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Bilal Powell - Time to Add or Buy-Low


New York Jets running back Bilal Powell once again demonstrated that if he gets enough touches he will produce something for Gang Green. Powell gashed the Denver Broncos for 99 yards on 20 carries in Week 5, hitting huge holes that the offensive line opened up and then punishing defenders when they attempted to step in for the stop. He did lose a fumble in the game, but that shouldn't prevent him from continuing to see heavy usage. For the third time this season, Powell averaged at least 4.9 yards a carry. He had four runs of 10 or more yards against the Broncos with three of those runs being at least 15 yards, including a season-high 38-yard scamper midway through the fourth. Alas, despite his quality day, the 29-year-old failed to accumulate 10 fantasy points yet again as he did not reach the end zone or catch a pass.

Powell is off to a good start to the season. The eighth-year back ranks among the top-25 among running backs in several categories. He ranks 18th in total rushing yards (264), 21st in yards per game (52.8), tied-for-ninth with rushes of 20 or more yards (two) and tied-for-20th in yards per carry (4.5). This is pretty impressive considering he is essentially sharing the backfield workload with Isaiah Crowell. Powell has shown throughout his career that he needs a lot of carries to be successful. Powell has topped 60 yards on the ground in each of the three games that he has garnered 10 or more carries this year. Subsequently, he has failed to top 30 yards in the two games he has not reached 10 attempts. He has five games of 99 or more rushing yards over the last three seasons, requiring at least 19 carries in each of those games. Powell has been on the field for 50% or more of the offensive snaps in each of the team's last four contests, averaging slightly north of 34 plays a game.

He also has seen a lot of red zone work, although he has had minimal success. Powell has four rushing yards on eight attempts in the red zone. Positive regression could be in store as far as touchdown rate. Furthermore, the remainder of the Jets' schedule looks pretty favorable for a team that wants to run the ball. If he can carve out a bigger role by taking carries from the inconsistent and now banged-up Crowell, perhaps RB-starved owners should be considering Powell as a buy-low candidate now before he truly starts excelling.

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Examining The Jets' Remaining Schedule

According to ESPN FPI, New York's remaining schedule ranks as the eighth-easiest. The Jets will play six of their last 11 games at home, including four of their next six. Five of the games will be against AFC East opponents as they have yet to play New England or Buffalo. The Jets fell to the Dolphins 20-12 as they were limited to 42 yards on 19 carries and turned the ball over three times.

Indianapolis Colts- Week 6

The Jets will host the Colts at MetLife Stadium in Week 6. The Colts are giving up the 12th most PPR fantasy points to running backs this season.  Indianapolis is surrendering the 15th most rushing yards and third most receptions as well as the fourth most receiving yards to backs. New England's Sony Michel and James White combined for 98 yards and one touchdown on the ground and 11 catches for an additional 89 yards as well as a score in Week 5. Overall, two running backs have topped 90 yards on the ground against the Colts this year.

Offensively, Indianapolis ranks in the middle pack. Their biggest weakness is running the ball. Thus, they rank 30th in the league in time of possession. Meaning that the Jets should be able to control the ball and pound away at Indy's defense.

Minnesota Vikings - Week 7

The Vikings come to town on Oct. 21. The Vikings defense has been a major disappointment this season. A year after having the top-ranked scoring and overall defense, the Vikes rank 23rd and 21st in those categories this season, respectively.

Minnesota is not the best matchup for running backs. The Vikings are allowing the eighth-fewest PPR points to running backs. Through the first five weeks of the season, opposing running backs have accumulated 401 yards on 101 carries and have not reached the end zone this season. Minnesota is also allowing the sixth fewest receptions to running backs with 19, although the Vikings are surrendering the 10th most receiving yards (291) and fifth most touchdowns (two).

Chicago Bears - Week 8

The Jets travel to Chicago on Oct. 28. The Bears lead the league in rushing defense. They are also second in the league in total and scoring defense. Additionally, Chicago is giving up the fewest PPR fantasy points to running backs in the league.

Miami Dolphins - Week 9

The Jets face the Dolphins once again on Nov. 4, this time in South Florida. Powell produced 80 yards from scrimmage is the team's first meeting as he was held to just six yards on five carries. He did, however, grab five of six targets from quarterback Sam Darnold for 76 yards and one touchdown.

Powell has played a personal-high 12 games against the Dolphins in his career and has had decent success. He has done most of his damage versus the Dolphins through the air, hauling in 33 passes for 304 yards along with one touchdown. He is averaging 3.87 yards per carry and has reached the end zone once on the ground against the 'Phins.

The Jets measly 42 rushing yards on 19 carries has been an outlier this season for the Dolphins' defense. Miami is giving up the sixth most PPR fantasy points to running backs this season. Opposing running backs have racked up 509 yards, seventh most in the league, and four touchdowns on the ground. The Dolphins defense also has  allowed 36 receptions -- sixth most -- for 294 yards and three scores.

Buffalo Bills - Week 10 and 14

The Jets host the Bills on Nov. 11 and then make a return trip to New Era Field on Dec. 9. The Bills own the worst offense in the league. While the Bills defense isn't horrible, they do allow a lot of fantasy points to running backs. Buffalo is giving up the 14th most PPR points to running backs. The Bills are allowing a little over 78 yards a game on the ground -- which is tied for the 12th fewest -- but opposing back have all caught 32 passes -- 10th most -- for 244 yards. In addition, the Bills have surrendered seven touchdowns to running backs.

Powell has been extremely successful against Buffalo in his career. He has obtained 490 yards on 90 carries for a 5.4 yards per attempt average in nine games versus the Bills. He also has reeled in 15 of 22 targets for 71 yards to go along with two touchdowns -- one rushing and one receiving. The rushing yards are the most Powell has accumulated against any team and the 15 catches are the third most versus any opponent.

New England Patriots - Week 12 and 17

The Jets host the Patriots on Nov. 25, they then travel to Foxboro to close the regular season on Dec. 30. The Pats are surrendering the 12th fewest PPR points to running backs. Still, opposing backs have racked up a ton of yards both on the ground and through the air. The Patriots have allowed 489 rushing yards as well as 30 receptions for 232 yards through the first five games. Opposing running backs have only reached the end zone twice, once on the ground and once via the air.

Powell also has a history of tearing up the Patriots, totaling 320 yards on 77 carries (4.16 ypc) to go along with 16 catches -- the second most against any opponent in his career --for an additional 125 yards. Additionally, he has two rushing touchdowns versus the Pats.

Tennessee Titans - Week 13

The Titans -- like the Patriots -- have permitted a lot of yards to running back, but very few fantasy points. The Titans defense has allowed the sixth most yards on the ground at 510 as well as 21 catches for 119 yards. No running back has reached the end zone, however.

Powell has only played in four games against the Titans, but he has been quite successful. Powell has picked up 138 yards on 24 attempts for 5.75 yards per carry. He also has 12 catches for 113 yards and one touchdown.

Houston Texans - Week 15

Powell has not had an overabundance of touches in the two games that he has faced the Texans. He has eight carries for 40 yards as well as five receptions for 67 yards for his career versus Houston.

Green Bay Packers - Week 16

Powell has only faced the Packers once before in his career, tallying 16 yards on four attempts. He also had two catches for 16 yards in the game.

As you can see, there are few tough defensive matchups in store for Powell, outside of the formidable Bears and underrated Titans with their bend-but-don't-break approach. This schedule could lend itself to a high floor for Powell in the coming weeks.

 

Powell Projects as a Serviceable Option

The Jets are 2-3 on the season after their huge win over the Broncos. Even though it is unlikely that the Jets will make a serious push for a playoff spot, they are expected to remain competitive in games as their defense has been solid. That means the Jets will likely continue to rely heavily on the ground game with Crowell and Powell sharing the workload at least for the time being. As it is foreseeable that the Jets will loosen the reins on Darnold as they fall out of contention.

New York has run the ball 137 out of their 249 offensive plays or 46.1% of all plays, which is currently the fifth highest percentage in the league. Powell (59) and Crowell (57) have combined for 116 of the team's 137 rushing attempts. Crowell, who leads the team with 390 rushing yards and five touchdowns, is currently dealing with an ankle injury and is questionable for Week 6. Powell, by contrast, is a very durable and reliable back. He has appeared in at least 14 games in five of the last six seasons and has averaged over 12 touches per game over the last four seasons.

Given his current workload plus Crowell's up-in-the air status, there is no better time than now for fantasy owners in shallow PPR leagues to pluck Powell from the waiver wire as he is owned in only 60% of all leagues. If he is unavailable, try a lowball offer to get Powell for one of your bench assets, as he could pay off more than expected.

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