2018 Fantasy Team Preview: New York Jets
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire
Change is coming and it’s coming in waves for the New York Jets. This past Sunday, the team announced they will be donning new uniforms debuting in 2019. And the day after, their hope-to-be franchise-saving quarterback Sam Darnold finally signed his rookie contract after a few days of hysteria. The media has set low expectations for this team; bottom of the league status. I wouldn’t say this regime is on the hot seat, given that time must be carefully spent in an effort to grow successfully with Darnold and co. With training camp underway, this squad is set to take flight heading into the 2018-19 season, and prove all doubters wrong.
The Jets roster is certainly young – especially defensively – but there is a mix of veterans on the offensive side of the ball who will serve as perfect compliments. Believe it or not, there are skill players worth drafting onto your fantasy rosters. Prior to the start of the season, it’s hard to imagine many people will be skimming for Jets players on cheat sheets, or drafting them as they mock. But I’m here to let you know by the time your draft day comes around, there will be talent worth adding.
Robby Anderson, WR
Surely to be most often drafted Jet, Robby Anderson is poised for a stellar third season, if he can remain on the field. Anderson has had his run-ins with the law during the offseason, but with charges recently dropped, it’s possible he doesn’t see any disciplinary action at all. This would be great news for the Jets and owners alike. Last season, we saw Anderson put up 941 yards, just 59 short of his first 1,000 yard campaign. Baring the unforeseen, it’s very likely he tops the 1K mark this time around. He more than doubled his touchdown total from 2016, and had a 5-game scoring streak in the effort. And this was all with Josh McCown throwing him the ball. McCown could be the one in at quarterback once again, unless Darnold or Teddy Bridgewater have anything to say about it this summer.
Realistic expectations should see an uptick in targets from 114, as Anderson solidifies himself as the Jets WR1. With more targets, will certainly come more receptions. Look for Anderson to be grabbed rounds 7 or later, in which will prove for great value as your teams WR3, or FLEX.
Bilal Powell & Isaiah Crowell, RB’s
In need of depth at the running back position? Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell both fit the bill. They won’t be your RB1, or even RB2, but in PPR formats the two can likely earn their way into your FLEX slot on some odd-weeks. Last season, Powell posted 772 rushing yards on under 200 attempts (178), and found the end zone 5 times, a career high. He’ll be splitting carries with newly signed Crowell, and it’s hard to think his intake won’t dip. However, over the years I have seen Powell play himself into a more prominent role as the season progresses, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if that continues.
Crowell will find himself behind a less proven offensive line in comparison to the front he had protecting him in Cleveland since 2014. However, with fresher legs at 25 years old (compared to Powell who is 29), he can still find success in this Jets backfield. Powell has had his injury stints, where as Crowell has played in all 16 games for four straight seasons. My guess is Crowell will get first dibs as the starter, and Powell will be there to spell him. From a fantasy standpoint, both backs should be targeted rounds 10 and onward.
I wanted to include Elijah McGuire as well, but a recent foot injury which will keep him out for up to six weeks, and to me that solidifies him to go un-drafted. Though when he is healthy, he too should find himself a role in this backfield.
Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse & Terrelle Pryor, WR’s
While Anderson may be the receiver to draft from the Jets, the rest of the unit isn’t made up of any slouches. Featuring the likes of Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, and Terrell Pryor, these three are poised to contribute in what should be a pass-heavy offense.
Enunwa is coming off of a neck injury that sidelined him all of last season, so health is certainly a concern. However, a year prior he was no doubt the Jets best WR, racking up 857 yards on just 58 catches. You can expect him back in the slot, which should make for plenty of targets and a steady YAC ratio that he has shown in the past. Moving out of the slot is Kearse, who manned the spot in 2017. Often labeled as the “other wide receiver” in Seattle behind Doug Baldwin, Kearse found success with the Jets coming in via trade shortly before the season began. In fact, it was a career year for him, having put up 65-810-5 scores. Not bad for not having Russell Wilson throwing his way.
In comes Pryor, who had a disaster of a season with the Redskins. It didn’t help his case that he played through a nagging ankle injury – which he wound up having surgery on. Signing a one-year deal, he’ll have to earn to prove his keep in a crowded WR room. He is feeling good, and aims to channel the breakout year he had with the Browns in 2016.
I expect all three receivers can be had in your drafts later rounds, initially taking up a bench/depth spot. As the season progresses, watch to see how [insert starting QB here] meshes with the corp overall. ‘Playing favorites’ can go a long way in fantasy.
Josh McCown, Sam Darnold & Teddy Bridgewater, QB’s
Speaking of [insert starting QB here], the Jets have a true quarterback competition on their hands. Unlike seasons past, I can legitimately see either of the three to earn the starting job this summer. Will it be McCown again, who is likely to be the most trusted? How about Bridgewater, who showed flashes in the spring and could ultimately become trade bait? Or what about Darnold, who the franchise may want to hand the reigns to out the gate should he have a stellar summer?
From a fantasy standpoint, my guess is McCown or Darnold will be the Jets QB you would add to your roster. It’s difficult at this point in time to declare the leading choice; all dependent on how all three perform in training camp and the preseason, where they will surely get their share of reps. Regardless of pecking order, I wouldn’t draft any of them, but they may become names in the ‘streaming’ discussion when your teams main QB is on his BYE.
Jordan Leggett & Christopher Herndon, TE’s
Another year, another question mark as to who will claim the tight end job. This team can’t seem to hit on steady production out of the position. Just last season, Austin Seferian-Jenkins looked to be a mainstay, but he bolted to Jacksonville as a free agent. This year, you can expect second-year Jordan Leggett, and rookie Christopher Herndon to be deployed. Leggett missed his rookie season due to injury, and so the job is truly up for grabs. Both have the size, giving the edge to Leggett, however, Herndon is touted to be the better blocker and pass catcher.
I wouldn’t count on either being fantasy relevant – don’t bother drafting them – at least not until the Jets can prove they care to involve the TE in the offense. Even then, I imagine either player will really only gain that ‘streaming’ honor, nothing more.
Where as many other teams around the league will have more players as a part of your Week 1 roster, the Jets have their few who have potential to gain your consideration. From the jump, Robby Anderson deserves a starting nod, and the rest can be had for depth purposes. It will be interesting to monitor how carries are split between Powell and Crowell, and which receiver puts a stronghold on that WR2 label. Not to mention the quarterback uncertainty and how it all plays out.