It has been a turbulent time for the New York Jets recently, especially in this off season. It would appear that they, as an organisation are going through what seems to be some kind of a rebuild but haven’t really addressed the skill positions to a level where we expect them to be a fantasy force this upcoming season. However, there will be fantasy relevant players suiting up in green at the Meadowlands this year, I assure you, we’ve just got to do some digging in order to find the gems. It’s easy to look at the current depth chart and assume they are going to find themselves at the wrong end of the standings come December. Twelve months ago we were doing the same for Cleveland and Los Angeles which turned out to be a correct assumption with both teams fielding negative records at the adjournment of the 2016 campaign. Even so, those teams still managed to produce solid fantasy scoring players who did deliver on a week to week basis. Despite not living up to his pre-season ADP, Todd Gurley was still relevant. OK, so he didn’t set the world alight and all things considered was deemed a disappointment in fantasy circles in 2016. He still picked up over 1,200 total yards and 6 TD’s which translated into 198 fantasy points (PPR) and still ranked him in the top 15 amongst running backs. There was a similar success story in fantasy terms for the Browns ball carrier Isaiah Crowell, where he outperformed his pre-season ADP by finishing as the RB14 with 205 points. Staying in Cleveland, you saw one of the surprises of 2016 with former QB and now one of Washington’s main receivers Terrelle Pryor. He blitzed the 1,000 receiving yard mark and had 4 TD’s to show for it. He ended up as a top 20 wide receiver in both scoring formats and was a valuable WR2 within fantasy rosters. So let’s look at the Jets and try and distinguish some players that you may want to pick up in your drafts or even off the waiver wire in the early stages of your leagues.
The wide out corps has been hit the worst out of all the skill positions. Veteran playmakers Brandon Marshall (Giants) and Eric Decker (Titans) both departed for pastures new and just recently their best offensive weapon Quincy Enunwa (neck) went down to a season ending injury. That leaves 254 receptions from last season on the field up for grabs. But you have to take in consideration the other pieces the Jets lost in this off season to try and figure out a better projection for how many targets are likely to be swallowed up. Veteran offensive linemen Ryan Clady (Tackle) and Nick Mangold (Centre) retired and last year’s signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick left as a free agent and has been replaced with journeyman Josh McCown. With all this considered, I project that completions will slightly drop from last year’s 311 to around the 270-280 mark. So where are these targets likely to end up?
Out on the Wing
Sophomore receivers Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake are likely to see a bit more of the ball and improve on their 14 and 19 receptions seasons respectively. Last year’s break out candidate Robby Anderson will be favoured to take the WR1 role and will likely increase his target share too and attract more than the 78 targets, 42 rec for 587yards stat line he carved out last year. But my interests lie with the rookie receivers the Jets acquired in this year’s draft. ArDarius Stewart was selected in the 3rd round after a successful NCAA career for the highly rated Alabama Crimson Tide. In his draft profile, former HC Brian Billick indicates Stewart is a well-rounded receiver who is tough, with good speed and “has the pedigree of a complete receiver”. His combine results weren’t half bad either. A 4.49sec 40 yard dash was just outside the top 15 in this class with a solid 34” vertical jump to go with it. Now he has landed in a spot where talent will prevail, I envision Stewart grabbing about 25% of the air targets this season meaning he could easily grab over 100 PPR points. Similarly, the third round draft choice Chad Hansen also has a great opportunity to see a good share of targets. Although less of a down field threat than his new rookie teammate, Hansen is the guy who will be able to move the chains in East Rutherford. He’s a solid route runner who has the ability to keep his feet in bounds. He was ranked 6th overall in this year’s rookie class on the 3 cone drill so he’s likely to be a solid screen option as well as being proficient in making the first tackle miss. In turn, he should be able to exploit pockets in the open field with his good acceleration that he also showed at the combine finishing in the top 10 in the twenty yard shuttle with a time of 4.13secs. If the former Cal wide-out plays his cards right and impresses during training camp he could see himself getting upwards of 450 receiving yards this season. Negative game script should also favour the passing game for these young, hungry receivers so expect all of them to eat at some point this season.
Checking In with The Tight Ends
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a beast. That’s a fact. At 6’5, 262lbs, with a surprisingly quick turn of foot, ASJ has all the attributes to be a successful tight end. He did start to flash in his sophomore season in Tampa Bay too to the tune of 16.1 yards per carry and 4 TD’s. But it’s the off the field antics where the issues come into play. Two DUI’s saw him suspended and subsequently released from the Buccaneers and now he will find himself banned for the first three games of this season thanks to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. If he can sort out these behavioural issues and focus on being a better professional, this guy is a startable asset in any fantasy roster.
However, it needs to be seen first. He is currently free in drafts because of the ban so will likely start on the waiver wire, but if you have a spare space in your roster, it may be worth sitting on him because as previously mentioned, the Jet’s need productive pass catchers and ASJ certainly fits that mould. In the mean-time, don’t ignore one of my super sleepers, rookie tight end Jordan Leggett. He is slated to be the starting TE in Seferian-Jenkins’ absence and he has a real chance to make that job his. The former Clemson Tiger helped his side win the National Championship last year and was a productive weapon for them, being selected for the All-ACC first team in the process. He also possesses a similar beastly stature to that of ASJ. Being 6’5, 258lbs with 10 3/8” hands will tick a lot of boxes for being a useable option across the middle of the field. He’s no slouch either after achieving a 4.33sec time in the 20 yard shuttle in the combine. Another thing that goes in favour for this position for the Jets this season is the acquiring of new OC John Morton who previously had great success at the Saints with no other than Jimmy Graham, one of the league’s most successful and productive Tight Ends
Straight Down The Runway
With the lack of experience in the passing game, the Jets could well use a similar running back efficiency scheme we saw in Chicago last season where rookie Jordan Howard hammered defensive lines. I do, however, question the sustainability of veteran Matt Forte. Over his career, the former Bear has racked up over 9,415 career yards, 5th most in current active backs. That’s a lot of mileage over a very productive career and in my opinion that has to start slowing down soon. That’s where one of my favourite break out candidates for 2017 comes into play. At 28 years old, Bilal Powell is not a spring chicken, but he also doesn’t have the mileage a typical starter his age has.
Barring the 2014 season, Powell has progressed year on year and last season announced himself as not only a reliable runner, but also as a productive pass catcher. With extra targets up for grabs due to the inexperience out wide, Powell is likely to see more dump offs and short yardage gains through the middle of the field. I expect to see more production in his target share and I have him projected for 85 targets, only 11 more than 2016, but being more efficient with 63 receptions (74.12% catch rate) potentially gaining around 500 yards equalling just above his career average at 7.97 yards per reception. Tie this in with around 800-550 rushing yards and you will find Powell breaking into my top 10 RB’s in PPR. Powell has fallen into a situation where he has a lot of upside and in my opinion is a great dart throw at his super low ADP of #68/6.08
By Rob Grimwood @FFBritBaller for http://www.247fantasyfootball.com