2016 fantasy football depth charts: New York Jets
(Editor’s note: As we lead up to the season, Director of PFF Fantasy Jeff Ratcliffe is breaking down each team’s depth chart from a fantasy perspective. Catch up on the work so far here.)
In the first year of the Todd Bowles regime, the Jets posted double-digit wins for the first time since 2010 and only the 11th time in team history. Under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, the Jets led the league in four-wide sets, lining up with four receivers on the field 29.4 percent of the time and on a whopping 42.3 percent of passing plays.
This high-powered offense ranked 10th in total yards per game, and helped Ryan Fitzpatrick to a career year under center. As of this writing, Fitzpatrick is still on the street, though there is some hope that changes in the near future. For now, Geno Smith sits atop the depth chart, with Bryce Petty and polarizing rookie Christian Hackenberg as the backups.
While Fitzpatrick put up strong numbers last season – 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns through the air – he actually wasn’t particularly impressive as a player. He completed just 59.6 percent of his passes, and was one of just two full-time starters to average less than 7.0 yards per attempt. But fantasy certainly isn’t reality, as Fitzpatrick finished as a back-end QB1. That bodes well for Smith, should he end up the starter. Even with mediocre play, Gailey’s offense is set up to put fantasy production on the board. Smith also adds ability as a runner. Nobody expects him to be the next coming of Joe Namath, but Smith would be a volatile back-end QB2 as a starter.
New York Jets projected 2016 offense with 2015 grades:
Gailey’s offense helps the Jets’ signal caller, as does the group of wide receivers in New York. Brandon Marshall is coming off a massive 2015 season, where he posted 1,502 yards and 14 scores on 109 catches. Only two wide receivers outscored Marshall last season: Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Despite entering his age-32 season, Marshall still figures to be highly targeted and remains a borderline WR1.
Along with Marshall, Eric Decker gives the Jets one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league. Last season, fantasy owners could draft Decker in the middle of the ninth round as roughly the 41st receiver off the board. He went on to finished 10th in fantasy scoring among wideouts. Talk about value. One of the most consistent fantasy assets in the league last season, Decker scored a touchdown in 12-of-15 games. Despite his production and consistency, the drafting public continues to overlook Decker, as he’s currently going 27th among wide receivers. Decker is a strong bet to outplay that ADP.
Quincy Enunwa figures to round out three-wide sets, with Devin Smith and Kenbrell Thompkins also in the mix. Smith entered the league with a good pedigree as a second-round pick out of Ohio State with field-stretching speed. However, he floundered in his rookie campaign, battling injuries and managing just nine catches for 115 yards. His season was cut short in December, when Smith suffered a torn ACL. He’s currently without a timetable, but Smith is a name to remember for later in the season, especially as a DFS differentiation play.
One other name to keep an eye on among the Jets wideouts is rookie Charone Peake. A seventh-rounder out of Clemson, Peake has prototype WR1 size (6’2, 208), and he ran a 4.45 40 at the combine. He was a top high school recruit who dealt with injuries – suffered a torn ACL in 2013 – and played in the shadow of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant early in his career. Peake didn’t have massive numbers in 2015 – 50 catches for 716 yards and five scores – but four of his five scores came on deep passes. While he’s going to have to battle for a 2016 roster spot, Peake is still worth stashing in dynasty leagues.
We could essentially skip the tight ends, because the Jets don’t throw to them. Last year, Jets’ tight ends saw just 29 targets, and that’s including eight targets to Enuwa in an H-back role. That’s less than a quarter of Delanie Walker’s position-high 130 targets. Of course, the Jets were without Jace Amaro, who is returning from a torn labrum. While Amaro would figure to be the pass-catching option out of the Jets’ current tight end group, there has been chatter this offseason that he’s on the roster bubble. At this point, fantasy owners can ignore the Jets’ tight ends altogether.
The same cannot be said for the Jets’ running backs, as New York added veteran and RB1 mainstay Matt Forte over the offseason. This move has very real fantasy implications, as Gailey’s offense didn’t just help the passing game last year. Chris Ivory – who is now in Jacksonville – was one of just seven running backs to top 1,000 yards rushing in 2015. Forte is coming off a year where he missed three games to injury, but still managed to finish as a top-10 fantasy option. However, he is entering his age-31 season, and likely won’t be asked to carry a 300-plus-touch workload. Still, he is the lead dog and makes for a strong RB2 option.
[Without Fitzpatrick around (for now, at least), is it worth it to draft Marshall and Decker at their current ADPs? Check out our PFF Draft Master tool and try a mock draft, complete with offensive line grades, full projections and all the PFF data.]
Along with Forte, Bilal Powell figures to remain heavily involved as a receiver. Last year, Powell saw 60 targets in 11 games played. That put him on pace for 87 over 16 games, which would be right up there with the league leaders at the position. With Forte also likely to see work as a receiver, Powell’s target total should dip slightly. However, his role in the offense will limit Forte’s fantasy upside. The Jets will also use Khiry Robinson to spell Forte on early downs.
The Jets are stacked along the defensive line, and this means good things for IDP purposes. Former Temple Owl, Muhammed Wilkerson just got paid and he’s among the top fantasy options at defensive end. Sheldon Richardson will serve a one-game suspension to start the season, but he’s still in the mix as a DE2. IDP owners should also keep an eye on former first-rounder Leonard Williams. The Jets drafted speedy LB Darron Lee, but it sounds like he’s going to be limited to subpackage work, which would keep the rookie off the fantasy radar. At safety, Calvin Pryor missed three games last year, but posted a respectable tackles per opportunity rate of 12.5 percent. He has a lot of upside, and is worthy of back-end DB2 consideration.