Laviska Shenault Jr. Start/Sit Week 4: Is this the week he breaks out?

Should you start Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 fantasy football lineups?

Following an encouraging preseason, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.’s fantasy production has not matched the hype. What should fantasy football managers do with Shenault ahead of Thursday night’s road tilt with the Cincinnati Bengals?

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Laviska Shenault Jr. has underwhelmed

Through three weeks, Shenault has scored just 23.4 total fantasy points. That is not what you want from a player selected as high as the seventh or eighth round of fantasy drafts.

Shenault’s poor production is not entirely his fault, as rookie QB Trevor Lawrence has struggled mightily to start his career. Nevertheless, he’s not producing and is certainly not a must-start.

Statistically, Cincy is the best matchup Shenault has seen thus far

Jacksonville’s offense has yet to score more than 3 touchdowns in any individual game. While that doesn’t bode well for any of their players, through three games, the Bengals have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.

That seems like it could present an opportunity for Shenault to get going, but the Bengals are getting CB Trae Waynes back this week, which boosts their secondary. Perhaps Waynes exclusively covers DJ Chark or Marvin Jones, opening things up for Shenault, who lines up in the slot on over 80% of his snaps. It’s certainly possible, but any time a defense gets a talented player back from injury, it’s usually a positive for the defense.

Shenault’s performance to date

Shenault has caught 13 of 21 balls thrown his way, good for a 71% catch rate. However, his 17.5% target share is far less than fantasy managers would like to see. He is behind both Chark and Jones in target share. It is clearly not a priority for head coach Urban Meyer to get the ball in the hands of Shenault.

Should you start Laviska Shenault Jr. on Thursday Night Football?

At some point, it seems inevitable that Shenault will have a big game. As for predicting when that will be, we do our best.

You can probably do better than Shenault in your fantasy lineups

Given Shenault’s lack of production through the first three weeks and his status as No. 3 on the team’s wide receiver hierarchy, it is extremely difficult to recommend starting Shenault. The Jaguars are playing the Bengals on a short week — and I always err on the side of avoiding Thursday night players if I can.

Unless you are in a deep league or your team is ravaged by injuries, it’s unlikely that you don’t have a better option on your fantasy football roster.

This is a situation where whenever the breakout comes, I’m fine with missing out on it as long as it happens. Keep Shenault on your bench until you see something in-game that points to an increase in usage.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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