Christian Kirk Fantasy
In the 2021 off-season Christian Kirk raised his bank balance, and the eyebrows of many analysts, when he inked a $72 million contract in free agency with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those eyebrows, along with mine, were not raised unjustly either, he hadn’t posted a 1,000-yard season for the Arizona Cardinals in his 4-year career. It kills me to say this in print, and please don’t tell my wife, but sometimes, I can be wrong. Kirk set career highs in 2022, leading the receiving core for the Jaguars and putting up 1,100 yards. With 13.2 yards per catch, he ranked WR18 overall and silenced the critics. Just one year on, the team has some tangible factors that could add or subtract from that production. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence looks primed to make a 3rd-year leap, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Josh Allen. Calvin Ridley returns to the lineup, a man refreshed and ready to prove he’s worth a damn; and head coach Doug Pederson in his second year, is looking to build on the momentum from the back half of 2022. It’s enough to have even the most seasoned fantasy pros second-guessing, what is Kirk’s value?
Kirk as you can imagine has some sky-high NFL odds for some of the more prestigious awards like MVP or highest receiving yards, and I’m not here to say they are worth the risk because let’s be realistic. His Total Receiving Yards and Total Receiving Touchdowns however are far more forgiving. Total receiving yards over/under is 825.5. Now even though he hit over 1,100 last year, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Calvin Ridley. With that said, Zay Jones as WR2 last year still managed to put together 823 yards so I like Kirk’s chance of hitting the over here. But even more than that, the total receiving touchdowns over/under is 4.5. That in my humble opinion is free money. Trevor Lawrence looks to explode this year, and not that I don’t like their RB1 in Travis Etienne Jr. but I think the Jags are going to be operating through the air with far more regularity. I can see 30+ receiving touchdowns for Lawrence, and I’d be shocked if 5 of those didn’t end up in Kirk’s hands.
- Current ADP: 69
- Position ADP: 27
Kirk’s ADP has taken a bit of a hit, despite finishing WR18 last year. As you can see from his ADP he’s not expected to repeat that performance. Mostly because, as mentioned, and this cannot be overstated, Calvin Ridley is projected to be the WR1. So whilst Kirk took a huge share of the targets in 2022, 23.2% of them to be exact, you can expect that number to dip. There was recent news of an injury to Ridley and that’s the sort of news that could boost his ADP quickly, but be wary of news aggregators jumping on board with anything that has the appearance of being newsworthy. That injury was nothing but a bit of soreness in the toe, and Ridley didn’t even miss a practice. Assuming everyone at Jaguars camp remains healthy I would suspect that Christian Kirk’s ADP is going to sit right about where it is now. It may even drop slightly as Ridley has already shown some early signs of chemistry with Trevor Lawrence.
A lot of what I have said here might have you reconsidering Kirk as a potential target, but if I can counter my own arguments, I wouldn’t be sleeping on Kirk as an option at receiver. In 2022, Trevor Lawrence had the seventh most pass attempts in the NFL, and with them projected as a top-10 offense that’s likely to go up. There is plenty of food to go around. Not to mention a staple of Doug Pederson’s offense is using multiple tight ends to get the defense to come forward then hitting the long balls for explosive plays. Ridley is primed for that, but if I know that, so do opposing defenses. Expect some serious attention on him, leaving Kirk to roam from the slot and take a lot of those safer options when the deep ball isn’t there. Let’s not forget that Jacksonville is still paying a pretty penny for Kirk, he isn’t just going to be shunned into the dunce corner, so if he’s available in the sixth round or later consider him as a WR3 or FLEX option.
If I were to remove Christian Kirk’s name from this article and just say, a 26-year-old receiver coming off a year where he set career highs in yards, touchdowns, and targets. Working with an explosive young Quarterback prodigy, in an ascending offense led by a tenured Superbowl-winning play-caller. That would scream Dynasty value. But alas, not everything is so black and white. From league to league, the view on the impact of Ridley’s arrival will vary. Some might consider Ridley and Kirk to be more of a 1A/1B, and some will see it as a clear-cut bump down for Kirk. I won’t jump on board with those saying Kirk can be a mid-level WR2, but he can absolutely provide value at WR3. Particularly in those leagues where you will get a serious Ridley discount. Now let it be known, and I have mentioned this when talking about Off-Season Hype That Matters. I am all in on Ridley as someone who is going to explode back onto the scene this year. But for some unbeknownst reason I am going to repeat this, I can be wrong from time to time. Given his situation, you may find more value in Kirk than some much stronger receivers in worse circumstances, like Christian Watson or dare I say it, Scary Terry McLaurin. The Jaguars look to be contenders for years to come, and Kirk is tied to them for at least another 3 years. I hope this doesn’t happen, but Ridley hasn’t exactly been injury proof so you may be able to buy low while the idea of him has other owners shaken.
It’s rare that I find it so easy to come up with a bold prediction because I like to be realistic in outcomes that are less likely, but possible. This time it’s a cakewalk. Christian Kirk finishes 2023 as WR1 for the Jaguars. You don’t have to squint too hard, Ridley could get injured, not gel with Lawrence, or just not be the same guy he was after a year and a half off the field. The reason its bold is because all current reports and logic would point to the opposite, but there you have it folks.
Adrian was born, raised, and lives across the other side of the planet in Australia – but that hasn’t stopped him from being a lifelong Packers fan and sports betting enthusiast. A podcast host, writer, and all-round attention-seeking NFL analyst, Adrian is always looking to bring deep-dive analysis to the fantasy world. This soon-to-be father is looking to make his mark in the world of NFL media so that he has the connections to eventually force the sport onto his son willingly or otherwise (we wish he were kidding about this)