to throw for 354 yards against the Texans despite completing 48.5 percent of his passes. It's not like Henne was methodically picking the defense apart.
A lot of what happened last week can be directly attributed to the Texans' poor tackling, which is not likely to continue. Blackmon is not a fast receiver who will run by a lot of defensive backs. He has good speed, but his game is predicated more on strength and leaping over defenders than running around them.
Unless Henne can somehow figure out how to complete a better percentage of his passes, Blackmon is going to have to create all his yards after the catch.
Second, there is no guarantee that Henne will remain the team's starting quarterback. Head coach Mike Mularkey made Henne the starter because the team scored a lot of points with Henne at quarterback in one game after Gabbert got hurt.
What is to stop Mularkey from going back to Gabbert, who the team invested a first-round pick on in 2011, at the first sign of trouble with Henne? If that happens, then Blackmon is in the same spot he was before the Houston game.
If you want to believe that Blackmon is going to be a reliable source of fantasy production the rest of the season, go right ahead. Who am I to tell anyone what to believe?
However, you have to keep your eyes open to the realities of the situation. A lot of Blackmon's and the Jaguars' performance last week was due to things that the Texans didn't do than what Jacksonville did do.
Blackmon is not going to add any value to your fantasy team the rest of the season. He is not worth the roster spot that he will cost, nor is he even the best option available on the waiver wire to pick up.
A player like Michael Crabtree with San Francisco is far more valuable. He doesn't get a lot of yards on a consistent basis, but has shown himself to be a red zone threat this season.