Dynasty Player Profile: Laviska Shenault Jr. (2022 Fantasy Football)

Laviska Shenault Jr. finished as WR56 in PPR, only cracking double-digit fantasy points four times despite playing all 17 games.

Sometimes the eulogy predates the triumphant biography. Fantasy football isn’t a life-or-death sport, but certain players’ fate in the NFL leaves managers stinging with grief. One player for whom I’ve developed an affinity as a prospect and am preparing to lower my black-lace veil over is Laviska Shenault Jr. Once a dynamic defense-destroyer in the Pac-12 for the Colorado Buffaloes, Shenault Jr.’s career has become entrenched in quicksand-like Artax.

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I have long dreamed of Shenault Jr.’s unique skillset becoming properly weaponized in the NFL. I bought a shirt, put him as my Twitter banner, and even found some amazing puns for which to name my many dynasty teams with him rostered. There were flashes of his black and gold glory days toward the end of the 2020 season when lame-duck coach Doug Marrone emptied the clip on his playbook from him and targeted Shenault Jr. 33 times in the final four games. He averaged 15.2 PPR points over that stretch, feeding into a vicious hype cycle headed into the Urban Meyer era.

Before the 2021 NFL Draft, there was palpable excitement that Meyer would be the coach who would unlock Shenault Jr.’s full potential in the famous “H-Back” role once occupied by the likes of Percy Harvin, Parris Campbell, and Curtis Samuel . It was strikingly similar to the multifaceted attack used by Colorado to unleash unwavering hellfire on the Pac-12, punctuated with Shenault Jr. leaving defenders in the wake of flying dreads. Alas, the Jaguars selected Clemson running back Travis Etienne with the 24th overall pick. The ill-omened Meyer was officially begun.

When Etienne broke his foot before the regular season, there was another dose of venomous hope for our plight. The poorly-stitched seams in Jacksonville were already coming unraveled. Meyer was immediately rudderless and mired in personal conflict, further enflamed when DJ Chark was also lost for the season. Shenault Jr.’s repertoire of unique traits was henceforth disintegrated once he was moved outside opposite Marvin Jones Jr. More of a short area YAC receiver, Shenault Jr.’s ability to separate on the outside and win against good man coverage is the least -developed area of ​​his game. Meyer’s entire offense was an utter disaster, dragging Shenault into the abyss along with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Shenault Jr.’s 2021 season was nothing short of a Shakespearean tragedy. I have finished as WR56 in PPR, only cracking double-digit fantasy points four times despite playing all 17 games. Shenault Jr. was targeted 100 times, but with a 95th-best 5.4 yards aDOT, he did not score a single touchdown. I have only registered five deep targets all season. He was 16th in slot snap percentage but only 64th in route participation. This is a remarkably damning figure in a thoroughly speckled map of Meyer’s failures.

Dynasty Outlook

What is the plan of action for dynasty managers at this point? There is a multitude of reasons to hold Shenault Jr. at the moment. His value of him is at an all-time low, making a trade rather fruitless. He is still only 23 years old but now faces new competition for targets from Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. Dan Arnold is also returning, along with the aforementioned Etienne. The Doug Pederson regime appears to be underway without a singular plan for one of the most exciting playmakers in Pac-12 history.

Certain dynasty managers might be inclined to love Shenault Jr. even harder this year and acquire him for pennies on the dollar. The true hope is in the form of Shenault Jr. changing teams via trade to a receiver-needy team like the Chiefs, Packers, or Eagles. He could likely be moved for a mid-round pick since he is still on his affordable second-round rookie deal. Such a move would dramatically improve the weather forecast concerning Shenault Jr.’s immediate future of him as a dynasty asset.

This is not a eulogy for Shenault Jr., but instead more of an ultimatum. The popular and trashy Netflix reality show “The Ultimatum” renders brain cells useless except to relay the message, “S*** or get off the pot.” Whether through proper deployment under Pederson or a change in scenery, there is plenty of juice to squeeze from this “lemon.” As it currently stands, Shenault Jr. remains a perplexing quandary of a fantasy football asset. The truthers want another smile, or two brought to their faces before we toss roses on the casket. I’m just hoping I can wear my awesome “Viska” dreads silhouette shirt out in public again without fear of ridicule.


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For more of my spicy #PICANTakes, graphic food porn, and sports-related arguments, follow me on Twitter @Bo_McBigTime.

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