New York Jets (0-0, 0-0 ATS) at Carolina Panthers (0-0, 0-0), 1 p.m.
Implied Team Totals: Jets 19.5, Panthers 25
Spread/Total Movements: 4 to 5.5, 43 to 45 to 44.5
Weather: 85 degrees, 5 mph, 0% chance of rain
Jets Injuries to Watch: WR Jamison Crowder (COVID-19, out)
Panthers Injuries to Watch: G John Miller (COVID-19, out)
Brolley’s Jets Stats and Trends
The Jets are 1-4 ATS in their last five season openers.
New York is 1-8 ATS in its last nine games in September.
The Jets have played under the total in five of their last seven games.
Zach 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. Speaking of weak competition, he completed 15/20 passes for 191 yards (9.6 YPA) and two TDs against backups in the preseason. The Panthers allowed the 13th-most FPG (20.3) to QBs last season but they’ve revamped their secondary to play more man defense this season.
Corey Davis picked the right time to have a break-out season as he got paid in his first trip into free agency. He posted career-highs across the board with 65/984/5 receiving on 92 targets to finish as the WR32 with 13.7 FPG. He backed it up with 6/88 receiving on 10 targets and just 13 routes working with Wilson in the preseason. The Panthers allowed 12th-fewest FPG (35.6) to WRs last season.
Elijah Moore averaged a massive 7.7 catches and 102.2 receiving yards per game with 14 receiving scores in his last 20 contests at Mississippi after D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown headed to the NFL in 2018. Moore’s speed (4.35 40-time) and quickness (6.66 three-cone) make him a dynamic route runner and a threat after the catch. He consistently tore it up at Jets’ practices in the spring and summer but a quad injury kept the masses from seeing him in the preseason.
Tyler Kroft showed a strong connection with Wilson in the preseason with two touchdowns against the Packers, and the Jets thinned out the depth chart behind him by trading Chris Herndon and by releasing rookie Kenny Yeboah. The Panthers faced the fourth-most targets per game (8.0) and they allowed the eighth-most FPG (14.3) to TEs last season.
The Jets will deploy an ugly three-man backfield to open the season with Michael Carter, Ty Johnson, and Tevin Coleman sharing snaps and even La’Mical Perine could see goal-line snaps. Coleman is likely the top option for now after they rested him in the preseason while Johnson mostly worked ahead of Carter in preseason action. The Panthers allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game (104.1) and the third-most receptions per game (5.9) to RBs last season.
Brolley’s Panthers Stats and Trends
The Panthers are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games and they’re 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a favorite.
Carolina has played under the total in five of its last seven home games.
Sam Darnold is 2-6 ATS as a favorite and, if the line holds at -5.5, this will be the most he’s ever been favored by in any game.
Christian McCaffrey played just three games in 2020 but, in true McCaffrey fashion, he dominated those games finishing as a top-5 RB in all three games, with an average of 30.1 FPG. Only four RBs had more top-5 RB finishes than McCaffrey and he played in three games. The Jets allowed the second-most catches per game (6.2) to RBs last season.
Darnold gets a #RevengeGame right out of the chute, and his career can seemingly only go up after finishes as the QB27, QB27, and QB30 in FPG to start his career. He looked better in the preseason (mostly against Steelers’ backups) by completing 20/27 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, but his aDOT sat at a meager 4.7 yards and he averaged just 6.6 YPA. His former defense gave up the third-most FPG (23.0) to QBs last season.
D.J. Moore finished as the WR25 as he turned into a downfield target in 2020. Moore’s average depth of target traveled 13.7 yards downfield (14th-highest) after his aDOT sat at 11.4 yards in 2019. His 1193 receiving yards were ninth among WRs, and his 18.8 YPR were by far the highest among WRs with his fantasy profile — no receiver above him had more than even 16.0 YPR (Justin Jefferson), and you’d have to go down to Nelson Agholor (19.7) at WR34 to find one who averaged more. The Jets allowed the 11th-most receiving yards per game (174.4) to WRs last season.
Robby Anderson saw his aDOT plummet from 14.6 yards with Darnold and the Jets in 2019 to just 9.7 yards with Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers last season. Robby played well in his new role as an intermediate target, racking up the quietest 95 catches in the league last year. However, the role change crushed his YPR average (15.0 in 2017-19 to 11.5 in 2020) and his touchdown production (18 TDs in 2017-19 to three TDs in 2020). The Jets allowed the sixth-most receptions per game (14.2) to WRs last season.
Terrace Marshall earned himself a big role out of the slot as a rookie after leading the Panthers with 9/181/1 receiving on 12 targets in the preseason — he ran 65% of his routes from the slot. He was overshadowed at LSU by studs Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase during the 2019 season, but he still averaged 4.9 catches and 73.8 receiving yards per game over the last two seasons while scoring 23 TDs in 19 games.
Dan Arnold is back working with his former coach, Joe Brady, and he had a moment as a streaming option at the end of last season. He had 3+ catches or a touchdown in each of the final five weeks, which helped him to a top-five weekly performance and two top-12 finishes. The Jets allowed a league-high 17.8 FPG to the position last season.
Barfield’s 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)
Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.1 (T-28th)
Plays per game: 62.8 (23rd)
When the game is within a score — Pass: 60.3% (7th) | Run: 39.7% (26th)
When the team is ahead — Pass: 52.4% (12th) | Run: 47.6% (21st)
When the team is behind — Pass: 61.2% (26th) | Run: 38.8% (7th)
Panthers’ OC Joe Brady’s first season calling was a bit of a mixed bag. Maybe it was because he was hamstrung by incredibly conservative QB play? Former starter Teddy Bridgewater’s average depth of target downfield was just 7.7 yards, which ranked a lowly 32nd out of 39 qualified QBs. Even though Brady correctly leaned pass-heavy when the game was within a score and on early downs (57%, fifth-highest rate) — he was very conservative when the Panthers were behind on the scoreboard. The Panthers were the 7th-most run-heavy team when they were in catch-up mode, which is even more bizarre considering that Christian McCaffrey only played three games. Plus, Carolina trailed a lot last year. The Panthers offense was behind a point or more on 56% of their snaps, which was the 10th-highest rate. A slow-paced attack isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a coach out of the college ranks and that is exactly what the Panthers were in 2020. Perhaps a new starter in Sam Darnold, a revamped offensive line, and getting CMC back healthy will flip their tendencies in 2021.
On the Jets side, this will be their new OC Mike LaFleur’s first game calling plays in the regular season. Granted, it was “only” the preseason, but the Jets lined up under center a ton with Zach Wilson and relied heavily on the run, play-action, and quick drops to define reads and throws for the rookie. I’m legitimately excited to see what LaFleur has cooked up for Wilson & Co. in his debut. For fantasy, this game is unexciting from a pace / scoring perspective, but that’s ok because you already know who to start anyway (Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and maybe Corey Davis or Elijah Moore).
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Consider me positive on WR DJ Moore this weekend. There has been a little bit of a groundswell that the recent extension signed by Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall’s preseason emergence spells trouble for Moore’s immediate and/or long-term workload.
I’m not worried, especially this week. The Jets have arguably the most unsettled CB depth chart in the NFL — and there’s a dreaded “or” in it (well, “dreaded” for Jets fans, at least.)
One or more rookies among Isaiah Dunn, Brandin Echols, and Jason Pinnock would be responsible for covering Moore if the scenario holds up. It seems new Jets’ DC Jeff Ulbrich will roll the dice, playing the hot hand hoping one of these late-round/UDFA rookies can keep pace with Carolina’s 2017 first-rounder. I love it.
I think Anderson, in a “revenge game,” draws the likeliest toughest matchup of this tilt in CB Bryce Hall. And if Marshall continues to play the slot, as he did during the preseason, he’ll have a distinct size advantage over the 5’9” Javelin Guidry, who takes over slot CB roles following the trade of Bless Austin to Seattle.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
I don’t trust Sam Darnold as far as I can throw him, but the fact of the matter is if there’s a time you’re going to start him, it’s this week in a REVENGE GAME against what is potentially the worst secondary in football. I’m giddy to fire up DJ Moore (as a WR2) and Robby Anderson (WR3) this week, while in season-long formats, I’m probably waiting a little extra time before I put Terrance Marshall into a lineup. It’s a heck of a matchup in which Marshall can debut, however.
Obviously, you’re starting Christian McCaffrey — the Jets allowed the 7th-most receiving FPG to RBs last season.
One player I’m watching to see what his role is — gifted TE Dan Arnold. I took a handful of last-round best-ball dart throws on him when it seemed like D. Arnold and Darnold were hooking up with regularity during training camp. That said, Darnold has shown us no reason yet to buy into him as a fantasy distributor, and there are likely four targets ahead of Arnold on the food chain.
As for the Jets, the only guy I’m really confident starting — and even that might be a stretch — is WR Corey Davis as a WR3 type. He had a stellar preseason, but it’s also worth noting that a lot of the success he and rookie QB Zach Wilson shared was against backups. Will the Jet offensive line be able to hold up against starters? Fortunately, Carolina’s pass rush isn’t exactly fearsome.
With slot WR Jamison Crowder (COVID-19 protocols) out, I’m definitely willing to pop rookie sensation Elijah Moore into my lineup as an upside WR3, however. A perceived matchup with CB Troy Pride doesn’t really scare me.
While the Panthers surrendered the 8th-most FPG to RBs last year, I have no feel for how the Jets’ rotation would work out. If I’m starting any of Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, or Michael Carter, it’s going to be Coleman as a low-end FLEX. If he gets me 10 FP in a PPR, I’d be absolutely jumping for joy.
The Jets traded Chris Herndon to Minnesota, so it wouldn’t completely shock me if Tyler Kroft becomes a usable fantasy asset at some point this year. I’ll be watching from the sidelines in Week 1, however.