Can Any Member of the New York Jets' Offense Be Trusted in Fantasy Football?
Coming off an unimpressive 5-11 campaign in 2016, the New York Jets spent their offseason unloading -- or not retaining -- the vast majority of the talent on their roster. That means there are a lot of roles up for grabs this year, especially at receiver, but there still isn't much to get excited about from a fantasy perspective.
And based on the Average Draft Positions (ADP) of current Jets players, nobody's excited.
As of August 9th, the Jets have the fewest skill players in the top 216 of ADP -- Quincy Enunwa's season-ending neck injury dropped the number to a grand total of two, just behind a trio of equally uninspiring offenses.
|Team||Top 216 ADP Skill Players|
|Los Angeles Rans||3|
|San Francisco 49ers||3|
|New York Jets||2|
That being said, there are some new faces, mostly unknowns, at the top of the Jets’ depth chart who will have a chance to put up numbers based solely on opportunity. After all, even last season’s Cleveland Browns had two top 20 players at their positions in standard-scoring formats (Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell), so the Jets might not be a total fantasy wasteland.
Let's go position-by-position to see which Jets players should be on your radar.
Based on the number of first team reps, there are early indications that Josh McCown will start the season under center. While an 18-42 career record as a starter isn't anything to get excited about, the 15-year veteran has posted decent fantasy numbers when he does start.
Over the past two seasons, McCown has started 11 games, 10 of which he finished. In those 10 games, McCown averaged 298 yards, 1.7 touchdowns, and 0.8 interceptions, equating to 17.12 points in standard scoring. Those aren't terrible numbers, so as long as he is quarterbacking the team, there's a chance for receivers and running backs to deliver some useful performances.
There's more to worry about than just injury with McCown. Similar to the three combined years he spent in Tampa Bay and Cleveland, the Jets have a couple of young quarterbacks breathing down his neck, those being Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.
Hackenberg has been a punchline of sorts -- remember when a coach said he could not hit the ocean with a pass, or when he was sent off the practice field for breaking the huddle incorrectly? -- while Petty has at least seen the field during the regular season in his short career. In five games played toward the end of 2016, Petty posted a quarterback rating of 60.0 with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3-to-7.
The Verdict: McCown is the only guy who could be trusted to stream if you are desperate during bye weeks, but a lack of talented skill players could be a deterrent for even that level of trust. It might be a revolving door under center, so the only way any of these three would be considered draftable is as a backup in a two-quarterback league.
If there's a position in this offense that should garner most of our attention, it's the Jets’ running backs. The tandem of Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are the only meaningful holdovers from last season’s offense, and both have a chance to be useful fantasy options.
Powell had his most productive year as a pro last year, gaining 1,110 yards from scrimmage and scoring 6 total touchdowns (both career highs), while finishing as the 11th-ranked running back according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. Going a step further, Powell was 26th in Reception NEP per target among backs with at least 40 targets, but he was second in Rushing NEP per attempt among runners with at least 80 carries.
Additionally, Powell will likely be taking on a larger role in the Jets’ offense as the primary ball carrier, as opposed to last season -- that's being reflected in current ADP, with Powell being selected 68th, and Forte following him at 109. Powell eclipsed the 13-fantasy-point mark five times last season in standard-scoring leagues, and he averaged 18.3 points per game over the last four.
Forte’s outlook is a far cry from where he was in the past, but he still has a chance to see enough time on the field to be considered in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues. The 31-year-old took issue with his lack of receiving opportunities last season (only 30 catches in 14 games), saying he would like to be more involved on third downs this year, so time will tell if that happens.
The Verdict: It's going to be tough to start Forte unless Powell is hurt, but with the lack of talent in the Jets’ receiving corps, it's possible Forte could see enough targets to make him worth taking a chance on in the later rounds. As for Powell, he'll likely be drafted high enough to be a starter in most leagues.
The potential for shaky offensive line play makes either of them a risky start, but the schedule breaks in a way for Powell to be an RB2 or flex option during the fantasy regular season. Matchups with Carolina, Kansas City, and Denver in Weeks 12 through Week 14 makes Powell a dicey option for the stretch run, but by then, the Jets may be using more of their younger players, like sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire. It's probably safe to draft Powell as a starter, but he may not be a full-season rock in your lineup.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
With Enunwa out, the Jets’ depth chart at wide receiver is full of mostly unknown players and late-round draft picks from years past, with the likes of Robby Anderson, Charone Peake, and Quinton Patton being the most senior members of the group. They did add former Cowboys kick returner/wide receiver Lucky Whitehead after he was released in July, but his career total of 9 catches for 64 yards doesn't garner much confidence.
The most likely to emerge from this group according to his Receiving NEP from last season is Anderson, who went undrafted out of Temple. Anderson was used as more of a deep threat in 2016, averaging 14.0 yards per reception, 24th in the NFL. Given the Jets' depth chart entering camp, Anderson looks to have the best shot at being the team's go-to guy on the outside, and could be worth keeping an eye on late in drafts.
The lack of upside in these options allow for the possibility that rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen could see more of the field this year. The third- and fourth-round picks, respectively, have as good a shot as any in this receiving quagmire to put up numbers that warrant a mid-season waiver pickup.
And then there's tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Considering his past performance and two-game suspension to start the season, Seferian-Jenkins is not creeping up anybody’s draft board, but he might be worth a look during bye weeks when he makes his return to the field. If there is any hope for Seferian-Jenkins' fantasy viability, it is that McCown was at the helm for the Browns when tight end Gary Barnidge put up all but one of his double-digit scoring weeks in his career year of 2015.
The Verdict: It would probably take a deep league for any of these guys to be onto your draft radar, with Anderson being the most likely target, but don't be surprised if you see some of these names in a waiver wire article later this year.
Taking a wait-and-see approach may be the best way to treat the Jets’ offense this season. Outside of Powell, Forte, and Anderson, few will be drafted in a 10- or 12-team league. But given the usual craziness of fantasy football, you never know who will produce given the opportunity, so don't write off these guys for the entire season.