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Impact of Trevor Lawrence, Christian Kirk injuries on Jaguars’ playoff chances

We discuss how the injuries to quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Christian Kirk affect the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars season.

Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at EverBank Stadium on December 04, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are heading into Week 14 with an 8-4 record, on top of the AFC South. They are coming off a 34-31 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. While the loss certainly stings, the bigger story is that both quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Christian Kirk suffered injuries that could sideline them.

Impact of Trevor Lawrence’s Injury

It’s never an easy task when a team has to replace their starting quarterback, but the gap between Lawrence and his backup options is large. Lawrence has played in 12 games this season and has thrown for 3,004 yards with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He isn’t considered a true dual-threat quarterback like Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray, but he is a talented rusher when he scrambles. Lawrence has 248 yards and four touchdowns on 56 carries.

Lawrence was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and is officially considered week-to-week, per Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson.

Impact of Christian Kirk’s injury

Despite the early injury in Week 13, Kirk still leads the Jaguars in receiving yards with 787 yards. He has hauled in 57 of his 85 targets and has tallied three touchdown receptions. The loss of Kirk stunts the wide receiver depth for Jacksonville. The Jags will still have Calvin Ridley (51/689/5) and Zay Jones (18/186/2) to go along with tight end Evan Engram (73/606/1) as their top pass-catchers.

Kirk will likely be getting surgery for his core muscle injury, and Pederson thinks that he will miss “some time.”

What Lawrence/Kirk injuries mean for Jaguars’ playoff chances

The loss to Cincinnati dropped Jacksonville from the No. 3 seed to the No. 4. This is the lowest possible seed for a division winner. They are also only one game ahead of the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans in the AFC South standings.

The Jags could likely overcome the loss of Kirk with guys like Ridley, Engram and running back Travis Etienne Jr. to lean on, but they have to be hoping TLaw is back as soon as possible. Jags backup QB C.J. Beathard played well in relief on Monday night, finishing 9-of-10 for 63 yards. His best completion was called back due to holding, but he mainly threw short passes rather than deep shots.

Jacksonville will go on the road to take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 14. This will be an AFC matchup, which could become a factor with tiebreakers. The Browns’ defense allows the fewest passing yards per game. This will be a tough matchup for the Jaguars and could see them fall out of first place in the division if the Houston Texans pick up a win over the New York Jets.

Jacksonville has another tough game in Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens. They finish with markedly easier matchups against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and the Tennessee Titans. If they can pick up at least one win if Lawrence misses two weeks, that should keep them on track for a playoff spot.

What Lawrence/Kirk injuries mean for fantasy football

Lawrence has been a fringe QB1 this season as the overall QB13 to this point in the season. You will likely want to see who is available on your waiver wire to replace Lawrence if you don’t roster a backup. Beathard will face the Browns’ defense, allowing the second-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks, and if he plays the Ravens’ in Week 15, they allow the fewest. Even if Kirk isn’t healthy when Lawrence returns, he can be started.

Etienne Jr. doesn’t lose much of his value. His usage was strange in the Jaguars’ loss on Monday, but he found the end zone and had four receptions. He should still be started in any form of points per reception leagues from anticipated check-downs.

Ridley and Jones take a big hit without Lawrence under center. Beathard did find Ridley deep down the field, but it was the play that was called back. Between the two, I like Ridley’s, but he likely loses value in leagues smaller than 12 teams.

Engram could benefit like Etienne Jr. if there are check-downs or just a flurry of short passes. Despite scoring his first touchdown of the season in Week 13, he heads into Week 14 as the overall TE9 in half-PPR scoring.