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The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants will have plenty of options for your fantasy team in Week 1 — whether you’re playing on a DFS site like Draft Kings or Fan Duel or standard scoring like ESPN or Yahoo Fantasy — but one standout you probably drafted early will be hard pressed to produce many points for you.

ESPN’s Mike Clay thinks Odell Beckham Jr. is going to have one of the toughest matchups of any fantasy wide receiver in Week 1 and that’s because he’ll have to deal primarily with cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, arguably the best pair of cover corners in the NFL.

Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey (shadow)

The big showdown of Week 1 will feature the now-healthy and well-paid Beckham vs. one of the game’s top corners in Ramsey. Ramsey doesn’t shadow exclusively, but chased the likes of Antonio Brown, Kelvin Benjamin, DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green last season. That suggests he’ll be in charge of keeping Beckham in check in Week 1.

Even if Beckham dodges Ramsey occasionally, A.J. Bouye (position-best 31.6 QB rating allowed last season) is just about as good as Ramsey and offers just as much of a challenge. Ramsey aligned in the slot 7 percent of the time last season, but when he did move inside, it was usually to shadow an elite wideout. That could again be the case this week if Beckham gets more run inside (as was reported). Beckham needs to be downgraded in what will be one of the toughest matchups of 2018. Meanwhile, Sterling Shepard gets the upgrade against new Jags slot corner D.J. Hayden.

On the flip side, Clay believes Dede Westbrook could be a sneaky good pickup as a flex option, going against Donte Deayon.

Beckham is coming off a season-ending injury that forced him to miss 12 games last season, but before he went out he recorded double-digit fantasy totals in three of his four games. I don’t think Ramsey completely blanks Beckham but the combination of a stellar Jaguars defensive line pressuring beleaguered quarterback Eli Manning and the improvement the Jaguars secondary has made this past offseason should be cause of concern for Beckham owners.

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser’s notes and observations as the Jaguars begin preparing for the 2018 preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Thursday …

1.Expectations were already high for the 2018 Jaguars defense – and the first three preseason games pushed them even higher. “We’ve made a few plays, but we have a lot of room for growth,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. That’s true, but a defense that ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed, interceptions, points allowed and takeaways last season has been dominant in the three games with the first unit not allowing a touchdown and allowing just four field goals. “That’s the beauty of it: Even when we make mistakes, we still play some good ball out there,” Campbell said. “This ‘D’ can be very, very good. We wanted to intimidate people and send a message across the league. That was the goal going into preseason: the first couple of teams we play, we wanted to make sure they see a team that’s fast and physical and plays with a different kind of intensity. … The ultimate goal would be to have offensive coordinators looking at the defense like, ‘I don’t know where to attack … I don’t know how.’ That’s the ultimate goal.”

2.Anyone wondering the Jaguars’ approach to Thursday’s preseason finale need to look no further than Head Coach Doug Marrone’s media availability Monday. With most NFL teams now resting most or all starters in the preseason finale, Marrone was asked his approach against Tampa Bay. “That’s always the age-old question that you get,” Marrone said. “I know we’re going to be smart about it. I think a lot depends on how we do during the week, what our focus is and what we’re trying to take care of. I’m going to be smart and do what I have done in the past. I think that is the best way to explain it.” Marrone last season rested the majority of the team’s front-line players in the preseason finale. The idea behind the approach is not only to prevent injuries but to ensure players are as fresh as possible entering the regular season. “You really can feel it,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said of the extra time off between Preseason Week 3 and the regular-season opener. “That’s why for example we fight for a bye week in the playoffs. A week off means a lot. So, to get two weeks off to get your body back and let it recover from what we just did is awesome.”

3.One area the Jaguars will miss wide receiver Marqise Lee is as a downfield blocker in the running game. Lee, who Marrone said Monday will miss the 2018 regular season with a knee injury sustained against Atlanta Saturday, was perhaps the Jaguars’ best receiver in this area. “He did a heck of a job that way, we all know that,” Marrone said. “Obviously, the people in that [wide receiver] room are going to have to step up. That’s why as soon as everything is done, we want to get him [Lee] back in that room, because there is a toughness about him that we want to make sure we keep.” The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing last season, and Lee’s ability as a run-blocker was a factor in the team re-signing him to a contract extension this past offseason. “We work on it,” Marrone said. “It’s hard when you work on that stuff. In training camp with full pads, we do defensive back/wide receiver blocking drills. Those guys do get a lot of work on it.”

4.Marrone on Monday discussed multiple players against Atlanta, praising starting right tackle Jermey Parnell’s first appearance of 2018 after missing the first two preseason games with a knee issue. “I thought he looked good,” Marrone said. “I really did. He had good sets, stayed squared, worked well, so I was happy with that.” Marrone also said second-year left tackle Cam Robinson improved against Atlanta after struggling the previous Saturday against end Danielle Hunter and the Minnesota Vikings. “I thought Cam, obviously, played much better than he did than the first two games, but I still there is room for improvement from everybody,” Marrone said. Marrone also addressed the NFL debut of rookie defensive lineman Taven Bryan, who missed the first two preseason games with an abdominal injury. “I thought he got some good movement,” he said of Bryan, the No. 29 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft who was penalized late in the game for roughing the passer. “I wasn’t happy with the penalty. He did some good things. He showed his power, he showed his strength. He was up on his feet and got involved on some plays. It is a pretty good progression of a guy that really hasn’t practiced or played. I think it’s difficult. I think he will just get better as he keeps playing.”

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars released running back Chris Ivory on Friday, a move that will save the team $3.75 million against the salary cap.

The move was not surprising considering how little Ivory was used last season after the team drafted Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Ivory did not play in the Jaguars’ final two regular-season games and played in only one of the team’s three playoff games.

Ivory spent two seasons with the Jaguars, but he never made much of an impact. He ran for just 821 yards and four touchdowns and caught 41 passes for 361 yards and one touchdown in 25 games.

The Jaguars signed Ivory to a five-year, $32 million contract with $10 million guaranteed after he came off a 2015 season in which he led the AFC in rushing with the New York Jets. However, Ivory dealt with an undisclosed medical issue before the 2016 season and missed the first two games.

He never got going after that, rushing for more than 48 yards in a game just once and finishing with 439 yards in 2016. Ivory ran for 382 yards and one touchdown last season.

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With the Jacksonville Jaguars on hiatus, otherwise known as the bye week, finding the usual story to write about becomes a bit of a challenge. Even with the teal and black taking Week 8 off, I can still find a nugget or two to compose for prose.

This Jaguars team has a different feel, a change of the old guard, a belief what is old is new again. This is the Jacksonville mentality – a mix of “ground and pound” with a dominant defense that punches teams in the mouth and continues to wail on them when they are on the ropes. This is a team that reminds me of the old Steelers and Raiders teams – minus an effective passing game.

It’s what Tom Coughlin envisioned when he took over as executive vice-president this offseason.

We spoke yesterday about what this team needs to do to continue the path to the playoffs. Now, we continue with who needs to step up in the second half of the season. Yes, there is still plenty to improve on.

Football fans will watch with interest to see if the Jaguars make another move before the Tuesday trade deadline. Other than wide receiver, I cannot see this team moving another draft pick for a chess piece.

Here are four players who need to make an impact in the second half of the season.

Any Wide Receiver – Allen Hurns became the first 100-yard receiver this year in a Jaguars’ uniform. There is a Catch-22 with the statement someone needs to step forward and become “the guy” in this receiving unit. The Jaguars aren’t throwing the ball a ton and the running game is the best in the NFL.

Allen Robinson is gone. Marqise Lee isn’t the player the team hoped he would become. Hurns has had moments. The play of Marcedes Lewis has been a pleasant surprise. He has four of Blake Bortles’ touchdowns this season.

If Dede Westbrook can give this team a spark with his speed and Lee can take his game to another level, the Jaguars may pass a bit more in the final nine games. I just want someone to emerge as the go-to wide receiver on obvious passing downs.

The Interior Defensive Line – This won’t be as long as the rant on the wide receivers. As John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote last week, “It’s an area that needs to improve moving forward. The Jaguars’ run defense has looked vulnerable in three losses. If this team is going to win close games – and teams must win close games to get to the postseason – it must be able to stop the run.”

Enter Marcell Dareus.

The Jaguars’ brass saw a weakness and found a way to improve it. Whether Dareus is the answer will have a lot to do with how the Jaguars use their existing players – Malik Jackson, Abry Jones and Sheldon Day, in the rotation. You cannot have a stout defense that gives up chunks of yards on the ground and expect to make a run deep in the playoffs.

This is also an area I can see this team addressing in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Jaguars face a tough running team in Cincinnati, then face the Los Angeles Chargers. Those two teams will test the interior of this defense. If Jacksonville makes the necessary changes on the line, which will force teams to pass more, then the problem is solved. Clogging running lanes will also allow Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue to rush the quarterback continuously.

Blake Bortles – He has decent numbers for the first half of the season. What you see is what you get with Bortles, who has hovered around 58 percent completion percentage for the majority of his career. The sack totals are down. The interceptions and fumbles are less. Bortles has looked more comfortable in this offense.

There are some who hate the term “game manager” when referring to a quarterback, but that’s what Bortles is most of the time. His games against Baltimore and Indianapolis are the exception, not the norm.

The one thing Bortles and the Jaguars coaching staff has to do is work on passing on third down. Relying on the run game works when this team has a third-and-short situation. Playing against the Colts did not miraculously fix this issue.

“We’ll continue week-to-week to try and find concepts and schemes within our system that allow guys to get open and create separation and pick up first downs. I think we’ve been, whatever the numbers are, 1-3 (yards), we’re really good. 4 to 6, we suck. 7 to 9, we’re pretty good,” Bortles said prior to the Colts game. “It’s like, 4 to 6, somebody just jump off sides and we’ll be alright. It’s kind of crazy because 1 to 3 and 7 to 9, I think with both of them, we’re above 60 percent, I think, or somewhere right around. Whatever the reason that 4 to 6 has just been the area that we’ve really struggled in.”

If the passing game stays the same, Jacksonville can win at least six of their remaining nine games. If it regresses, that number changes significantly. It means the progress Bortles has made took two steps backward.

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There is a new sheriff prowling the halls of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ facility, and it is the same man who helped lead the franchise into the NFL more than two decades ago and to the cusp of the Super Bowl after the 1996 and ’99 seasons. Tom Coughlin was hired in January by owner Shad Khan to resuscitate the entire organization — just not as the head coach. Coughlin’s title is executive vice president of football operations, and he has final say on roster decisions, taking that responsibility away from GM Dave Caldwell. Doug Marrone, the offensive line coach from 2015-16, was promoted to head coach.

Does Coughlin still have the touch? Although the Jaguars were busy in free agency, signing three starters and multiple role players, the success of this season will rest largely on players Coughlin inherited, chiefly quarterback Blake Bortles. A total bust or ready for a boon? For as impressive as the defense looks — led by second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey and newcomers A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Barry Church — if the Jaguars are unable to score more points, Coughlin’s return will not equal a return to relevance for the Jaguars.

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OFFENSE
Since 2008, when the Jags’ current playoff drought began, their 18.3 points-per-game average is third worst in the NFL. And since 2012, a year after Maurice Jones-Drew won the rushing title, the Jaguars’ per-game rushing average of 92.1 yards is the league’s worst. The Jaguars are counting on Leonard Fournette — who rushed for 3,830 yards in three seasons at LSU — to impact both categories. The Jaguars selected Fournette fourth overall, and running backs taken that high have turned into Barry Sanders and Marshall Faulk — but also Trent Richardson and Darren McFadden.

The Coaches
Head Coach Doug Marrone
Record With Team 1-1
Career Record 16-18
Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash
Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis
Quarterbacks Scott Milanovich
Running Backs Tyrone Wheatley
Wide Receivers Keenan McCardell
Tight Ends Ron Middleton
Offensive Line Pat Flaherty
Defensive Line Marion Hobby
Linebackers Mark Collins
Defensive Backs Perry Fewell
A one-man wrecking crew since he was in high school, Fournette will have to do the Jaguars’ heavy lifting, because Bortles proved last year he wasn’t ready for that task. Bortles had his 2018 contract option picked up on May 1, but it is guaranteed only for injury, meaning this remains his make-or-break season. If he wants to remain the Jaguars’ starter beyond this year, he must commit fewer turnovers (51 interceptions in 46 games) and be more accurate (58.8 career completion percentage). The Jaguars didn’t draft a quarterback, which can be viewed as a vote of confidence or a sign Coughlin is merely waiting until 2018 to take one.

The Jaguars believe they have provided Bortles with ample weapons. Now entering their fourth year, receivers Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee have shown flashes of consistent play, just not at the same time. Robinson and Hurns eclipsed 1,000 yards in 2015, but their numbers dipped because of extra attention (Robinson) and injuries (Hurns). Lee hasn’t been able to use his speed to stretch the field. Although they enter as the top three receivers, rookie Dede Westbrook could become an option operating from the slot. After a rather ordinary junior season at Oklahoma — his first after transferring from junior college — Westbrook exploded for 80 catches for 1,524 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. His 19.1-yard average was the best in college football for players with at least 75 catches.

Getting more production from the tight ends would help matters on the outside. The Julius Thomas experiment failed, and he was shipped to Miami in exchange for a seventh-round pick. The Jaguars want their tight ends to be equally effective as receivers and blockers. Marcedes Lewis, the longest-tenured Jaguar with 11 seasons of service, checks the blocking box, and the team believes that former Raider Mychal Rivera can be an efficient receiver.

Along the offensive line, there are issues. Again. Branden Albert will be the third left tackle in as many years. The Jaguars drafted Cam Robinson — a three-year starter at Alabama — in the second round to eventually replace Albert, but moving him to guard could be their top option this year. Center Brandon Linder is their best lineman, but the right side of guard A.J. Cann and tackle Jermey Parnell must be better this year. Neither missed a snap in 2016, but they did miss plenty of blocks.

DEFENSE
At least the Jaguars didn’t fall in love with some of their misleading 2016 stats and stand pat defensively. Coordinator Todd Wash was retained, but myriad other changes occurred: Five new assistant coaches, new starters in Campbell (strong-side end), Church (strong safety) and Bouye (cornerback), as well as Myles Jack’s move to middle linebacker.

The Jaguars tied for 19th in the NFL with 33 sacks; their seven interceptions were fewest in the NFL; and their 12 completions allowed of at least 40 yards tied for fifth most. It was a defense that was unable to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback, take the football away or prevent the explosive play downfield. The Jaguars spent accordingly.

Up front, free agency and the draft have helped overhaul the line. Among the top eight linemen, only nose tackle Abry Jones played for the Jaguars before 2016. Added since then are Dante Fowler, Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day and Dawuane Smoot in the draft and Campbell, Malik Jackson and Stefan Charles via free agency. Wash wants two-platoon depth, and the Jaguars have achieved that. Ngakoue, the starting weak-side end, led the team with eight sacks. His production could increase if Campbell — when he slides from end to tackle — and Jackson form a solid interior pass rush.

The Jaguars’ starting linebackers will be the same as the end of last year, but Jack is now in the middle and veteran Paul Posluszny was moved to the strong side — and his playing time is expected to be greatly reduced. Jack showed his lights-out athleticism last year in run pursuit and coverage, but the Jaguars played him on only 25 percent of the snaps, unwilling to take Posluszny off the field. Telvin Smith remains at the weak-side spot and must reduce his missed tackle total (team-high 26 last year).

Half of the Jaguars’ secondary is new. Bouye, following a breakout year in Houston, was one of the game’s top free agents, and the Jaguars poached him from their division rivals. Bouye will team with Ramsey to give the Jaguars one of the top cornerback duos in the league. Aaron Colvin is the favorite to play nickel, but Ramsey could also cover the slot receiver depending on the matchup. Tashaun Gipson returns as the free safety after a disappointing debut season marked by too many missed tackles and not enough takeaways. Church, the former Cowboy, was signed to replace Johnathan Cyprien, who was allowed leave via free agency. He signed with AFC South rival Tennessee.

The major change Wash will make to the scheme is having Church and Gipson be interchangeable, which will allow the Jaguars to be less predictable.

SPECIALISTS
The Jaguars needed to do something to improve a special teams unit that committed 30 penalties last year (at least one in 15 of 16 games), allowed 12.5 yards per punt return and rarely flipped the field. New coordinator Joe DeCamillis, most recently with Denver and in his second tour with the Jaguars, was lured back to Jacksonville due to Coughlin’s commitment to special teams.

Placekicker Jason Myers, punter Brad Nortman and long snapper Carson Tinker return in the same roles, but many faces will be new. The Jaguars signed Audie Cole, Josh McNary and Lerentee McCray in free agency and drafted Westbrook, Blair Brown, Jalen Myrick, and Marquez Williams in an effort to find some core special teams players. The Jaguars need to get more positive game-changing plays in the kicking game.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Starting with the 2009 season, the Jaguars are 7–24 in September, a .226 winning percentage that is worst in the league. Slow starts have led to draft talk in November, coaching changes in January and roster overhauls in March. If Fournette can lead the offense and the defense jells quickly, the Jaguars could finally start quickly and develop a buzz that has been lacking. But their streak of non-winning seasons will reach a full decade because the offensive line won’t be able to protect Bortles well enough and the defense still doesn’t produce enough of a pass rush.