Kickoff: Thursday, October 1st at 8:20 PM ET
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Betting Odds: Denver -3, 40 total via Oddsshark
Network: NFL Network
Brett Rypien (Sit)
Brett Rypien is receiving his first NFL start tonight as he takes the field against the New York Jets. Rypien looked serviceable, if not pretty good, in relief of Jeff Driskel last week, driving Denver into scoring range before an interception ended his day. Rypien started his NFL career with eight consecutive completions before the INT although he never challenged the defense down the field. The Jets defense should provide a slightly easier test than the Buccaneers for the rookie but Rypien will also be throwing primarily to two rookie WRs and a second-year TE. This game is expected to be very low-scoring and I expect Denver to lean more on the rushing game tonight. Avoid Rypien unless you’re desperate for a second QB in leagues that allow for them, although there are potentially better options still in those types of leagues.
Melvin Gordon (Start, RB2), Phillip Lindsay/Royce Freeman (Sit)
Melvin Gordon had two weeks of RB2 production followed by a stinker last week against Tampa Bay and there are rumors Phillip Lindsay has a chance to return in a limited role tonight, possibly lowering his value even more. Gordon is consistently seeing 60% or more of the offensive snaps but the Broncos insist on rotating Lindsay and Royce Freeman in for the remainder of the snaps. This rotation has limited Gordon’s upside and he has held him to mid-RB2 production or worse so far this season. While I expect the Broncos to employ a slightly heavy run-oriented offense tonight, Gordon still tops out as no better than an RB2 for fantasy managers given the presence of Lindsay and Freeman.
Both Lindsay and Freeman will see limited snaps tonight and are too TD-dependent to trust for fantasy managers. If Lindsay is ruled out, it gives a slight bump to Freeman and Gordon, but not enough to move the needle on either one very much. Fantasy managers need to look for better options than Lindsay or Freeman tonight.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jerry Jeudy (Start, WR3/Flex), KJ Hamler (Sit), Tim Patrick (Sit), Noah Fant (Start, TE1)
For the second straight week, the Broncos will employ two rookies at two WR positions tonight in Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Jeudy is averaging eight targets per game so far this season and has been good for four or five receptions a game. Jeudy has yet to find the end zone this season, but he has the athleticism and route-running ability to make life a bit easier for Rypien tonight. That being said, this looks like the type of game where Denver relies on the running game to minimize the chances for Rypien to turn the ball over and that will hurt the production of all the receiving options. As such, Jeudy is best viewed as a low-end WR3 or flex option for fantasy managers in Week 4.
Hamler is not as refined as Jeudy and also will take a hit given the likelihood Rypien is asked to manage the game and throw as little as necessary. Hamler’s upside isn’t as high as Jeudy’s so it’s recommended to pass on him this week. Tim Patrick will serve as the longest-tenured option at WR but is not involved enough in the offense to warrant much consideration this week. Fantasy managers should look elsewhere for a startable option at WR.
Noah Fant was a popular breakout candidate before the season at the TE position and he has been a reliable starter for fantasy managers through three weeks. Fant provides a nice safety valve for Rypien and has the athletic profile to take a short throw the distance. Fant was Rypien’s only deep target last week and profiles as a fine option for fantasy managers this week. The likely gameplan will lower Fant’s ceiling, but I think he still finishes as a low-end TE1 and can be a trusted option for fantasy managers in Week 4.
New York Jets
Sam Darnold (Sit)
Is Sam Darnold a good QB on a bad team or is he simply just a bad QB? Darnold has been decent statistically, completing 60% of his passes and has thrown more TDs than INTs (19 to 13) but has been stuck in a moribund offense and has seen injuries decimate his receiving corps this season. Heading into tonight’s game, Darnold may get Jamison Crowder back but will still be missing Breshad Perriman and Le’Veon Bell at the skill positions and both starting tackles are questionable. Denver has been susceptible to the pass this season, allowing the fourth-most passing yards (833) this season. However, given the lack of weapons and the short week, I can not, in good conscience, suggest Darnold for fantasy managers this week. Avoid unless you have literally no other options.
Frank Gore (Start, Flex), Kalen Ballage (Sit), La’Mical Perine (Sit)
Death, taxes, and Frank Gore. Those are the only guarantees in life. Gore is in line to start again for the injured Bell but his opportunities will be limited at best in this offense. The Jets have struggled to consistently move the ball and if the injuries to Mekhi Becton and George Fant sideline them again tonight it’s only going to make matters worse. Gore can be considered for an emergency Flex given the injuries across the NFL, but the Broncos have been decent against the run this season allowing just 307 yards on the ground. There are better alternatives, but a short TD isn’t out of the question, making Gore a viable if unexciting, Flex option for fantasy managers.
Both Ballage and Perine saw an increase in snaps from Week 2 to Week 3 but neither is an enticing option given the state of the offense and the lack of opportunities as a result. Fantasy managers hoping for a long-shot RB to help them this week should look elsewhere. Ballage and Perine are easy sits for Week 4.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Jamison Crowder (Sit), Braxton Berrios (Sit), Chris Hogan (Sit), Chris Herndon (Start, TE2)
As of this writing, Jamison Crowder is considered questionable for the game tonight and seems to be trending towards playing. That being said, Crowder is still a risky play because of the limitations of the offense and the fact he is coming off a hamstring injury. Crowder is by far the best weapon in the Jets passing game but can’t be trusted for the two reasons listed. In very deep leagues, Crowder might be an emergency Flex but that is still a tepid recommendation as there should be better options out there.
Both Braxton Berrios and Chris Hogan are going to see snaps tonight and the status of Crowder will determine just how many. Regardless of the implied snap count for either player, the offense holds them down and they almost certainly won’t get enough volume to be worthy of a start in any league. Fantasy managers should sit both Berrios and Hogan tonight.
Chris Herndon has been surprisingly unreliable this season especially given the rash of injuries that decimated the receiving options for the Jets. Herndon is essentially the only option for the Jets at the position, seeing an average of 46 snaps a game but only has 16 targets on the season. Despite the poor performances to date, Herndon still possesses the athletic ability and skill to be a viable fantasy contributor in this game. The Titans in Week 1 and Buccaneers last week both had decent fantasy production from the position and Herndon should be able to provide mid-TE2 production with some upside for fantasy managers tonight.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)