Fantasy Football Team Preview: New York Jets

Can Geno Smith lead a fantasy football owner to a title?  Doubtful.

Brad Penner/Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Training Camp Update (8/8)

Geno Smith failed to create space between him and Michael Vick for the starting quarterback gig.  Granted, Rex Ryan has said it’s Smith’s job to lose and his play against the Colts in the team’s first preseason game didn’t demote his status.  However, Vick sparked the offense and led the team to their only touchdown of the evening. 

Team Outlook

When it comes to the Jets’ 2014 fantasy football outlook, the conversation begins with the two big free agent signings: Chris Johnson and Eric Decker.  You can find more analysis on the duo below, but first a brief history lesson.

After playoff appearances in each of his first two seasons as head coach, Rex Ryan has been shutout of the postseason the last three seasons (22-26 during that stretch).  After Mark Sanchez’s Jets’ career finally faded to black, Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg experienced the rigors of implementing rookie quarterback, Geno Smith, into an offense with a broken receiving corps and a niche running back by committee.

Despite the poor passing game, stats we’ll dissect more in a second, the Jets did manage to rank sixth in rushing yards per game – 134.9 YPG – behind Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and the mobile Smith.

On defense, gone are the days of a shut-down secondary led by Darrelle Revis as a youth movement overhaul continues, but the rush defense remained solid in 2013.  They held opposing offenses to 88.3 yards per game – third-best in the NFL.

BYE Week: 11

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Quarterback – Geno Smith

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The last eight weeks of the season, Smith only completed 51 percent of his passes with four passing touchdowns and eight interceptions.  Still, the rookie quarterback out of West Virginia managed to finish 20th in fantasy points scored among fellow quarterbacks.  His six rushing touchdowns – tied for the most by a quarterback (Newton) – hedged inefficient quarterback play due to inexperience and subpar targets in the passing game.

The good fantasy news for 2014: with Eric Decker lining up at wide receiver, Smith will have a healthy, big target to hit down field

The bad fantasy news for 2014: with Chris Johnson, Powell and Ivory lining up behind him, Smith’s rushing stats will most likely regress this season.  Smith’s rushing stats accounted for approximately one-third of his 217 fantasy points last season (standard scoring).

Running Back – Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson may never hit 2K yards again, but the guy has only missed one game in six seasons.  Keep that in mind on draft day.

He quietly finished ninth in fantasy points scored among all running backs in his final season with the Titans (12.4 FPPG).  CJ came up about four points shy of posting his best fantasy receiving totals of his career last season behind 345 receiving yards and a career-high four touchdowns.

Considering the fact Powell, Ivory and Smith managed to combine for the sixth-best rushing attack in the league last season, there is reason to believe (hope?  pray?) Johnson will sustain top 12 running back status in fantasy leagues this season.  For owners, it will be a matter of pushing aside the veteran label, memories of CJ2K and avoiding some of the shiny new toys who entered the league last season to truly embrace the Jets’ RB1 in 2014.

Running Back – Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory

Last season, Ivory rushed 182 and Powell 176 times in the balanced RBBC.  It’s worth noting, Powell caught 36 passes for 272 yards – targets that will {most likely} go to Johnson in 2014.

Depending on which depth chart or beat writer report you read, Powell and Ivory will fight for RB2 status throughout the summer with current popular opinion favoring Ivory to win the gig.  Assuming Johnson receives 300-plus touches/targets, it doesn’t leave much room for the Jets’ RB2 outside of a handcuff bench role in fantasy leagues.

Wide Receiver – Eric Decker

Over the last two seasons, Decker averaged 86 receptions, 130 targets, 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns per season.  Peyton Manning’s targets helped him finish ninth in fantasy points scored among all receivers last season (12.0 FPPG).

Now, nine out of 10 fantasy owners are going to preach Decker’s fantasy regression this summer and rightfully so.  However, Decker did finish with over 600 receiving yards with eight touchdowns back in 2010 season with Kyle Orton (four TD passes to Decker) and Tim Tebow (four TD passes) as his triggerman.  With Johnson providing balance in the backfield, Decker’s fantasy fate isn’t sealed because Smith is his quarterback.  He’s still a guy that could provide WR2 production throughout the season.  It’s just a matter of Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley or a rookie stepping up to keep secondaries honest and not so focused on shutting down Decker.

Tight End – Jeff Cumberland

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How bad was the Jets’ receiving corps?  Cumberland led with four touchdowns last season.  He’ll go undrafted.

Rookie – Jace Amaro (TE)

The rookie out of Texas Tech finished with 106 receptions for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns his final season with the Red Raiders.  At 6-foot-5 and over 250 pounds, the big target could ease his way into the offense and could be flexed out as he was in college.  Versatile receivers with tight end eligibility are all the rage in fantasy football these days.  Look at what Tim Wright managed to accomplish with the Buccaneers last season.

Kicker – Nick Folk

Finished 11th in fantasy points scored among kickers last season (8.8 FPPG).  Folk’s 91.7 percent accuracy clip was 10th-best in the league and 33 field goals ranked fifth.  He was 15 of 17 from beyond 40 yards.

Team Defense (DST)

How the mighty have fallen.  The New York Jets’ fantasy football DST ranked 30th in fantasy points scored among all fantasy DSTs.  The averaged 5.1 fantasy points per game.  The Jets finished 19th in scoring defense, tied for 13th in sacks and tied for 22nd in interceptions.  The only recovered two fumbles and scored one defensive touchdown.

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