By Ryan Downes
This article is part of our 2013 Fantasy Team Preview series in which we are profiling every NFL team leading up to the season, click here for the complete list of published previews. Also, check out our staff rankings for see how we value each player.
J-E-T-S — MESS, MESS, MESS!!
It’s been a long and bumpy road after 2 consecutive AFC Championship appearances circa 2009-2010. Rex Ryan is now on the hot seat and Mark Sanchez has gone from looking really promising to just plain ugly. The defense already was a shell of it’s former self and now they’ve went and traded Revis Island to the Bucs. Even their unofficial mascot, Fireman Ed, got tired of watching this band of misfits and retired. Yes, you read that right! He retired from his non-paying, no benefit job of going to Jets games with his friends and cheering for them. I even heard that he quit watching football entirely and turned to rugby. (Okay, that’s not true, but it would be hysterical!). Things are probably going to get much worse before they get any better. The question we have isn’t whether the Jets can make a run at the playoffs (they can’t), or if Sanchez will keep his job for the full season (he won’t). The question worth discussing is whether there is one single Jets player who will be worth owning in fantasy next year (keep reading).
Added: RB Chris Ivory, TE Kellen Winslow Jr., RB Mike Goodson, DT Junior Aumavae, DB Eric Crocker, WR Thomas Mayo, FB Lex Hilliard, OL Willie Colon, NT Antonio Garay, LB Antwan Barnes, Dawan Landry, WR Ben Obomanu, WR Marcus Davis, DT Lanier Coleman, K Brett Maher, WR Thomas Mayo, OLB Sean Progar Jackson
Drafted: CB Dee Milliner, DT Sheldon Richardson, QB Geno Smith, OL Brian Winters, OL Oday Aboushi, DT William Campbell, FB Tommy Bohanon
Lost: TE Dustin Keller, RB Shonn Greene, CB Darrelle Revis, QB Tim Tebow, LB Bart Scott, S Eric Smith, OL Jason Smith, TE Josh Baker, NT Sione Po’uha, DE Claude Davis, CB Cliff Harris, LS Travis Tripucka, K Derek Dimke, WR Royce Pollard
One Up: Stephen Hill, WR – Last year Hill excited the fantasy and real football worlds when he broke onto the scene in week one with a 5 REC, 89 YDS and 2 TD performance. However, he faded immediately thereafter and played in only 11 total games, before a sprained LCL ended his season.
Despite the disappointing season, at 6’ 4” and 215 lbs., Stephen represents a massive target for whichever QB starts the year under center. His size should work perfectly in the Red Zone. With the decline of teammate Santonio Holmes, he should be the teams #1 option at WR this year, meaning plenty of opportunities for him to show his skill. This kid runs a 4.36 when healthy. Add that speed to his size and he could be a devastating force in this league for several years to come. Hill will be only 22 when the season begins and based on his speed, size and the one-year of experience, expect him to do some big things. Be careful about taking him too high though, as the QB situation for the Jets is murky right now. He’s currently going undrafted in 10 and 12 leagues, and didn’t make our staff top 50 WR rankings, but could be a guy to watch if QB play can be at least competent.
One Down: Mark Sanchez, QB – Is this just stating the obvious? Truthfully, I was afraid this was taking the easy way out, but Sanchez is not just the obvious choice to write about here, he’s also the only choice. In his first two seasons, Sanchez led the Jets to the playoffs and all the way to 2 straight AFC Championship games. Most everyone was buying the hype and declaring Sanchez to be a QB on the rise. What these folks saw was poise in big playoff moments and a pretty strong-arm. What they overlooked, however, was that his regular season statistics (the far superior sample size), were never any good…
2009: 53.8 CMP%, 2,444 YDS, 12 TD, 20 INT, 8 FUM, 63.0 RAT
2010: 54.8 CMP%, 3,291 YDS, 17 TD, 13 INT, 5 FUM, 75.3 RAT
2011: 56.7 CMP%, 3,474 YDS, 26 TD, 18 INT, 4 FUM, 78.2 RAT
2012: 54.3 CMP%, 2,883 YDS, 13 TD, 18 INT, 9 FUM, 66.9 RAT
The improvement in yards, TD-INT Ratio, fumbles and rating gave a lot of people hope that Mark was taking a step towards being a legit NFL QB. Unfortunately, that never materialized. The true talent on the 2009-11 Jets teams was on the defensive side of the ball. They did enough to keep the team close in most games, while in others, they simply took over and won almost by themselves. While Sanchez did improve his TD-INT Ratio to: 26-18 in 2011, there was not much else happening in the way of development. He still completed only 56.7% of his passes. After four full seasons, it’s clear that he is what his stats say he is; not very good. He’s an inaccurate passer who turns the ball over way too much. What’s more, he may fall flat on his face and fumble the ball off of embarrassing parts of his teammates bodies on any given play. If he wants to save his job, he will need to show true improvement on his decision-making and accuracy.
1) What impact will the Revis departure have on the Jets defense?
Is it simply too easy to say “immense”, and then move on to question #2? That would really be ‘nuff said, but let us explore this together in case you’re not really into football and are, in fact, just into reading my writing.
Revis is the reason they invented the term, “shutdown corner”. Or at least, he’s the guy they should’ve had in mind. He virtually takes away the opposing team’s best receiver for the entire game. Last year he played in only 2 games due to injury, but from 2009-2011, he had 10 interceptions, which he returned for a total of 305 yards and 2 touchdowns. No offensive coordinator wants to throw the ball to his side of the field let alone to the guy he’s covering. It would be an exaggeration to say that no one can catch a pass with Revis covering him, but it would be a fairly small one. Not having to really fear a team’s best WR allowed the Jets to game plan in very unique ways on defense. The skill Revis possesses, allowed Rex Ryan and his staff to focus on other aspects of the opposition, namely the running attack and the receivers whom are not being covered by Revis.
Interestingly enough, the 2012 Jets allowed fewer passing yards against than in both 2010 and 2011 despite missing Revis for most of the year. While Cromartie did a very good job, this anomoly can be attributed to the Jets run defense being terrible last season, allowing the 7th most rushing yards against of any team, and that all the turnovers led to there not being much need to pass the ball aggressively down the field.
The best receivers in the league often pay Revis homage after a game in which he shut them down. Those who don’t are usually too prideful to admit they got beat. But, they all respect him. Everyone involved with the league, players, coaches, analysts, armchair Quarterbacks, everyone, respects what Revis brings to the table, game after game. The Jets drafted Dee Milliner to replace him, but he’s nowhere near the corner Revis is, no one is. The Jets defense will suffer greatly due to the departure of their best overall player.
2) Will Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith have any value this year? How valuable is Smith as far as keeper leagues are concerned?
As stated earlier, Sanchez is a long shot to have any real value this year. Even if he can manage to show real improvement, the Jets still lack the firepower to make Sanchez worth owning in any standard league. The really intriguing question here relates to Smith. First, Rex Ryan is fighting for his Jets coaching life and he knows it. You would think that this means Rex would go with his guy, Sanchez, to start the year under center. However, there are some reports that indicate the coaching staff likes what they see from Smith thus far. Is it likely that Smith will win the starting job by week 1? No, but it’s not impossible. If Smith gets his shot, he could surprise a lot of folks.
In his four years at West Virginia University (3 as a starter), he threw for 98 TD versus 21 INT. He also completed 67.4% of his passes. He didn’t run that much at West Virginia, but he’s more than athletic enough to be an effective scrambler in the NFL. Compared to the experience Sanchez had in college, this guy is coming into the league as a grizzled veteran. Of course, he’ll need to adjust to the NFL speed and style of play, but what better way to do this than give him actual NFL snaps? There’s still a lot of time before the start of the season, so this is an interesting situation to watch. If Sanchez doesn’t look sharp in team workouts and practices, Smith may push him out of the starting role to start the season.
Given everything stated above, Geno Smith should have some pretty good value in keeper leagues. It goes without saying that you’d need to look at who else is available and who you already have as your starting QB, but I think he’s got the most upside in the short-term (say, 2-3 seasons), than any other rookie QB making their debut his year. If you need a QB to add to your keeper team, keep an eye on the Geno Smith leading up to your draft. It’s a great idea to grab this kid and bet on him as the starting QB for the not-too-distant future.
3) Chris Ivory looks like the #1 RB for the Jets. How long until his violent running style takes it’s toll? Who’s the handcuff to own?
Ivory is not what one would call a durable fellow. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and that he tries to do his best to stay on the field, it just doesn’t happen for him. In his three NFL seasons, he’s played in just 24 of a possible 48 games. He’s never played more than 12 games in any one season. He played in 12 games in his rookie year, then 6 & 6 in his next two. Those numbers do not inspire confidence in this kid’s ability to stay healthy for a full slate of 16 games.
Moreover, while his rushing averages were good, he brought almost nothing to the team in terms of receiving capabilities. Yes, there were several RBs on his former team (the Saints), who took over on passing downs, but 3 total receptions over his 3 seasons is abysmal. Many experts are claiming that if he can stay healthy, everyone should watch out! Unfortunately, it would be nothing but foolish to wager on this happening. If he plays in more than 10 games, it would be quite a surprise. Regardless, based on the expectation that he will get the majority of the carries when healthy, he comes in as an RB3 in our staff rankings.
Once again, it’s the second part of the question that interests me and there are several factors to consider. The Jets brought in Mike Goodson from Oakland, presumably to spell Ivory and get in on 3rd down situations. So, one would think that if Ivory went down, Goodson would be the choice to become the new number one. However, Goodson has injury issues of his own. He’s missed 24 games over the span of his own 4-year playing career. Once again, the chances that he’ll actually play the full 16 seem pretty slim. Also, while Goodson has caught 59 passes for 525 yards and 1 TD in his career, he’s not exactly Ray Rice. He may catch some throws, but he won’t be featured in this role. Also, none of this says anything about Goodson’s on-going legal woes, which could cause him to miss significant time this year.
On the other hand, the Jets also have Bilal Powell, and while he didn’t exactly light the league on fire last year, something about this kid intrigues me. Living in NYC, I see a ton of Jets games whether I’d like to or not. To be quite honest, I’m not sure what it is, but I like his style. Last year, he only got more than 12 carries once, a 19 carry, 78 yard, 1 TD performance against the Jaguars. Nothing about his numbers scream superstar by any means. Yet, given the fact that Goodson is also highly susceptible to injury, Powell may be the best bet to step up if Ivory goes down, assuming of course he makes the final roster.
Overall, Ivory should be a pretty solid RB pick and will be effective as a runner when healthy. Just don’t grab any other Jets back as a handcuff until we know more. Basically, neither Goodson nor Powell should be selected during any standard scoring league draft. These two are waiver wire fodder.
The 2013 Jets will have their work cut out for them. The Dolphins spent big in free agency and have a QB that’s developing in Ryan Tannehill. The Patriots have Brady, Belichick and they are the Patriots. Even the lowly Bills may beat up on the Jets in one, or even in both, of their games this year. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of talent on this team to recommend targeting for your fantasy purposes. However, if you want to compile a ton of really funny clips in order to make a montage of “what not to do on a football field” for purposes of going viral on YouTube, then grab your camera, strap in and tune into your 2013 Jets!