Jets Sign Eric Decker
Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of Eric Decker’s fantasy football stock plummeting from the precipice of Mile High Stadium. You might also be hearing shrieks from his dynasty owners.
The fifth-year receiver signed a five-year, $36.2 million deal with New York after a long courtship from Jets brass, going from the greatest quarterback of all time coming off the ultimate season in NFL history to Geno Smith. Or even, perhaps, Mark Sanchez.
Decker loses more than just the luxury of having Peyton Manning under center. No longer will Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas threaten opposing defenses alongside Decker, forcing them to pick their poison. Decker goes from being one of a slew of options in a high-octane offense to top billing in what has been an anemic offense in recent years. And he gets to square off against Darrelle Revis twice this season, to boot.
Granted, part of the reason the Jets have been so bad on offense is the fact they have not had a healthy, bona fide weapon at receiver. Until Decker affixed his signature to that contract, Jeremy Kerley was New York’s top option.
There is some glimmer of hope, however. There was NFL life before Manning for Decker, believe it or not — a full season when he had the likes of Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow throwing to him in a run-heavy offense. He caught 44 passes on 91 targets for 613 yards and a healthy eight touchdowns that season, his second in the league. Smith and Sanchez are far better passers than Tebow.
Decker is a pretty good receiver in his own right, too. His overall +16.9 rating was 11th-best in the league last season, part of a positive trend we have seen from him over the past three seasons. Despite all the receiving talent in Denver last season, Decker garnered the second-most targets on the team with 135, which he converted to 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. As the top receiver in New York, he could garner a similar target count next season, even if the Jets pass far less than the Broncos did last season.
He also had the fifth-best WR rating — the passer rating Manning had throwing in his direction last season — in the league at 113.4, and he had the fifth-most yardage on passes thrown 20-plus yards in the air. Durability is an added bonus, with Decker having played in all 16 games in each of the past three seasons.
It’s not all rainbows and lollipops with Decker, however. The raw statistics must be taken with a healthy dose of sodium given his quarterback situation has drastically changed, though his good season cannot be completely discounted. There is also the fact that he had some brutal games in which he dropped several passes.
So, what do we make of this signing from a fantasy football perspective? For starters, this could be just the beginning for the Jets. Decker might lead a weak wide receiver corps for the time being, but they might well add to it in the coming weeks or the draft. That could ease the opposing defensive attention on him. Even if there isn’t much added around him, however, Decker might just be a great value in fantasy drafts come August.
Much of what was said above about Decker’s offensive downgrade will be regurgitated in the coming months, hammering home that fantasy owners should stay away from him and the Jets. After all, what Jets receiver has done anything of note in the fantasy realm in recent years?
There is likely more to come in New York, and Decker’s fantasy future is nebulous at best. Just don’t scratch him off your watchlist.
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