2020 Fantasy Preview: New York Jets

Matthew Cava continues the 2020 Team Preview series with a fantasy-focused look at the New York Jets.

New York Jets

 

The 2019 New York Jets were set up anew heading into Week 1; new uniforms, a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator, and even a new general manager. The house was cleaned but dirt quickly resurfaced as the season progressed. From a case of mono that sidelined Sam Darnold for multiple games to the major misuse of Le’Veon Bell, the offense certainly underwhelmed.

You can link the lackluster production to poor offensive line play, or throw the blame directly on Adam Gase, who to this day remains a head-scratching hire. The ‘offensive guru’ (and I use that term very loosely) saw his offense rank 31st overall & 32nd in total yards. Entering the 2020 season – coronavirus matters aside – Gase and the offense must turn the stigma upside down currently hovering over the team; especially with the AFC East up for grabs. GM Joe Douglas invested heavily in the offensive line both in free agency and the draft. Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, George Fant, and Josh Andrews were all signed, and Mekhi Becton was drafted out of Louisville with the 11th overall pick. Revamping the protection in front of Darnold and Bell should allow them both to improve on last seasons’ numbers.

 

Quarterback

 

Sam Darnold

ADP: 216, QB29

Sam Darnold is entering year three of his NFL career which is notoriously known as a big year for quarterbacks. He has a retooled offensive line he’ll have to mesh with despite the current restrictions due to COVID-19 and some new wide receivers to build a rapport with. What’s also a caveat for Darnold is, quite frankly, having to excel with Gase’s playcalling. Offensive coordinator/QB coach (by title only) Dowell Loggains is essentially useless to Darnold’s growth. I truly don’t believe talent is ever an issue here; it’s about his surroundings and his health. Darnold hasn’t played a full season to date; he’s started 13 games in each of his first two years. Last year though, he did improve in every statistical category; albeit slightly. Kick my bias into overdrive, but I’m willing to bet Darnold can return solid fantasy value more so as a streaming option or even a weekly play in two-QB leagues. But you don’t need to draft him as a QB1 in redraft leagues.

 

Best Case Scenario 

Darnold takes the year-three leap and continues to improve in every major category, doing enough to give the Jets a wildcard berth and propelling them back into the playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season. He finally plays all 16 games and brings down his interception total into the single digits. Your fantasy ROI makes you happy you drafted him at seasons end.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Year three of his NFL career and year two in Gase’s system does not bode well for Darnold. Once again he struggles to overcome questionable play-calling and the lack of guidance in the QB room; Joe Flacco is more of a help for him than Loggains. Darnold could potentially not only see another head coach brought in for 2021 – his third in four years – but he could even see his job security questioned with another year lacking positive development.

 

2020 Projection: 310 completions, 515 attempts, 3,535 yards passing, 25 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions; 165 yards rushing, 3 rushing touchdowns

 

Running Back 

 

Le’Veon Bell

ADP: 31.3, RB19

2019 was extremely frustrating for Le’Veon Bell, both in real life and in fantasy. In his return season after sitting out all of 2018, Bell signed with the Jets in the offseason and was ready to prove his worth. On 245 rushes he had only 789 yards and three touchdowns. Through the air he was targeted just 78 times, catching 66 passes for 655 yards and one score; which came in Week 1. Bell’s success in the past has come from a strong offensive line in front of him, which the Jets did not have last year. He was greatly misused, more so in the pass-game where he would have benefited better given the offensive line woes. Bell was also subject to rumors of having a strong in-house disconnect with Gase, but he always debunked that narrative.

Bell is out to prove the naysayers wrong and put the league on notice that he’s still one of the NFL’s best running backs. With a new line in front of him, just how much can he return to form? Bell may not have the upside that he once had in Pittsburgh, but if he stays in the good graces of Gase he may be able to provide fantasy managers with a low cost, high-volume running back option.

Note: I wouldn’t rush to draft Frank Gore, but I can certainly see a scenario where he is given significant touches to the point of being on fantasy rosters later in the season. Think vulture status if you were ever in a bind in a streamer scenario.

 

Best Case Scenario 

The Bell of old re-emerges in New York, as he posts over 1,000 yards on the ground and amasses 100 catches for the first time in his career. From a fantasy standpoint, he shines as an RB1 on RB2 draft value, and he even chips in a few more touchdowns than last year.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Frank Gore and Lamical Perine eat into Bell’s touches because this is just what Gase does. Ironically, we saw it in Miami with Gore & Kenyan Drake most recently in 2018. Tempers flare, Bell becomes frustrated, and he is the subject (yet again) of trade rumors at the deadline.

 

2020 Projection: 250 attempts, 1,050 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns; 80 targets, 62 receptions, 468 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns

 

Wide Receiver

 

Jamison Crowder

ADP: 116.3, WR45

Jamison Crowder enters 2020 as a reliable weapon yet again for Darnold, and fantasy managers will certainly benefit from this. Last year Crowder blew away the rest of the offense by leading the team with 122 targets, and also led the team with 78 receptions and six touchdowns. 833 yards later from the slot, there’s no reason why Crowder can’t replicate this production again should Darnold opt to (or have to for that matter), get the ball out of his hands quickly. Crowder may not be a high upside option for fantasy football in 2020, but he is a safe bet to prove you with some cheap volume as long as there isn’t a major overhaul at the receiver position.

 

Best Case Scenario 

Crowder has a similar season to his 2019 campaign, or even eclipses his totals. The fantasy value he posts in PPR leagues is a major gift given his ADP. Familiarity plays a big part considering he’s a returning target for Darnold.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Crowder sees his target share dip immensely with new receivers in the fold, not to mention the potential for Bell and tight end Chris Herndon getting in his way in the middle of the field where Crowder excels from the slot. He’s no more than a bye week fill-in.

 

2020 Projection: 128 targets, 80 receptions, 855 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns

 

Breshad Perriman

ADP: 159.1, WR59

Breshad Perriman is now on his fourth team in four seasons. Albeit a small sample-size breakout, Perriman shined with the Bucs towards the end of the year in 2020. In the final four games, Perriman amassed 20 receptions for 419 yards and five touchdowns as Tampa Bay dealt with injuries at the receiver position. Signing a 1-year deal with the Jets, Perriman has been brought in to replace Robby Anderson, who left in free agency to Carolina. The potential to succeed is there – especially on a prove-it 1-year contract – though time will tell how quickly Darnold and he can build chemistry. In a normal offseason, the hype might be bigger for Perriman, who has the profile to replace Anderson and is a cheap option in fantasy drafts. With this year’s limited practice schedule, however, it may be tough for Perriman to make an impact early on in the season.

 

Best Case Scenario 

Perriman picks up where he left off in 2019 and makes Jets fans ask “Robby who?” Darnold and Perriman quickly find a rapport out the gate and Perriman produces well enough to earn an extension midway through the season. After a slow start to his career, Perriman looks like an NFL starter going forward.

 

Worst Case Scenario

The same inconsistency we’ve seen from Perriman for four years now plays out again as he doesn’t ever get into a true rhythm with Darnold. Not to mention he’s in an Adam Gase offense where we may not see many plays per game opportunities for wide receivers; especially someone like Perriman who’s the outside threat. Perriman disappoints in a similar way as Anderson did during his career in New York. 

 

2020 Projection: 88 targets, 54 receptions, 832 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

 

Denzel Mims

ADP: 192, WR81

Round 2 rookie Denzel Mims fell into the Jets’ laps as they ended up trading down and still snagged him as the 59th overall pick. The former Baylor star is just the receiver Darnold and the Jets desperately have lacked in recent years. At 6’3”, 215 lbs, Mims has long-term upside in the offense, and his rookie year should see plenty of red zone opportunities to which he may win the contested catches. Mims’ 2020 appeal is hurt by the usual suspects; the disjointed offseason and the presence of Gase. In redraft leagues, it may take some time for Mims to produce, but his talent makes it worth adding him to your watchlist after the draft. If he finds himself on the field early and often, Mims may be talented enough to force targets his way. An early hamstring injury in camp certainly won’t help Mims in his bid to have a meaningful role Week 1.

 

Best Case Scenario 

Mims is able to build a rapport with Darnold early on and leads all rookie wide receivers in targets. His red zone presence pays huge dividends in an offense where each receiver plays a unique role. By year’s end, Mims is the number one receiver in this offense, as Crowder and Perriman take on complementary roles.

 

Worst Case Scenario

The lack of preseason, not to mention a traditional training camp, prevents Mims from ever getting into a rhythm. Some draft evaluators felt like he was a work in progress, and it shows as he struggles to gain separation on the jump balls he dominated in college. The return of Herndon prevents Mims from being a factor in the red zone, and we wait for 2021 to see how Mims looks in a normal offseason.

 

2020 Projection: 72 targets, 44 receptions, 545 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns

 

Tight End

 

Chris Herndon

ADP: 286, TE23

2019 was a lost season for Chris Herndon, which was disappointing considering it was supposed to be a breakout year. Derailed by a suspension and lingering injury, Herndon ended up having just one catch. Herndon flashed in his 2018 rookie year, catching 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns, giving us hope for more from the former fourth-round pick. 2020 should be a much better season for the 24-year old tight end if he can stay on the field, and Herndon provides legitimate upside in the late rounds of fantasy drafts. At his current ADP, he’s a no-brainer option at the notoriously thin tight end position.

Note: I wouldn’t consider Griffin to be draft-eligible by any means with an ADP of 446, making him the TE54, but it won’t be surprising to see him steal targets from Herndon, especially if health is an issue for Herndon again.

 

Best Case Scenario 

Herndon picks up where he left off in 2018 and shines as a tight end who not only moves the chains but scores at will. He starts all 16 games as well and remains a safety blanket for Darnold just as he was their rookie year in 2018. Drafters get a weekly starter at the cost of a backup.

 

Worst Case Scenario

Fellow TE Ryan Griffin is the one to pick up where he left off in 2019, where he was the security blanket for Darnold with Herndon out. Griffin steals targets that should go to Herndon, and fantasy owners will be frustrated hanging onto Herndon week after week waiting for his breakout.

 

2020 Projection: 71 targets, 43 receptions, 530 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns

 

 

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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