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Team Previews

Jets Fantasy Preview

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: July 18, 2021, 8:09 am ET

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2020 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 4,479 (32nd)

Offensive Touchdowns: 25 (32nd)

Offensive Plays: 948 (31st)

Pass Attempts + Sacks: 542 (28th)

Rush Attempts: 406 (22nd)

Unaccounted for Targets: 118 (17th)

Unaccounted for Carries: 216 (5th)

 

Coaching Staff

42-year-old Robert Saleh was a finalist for the Browns’ coaching gig last offseason following the 49ers’ Super Bowl run, but he lost out to Kevin Stefanski. Saleh was the Niners’ defensive boss for four seasons after coaching the Jaguars’ linebackers previously, and his San Francisco defenses were Nos. 2 and 6 in DVOA the last two seasons. Saleh interviewed for what seemed like every head-coaching opening this past offseason and landed the Jets gig, replacing Adam Gase. A disciple of Kyle Shanahan, Saleh brings over OC Mike LaFleur along with him from the 49ers. LaFleur had been at Shanahan’s side dating all the way back to 2014 with the Browns and followed him to Atlanta and San Francisco. Look for this to be an offense with major Shanahan vibes. Unlike Gase before him, LaFleur is going to get the ball in his playmakers’ hands and let them do the work while playing up in tempo with a goal at running far more plays. Saleh brings a major dose of energy to a Jets team that lacked it under Gase. If anything, this team will play hard on both sides of the ball and be a whole lot more fun to watch with Saleh’s infectious attitude roaming the sideline. The arrow is screaming upward for the Jets; hopefully the pick of QB Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall won’t be another one this organization regrets.

 

Passing Game

QB: Zach Wilson, James Morgan, Mike White

WR: Corey Davis, Denzel Mims

WR: Keelan Cole, Elijah Moore
WR: Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios
TE: Chris Herndon, Tyler Kroft, Ryan Griffin

 

The Jets took Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick and said goodbye to failed former first-rounder Sam Darnold. Wilson only averaged 7.9 yards per attempt with a 23:12 TD:INT ratio through his first two seasons at BYU before taking a massive junior-year leap. His 11.0 yards per attempt and 33:3 TD:INT ratio led the Cougars to a 11-1 record last season. Despite being undersized (6’2/214), the ball zips out of Wilson’s hand with high-end velocity, and he does so at multiple arm angles inside and outside the pocket. Wilson had a Johnny Manziel-like playing style as an aggressive, flashy passer with enough scrambling ability to keep defenses honest. He had 254 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground last year, and averaged 7.1 rushing attempts per game over three seasons at BYU. The big season catapulted Wilson onto the NFL map. Gang Green also selected playmakers RB Michael Carter and WR Elijah Moore in the draft after signing new No. 1 WR Corey Davis. How well Wilson can handle pressure and more complex defenses is a total unknown, but the upside of his arm talent is worth a dice roll at the game’s most important position. His presence under center is a fantasy boon for every Jets pass catcher, including Davis, Denzel Mims, and Chris Herndon. Hopefully the Jets' pass blocking, ranked by Pro Football Focus as the league's second-worst in 2020, improves for Wilson. They added second-round LG Alijah Vera-Tucker and veteran RT Morgan Moses.

In a contract year after having his fifth-year option declined, Corey Davis emerged as a true fourth-year breakout across from A.J. Brown in Tennessee, racking up 65-984-5 and a career-high 15.1 yards per catch on 92 targets. Davis joined the Jets on a three-year, $37.5 million contract as a starter across from slot man Jamison Crowder, second-round WR Elijah Moore, and fellow free-agent pickup Keelan Cole. Davis will open the season as New York’s default No. 1 wideout but his production will depend entirely on Wilson’s learning curve from BYU to the NFL. Fantasy players should at least expect Davis to garner volume in multiple come-from-behind efforts as a WR4/5. And he’s the odds-on favorite to pace the Jets in red-zone looks. Davis is currently coming off the board as the WR49 in half-PPR formats.

Crowder commanded over 7.4 targets per game and scored six touchdowns for the second straight season, again proving to be Sam Darnold’s go-to target when healthy. He was really the team’s lone legitimate week-to-week threat in the league’s most boring offense. The Jets’ second-round selection of Elijah Moore appeared to spell doom for Crowder at the time of the pick, but Crowder and the Jets eventually reworked his contract, and he’s back with the team for a third season. Crowder won’t see near the volume he did last season when he commanded 25% of the Jets’ targets. The additions of Davis, Cole, and Moore, along with the return of sophomore Denzel Mims, makes this receiver group a jumbled mess. We have to take a wait-and-see approach with Jets wideouts. It’s still possible Crowder is cut this summer.

Moore (5'9/178) was the focal point of Lane Kiffin's offense at Ole Miss, leading the FBS in catches (10.8) and receiving yards (149.1) per game as an explosive mismatch from the slot. He also broke A.J. Brown’s school record for receptions in a season with 86. Moore's elite 4.35 forty time, flat 4.0-second shuttle, and 91st-percentile three-cone at 6.67 seconds suggests he's a pure athlete who can succeed from anywhere on the field. There’s a real chance he’ll lead the Jets in receiving if allowed to start in two-wide sets across from Corey Davis. But Moore was used on the outside just 8.4% of the time in college. Moore probably has the highest upside of the Jets’ receivers, but right now Crowder, Keelan Cole, and Denzel Mims are in the way a bit.

Signed to a one-year, $5.5 million deal in free agency, Keelan Cole actually finished second on the Jaguars in targets (88) en route to a 55-642-5 line last season. He was catching passes from Gardner Minshew and Mike Glennon. With Davis battling a shoulder issue in spring workouts, Cole actually ran as the Jets’ No. 1 receiver, ahead of Denzel Mims. There are reports that Mims isn’t viewed as a fit for new OC Mike LaFleur’s offense as a pure field-stretcher who doesn’t create plays with the ball in his hands. Cole could get the starting nod opposite Davis, but it’s unlikely Cole becomes anything more than a bye-week fill-in for fantasy.

After missing nearly all of the 2019 season, last year was supposed to be a rebound campaign for Chris Herndon. It didn’t happen. The Jets’ offense was stale, and Herndon also failed to put his best foot forward. He struggled with drops and didn’t even draw targets when New York was in desperate need of a pass-catching threat while Jamison Crowder was hurt. Herndon will always have his 500-yard rookie campaign to point to, plus an impressive collegiate profile, but his bust of a season last year has deservedly put a damper on his outlook. He has more upside than most TE2 options, but there’s already been whispers out of Jets headquarters that veteran free-agent pickup Tyler Kroft was outplaying Herndon in spring practices.

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Running Games

RB: Tevin Coleman, Michael Carter, Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine

OL (L-R): Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, Alex Lewis, Morgan Moses

 

What Michael Carter (5’8/201) lacks in size and burst (4.50 forty, 34-inch vertical) is partially made up by instincts, vision, and elusiveness as a runner. His biggest strength, by far, is his comfort as a receiver. Carter tallied 82 career catches with just six drops at North Carolina, and played on most third downs. Unfortunately, his size will be hard to overcome at the NFL level, including in pass protection. Carter compares to Chase Edmonds and Devonta Freeman, potentially maxing out as a timeshare back. Despite the committee projections, it’s worth noting that Carter cleared 1,000 yards rushing and 20 receptions each of his final two seasons at UNC. Carter has a clear path to a 2021 role, which is all you can ask of a mid-round back. Tevin Coleman is never healthy and isn’t legit competition at this stage of his career. Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine are total wild cards. The newest guy in town and the first chosen by the new coaching staff, Carter is the favorite to lead this committee. He was the star of spring practices.

Coleman made it back-to-back disappointing years in San Francisco after signing with the team as a free agent. He could never grasp the reins of one of the league’s most wide-open backfields. Coleman spent Weeks 3-7 on injured reserve with a knee ailment last year and managed only 11 touches the rest of the way. Kyle Shanahan quit Coleman, letting him walk in free agency, but his coaching tree couldn’t. A staff filled with Shanahan disciples brought Coleman along to New York, where he drew spring buzz as a potential starter. Coleman’s hype was eventually eclipsed by fourth-round rookie Michael Carter. Coleman may open the summer as the “starter,” but with Carter, Ty Johnson, and even Zach Wilson getting carries, it’s hard to see Coleman being anything more than a desperation RB4 play. Johnson is the better flyer.

 

Win Total

The Jets’ win total currently sits at six with -115 odds on both the over and the under. Only the Texans (4) and Lions (4.5) have lower projected win totals. Based on 2020 win-loss records, the Jets have the 19th-toughest schedule, so take that for what it’s worth. Gang Green’s out-of-division home schedule includes dates with the Titans, Bengals, Eagles, Saints, Jaguars, and Bucs. There are road dates with the Panthers, Broncos, Falcons, Colts, and Texans. With the low win total and projected spike in volume for this offense from a total plays standpoint, there’s definitely an outside shot at Zach Wilson being a useful fantasy quarterback as a rookie.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.