This offseason, Austin Seferian-Jenkins joined the Jacksonville Jaguars and has made an immediate impact to onlookers. Through spring practices, the newcomer has established an obvious connection with quarterback Blake Bortles and appears poised for a breakthrough effort.
The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets tight end has been sober more than a year and is working hard on his craft. He enjoyed a career year in 2017 with the Jets, playing 13 games, registering 357 yards and three scores on 50 grabs. The 7.1 yards-per-reception average was the lowest of his career, but an underneath role in the offense, coupled with quarterback issues, held back the talented vertical threat.
In Jacksonville, he has a chance to be unleashed after the release of Marcedes Lewis. Seferian-Jenkins is about as self-aware as they come after finding a path to sobriety.
“There were pieces [of success in previous seasons],” he said. “But there were injuries and there were faults of mine, there were mistakes. I never was able to put it all together, and for whatever reason it didn’t happen. But you’ve got to trust your timing. You’ve got to trust your process. You can’t look at anyone else’s process,” he said to Jacksonville.com.
He discussed trust in the relationship with Bortles, too, calling it a partnership. Seferian-Jenkins couldn’t be more accurate in this description. It has shown in their connections during OTAs. The duo has teamed up for downfield lobs, where Bortles doesn’t need to be perfect but give the 6-foot-5, 262-pounder a fighting chance to climb the ladder.
With a talented but unproven cast of wide receivers, Seferian-Jenkins could prove to be the stabilizing factor in this passing attack. He has basically no competition to take him off of the field, aside from coaching decisions based on formation, but he can line up in the slot, if needed. The Jags feature a powerful rushing game and a skilled offensive line, which will require his help at times, though utilizing his down-the-seam ability will be an asset in the aerial approach.
Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief figure to lead the receivers in looks, with Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark contributing. The Jaguars proved to be deep at the position after last year’s abundance of injuries had thrust Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens into the spotlight. While the wideouts could cannibalize each other, Seferian-Jenkins should be relatively safe from a volume perspective.
Fantasy football outlook
A true breakout season could be in store for the 25-year-old. He has the requisite experience and knowledge of the game, in addition to being committed to sobriety. His presence will be felt in the red zone.
Ignore last year’s miserable yardage average and recognize the downfield potential in this offense, with this quarterback. Bortles tends to be the butt of jokes, which is mostly unfair. He is durable, has displayed increased accuracy, and is protecting the ball better than ever. Location and decision-making skills have visibly improved, as well.
It seems fair to believe the trouble with alcohol is behind the fifth-year Washington product — one less thing gamers have to worry about is another suspension. Seferian-Jenkins is no stranger to injuries, however. He has yet to see the field for 16 contests in a year.
Fantasy owners have placed him, on average, in the 15th round. Drafting a second tight end isn’t always the optimal way to stage lineup construction, though it appears worthwhile in his situation. Or, if you’re feeling brave, which is almost necessary in this year’s hodgepodge class of tight ends, taking him as the exclusive option on a roster isn’t a terrible gamble. Safely, Seferian-Jenkins is a TE2 but boasts upside of a top-12 player at his position.