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2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: New York Jets

Rich Hribar

Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer.
Geno Smith
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, the Jets were an 8-8 team in 2013. With a full offseason dedicated to retooling their feeble offense, or at minimum, at least stocking their offensive cupboard, they’ll try to return to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: New Orleans Saints

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Indianapolis Colts

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: St. Louis Rams

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Atlanta Falcons

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: San Diego Chargers

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Minnesota Vikings

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Dallas Cowboys

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Denver Broncos

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Green Bay Packers

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Arizona Cardinals 

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Detroit Lions 

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Washington Redskins

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Cincinnati Bengals

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Buffalo Bills

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Seattle Seahawks

2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Chicago Bears

 

2014 Jets Schedule

Week   Opp
1 Oakland Raiders
2 @ Green Bay Packers
3 Chicago Bears
4 Detroit Lions
5 @ San Diego Chargers
6 Denver Broncos
7 @ New England Patriots
8 Buffalo Bills
9 @ Kansas City Chiefs
10 Pittsburgh Steelers
11 Bye Week
12 @ Buffalo Bills
13 Miami Dolphins
14 @ Minnesota Vikings
15 @ Tennessee Titans
16 New England Patriots
17 @ Miami Dolphins

 

Take the necessary steps of precaution when evaluating the schedule this early. The Jets do have a few nice patches as they draw the AFC West and NFC North this season, two divisions that surrendered their fair share of fantasy production. After their late season bye week, they’ll close with four of their final six on the road and have four games in division in which those interdivision battles were mostly slop fests.

The Jets were able stabilize themselves because of their dominant front seven on defense, but received little to no help from their offense a season ago. New York ranked in the bottom quarter of nearly efficiency category an offense could.

Category Total Rank
Points/Game 18.1 29
Avg. Scoring Margin -6.1 26
Points Per Play 0.284 30
Points Per Drive 1.39 29
Yards Per Point 17.6 28
Yards Per Play 5.0 27

 

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has been attached to many up and down offenses in the past and last season was no different. Before we get into some of the pieces that make up this offense and what they may bring to your fantasy dinner table, let’s take a glance at Mornhinweg’s play calling history.

[table id=149 /]

Mornhinweg has spent the crux of his career attached to Andy Reid, so it’s no surprise to see his career splits skew in favor of the passing game. The Jets tried to nurse rookie quarterback Geno Smith along last season, but there are quite a few reasons to expect the passing volume normally seen in a Mornhinweg offense to return this season.

Geno and Vick: Not All Fantasy Points Are Aesthetically Pleasing

As a rookie, Geno Smith was horrendously awful. Or maybe he was kind of awesome. Since the NFL went to 16 game seasons in 1978, only 14 rookie quarterbacks have started in every game for the season. Half of those have come in just the past four years, but Smith was one. Here’s how his full rookie season compares to the others.

[table id=150 /]

JJ Zachariason points out that those results aren’t very encouraging for his future. Smith finished only above Terrelle Pryor last season in fantasy points per aimed attempt (FPAT), but he was still able to manage a quality start in one third of his games in part because he ran for 40 or more yards in five different games, which was tied for the third most out of all quarterbacks. His rushing totals made up 38 percent of his fantasy output, and four of those five weeks with 40 or more rushing yards came in all four weeks to close 2013 when he averaged 48 yards per game on the ground and added three rushing scores.

That rushing output is part of why it’s alright to come to terms with Smith as a late round fantasy option at quarterback this year. When things were on last season, he played superb, posting the 14th most fantasy points per attempt in neutral game situations, but when he was expected to carry this anemic offense while trailing, he ranked 41st in the same category (reminder, there are only 32 teams). Now the organization has added a lot of pieces around him that are a major upgrade over what he had to work with as a rookie.

I really want to draft Smith at the end of drafts just to see if he can carry over those final four weeks of 2013 into this season. Looking at the Jets’ opening month, we’ll know right away if it was real or not, because none of the defenses should be high hurdles to clear. If he falters to start the campaign, you can just release him at no harm done. But if he plays well, it could be far too late to acquire him.

Of course, Michael Vick was also added to this roster to possibly challenge for the starting job out of camp, or take over if Smith crashes and burns like history has dictated a player with his rookie season may be likely to endure. By now you know what Vick you’re getting, and for fantasy, that’s just fine because there’s no almost zero risk in where he’s priced at right now. His health and inconsistency are always a factor, but Vick will find a way to score for you since fantasy quarterback scoring is broken. Don’t be gun-shy on him if you believe he will either take the job to close summer or early in the season on waivers.

New Faces in New York

As mentioned, the Jets brought in a few fresh faces, most notably the signing of Eric Decker in free agency this offseason much to the fantasy community’s chagrin. I could pull out the usual tour de force about how Decker has been a great red zone producer or how he balled with Tim Tebow as his quarterback, but let’s look at how his abilities match up with his new quarterback as the sole reason on which there’s no reason to hate him this season and why he should be a mid-round player to target.

Not only has Decker been inflated by Manning to a degree the past two seasons, but he can play. One of his best attributes outside of the red zone has been his ability to get vertical on the defense.

Passes/Receptions 20+ Yards Downfield in 2013

[table id=151 /]

*Table Provided By Pro Football Focus

Smith actually ranked seventh in percentage of throws downfield, fifth in completions, and third in accuracy in 2013. Decker was tied for second in the NFL in receptions on such throws with A.J. Green. Sure he had Manning, but Santonio Holmes had more vertical receptions than Dez Bryant last season. Decker may not be a lead receiver in the ilk of Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas, but let’s not discount him as a massive upgrade to this team and his destination not as much of a hindrance to his scoring output as assumed on first blush.

Of course those splash plays are hard to count on consistently happening, which makes Decker somewhat of a volatile option. His overall numbers will likely be masked by some weeks in which he goes nuclear on an opponent but will have plenty of eggs as well facing the elite corners that reside in the AFC East. If you’re looking for Decker to become a target hog in this offense, you’re likely going to disappointed as well. Only once under Mornhinweg has the lead receiver in his offense seen at least a quarter of the total team targets for the season and only six have seen 20 percent.

[table id=152 /]

I do believe Decker will see near the 20 percent target share he had in Denver in New York and should top that by a small amount, but I don’t think he will be spoon fed targets in this offense. As a boom or bust receiver this season, his price more than reflects his downside and has plenty of room left for him exceed. For those selecting running backs early, Decker is an ideal target as your third or fourth wide receiver.

Outside, the Jets have added rookies in Quincy Enunwa, Jalen Saunders, and Shaq Evans, but none project to be fantasy relevant in 2014. Jeremy Kerley will play in the slot and is a nice PPR option in 14 to 16 team leagues, but he’s no more than a bench option for 12 team leagues. So the door is still somewhat open for Stephen Hill to contribute to this team and possibly your fantasy teams if all he can do is hold off David Nelson.

Hill has done very little through his first two seasons, which doesn’t paint a great picture for him contributing in year three. Since 2000, here’s the list of all receivers selected in the first two rounds (Hill was the 43rd selection overall) with less than 50 total receptions and under seven touchdowns combined through their first two seasons.

[table id=153 /]

There’s still a glimmer of hope when you see Santana Moss and Vincent Jackson pop up, and Jordy Nelson (55 receptions, four TD) and Roddy White (59 receptions, three TD) had just over the threshold used for this list. Of course those are the outliers and there are also a slew of players that just were never assets. Year three will be the make or break season for Hill’s career. He’s worth a late round flier because of his ceiling if the cards don’t tumble onto him, but nothing more than that at this stage.

New York selected tight end Jace Amaro in the third round of this draft, and although I did attempt to start a small Jeff Cumberland support group at one time, Amaro could likely be the defacto WR3 in this offense if Hill never gains traction. Amaro doesn’t have that lights out athleticism that we’ve grown attached to recently at the tight end position, but he was plenty productive in a pass heavy college attack. He profiles as a more productive Brandon Pettigrew as a prospect in my model, but rookie tight ends just can’t be relied upon for redraft purposes. Only seven rookie tight ends have ever reached 50 receptions in a season and Jeremy Shockey (a first round selection) in 2002 (74 catches) was the last to reach at least 60 receptions. Monitor Amaro’s involvement early to see if he’s worth streaming at some point in the season, but keep expectations in check for the rookie tight end.

Chris Squared

Another addition the Jets made this offseason was bringing in Chris Johnson to join Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory in the backfield. Johnson has made a living off of disguising his weekly viability by posting solid numbers overall when the season ends, luring everyone back in the following season. He has posted over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 35 receptions in all six seasons of his career. We all remember the magic of 2009, but here’s where his per game output has gone since that ride using the Career Graphs App available at RotoViz.

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At age 28, he finished only ahead of Ray Rice, DeAngelo Williams and Maurice Jones-Drew in terms of fantasy rushing points per attempt, needing volume and attacking favorable matchups to provide giant scoring weeks. Only Adrian Peterson (34) has more runs of thirty yards or more than Johnson’s 33 since he entered the league, but he had only one such run of that length in 2013.

Perhaps being part of a committee to some degree will allow him to reinvent himself, but it’s also possible that he’s a capped commodity that is spiraling from relevancy. He’s never been tremendous in the passing game, needing volume to carry his fantasy points per route run (FPPRR) marks, so Powell may still get a grasp on the passing down back spot.

It’s also unknown if he’ll get an opportunity to score touchdowns since Ivory profiles as the better short yardage back. Both of the Jets backs placed in the bottom nine of all running backs in percentage of touches for touchdowns in 2013, but the offense as a whole likely took its toll on those totals. In terms of career production on carries inside the five yard line, Johnson’s rate stats are the worst of the three, again relying on volume for his totals.

Carer Rushing Attempts Inside the 5-Yard Line

Player Att TD TDR
Bilal Powell 11 5 45.5%
Chris Ivory 13 5 38.5%
Chris Johnson 48 17 35.4%

 

As he still currently costs a selection near the top 50 picks in fantasy drafts, there’s just no way I can recommend Johnson this season amidst so much ambiguity as to what exactly his role will be and the split he and Ivory will see on early downs.

Ivory is coming off of draft boards on average 80 selections after Johnson and should be your target to buy in cheap on a piece of this backfield if you desire it. Once again effective with the carries he was given, Ivory posted career totals in 2013. He had as many 100-yards rushing games as Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore and DeMarco Murray last season but showed once again that he just may never be able to carry the volume necessary to be a reliable fantasy option. The signing of Johnson reinforces that thought as he’s viewed as such within the organization as well. Strictly a selection for those going Zero RB in hopes of Johnson finally breaking down, Ivory will need more than short yardage carries to overcome the middling volume he’s likely to receive in 2014.

2014 Fantasy Relevant Projections

Passing

Player Att Comp % Yards TD INT FF PTs
Geno Smith 474.8 287.4 60.5% 3457.0 22.4 15.8 196.1

 

Rushing

Player Att Yds YPC TD FF PTs
Chris Johnson 206.6 846.9 4.1 4.1 107.4
Chris Ivory 151.5 666.5 4.4 4.5 92.4
Geno Smith 68.9 364.9 5.3 4.8 55.8


Receiving 

Player TGT Rec Yards TD PTS PPR PTS
Eric Decker 121.3 70.3 977.8 7.7 144.2 214.6
Stephen Hill 72.3 36.1 520.2 2.2 65.0 101.2
Jeremy Kerley 90.3 54.2 682.8 3.8 91.0 145.2
Jeff Cumberland 36.1 24.2 334.0 2.9 50.8 75.0
Jace Amaro 67.1 45.6 556.6 4.6 83.0 128.7
Chris Johnson 51.6 35.1 252.7 1.1 31.6 66.7
Chris Ivory 10.3 7.2 40.5 0.1 4.9 12.1

 

Best Option to Crash through their projection without injury: Decker – All he’s ever done so far is trump his ADP when the dust settles on a season over the past three years.

Biggest Risk to fall through their projection: Johnson – He’s never missed a game at a position at which you just don’t stay healthy forever. At age 29, this could be the year in which he finally doesn’t cloak his efficiency with volume.

Best Waiver Wire Option: Smith – I’m a sucker for cheap quarterbacks, especially from guys that can run. With a restocked offense, better game scripts, and better run game, Smith could be a sneaky top 15 quarterback when 2014 ends.