Having served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon is finally able to practice with the team this week in preparation for the team's Week 5 game against the Rams.
A polarizing figure on-and-off the field, it makes sense that owners will start their waiver wire lists with Blackmon in mind. He's one of the most purely-talented receivers in the league. I obviously added him to my Week 5 Waiver Wire Pickups list. But the question I want to throw out there is how much value does he actually bring to a team that has one of the worst quarterbacks in the league?
Look at what Blaine Gabbert has done so far. In 2 games, Weeks 1 and 4, Gabbert has totaled 300 passing yards, 4.5 yards an attempt, zero touchdown throws and 5 interceptions. This has caused a trickle down affect to Cecil Shorts' value. With Gabbert as the starter, Shorts has caught 10 passes for 41 yards. With Chad Henne? 16 catches for 236 yards. Sensing a pattern?
With Henne on the bench, you're probably wondering why I even bring his name up in the first place. In 2012, Blackmon's success hindered on Henne being the starter.
Gabbert started the first 10 games of the 2012 regular season, but the Chad Henne era officially began early in the game against the Texans after Gabbert suffered an elbow injury. Gabbert was eventually benched after Henne threw 4 touchdown passes in relief. Gabbert was then officially placed on IR November 21.
Playing with Gabbert, Blackmon caught 26 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown through 9 games. Once Gabbert got knocked out completely and Henne played the rest of the Texans game, Blackmon went on to catch 7 passes for 236 yards and 1 score. He was targeted 14 times by Henne in that game, which was his highest target total so far that year. How did Blackmon fare with Henne as the starter? Including that Texans game, Blackmon caught 38 receptions for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Want to talk about targets? With Gabbert, Blackmon was targeted 55 times from Weeks 1 to 9. With Henne under center; 74 times, while also racking up 5 games of double-digit targets. Clearly Henne loved Blackmon.
Keep in mind there are some small discrepancies with the numbers due to Henne playing spot duty for a couple weeks while Gabbert was dealing with that injured shoulder. But the numbers don't lie. Blackmon needs Henne to start to have any real success in 2013. End of story.
The Final Verdict
I'm not telling you to leave Blackmon on the wire. Far from it. Considering he is starter worthy and the rest of the options on your wire are likely not as talented, Blackmon should be picked up in all formats. Even if you stash him away for safe keeping just so others can't nab him. Gabbert has seriously regressed from 2012. It's clear to see he's not going to take the team anywhere. And with rumors abound that the Jaguars really want to land that No. 1 overall draft spot in 2014, the coaching staff has continued to back Gabbert every chance they get. If that continues and Henne doesn't get another starting shot this year, Blackmon is looking like nothing more than a low-end flex option for the rest of the year.