The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in football, but their negative game script gives us value as we break down TNF props for Jaguars Bengals.
D.J. Chark has yet to develop chemistry with rookie QB Trevor Lawrence— but the high volume gives us reason for optimism.
The fourth-year wide receiver and his teammate, Laviska Shenault, have both been let-downs early on, as rookie Lawrence has locked on to Jaguars free agent signee Marvin Jones as his favorite target so far. Could the Week 4 matchup with the Bengals be Chark’s 2021 breakout?
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TNF Props for Jaguars Bengals (9/30)
D.J. Chark Over 46.5 Receiving Yards (-115 PointsBet)
First, the main reason for optimism regarding Chark: His inefficiency is Lawrence’s fault! While Chark’s 21 targets is 31st overall among WRs, only an impossibly low 14 percent of those have been deemed catchable, the fewest on the team.
It’s not uncommon for rookies to struggle, but some positive regression should be expected from Lawrence here. Chark is seventh in the league with 124 intended air yards per game, and only needs to convert a fraction of that to pay off.
Still, Chark is the team’s obvious deep threat. The speedy WR ranks 44th so far among WRs this season in receiving yards, but he’s actually fifth in air yards per target, at 18.8. The issue has been Lawrence’s accuracy: He has targeted Chark on 12 throws of 15 or more yards, but he has completed just a third of them.
In fact, Jacksonville’s three main WRs each has a defined role in the offense: Chark is the deep threat; Jones gets mid-range looks, with 15 targets between 5 and 15 yards downfield; and Shenault gets the short-range work, with 11 targets under 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, and 20 of his 21 total targets under 15 yards.
Through the first three weeks, Jacksonville has run the fastest-paced offense in the league, at an average of 21 seconds between snaps. The team’s offense has called more than twice as many passes as run plays.
Of course, that could very well be chalked up to the Jaguars’ poor defense. When you’re seemingly constantly playing from behind, there’s not much luxury in establishing the run. Moreover, Cincinnati is favored by a touchdown at home.
Matchup Vs Bengals
As for the Bengals defense, it has actually improved this season, coming in as the league’s fourth-best unit, according to Football Outsiders, although safety Jessie Bates may not play. But it has still given up some big WR performances.
In the season opener, Adam Thielen had 92 receiving yards (and two touchdowns), while K.J. Osborn and Justin Jefferson had 76 and 71, respectively. Darnell Mooney had 66 yards in a game where the Bears led most of the way (and eventually won). And on Sunday, Chase Claypool had 96 receiving yards, while Ben Roethlisberger threw 58 times for 318 yards.
Despite Chark’s struggles, he has still gone over this number in two of his three games this season, with the under coming versus a very tough Denver defense.
With the Bengals as the home favorite, look for them to play with a lead for most of the game. The Jaguars will once again into a pass-heavy offense, giving Chark ample opportunities to go over.
We’d play this line to 49.5