Fantasy 5: No intrigue left for Jets WRs with Decker out
The impending departure of the WR from the Jets leaves the team with minimal fantasy promise. Jeff Ratcliffe on that and more.
Fantasy 5: No intrigue left for Jets WRs with Decker out
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
Remember the show American Gladiators? If you’re a millennial, look it up. Anyway, they had everyday Joes compete against spandex-clad “gladiators” in a series of events. Not gonna lie. For a kid in the early-90s, it was kind of awesome. In one of those events, a gladiator would fire tennis balls at the contestants who in turn would attempt to dodge the tennis balls and hit a target with various projectiles.
What does this have to do with anything, you ask? This is the time of year where the news cycle is thin, and stories are firing at us like those tennis balls. Like the contestants, we need to dodge most of these stories. However, there are some important pieces of news that deserve our attention. Here’s five(ish) stories to know for today:
1. Eric Decker to be traded or released by the end of the week
After months of speculation, Decker’s future with the Jets is finally clear. The team plans to move on from the veteran receiver, who is recovering from shoulder and hip injuries. The move will save the Jets $5.75 million in cap space, though this typically isn’t the time of year where teams go out and spend their money. The Jets also parted ways with veteran LB David Harris, who spent 10 years with the team.
With Decker out of the mix, the Jets are left with arguably the worst wide receiver group in the NFL. Tweener slot receiver Quincy Enunwa currently sits as their No. 1 receiver with some combination of Robbie Anderson, Quinton Patton and rookie ArDarius Stewart rounding out three-wide sets. The Jets also have promising fourth-round rookie Chad Hansen, who has some similarities with Decker. Regardless, the Jets aren’t a team we’ll be looking to for much fantasy value at wide receiver this year.
Decker is entering his age-30 season and still has some tread left on his tires. One of the most efficient receivers over the last half decade, he’s topped double-digit scores three times during that span. The Ravens and Titans have been suggested as potential landing spots for Decker. For fantasy purposes, Baltimore would be a more ideal fit.
Stay tuned …
2. Mike Williams sidelined until camp
The seventh overall pick in this year’s draft suffered “a mild disc herniation in his lower back” and is expected to be sidelined until the start of training camp. Williams initially suffered the injury in the first practice of rookie minicamp.
This certainly doesn’t help provide clarity to a muddled Chargers’ wide receiver depth chart. Keenan Allen is inked in as a starter, but there has been much debate as to who will be joining him. Our team favors Williams along with Travis Benjamin, though others have pointed to Tyrell Williams as a favorite to start. We likely won’t get any clarity here until training camp, so those in best-ball formats are better off avoiding the rookie Williams for now.
3. The Patriots starting running back is …
According the Boston Globe, Mike Gillislee has the inside track for the starting job with James White the favorite for third-down duties. A restricted free agent, Gillislee joined the Patriots after the New England extended a $6.4 million offer sheet that the Bills declined to match.
While he isn’t quite a household name among the football fan general public, fantasy players know Gillislee well after a solid 2016 campaign where he served as LeSean McCoy’s understudy. Gillislee found the end zone eight times on 101 carries and chipped in another score as a receiver. That’s nine fewer touchdowns than LeGarrette Blount had with the Patriots last season. In other words, Gillislee is in a position to be one of 2017 biggest breakout fantasy running backs. Don’t go too nuts on him just yet. This is a Bill Belichick team, after all. But Gillislee should be highlighted on re-draft draft boards as a middle-round target.
4. Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Blake Bortles’ throwing motion has improved
Seriously. How many times do we need to talk about Bortles’ mechanic this offseason? This time it was Jags EVP Tom Coughlin who said Bortles has improved on the Rich Eisen Show. When asked about Bortles, Coughlin initially said he had “an outstanding” season two years ago, but then quickly retracted his statement. He went on to point out Bortles’ turnovers from last season and said he “pretty much” corrected his throwing motion.
Pretty much. You don’t say?
Poor mechanics or not, Bortles has finished as a QB1 in each of the last two seasons. As shocking as that may seem, it is something we need to take stock of when considering late-round quarterback options. Bortles is far from a sexy pick, but the negative sentiment that surrounds him in fantasy circles actually makes him a reasonable value dart to throw late in drafts provided you accompany him with another option at the position.
5. Joe Mixon working with Adrian Peterson
Okay, so it’s a slow news day and this is pretty much a puff piece, but Mixon plans to train with Peterson in the time between minicamp and training camp. Honestly, this just gives us another opportunity to talk about Mixon, who is in a good position to enter the 2017 season as the Bengals lead back. While there are concerns along the offensive line, Mixon projects to see enough volume to put up RB2 numbers. From a long-term standpoint, he has arguably the highest ceiling out of this year’s rookie crop, though it’s unlikely you’ll have to take him with the first pick in rookie drafts.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.