Fantasy football team preview: New York Jets
Times are tough for Jets fans these days. Other than an outlier 10-6 2015 season, their team hasn’t had a winning season since 2010, which was also the last time they made the playoffs. Head coach Todd Bowles is back for his third year at the helm, but offensive coordinator Chan Gailey retired over the offseason. His replacement, John Morton, has no offensive coordinator experience at the NFL level, but did serve in that role at USC 2009-2010. Most recently, Morton was the wide receivers coach with the Saints. At this point, it’s tough to pin down exactly what Morton’s offense will look like. He has West Coast influences from his time with Sean Payton in New Orleans, but Bowles suggested Morton will mold the offense to fit his players’ strengths.
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To say the Jets’ quarterback situation is rough may be an understatement. Veteran Josh McCown currently sits atop the depth chart, but he’s entering his age-38 season. In 13 years in the NFL, McCown has never played all 16 games. To be fair, there were many years where he was a backup, but his recent stints as a starter have been hampered by injuries.
Behind McCown, the Jets have two developmental quarterbacks in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Petty got some run as a starter last season, but failed to impress, throwing three touchdowns and seven picks on 150 dropbacks. Hackenberg looks the part of an NFL quarterback until he steps on the field, but the Jets have reportedly been pleased with his progress this offseason. Regardless, none of these three quarterbacks is likely to make any fantasy ripples outside of the deepest 2QB leagues.
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At running back, the Jets are expected to use a committee approach this season with Bilal Powell and Matt Forte splitting the work. Powell will turn 29 in October, but has been lightly used in his six-year career with an average of just 117 touches per year. What fantasy players will likely remember the most is Powell’s performance down the stretch last year, when he posted top-10 finishes in three of the final four weeks of the regular season. Over that stretch, he led all running backs with 103 touches – an average of 25.8 per game – and only Le’Veon Bell scored more fantasy points at the running back position. Despite this productive outburst, the presence of Forte and the overall lackluster state of the Jets offensive limits Powell’s fantasy upside this season. At best, he should be considered a back-end RB2.
Forte enters 2017 on the wrong side of 30 and his elusiveness has been on a steady decline over the last four seasons. In 2013, he forced a missed tackle on 13.5 percent of his touches. Last year he managed just 8.3 percent. However, Forte was clearly the Jets preferred back in the red zone last season with 31 carries, 12 inside the 5-yard line. Powell saw 19 red-zone carries, but only three inside the 5-yard line. While we prefer Powell for fantasy purposes, Forte is still going to be involved this season. He’s best viewed as a borderline RB3.
Beyond Powell and Forte, the Jets have rookie Elijah McGuire. He was productive at the college level, posting 4,301 yards and 42 scores on the ground to go along with 130 catches for 1,394 yards and 10 scores over the last four years. Similar to Powell and Forte, McGuire is a very effective receiver who caught 108 balls over the last three years. While he possesses intriguing upside, McGuire is unlikely to be a fantasy factor in the short term.
This isn’t the place to look for fantasy value. Following the offseason departures of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, the Jets are left with Quincy Enunwa as their de facto No. 1 receiver. Enunwa finished second on the team in targets last year with 99, but he displayed minimal upside with just one top-12 fantasy week and only three top-20 weeks. Essentially a slot receiver, Enunwa’s low average depth of target (9.6 yards) also doesn’t bode well for fantasy upside. He’s fine as a PPR flex option, but his limited ceiling and the Jets quarterback situation limit Enunwa’s fantasy appeal in 2017.
After Enunwa, your guess is as good as ours. Currently, second-year men Robby Anderson and Charone Peake have the inside track for the starting jobs. However, rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen could also be in the mix. Regardless of who wins out, those players are unlikely to be anything more than extremely volatile deep fantasy options. It’s best to save them for the occasional DFS punt play.
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Austin Seferian-Jenkins is reportedly sober since January and has been impressive so far in offseason practices. The Jets essentially never used the tight end under Gailey, and that’s expected to change under Morton. Seferian-Jenkins has been an extremely volatile fantasy option throughout his career, but he has shown the ability to find the end zone at times – he scored four times on 21 catches in 2015. He’ll open the season on a two-game suspension, but Seferian-Jenkins is at least worth a look in the late rounds of fantasy drafts this year.
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