Kickoff: Sunday, October 23rd, 4:05 Eastern
Location: Empower Field of Mile High, Denver, CO
Betting Odds: DEN -2, 39.5, by Caeser’s
Writer: Michael James (@MikeoftheFF on Twitter)
New York Jets
Zach Wilson (Sit)
The Broncos have just held Justin Herbert to under 250 yards passing in a game where he threw it 57 times. Only Matt Ryan has thrown for more than 250 yards (251) against this Bronco defense. The Broncos have intercepted the ball more than they’ve allowed touchdown passes (4 to 3). Geno Smith has two of them. That’s five more games with only one touchdown through the air.
All this is to say I don’t like this matchup. In his three games back, Zach Wilson has one touchdown and two interceptions. With his current two-game dry spell of zero touchdowns thrown, this is not a good combination to face a top-five passing defense in the league. Denver has allowed the fifth most completions, and yet also allowed the fifth-fewest yards. With Wilson not even achieving QB2 status the last two weeks, I’m out on him this week as well. As you read on, you’ll see I think this entire game is going to be another defensive slug-fest with not a lot of points to be had.
Breece Hall (Start-RB2), Michael Carter (sit/start-Flex)
Just to get this out of the way, if the bye weeks are cruel and I don’t have options for my running backs otherwise, Michael Carter is a low flex with TD vulture potential.
Breece Hall, on the other hand, has been tearing it up lately. He’s seen his rushing attempts go up every game over the last three games and holds a steady 67% snap rate. He now has over 275 yards over the last three games and a touchdown in each one of them. His yards per catch are super inflated after his matchup with the Dolphins as I do not think he will find much more success than Austin Ekeler just had to catch out of the backfield against this Denver defense. I am lowering his RB1 potential down to an RB2 given that this is a Broncos defense that has given up the third-fewest rushing touchdowns on the season of all teams, and is right there with the Jets’ defense in rushing yards allowed. Hall’s explosive running might be the key to this Jets offense, but I’m tempering expectations against a defense that has allowed the 9th fewest fantasy points to the running back.
Keep in mind, Josh Jacobs did gash them for 144 yards and two touchdowns. This stat cuts both ways and is positive if you think Hall is just as talented, but also could be negative if you consider where the Broncos would be ranked if it wasn’t for Jacob’s decimation of them. I could see the Broncos stacking against Hall and threatening Wilson to beat them through the air.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Elijah Moore (Start-Flex), Corey Davis (Start-WR3), Garrett Wilson (Sit), Tyler Conklin (Sit)
Pat Surtain is going to pick one of these wide receivers and take them out of the game, just as he did last week against Mike Williams. What makes this a little more cloudy is I’m not certain which one that will be. Elijah Moore is the team’s WR1, but he hasn’t played like it the past two games, whether it is his fault or not. Corey Davis has had the better numbers, but Wilson just hasn’t been throwing it that much. Given what other teams have done in the past against the Broncos this season, this will most likely change and see an uptick.
Look for the Jets to copy the blueprint the Chargers used last week to attack the rookie cornerback that gave up 81 yards in penalties alone last week. Which wide receiver will that be? Will Moore’s ironic tweet about keeping silent in the face of frustration (one catch in two games) net him more looks? I am going to go with Moore drawing the primary coverage, and Davis gets the benefit of that. But I’m not confident that Denver won’t switch that around if they need to.
Moore has been trending in the wrong direction with his fantasy points per game going from 8.5 in Week 4 to 2 the next week, and a flat zero last week. Davis has seen his snap count rise each week since Wilson came back with an 85% snap count last week. Of all the targets for the receivers, his has held the most consistent. Garrett Wilson started the season strong with Joe Flacco but has diminished since then failing to get more than 6 points in fantasy in the last three weeks, and seeing his snap count fall sharply in each of those three games.
Tyler Conklin has been another that started very strong, but since the return of CJ Uzomah, he has been slowly ceding more and more snaps to a balanced split between the two. He has had a flex-tier performance once since his tight-end partner returned, and has had three fantasy points in the last two games. The Broncos have actually played rather well against the TE this season, with Gerald Everett‘s performance more of an outlier as they haven’t given up more than three fantasy points to the position in each of the last four games before that.
Russell Wilson (Sit), Brett Rypien (Sit)
As of this writing, Russell Wilson is scheduled for an MRI of his hamstring, which according to reports, could be potentially serious. He says he hurt it on a scramble in the 4th quarter of the last game. This is in addition to his injured back muscle that he’s had for a few weeks now. If he can’t go, the backup is Brett Rypien. I don’t like either of these matchups. Wilson hasn’t eclipsed 275 passing yards since week 1 and has more games without a touchdown than he does with multiple touchdowns. With the latest reports of another injury, I don’t see him using his legs as much to bail out plays on the scramble, and even before the hamstring injury, he has had less than 30 yards rushing in every game. The Jets have not allowed a QB to go over 20 points since Joe Burrow in Week 3, and that includes their most recent matchup against Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay.
Latavius Murray (Sit/Start-Flex), Melvin Gordon III (Sit), Mike Boone (Sit)
To the surprise of many, Latavius Murray got the bulk of the carries last night, leaving Melvin Gordon on the sidelines as a spectator. Will this continue into this game? Or is it more of a ‘hot-hand’ approach and we could see Gordon swap to that role? I’m not comfortable with this backfield, so if my bye weeks are leaving me thin, I would go with Murray as a flex at best if I’m forced to roll the dice. I would look elsewhere if I could. The Broncos are in the bottom half of the league in yards per game on the ground and they are going to face a Jets defense that is giving up an average of 105 total rushing yards per game.
The Jets are coming off a game where they shut down AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, but the game before that allowed Raheem Mostert to run wild for over 110 yards and a TD. That said, the Jets are averaging over 30 points per game over the last three games, so there is a chance that Denver will need to keep up which means more passing and less running. Last week Denver’s running backs had two catches as a team.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Courtland Sutton (Start-Flex/WR3), Jerry Jeudy (Start-Flex), KJ Hamler (Sit), Greg Dulcich (Sit)
If Courtland Sutton had a limited time of three targets covered by Asante Samuel, he’s not going to like going up against Sauce Gardner either. Gardner is top-5 on the season in man coverage when it comes to catches allowed, yards allowed, and QBR when throwing at him. The rookie phenom has locked down opponents which should see more looks to Jerry Jeudy, who could find himself with a decent volume as he’s had 20 targets over the last three games. However, he’s still touchdown dependent as the only time he’s broken out of the flex tier is when he’s scored in the end zone.
KJ Hamler has the most targets of the season last night with a whole three, and Greg Dulchich just played his first game, so I’m not ready to think he’s a start candidate, even with a touchdown last night, he only got three targets over the whole game. The Jets are averaging giving up just over 200 passing yards per game, and the Broncos are struggling to get about 220 average passing yards per game.
As much as I like Sutton’s talent, I don’t like his matchup, and I really don’t like the quarterback situation his team is in. The Jets have the second-highest QB knockdown rating and the fourth-highest pressure rate. Not a good sign if your quarterback is already entering the game hurt.