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New York Jets 2020 Fantasy Outlook 

How about them Jets though? After a miserable start to the 2019 season which saw QB Sam Darnold sidelined from mono only to return and see “ghosts,” the team rebounded well. The Jets started 1-7 only to win six out of their last eight and end up at 7-9.

They didn’t make the playoffs though and haven’t been a contender at all since Rex Ryan led New York to the AFC title game twice roughly 10 years ago. With Tom Brady’s stranglehold on the division gone, the Jets do not automatically propel to division favorites. Buffalo and New England (still) remain better teams.

Coach Adam Gase has a lot to prove this season and so does now third-year QB Sam Darnold. Let’s break down the fantasy value for this New York team (can I get a J-E-T-S)?

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Ever so slightly, Sam Darnold improved in his sophomore campaign last season. The California native went on to notch 3,024 pass yards, 19 touchdowns, 13 picks, 6.9 pass yards per attempt, 232.6 pass yards per game, an 84.3 quarterback rating, 62 rush yards, and two rush touchdowns. He also had a 17.8 percent poor throws per pass attempt rate.

Still only 23, there are some growing pains with Darnold as the Jets QB and in fantasy. He had 11 fumbles last season and 13 picks. He tied for seventh in fumbles among NFL QBs last season and ranked eighth in interceptions as well. Those are not the ideal categories to have a top-10 finish.

Among QBs last season, Darnold did not finish higher than 24th in completion percentage, passing yards, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns, and QBR. In terms of fantasy, he finished 27th last year among fantasy QBs and had the same finish during his rookie season in 2018.

With new weapons and more NFL experience, there is hope that Darnold can elevate his play in 2020 and hopefully his fantasy value too. Nevertheless, it’s best to be cautious heading into drafts when it comes to picking this signal-caller.

The best-case scenario for redraft leagues is to grab him as a backup and see how he performs. Based on last year’s stats, Darnold will likely be one of those “matchup dependent” QBs that can light it up against weak defenses and struggle against tough ones. In addition, he doesn’t offer any rushing upside.


Running Back

Former Steeler Le’ Veon Bell led the Jets backfield last season. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old was less productive than most of his Pittsburgh years though, and his stats reflected that. Bell had a total of 789 rush yards, three rush touchdowns, 3.2 rush yards per attempt (career-low in six seasons), 52.6 rush yards per game (career-low), 78/521 targets (14.9%), 66 receptions, 461 yards, and one receiving touchdown. Bell had 2.0 rush yards after contact per rush and 502 rush yards after contact.

His total number of scrimmage yards was 1250, the second-lowest in his career. Nevertheless, this comes after the RB received 245 rush attempts last season, which for the most part fits in with the number of total rush attempts he had during a season in Pittsburgh. There were multiple factors attributed to less output, as the offensive line for New York was horrid and the overall offense struggled too. However, the opportunities were there for Bell as he was the unquestioned lead back.

There is no reason to doubt Bell’s abilities. In 2020, he is once again the top RB in New York with a ton of opportunities. He brings value to the running and passing game and is known for his patient style of running the ball. He received 71.4 percent of rushes inside the 5 last year and brings immense fantasy potential from being so involved in the red zone.

The Jets upgraded their offensive line by drafting offensive tackle Mekhi Becton out of Louisville and signing former Broncos center Connor McGovern. Another new year hopefully brings the chance for a better offense too.

Make no mistake though, Bell doesn’t bring the same value as he once did on the Steelers. A new team means a different fit. He finished fourth in 2016 and second in 2017 among fantasy RBs.  The Michigan State product finished 21st among fantasy RBs last season with the Jets despite playing 15 games. Given that, Bell should be considered a high RB2 in redraft and a great RB2 overall on redraft teams. Of course, his value could easily change considering his talent, but it’s best to watch how the Jets perform during the season.

The Jets’ backup RB is Man of Steel Frank Gore. The 37-year-old is now on his third AFC East team after playing with Buffalo last season. Gore’s relationship with coach Adam Gase played a huge part in him coming to the Big Apple.

Defying Father Time, the unrelenting RB finished his 15th NFL season last year by appearing in all 16 games. He compiled 166 rushes (led the Bills RB unit), 599 rush yards, two rush touchdowns, 3.6 rush yards per attempt, 37.4 rush yards per game, 16 targets, 13 receptions, and 100 receiving yards. The Miami product also had 2.0 rush yards after contact per rush, 10 broken tackles, and 339 rushing yards after contact.

Gore continues to impress everyone by playing so well into his late-30s. However, when looking at him from a fantasy perspective, it’s best to avoid him in redraft considering he will have a smaller role and his numbers are generally on the decline compared to his other seasons.


Wide Receiver

The most fantasy-relevant receivers on the Jets this season will be former Buccaneer Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, and rookie Denzel Mims. Most notably, Robby Anderson will be absent from this group after he bolted south for Carolina in free agency.

Out of this trio, there is no clear-cut WR1 heading into the season. Perriman is coming to his fourth NFL team in five seasons after being selected in the first round by Baltimore in 2015 only to have struggled most of his career. Last year on the Bucs though, he had a breakout year. Even with great receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the unit, the UCF product built a solid rapport with QB Jameis Winston.

The result was notching career highs in receptions (36), targets (70), yards (645), and touchdowns (6). Before that, the 26-year-old’s highest numbers in his career were 33 receptions, 66 targets, 499 yards, and three touchdowns. Despite his breakout, Perriman finished 43rd among fantasy WRs.

Jamison Crowder has been serviceable, but never an elite receiver during his five-year career thus far. At 5’9”, he still performed admirably as a top receiving option for the Jets last year. In his first season with the team in 2019 (previous four was with Redskins), the 27-year-old recorded career-highs in receptions and targets. Overall, he finished last season pacing the team in most receiving categories, getting 78 receptions, 122/521 targets (23.4%), 833 yards, 10.7 yards per catch, and six touchdowns. The Duke product has a solid rapport with Darnold now, so that’s a plus. He finished 34th among fantasy wideouts in 2019.

Finally, the Jets drafted Denzel Mims out of Baylor in the second round, and he has the potential to become the WR1 of the team in the future. At 6’3”, the WR provides a huge presence for Sam Darnold. The 22-year-old technically played three seasons for the Bears (freshman year was only three games with little impact). In his college tenure, he had two 1,000-yard seasons. From a statistical standpoint, his senior season last year was his best.

In total, Mims compiled 186 receptions, 2,925 yards, 15.7 yards per catch, and 28 touchdowns in college. He brings superb athleticism. Bleacher Report described Mims as a big-bodied presence who brings great speed and overall production/big-play potential. He has been compared to Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf. The only downside is his rather narrow route-running knowledge and tendency to have dropped passes. Nevertheless, Mims has huge potential to be fantasy-relevant down the road as he and Sam Darnold both get more NFL experience and build solid chemistry.

Overall, all the Jets receivers should be considered flex pieces in redraft. We don’t know who will emerge as the WR1 and it could end up being a situation where the receivers take turns having monster weeks, which spells a nightmare scenario for fantasy owners. In addition, they will all be fighting for targets if they are considered equal and there are none ranked above the other.

If anything, Crowder seems like the safest option to draft considering he has chemistry with Sam Darnold already. Perriman could be a hot and cold option, just like how his career has been, and Mims is rookie who offers massive upside, but still must prove himself.


Tight End

A suspension and injury derailed the season of sophomore tight end Chris Herndon last season. The 2018 pick played in one game and finished with a season total of.... wait for it…one reception for seven yards.

Despite the “limited” stats from 2019, there is no doubt the 24-year-old can be a fantasy-relevant asset this season. In his rookie season in 2018, the tight end notched 39 receptions, 56 targets, 502 yards, 12.9 yards per catch, and four touchdowns in 16 games played. So, there is hope for Herndon to break out considering he already has some chemistry with Sam Darnold.

Last year, Ryan Griffin took the starting TE duties on the Jets. The former Texan played in 13 games and sealed 34 receptions, 41/521 targets (7.9%), 320 yards, 9.4 yards per catch, and five touchdowns. He finished 20th among fantasy tight ends.

With Herndon once again atop the depth chart, Griffin’s value takes a hit. The Jets don’t have a high-powered offense that can sustain production for two tight ends, so Griffin should be avoided in drafts. As for Herndon, we don’t know how well he will do either. In the case of the Miami product, it’s best to keep him as a backup tight end on redraft teams until he proves otherwise. There are plenty of solid locked-in TE1s on other teams who can be of more value and relying on the Jets’ pass offense week in and week out is a bit risky.

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