The Adam Gase Error has ended, and the arrival of Robert Saleh has breathed some fresh air into this franchise for the first time since, it seems, Rex Ryan was at the helm.
Saleh’s arrival and Gase’s departure coincides with the arrival of rookie QB Zach Wilson and the exit of 2018 first-rounder Sam Darnold, who is of to try to revive (or start) his career without the heavy hand of Gase on top of him, this time in Carolina with Joe Brady. Darnold might be looking at his former team — with all its offensive line and wide-receiver improvements — and wonder why GM Joe Douglas didn’t set him up as well as it appears he’s done for Wilson.
Still, the Jets look like they’re at least a year away, with the new coaching staff hoping to get Wilson off on the right foot.
Is there anyone interesting for fantasy?
New York Jets Franchise Focus Companion Podcast
|Season Win Total (O/U)||6 (+100/-120)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 7 (+123) in late March to 6 (+100)
Super Bowl: +6600 in early February to +15000
Premium 2021 Betting Preview from Tom Brolley found here.
Key Offseason Moves
|Morgan Moses (OT)||Zach Wilson (QB)||Sam Darnold (QB, Car)|
|Grant Hermanns (OT, UDFA)||Alijah Vera-Tucker (OG)||Joe Flacco (QB, Phi)|
|Teton Saltes (OT, UDFA)||Michael Carter (RB)||Pat Elflein (OG, Car)|
|Tristen Hoge (OG)||Elijah Moore (WR)||Frank Gore (RB)|
|Dan Feeney (OC)||Jonathan Marshall (DT)||Breshad Perriman (WR, Det)|
|Tevin Coleman (RB)||Jamien Sherwood (ILB)||Henry Anderson (DT, NE)|
|Corey Davis (WR)||Hamsah Nasirildeen (ILB)||Jordan Jenkins (OLB, Hou)|
|Keelan Cole (WR)||Jason Pinnock (CB)||Tarell Basham (OLB, Dal)|
|Tyler Kroft (TE)||Michael Carter II (CB)||Neville Hewitt (ILB, Hou)|
|Kenny Yeboah (TE, UDFA)||Brandin Echols (CB)||Bryce Hager (ILB)|
|Sheldon Rankins (DT)||Alec Ogletree (ILB)|
|Michael Dwumfour (DT, UDFA)||Brian Poole (CB, NO)|
|Carl Lawson (DE)||Bradley McDougald (S)|
|Vinny Curry (DE)||Arthur Maulet (S, Pit)|
|Jarrad Davis (ILB)||Matthias Farley (S, Ten)|
|Justin Hardee (CB)|
|Lamarcus Joyner (S)|
Scott Barrett’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule
Quarterback: 14th-toughest (-0.13)
Running Back: 15th-toughest (+0.06)
Wide Receivers: 8th-softest (+0.60)
Tight Ends: 12th-toughest (-0.08)
Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.1 (22nd)
Plays per game: 58.3 (31st)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 54% (24th) | Run: 46% (9th)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 49.7% (17th) | Run: 50.3% (16th)
When the team is behind — Pass: 60.9% (28th) | Run: 39.1% (5th)
Obviously, last year’s tendencies have little bearing on what the 2021 Jets offense will look like. The Adam Gase nightmare is over, and GM Joe Douglas has brought in a new staff from top to bottom. New HC Robert Saleh will oversee the defense while OC Mike LaFleur will call plays on offense. LaFleuer’s rise to the top was a quick one. The younger brother of Packers HC Matt LaFleur, Mike started his coaching career in the lower-level college ranks before getting hired by Kyle Shanahan and the Browns in 2014. From there, LaFleur followed Shanhan to Atlanta and then on to San Francisco — which is where he’s spent the last four years as the team’s passing game coordinator. Since LaFleur has never called plays at the NFL level and his only experience doing so was back in 2011-13 when he was OC at St. Joseph’s and Davidson, we have nothing to roll off of in terms of how this offense will be set up. But if his Shanahan influence is any indication, expect the Jets attack to feature way more play-action and a running game built on outside-zone.
Last year, the Jets scored just 1.36 points per drive — last in the league.
Their average play gained just 4.7 yards (last).
They converted on 34% of their third-downs (last).
They scored a TD on 42% of their red-zone possessions (last).
They punted the ball 82 times (most).
Per SIS, Zach Wilson led the nation in on-target throws of 10 or more air yards from a clean pocket (81%). Mac Jones was second-best, Spencer Rattler was third, and Trevor Lawrence was fourth.
Wilson also led the nation in play-action success, ranking first in on-target throws, second in YPA, and first in passer rating.
Elijah Moore only played in eight games last season, but he led all WRs in yards per game (149.1) ahead of Devonta Smith (142.8).
Moore was a monster last year and earned a whopping 4.2 receiving yards per route run, which was third-best in the class behind Smith (4.8) and D’Wayne Eskridge (5.1).
72 of Moore’s 101 targets last year came when he was lined up in the slot.
Michael Carter and Javonte Williams split carries (157 to 155, in favor of Williams) and targets (31 to 30, in favor of Williams) basically right down the middle last year.
However, Carter trailed Williams in both Yards Created per attempt (5.61 to 5.12) and missed tackles forced per attempt (0.474 to 0.224).
Huber’s Scheme Notes
Sam Darnold has already been dealt; even with a fifth-year option remaining on the former 2018 third overall selection’s rookie contract, the Jets moved Darnold to the Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second- and fourth-round picks. Should you require a reminder of NYJ’s abhorrent history of drafting QBs, you can find everything you need in Zach Wilson’s dynasty draft profile. And if you were left scratching your head over the compensation New York received for Darnold, you are not alone. It should not surprise anyone that the Jets made sure they traded away that ‘21 sixth-rounder acquired from Carolina for Darnold. The exact details of that trade — actual player selected listed in parentheses: Kansas City received the 162nd pick (Noah Gray) and 226th pick (Trey Smith), while New York received the 175th pick (Jason Pinnock) and 207th pick (Jonathan Marshall). Don’t be surprised to see the front office trade away the ‘22 second- and fourth-rounders they acquired in the deal in order to separate themselves as much as possible from the entire situation.
No matter what we think, third-year GM Joe Douglas and new HC Robert Saleh have fully invested their stations in Wilson. And, should Wilson faceplant or be injured, James Morgan and Mike White are not going to save them from humiliation. Based on his BYU tape, “Morman Manziel” has a big arm with an impressive touch. He’s also developed a reputation for making some ridiculous off-platform throws while stepping forward in the pocket. But his mechanics break down when forced laterally or when dealing with defenders bearing down on him. And Wilson looked like a different player entirely during the only test he faced during his breakout season opposite Coastal Carolina’s solid defense. Things get rather alarming if you go back further into the film from previous seasons. Reports out of training camp have already begun mentioning issues dealing with NFL pressure. That was a significant pre-draft concern after comfortably working behind the top O-line in the Group of Five. Having immediate issues with the Jets pass rush also informs us that the O-line is not nearly as improved as some imagined.
There is little question that the addition of ‘21 first-rounder Alijah Vera-Tucker is a significant plus in the O-line quality department. Widely considered the top guard prospect in the class, AVT should start from Day 1 at left guard. They also have 2020 first-round behemoth (6-foot-7, 363 pounds) Mekhi Becton locked in at left tackle. These two form the foundational blocking cornerstones for the Gang Green. The Jets O-line permitted the league’s highest QB pressure rate last season — reinforcing the raw deal handed to Darnold. Douglas is hoping one of those issues — George Fant’s play at right tackle — is addressed with the free agent addition of Morgan Moses. And a repeat of Moses’ play from last season would provide a tremendous upgrade. Since it’s obviously impossible to protect the pocket with three linemen, New York is not out of the woods just yet; the remaining two positions are far from settled.
Last season, the previous regime didn’t rely on pulling their O-linemen out in front of their backs to block. That allowed right guard Greg Van Roten to “hide” his weak run blocking within the Jets’ Zone scheme. But Van Roten is excellent in pass pro. Now that new OC Mike LaFleur is in town, the run game is receiving an overhaul. They’ll be expected to maintain a top-five rate of Outside Zone blocking, but LaFleur will bring along a top-15 rate of Backside (Power) and Frontside Pulls. Needless to say, unless they just outrageously avoid pulling him, Van Roten’s run blocking deficiencies will be fully exposed. It’s possible Van Roten could be challenged at right guard by either Alex Lewis or even intriguing ‘21 UDFA Tristen Hoge. As for the situation at center, Connor McGovern was one of the worst performers at the position last season and they failed to add anyone to challenge him — Feeney appears to be working with the guards. Not good.
On the bright side, the capable aspect of the O-line is in run blocking. The addition of Moses — whose particular speciality is blocking for the run — could pay off big for the RBs. In fantasy circles, the masses are pulling for ‘21 fifth-rounder Michael Carter to run away with the job. Is Carter capable of handling lead duties? Without a doubt, yes. That said, several details need to be understood concerning the situation. First of all, LaFleur is a dedicated disciple of Kyle Shanahan’s system. Prior to the upcoming season, LaFleur worked under Shanahan in Cleveland (2014), Atlanta (2015-16), and San Francisco (2017-20). If the point doesn’t instantly stand out, Shanahan — as well as his father before him — is renowned for splitting his backfield shares between at least two backs.
It’s also important to remember that Tevin Coleman followed Saleh and LaFleur to New York. Coleman missed the majority of the ‘20 season due to a sprained knee, but has worked with LaFleur during his entire six-year NFL career. He’s essentially a trusty weapon in LaFleur’s back pocket. Finally, Carter is not a bellcow-type of RB. For the most part, he can get away with only standing 5-foot-8, 201 pounds. But Carter is simply not the bruising-type, expected to force his way through tackle attempts. That said, he is able to tap into his 76th percentile three-cone quickness to either shake defenders or get to the edge. Ty Johnson must also be accounted for after providing the type of play last year that deserves a role. And we’ve yet to even discuss ‘20 fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine. Like it or not, we’re looking at some type of a split backfield for the foreseeable future.
If the O-line is the weakest group for the Jets, WR is easily it’s strongest. It’s a group that will now be led by Corey Davis after signing a three-year, $37.5 million free agent contract. If we force it, we can look to Wilson’s collegiate success when facing Cover 4, followed by Cover 3, and close by listing Cover 2 as his primary weakness. That’s risky business considering the vanilla competition offered up from Group of Five defenses. So, it’s not that informative for us to match Wilson and Davis’ scheme success. Just for fun, it’s no surprise after working the last two seasons with Ryan Tannehill that Davis did his best work against Cover 1 and Cover 3. After Davis, we have an outstanding duo of slot receivers vying for much more than a simple job-share. It may have surprised some to see Douglas re-up with Jamison Crowder. But Crowder may end up providing Wilson with his best Cover 4 friend; not to mention Crowder’s literal dominance of the Bills. It may seem premature but, short of Wilson imploding, Elijah Moore is going to eat rather well this season. And we could even see Moore work some on the outside after posting 4.96 yards gained/outside route during his Ole Miss career.
The final potential impact contributor at WR is one who, based on beat reports, has been working with the second- and third-teams this offseason: ‘20 second-rounder Denzel Mims. If you are dead set on removing all risk, disregard Mims at your leisure. If you are in the market for a bargain, take note. With a new coaching staff in place, the last thing they’ll tolerate is a me-first attitude. Especially coming from a kid who they had no part in drafting. But Douglas did make the decision to draft Mims, so we know motivation is still in place to see him succeed. The current situation for Mims is not going to stick. It’s simply an effort to send a message. The Jets need Mims on the field. And, despite Keelan Cole’s “company man” persona, we all know Cole is simply not a game-changing talent. But Mims offers the type of upside that depth WRs can never approach.
The 49ers rostered George Kittle and Jordan Reed last season, which gave them more than enough motivation to play a ton of multi-TE sets. LaFleur is keenly aware — only needing to venture a quick eyeball at the Jets’ TE offerings — he’s not in San Francisco anymore. It’s very unlikely to be a featured position in the passing offense, so I’ll keep this brief. Chris Herndon did his best last year to teach us he is not good at football. The only season of his six-year career offering anything interesting was in 2017 with the Bengals, but Tyler Kroft did draw some early offseason praise. If we remain focused on team needs, the job could also end up landing in Ryan Griffin’s lap if he proves last season’s run blocking skill was no fluke.
Needless to say, look elsewhere for playoff-ready offenses. An O-line is only as good as its weakest link and a gaping hole exists extending from center to right guard. Expect to see Wilson running for his life, attempting off-platform throws, but not working forward, rather laterally across his body or away from his frame. Wilson provided a multitude of poor throws in both scenarios on his BYU tape. He was also prone to accepting more contact than necessary, considering he is much quicker than he is fast. It’s very possible that Wilson ends the season throwing more INTs than TDs. However, his reckless abandonment approach will benefit his pass catchers. Davis, Moore, and Crowder are going to produce. As for the RBs, we need to watch preseason action closely to get a better idea on how LaFleur intends to use them.
The ‘20 season proved to be an utter disaster for New York. But you need to dig well beyond the final scores to truly evaluate their defense. The Jets actually fielded one of the top run defenses last season. They held RBs to the seventh-fewest YPC, third-lowest rate of rushing first downs, and allowed the 12th-lowest YPG. A real eye-opening stat can be found in their pass rush generating a top-five QB pressure rate. But the defense also missed tackles at the fifth-highest rate. As for the coverage, we really shouldn’t be too quick to judge the secondary, as a whole. New York placed CBs Brian Poole, Blessuan Austin, and Pierre Desir on IR following their Week 10 bye. The defense never recovered. For whatever reason, GM Joe Douglas chose not to retain Poole despite being one of the top Nickel corners last season. He also allowed run-stuffing 3-/5-tech Henry Anderson to join the Patriots.
Not to worry, the Jets will still field a mauling, run-defending interior led by Quinnen Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi. Williams also combines his array of talents with ‘20 breakout John Franklin-Myers and free agent Sheldon Rankins to power the pass rush. The situation is not as settled at 9-tech after both Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham signed elsewhere. Douglas will have his fingers crossed his acquisitions of Carl Lawson and Vinny Curry can get home off the edge. Early reports from camp have been glowing with respect to Lawson. Especially his penchant for repeatedly getting his hands on Wilson.
Don’t expect to see much production out of the crew at LB outside of MIKE C.J. Mosley’s return from a ‘20 opt-out. Douglas added Detroit send-off Jarrad Davis, but new DC Jeff Ulbrich will be better off using the spot to add an additional pass rusher or defensive back. And it’s likely we’ll see more of the latter with offenses spreading the field with three- and four-wide sets to focus attention away from the run defense, its obvious strength. Despite adding three CBs late in the draft (Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols), none are likely to contribute right away. That’s very concerning since none of New York’s three expected starting CBs, Austin, Bryce Hall, and Javelin Guidry, impressed last season.
We need to use quite a bit of projection to figure out what type of schematic rotation the defense will employ. Ulbrich served as the LBs coach with the Falcons the last six seasons, but he’ll now be working under new HC Robert Saleh, the former DC for the 49ers. I am anticipating that we’ll actually see more of the components San Francisco employs than Atlanta. Under that assumption, the Jets should employ a collection of Zone shells at a rate ranking somewhere inside the top-15 teams. The most significant being a rotation of Cover 4, Cover 6, and Cover 3, in order of anticipated league rank. When the Jets fall into their Cover 3, the secondary will be in the extraordinary hands of, arguably, the top all-around free safety in the game, Marcus Maye.
It’s the snaps when Ulbrich rotates ‘20 third-rounder Ashtyn Davis high, splitting the field with Maye, that significant concerns take root. Whereas Davis might be the most reliable tackler on the defense, his coverage may be the worst among all NFL defensive backs. Davis ranked dead last among 53 qualified strong safeties in each of my most reliable coverage metrics. It’s such a concern that we may end up seeing him replaced by Lamarcus Joyner. Just don’t expect any miracles from Joyner. Unfortunately for the Jets, it’s literally impossible for Maye to defend every receiver on the field. New York will slam the door on opposing rushing attacks and provide a competitive rate of pocket pressure. But, comparable to their O-line issues, the secondary is a problem. You simply cannot win football games with debilitating issues at O-line and in the secondary.
Projected Fantasy Contributors
Zach Wilson (Proj: QB26 | ADP: 196 | Pos ADP: QB29)
The Jets were long rumored to land Wilson with the second overall pick, and they solidified their decision after they traded away Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in 2018, to the Panthers in early April. Wilson comes into the league off an electrifying junior season at BYU in which he accounted for 43 total touchdowns (33 passing, 10 rushing) while throwing just three INTs in 12 games. He averaged 307.6 passing yards per game and 11.0 YPA and he added 21.2 rushing yards per game last season, albeit against some weak competition. Wilson, who checks in at 6’2”, 214 pounds, has some major Baker Mayfield vibes coming into the league because of his size, arm strength, and second-reaction skills. Wilson joins Trevor Lawrence as the only rookie quarterbacks who look like locks to start in Week 1. He should be a great fit for Mike LaFleur’s wide-zone scheme, but we’ll see how he handles pressure at the next level considering he consistently played from clean pockets last season. Darnold was pressured at the highest rate (42.1% per PFF) last season, but at least the Jets traded up to land top O-line prospect Alijah Vera-Tucker. Wilson also won’t have to play in Adam Gase’s offense, which is a major plus. GM Joe Douglas loaded up on receiver help this off-season by signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole before drafting Elijah Moore at No. 34 overall after he surprisingly dropped out of the first round. The Jets’ offense is on the rise but their defense could still be a work in progress, which could lead to some pass-heavy scripts after they allowed 28.6 points per game last season (seventh-most). Wilson will take some lumps early with such a major jump in competition, and he’s unlikely to be much more than a low-end QB2 unless he runs more than anticipated.
Michael Carter (Proj: RB28 | ADP: 79 | Pos ADP: RB31)
The Jets had multiple chances to address a glaring need at running back in the first two days of the draft, but GM Joe Douglas instead elected to trade up for OG Alijah Vera-Tucker at No. 14 and to select WR Elijah Moore at No. 34. New York finally made a move to improve one of the league’s worst backfields by selecting Carter at the start of the fourth round. He was just the fifth running back off the board in this year’s top-heavy RB class behind Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams, and Trey Sermon. Carter was the lightning to Williams’ thunder the last three seasons at North Carolina, averaging 6.6 YPC during his career and running for 1000+ yards in each of his final two seasons. He also added 20+ catches in each of his final three seasons, which makes him even more intriguing for fantasy. Carter lacks ideal size at 5’8”, 201 pounds, but his versatile skill set will get him on the field both as a runner and as a receiver. Carter has the chance to see significant playing time immediately in New York since his only competition will come from Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and La’Mical Perine. Coleman managed just 28 carries in eight games last season, Johnson could be in a fight for a roster spot, and Perine didn’t show much of anything as a 2020 fourth-round pick. It’s difficult to get too excited for a fourth-round pick since the Jets didn’t exactly invest much into him, but he’s easily the most talented back on the roster at this point. He generated some buzz during off-season workouts and our Greg Cosell saw some similarities between Carter and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Carter projects more like a complementary back in the long run since he lacks the size to be a sustaining runner, but he’s the best bet to lead this extremely thin backfield in touches in 2021 and he opened training camp as the top back. He’s an intriguing RB3 in drafts because of his receiving ability and he could easily vault into RB2 territory if he can get a healthy weekly dose of carries to go along with PPR potential.
Ty Johnson (Proj: RB58 | ADP: 405 | Pos ADP: RB107)
Johnson has generated some buzz in his first two stops between Detroit and New York but it hasn’t translated to the field for the 23-year-old back. The Lions released him early last season and he latched on with the Jets for the final 11 games of 2020 after the franchise released Le’Veon Bell early last season. Johnson finished with 54/254/1 rushing (4.7 YPC) and 16/99/1 receiving on 21 targets while playing 17% of the snaps in 11 contests. The new Jets’ coaching staff didn’t exactly bring in the stiffest competition for playing time this off-season so Johnson has an outside chance of being fantasy relevant in 2021. They signed a broken-down Tevin Coleman in free agency and they drafted the intriguing Michael Carter, but they used just a fourth-round pick on him. Johnson has more than enough speed (4.40 40-time) to potentially be a factor in OC Mike LaFleur’s wide-zone scheme, and he’s a much better fit than fellow incumbent RB La’Mical Perine. Johnson has yet to really stand out through two seasons but this is one of the thinnest RB depth charts to potentially make some noise in during the 2021 season. Johnson is off the radar in all but the deepest formats entering the season, but he’s a name to follow on the waiver wire in case Carter has some rookie struggles and/or Coleman’s durability issues creep back up.
Tevin Coleman (Proj: RB64 | ADP: 162 | Pos ADP: RB55)
Coleman is coming off an injury-riddled two-year run in San Francisco in which he logged just 190 touches in 22 games thanks to a high-ankle injury in 2019 and a knee sprain in 2020. His performance was particularly miserable last season as he plummeted behind Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon, and Jamychal Hasty on the 49ers’ depth chart. Coleman posted just 28/53 rushing (1.9 YPC) and 4/34 receiving on five targets in only eight games. Coleman will be 28 years old this season and his constant leg injuries — knee, hamstring, and ankle — are a huge concern for a guy who built his career on straight-line speed. Coleman has never reached 200+ touches in a season and it’s unlikely to happen this season given his durability concerns and his competition for work with talented rookie Michael Carter — Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine will also be in the mix. The one major factor working in his favor this season is that he knows the system of OC Mike LaFleur because of how much time Coleman has spent with Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta and San Francisco. He may have a slight advantage in terms of knowing the playbook but it may not matter much after the first few weeks of the season. Coleman isn’t the worst late-round flier because of New York’s thin RB depth chart, but expecting him to stay healthy while racking up volume seems like a stretch after what he’s shown the last two seasons.
La’Mical Perine (Proj: RB73 | ADP: 478 | Pos ADP: RB129)
The Jets drafted Perine in the fourth round in 2020 and he struggled to see consistent playing time despite the franchise cutting Le’Veon Bell. The old coaching staff also elected to keep playing the ancient Frank Gore ahead of the rookie even with the team heading toward having the league’s second-worst record. Perine finished with 64/232/2 rushing (3.6 YPC) and 11/63/0 receiving on 15 targets while playing 35% of the snaps in 10 games. Perine showed some pass-catching ability at Florida with 40 catches as a senior, but his limited speed (4.62 40-time) and agility could make him a poor fit for OC Mike LaFleur’s wide-zone scheme. Perine appears to be the #4 option in this thin backfield after he worked with the backups during off-season workouts with Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, and Ty Johnson in front of him. He’s off the radar in all but the deepest formats but he’s a player to monitor just in case these other backs disappoint and the second-year pro gets a chance to play.
Elijah Moore (Proj: WR51 | ADP: 135 | Pos ADP: WR56)
GM Joe Douglas could’ve drafted for bigger needs at the start of the second round, but he elected to go with the best player on the board in Moore after he unexpectedly slipped out of Day One. Douglas was hellbent on giving No. 2 pick Zach Wilson the best possible chance at success right out of the gates as a rookie after watching Sam Darnold flame out in New York after just three seasons. Moore became the focal point of Ole Miss’ passing attack over the last two seasons after D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown moved onto the NFL after the 2018 season. He averaged a healthy 7.7 catches and 102.2 receiving yards per game with 14 receiving scores in his last 20 games in 2019-20. His speed (4.35 40-time) and quickness (6.66 three-cone) make him a dynamic route runner and a threat after the catch. The Jets went from having one of the thinnest WR depth charts to having one of the deepest receiving corps after signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole and drafting Moore this off-season. Moore was once thought to be a slot-only WR because of his small frame (5’9”, 178 pounds), but the Jets moved him all over the formation in off-season workouts. New York could use him primarily as the Z receiver with Davis working as the X and Jamison Crowder operating at the slot receiver. Moore was also the star of New York’s off-season workouts and it could be just a matter of time before he develops into Wilson’s go-to receiver as a rookie. Moore is being drafted as a WR4/5 but he has the potential to turn into PPR gold and a weekly plug-and-play WR3 if he earns a full-time role as a rookie.
Corey Davis (Proj: WR57 | ADP: 126 | Pos ADP: WR52)
Davis picked the right time to have a break-out season as he got paid in his first trip into free agency — the Titans declined his fifth-year option last off-season. He finally showed signs why the Titans drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 2017 with his first truly complete season as a pro. Davis posted career-highs across the board with 65/984/5 receiving on 92 targets to finish as the WR32 with 13.7 FPG while playing 77% of the snaps in 14 games. The one big knock on his 2020 campaign was his huge swings in performance. He totaled 100+ receiving yards five times but he posted goose eggs three different times, including in a playoff loss to the Ravens. He still finished fourth in yards per route run at 2.58 yards and his YPR (15.1 in 2020) and his catch rate (70.3%) have climbed in each of his first four seasons. Davis is a solid all-around receiver who doesn’t necessarily dominate in any one area, and he’ll battle it out with rookie Elijah Moore to be the #1 target for Zach Wilson. Davis projects to work as the team’s primary X receiver with Moore lining up as the Z receiver, Jamison Crowder working in the slot, and Keelan Cole heavily rotating in as the top backup ahead of Denzel Mims. It could be difficult for any receiver to dominate targets in this passing attack, especially in an offense that could be more slanted toward the run than most. Davis’ weekly target share should be a little more stable in New York, but he’ll still be a boom-or-bust option off fantasy benches going from Tennessee’s highly efficient offense to a New York offense that could struggle at times in 2021.
Jamison Crowder (Proj: WR73 | ADP: 176 | Pos ADP: WR67)
The Jets nearly moved on from their leading receiver from each of the last two seasons. Crowder was due to make $10 million in non-guaranteed money in the final season of the three-year pact he signed with the franchise in 2019. The two sides ended up working out a $5 million contract for the upcoming season, but he suddenly has much stiffer competition to lead the team in receiving for a third straight season. He finished with 59/699/6 receiving (11.8 YPR) on 89 targets to finish as the WR25 with 14.3 FPG while playing 79% of the snaps in 12 games — he missed four contests because of hamstring and groin injuries. Crowder’s days of dominating targets in New York’s offense are long gone after they signed free agents Corey Davis and Keelan Cole and after they drafted Elijah Moore in the second round. Crowder averaged 7.5 targets and 4.9 catches per game over his first 28 games with the Jets, and he could lose out on more snaps with Cole likely to be rotating in quite a bit behind Davis (X), Moore (Z), and Crowder (slot). Moore has been generating the most buzz with rookie QB Zach Wilson, but Crowder has found a way to be a security blanket in the middle of the field at every stop in his six-year career. Crowder has been a WR3 option in each of his first two seasons with the Jets and he’s likely to outscore his lowly WR6 ADP. With that said, he’s not going to provide a massive weekly ceiling and his floor is the lowest it’s been in recent years with his newfound competition for targets so he’s looking like a safe bye-week fill-in option.
Denzel Mims (Proj: WR85 | ADP: 221 | Pos ADP: WR79)
Mims has been one of the biggest ADP fallers this summer after he worked exclusively with the second-team offense during off-season workouts. Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Jamison Crowder, and Keelan Cole were each ahead of him at the start of training camp, as well. Some were surprised to see Cole working in front of Mims this summer, but the Jets gave Cole a one-year deal with a hefty $5 million guaranteed as a free agent this off-season. He’s also a much better fit for new OC Mike LaFleur’s offense because of his route running and his ability after the catch. Mims is more of a straight-line, downfield receiver who was a better fit for whatever Adam Gase was doing on offense last season. Mims finished with 23/357/0 receiving (15.5 YPR) on 44 targets (8.1 YPT) while playing 82% in nine contests — a hamstring hampered the start of his rookie season. Mims is going to have to tear it up in August to climb up the team’s depth chart or else he’s going to need some help to be fantasy relevant in 2021. His best path to more playing time may involve a trade if the Jets are looking to get whatever they can for the 2020 second-round pick, and it would make sense for his old Baylor coach Matt Rhule to make another call to the Jets if Mims ends up on the market.
Keelan Cole (Proj: WR96 | ADP: 416 | Pos ADP: WR139)
Cole has been an overachiever throughout his first four seasons with the Jaguars after entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky Wesleyan. The Jaguars tried their best to upgrade the position to phase Cole out of the starting lineup over the last three seasons, but Cole kept working his way back into the lineup with his production. He posted 55/642/5 receiving on 88 targets for 149.7 FP while playing 76% of the snaps in 16 games. Cole averaged a career-low 11.7 YPR last season after averaging 15.0 yards in 2019 and 17.8 yards as a rookie in 2017, but he’s not to blame because of his dreadful quarterback situation last season. Cole is an excellent route runner with strong hands who is able to play all over the formation. He started his career as a field stretcher on the perimeter before becoming the team’s primary slot receiver last season, which helps explain his dip in YPR. Cole is the Jets’ top backup for now behind Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Jamison Crowder, and the new coaching staff had Cole working ahead of 2020 second-round Denzel Mims during off-season workouts. Cole’s $5 million in guaranteed money suggests he’ll be liberally mixed in and be a part of a rotation at the position. He’ll likely be more of a fantasy thorn in the side for the Jets’ top receivers than anything else, and he’d need an injury in front of him to be a waiver wire option this season.
Chris Herndon (Proj: TE32 | ADP: 292 | Pos ADP: TE38)
Herndon has been missing in action since a promising end to his rookie season when he posted 33/447/4 receiving in the final 10 games of the 2018 fantasy season (Weeks 6-16). He played in just one game in 2019 because of a four-game suspension and a hamstring injury before busting like the rest of the Jets’ offense in 2020 under HC Adam Gase. He finished with 31/287/3 receiving (9.3 YPR) on 45 targets while playing 68% of the snaps in 16 games. Herndon is entering the final year of his rookie contract and he’ll be in a battle with Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin for playing time under a new coaching staff. Herndon reportedly struggled with new OC Mike LaFleur’s playbook in off-season workouts while Kroft brings more to the table as a blocker. Herndon isn’t the worst late-round flier at the position in deep formats in case he has a new lease on life with rookie Zach Wilson in a new offense. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if he battles it out for playing time with Kroft and Griffin and it’s more likely that he struggles to make an impact in this low-octane offense that’s loaded with better WR options.
Tyler Kroft (Proj: TE41 | ADP: 468 | Pos ADP: TE69)
The Jets and Kroft agreed to terms on a one-year, $2 million with $1.5 million in guaranteed money this off-season. Kroft managed just 18/190/4 receiving in 21 games over the last two seasons with the Bills ase dealt with foot issues in 2019 and he landed on the COVID-19 list twice last season. Kroft had 42 catches for the Bengals in 2017 and he has just 43 combined catches in his other five pro seasons, but he has the chance to climb the TE depth chart in New York. The Jets’ new coaching staff under Robert Saleh will have an open competition for playing time in training camp between Chris Herndon, Kroft, and Ryan Griffin with Herndon having the slight leg up since he has the most talent in the group. Kroft will still likely be a non-factor in fantasy leagues this season even if he’d pace the Jets’ tight ends in snaps.
The Jets have done a nice job surrounding Zach Wilson with talent, with two #1 picks on the OL and a plethora of productive pass catchers. There’s a chance that Wilson will surprise with his rushing production, and I’m willing to take him at his cheap ADP of 195 — ideally as a QB3 or a QB2 in a deep league. Sure, there will be ups and downs, but the ups may be surprisingly good. At the very least, and thanks in part to the team’s productive offseason, at least there’s some intrigue to the unknown Wilson, as opposed to Sam Darnold, who we should know isn’t particularly good.
The masses have slowly caught on to the fact that it’s been all about Michael Carter in the Jets backfield since they grabbed him in the fourth round back in April, and his ADP has risen to a very respectable level as of early August. He’s the RB28 off the board around 75 overall, which is pretty rich and may spoil what looked like a nice value pick just 1-2 months ago. Still, Carter’s been in the lead overall in this backfield in camp, and it’s no surprise. If the vibes are good with him by the third week of August, he’ll be a viable RB2 for those who go light at the position to open a draft, or a terrific RB3/flex with some upside.
It’s a pretty wide open race for snaps and touches in this backfield beyond frontrunner Michael Carter, and Ty Johnson is in the mix. It’s possible he stands out enough in camp to assure a roster spot, but his role would likely be minimal with Carter set to lead the backfield in touches. If he makes the team and someone like Tevin Coleman or La’Mical Perine doesn't make it, Johnson’s outlook would improve.
Unlike Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman is actually being drafted in the top 200, with an ADP as of early-August of 162 and the RB64 off the board. He is familiar with the new scheme, and the Jets will still need help at RB even if Michael Carter turns out to be a good primary back. I haven’t heard about him being mistaken for a corpse yet in camp, so I guess he has a good chance to make the team. But we’ll see how that and more plays out in August. If he makes the team, he’ll be in the running for “least sexy fantasy pick of the year” honors.
Who stinks more, Adam Gase or La’Mical Perine? I guess we’ll find out this year, but the early returns are already in, and it looks like it’s Perine, who’s been buried on this depth chart almost from Day One. Even if he enjoys planetary alignment leading up to the opener and is set for an actual role, I’m still not even sure he’s worth drafting.
Taking rookie Elijah Moore this year is a bit of a leap of faith, since there’s been plenty of hype on him and he’s actually a little pricier than expected with an ADP of 135 overall at WR51. Thing is, we’ve been all about Moore from Day One this year, and we’re not going to be scared off if his ADP rises. A lot has to go right with him and his fellow rookie at QB in Zach Wilson, and it’s a crowded receiving corps here, but the upside is already palpable in camp, and that’s as of only 8/3 when I write this. He’s a guy who will command the ball very early in his rookie season, and he won’t be relegated to just the slot, which is good news because Jamison Crowder will be on this roster and is a slot guy. The presence of Crowder does complicate Moore, but at the end of the day I’m all about drafting ballers capable of moving the needle but are also still being drafted outside the top-100, and that’s clearly Moore.
I’ve been skeptical of Corey Davis from the moment he signed with the Jets, despite his strong showing in 2020. Things lined up perfectly for him last year in Tennessee, where they enjoyed high-end QB play and David benefited greatly from playing alongside an Alpha Dog like A.J. Brown, and also in an offense that starts with Derrick Henry. It’s quite a different environment this year with the Jets, who are breaking in a new HC, offensive system, and a rookie QB. They also have one of the deeper wide receiving corps in the league, and we love Elijah Moore as a general statement. Davis isn’t overly expensive with an ADP of 126 and WR52, and he was signed specifically because of his fit in their new scheme, but since we’re not that high on him yet our ranking of WR56 is close to his ADP, the markets aren’t enthralled with him, either. The rookie Moore may quickly become the go-to guy for Wilson, but Davis is obviously well in the mix to be their top wideout, so he’s fine if you grab him this late as a WR4 or WR5,
It’s fair to say that playing the slot would be ideal for rookie Elijah Moore, but more so than Crowder, Moore can line up outside, so with the Jets deciding to retain Crowder (at a reduced salary, mind you), you have to think he will play. He was pretty solid last year playing 79% of the snaps in 12 games, but injuries continue to dog him with four games missed, and there’s almost no upside with Crowder in terms of the full season. He may have some weekly value early on, but Moore will definitely command plenty of snaps, and veteran Keelan Cole has shown well and will definitely see the field, so I just don’t see any upside or reason to draft Crowder.
When the 2020 season ended, I thought Denzel Mims was going to be a good breakout candidate in 2022 based on a solid showing in a bad situation last year. But then they signed Corey Davis in March, drafted Elijah Moore in April, and pushed Mims down the depth chart in May. And in August, Mims remains down that depth chart. At this point, his best option might be to be traded, since he’s not considered an ideal fit for their scheme, since Mims is more of a straight-line, downfield receiver. I talked with Mims at the 2020 combine and he was all about his old Baylor coach Matt Rhule, so I would not be surprised if the Panthers reached out to the Jets because, at least for fantasy, Mims appears to be a dead man walking in NY/NJ.
With an ADP of 400+, he’s not being drafted, so there’s no reason to circle him on your cheat sheet. But rest assured, Keelan Cole will make plays for the Jets this year, and he’ll probably cause pain to Corey Davis owners as well as fantasy owners who raise expectations for Cole after a big showing or two. He will be worth a look on the Waiver Wire if there is even just one key injury here, though, since he’s the top backup for all their receiver spots,
It’s still early as of this writing on 8/3, but Chris Herndon apparently has a pulse and has been creating some buzz. That’s noteworthy because, in talking with multiple Jet beat writers this spring, Herndon appeared to be dead. They could certainly use his athletic ability, so if he gets a fresh start with the new staff and clicks with his new QB, he might be worth a waiver wire pick. Notice how I didn’t mention drafting him?
Tyler Kroft’s ADP might as well be infinity because you’re not drafting him, and neither is anyone else.