Coming off of a career year with the Titans, Corey Davis just cashed in big with a new three-year deal with the Jets worth up to $37.5M and with $27M in guarantees. Last season, Davis caught 65 balls and was 16th among receivers in yards per game (70.3) and was very quietly one of the most efficient wideouts in the game. Davis ranked fifth in receiving yards gained per route run (2.58) behind only Julio Jones (2.60), his teammate AJ Brown (2.65), Justin Jefferson (2.66), and Davante Adams (2.96) per PFF.
The Jets are by no means done adding talent at receiver. They’ve got to continue boosting up what has been a bottom-3 WR depth chart for the last five years to build around a rookie QB or potentially Deshaun Watson. But for now, Davis is pencilled in as the No. 1 option alongside slot man Jamison Crowder and the super athletic Denzel Mims. On paper, this is the best receiver group New York has put together since 2015 when they got two 1,000-yard seasons out of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker when Ryan Fitzpatrick was their quarterback.
Of course, there are a lot of unknowns for Davis’ fantasy outlook in New York. Waiting to see how they replace Sam Darnold is the big question. And how will this offense be designed with a brand new staff since Adam Gase is finally gone? Since new OC Mike LaFleur comes from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, I’d imagine we’ll see the Jets offense center around play action concepts.
LaFleur followed Shanahan from Cleveland, to Atlanta, and eventually San Francisco where he spent the last four seasons as the 49ers passing game coordinator. Shanahan’s offenses are always among the league-lead in play-action usage:
Play-action is a core concept of Shanahan’s passing offenses
|Team / Season||Rank in play-action rate|
|Browns - 2014||4th (29%)|
|Falcons - 2015||8th (22%)|
|Falcons - 2016||1st (26%)|
|49ers - 2017||9th (23%)|
|49ers - 2018||9th (27%)|
|49ers - 2019||2nd (33%)|
|49ers - 2020||12th (28%)|
(Data from PFF).
Davis will be very familiar with an offense that heavily utiilizes play action. Last year, the Titans led the league in play-action rate (35%) and Davis was highly effective in that part of their passing attack. Per PFF, Davis was fourth among all receivers in yards and second in yards per reception off of play-action passes.
Still, most of Davis’ appeal for fantasy comes down to who will be under center for the Jets. Can he be a true No. 1 option for a passing attack? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Davis’ best statistical season came with the alpha A.J. Brown on the opposite side of the field drawing coverage away. Regardless, unless the Jets land Watson, Davis will likely be on the WR3/4 borderline if they start a rookie for all of 2021.
As for the Titans, Jonnu Smith and Davis’ departures opens up a massive 33% of their targets from last season. Right now, A.J. Brown is set up to see a career-high in targets while Anthony Firkser will be a trendy late-round option in drafts if the Titans do not add another tight end. Brown will be up for a new contract in 2022 and the team is ostensibly letting Davis and Smith walk so they have enough space to give Brown the new deal he deserves. Wherever you have him in your dynasty ranks, it’s too low.