Sunday, August 15, 2010

New York Jets Fantasy Football Preview

Fantasy football is one of nerdy America's new favorite fall pastimes. While 99.9% of us will never have the money to buy our own football team, anybody can manage a fantasy team and try to win a league. I've been a big fantasy football player now for almost ten years. The first rule of drafting is not to overrate your favorite players. I'm sure most of you reading this blog are Jets fans. But if you take Jets in every round, there's no way you're winning your league. Here's a little preview predicting Jets' players' performances from a fantasy perspective.

QB Mark Sanchez
Last year, if Mark Sanchez was your quarterback, you were probably getting negative points far too often. This year, Sanchez should improve leaps and bounds from last year, both because the supporting cast is better and because he should be a lot better with 19 games of experience under his belt. That doesn't make him a top 10-12 quarterback: he's still clearly a backup fantasy quarterback. But unlike last year where you just left him on the waiver wire, this year, he's worth keeping an eye on. Unless you're in a deep league, or a 2 QB league, he's probably not draftable, but he has the supporting cast to be successful this year. The Jets probably won't pass enough to make Sanchez a starter, but there are enough weapons here where starting him in certain matchups could work. With an ADP (average draft position) of 166 according to Rotoworld, he's being left undrafted in most leagues. He's got some upside at that point.

RB Shonn Greene
Greene is the Jets' hottest fantasy commodity, typically going in round 2 in drafts. He's one of those guys that depending on your league format, he could be worth a lot more or less than people think. In a PPR (point-per-reception) league, Greene should slip into the third round, possibly even into the early fourth round because he simply won't catch the football. He never had to in college, and he didn't last year at all. LaDainian Tomlinson will be the pass-catching back, and that could hurt Greene's numbers a little, especially if the Jets want to keep Greene fresh for the playoffs. But last year, the Jets ran more than Carolina, who produced two 1000-yard rushers. Even if the Jets throw a little more, they'll still be a run-first offense, and as long as Greene is healthy, he's the main guy. He's one of the most powerful backs in the league who never loses yardage. His only other knock is durability, as he has had some injury issues in his short career. But in a non-PPR league, he's a talented back behind a rock-solid offensive line on a run-first offense. After the top runningbacks are gone, Greene has as much upside as anyone, and in a non-PPR league, don't be afraid to take him early in round 2. 

RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Many assume Tomlinson is done, and last season did little to dispute that. He did score 12 touchdowns, but he received the 2nd most carries in the NFL last year inside the 5-yard line, and only converted 9 of 28 chances. He's clearly not the L.T. of old. But in the 9th round, especially in a PPR league, you could do worse than Tomlinson. At that point, you're looking at rotational runningbacks who either aren't starting or have a very loose hold on the starting job. As mentioned earlier, Tomlinson will be the third-down back (Rex Ryan called him the best third-down back in the league), and while his per-carry numbers have tanked, there are a few reasons to think he could have a mild bounceback if given the opportunity. First, the Jets offensive line is a lot better than the Chargers'. Second, Tomlinson was injured week one each of the last two years and was never really 100%. In less carries, he should be able to stay healthier. And if Greene were to get hurt, Tomlinson will be the lead back on one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. Joe McKnight lurks to potentially sap a few carries and catches, but the rookie is still a distant third on the depth chart. L.T. could be a flex option to start the season with RB1 upside if Greene goes down. In the 9th round, with the potential upside he offers in case of a Greene injury, he becomes an appealing option. In a PPR league, he could get enough of the workload to play at a flex spot.

WR Braylon Edwards
I'm not likely drafting any Jet wide receivers. It's just not a good situation, on a run-first offense with a young quarterback with a lot of weapons to spread it around to. But Edwards would be the first one off the board. He's the Jets #1 receiver to start the season, and he's been very impressive in training camp. Sanchez forced him the ball a lot last year, and if Santonio Holmes weren't added to the team, this could be a prime breakout season for Edwards in a contract year. As it is, he's happy in New York, but he probably won't get enough opportunities to be worth a high pick. Expect the Jets' wide receiver corps to be very frustrating this season once Edwards returns. This is a run-first offense with four legitimate weapons in Edwards, Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller. The Beard will have some good games, but he'll be inconsistent and tough to predict on a week-to-week basis. At his current ADP (81), he's too risky to take that high in this offense.

WR Santonio Holmes
While Holmes may be the Jets most talented receiver, there's a lot to worry about here. First of all, he's going from the pass-heavy Steelers to the run-heavy Jets. Second of all, he's suspended the first four games of the season. That's a quarter of the season he can't help you. Now, it's true he's been impressive in Jets' training camp, but both of those factors severely limit his upside. When Holmes plays, he'll still have to share the ball with a dominant running game, Edwards, Keller, and Cotchery. He'll have breakout games, but it will be hard to predict when they come, making him an unreliable fantasy option even when he returns from his suspension. He's not a top 100 pick with all those issues he has to deal with.

WR Jerricho Cotchery
Cotchery is the possession receiver of the Jets' group. He has the best hands of the trio, but he has the same issues as the others in terms of lack of opportunity. For a fantasy receiver, you want someone you can trust. After week four, his opportunities will decrease as the Jets try to incorporate Holmes into the offense. For a few weeks, he'll be a good PPR option, but there will simply be too many hands to feed in the end. In the later rounds, he's not a bad choice, but you can find players with more upside.

TE Dustin Keller
Keller loses a lot of his appeal with Holmes and Edwards on board, but he may have some touchdown potential. He scored in all three playoff times, and the other options should take attention away from him. He's not a top 12 tight end, so he wouldn't be your starter. But if you play matchups with him or need him during your starter's bye week, he can get the job done. He certainly has the receiving talent. Don't pick him until very late though.

New York Jets Defense
The best defense in the NFL also has to be the best fantasy defense. If Darrelle Revis comes back, the defense has the potential to be one of the best ever. The big plays were not there last year, but predicting fantasy defenses isn't easy. The talent and scheme are there for this defense to be elite and to be the #1 fantasy defense this season. But in most fantasy football leagues, the difference between defenses is negligible. Taking this or any defense in the first 100 picks is not a smart move.


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