Fantasy Football Target Practice: The 2020 New York Jets

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So far in our Target Practice series, we have covered the Eagles, New England Patriots, New York Giants, and the Las Vegas Raiders.  Next up is predicting the floor and ceiling targets for the pass catchers of the New York Jets.

Unless you’re a Jets fan, such a statement may incite a bland, “meh” when it comes to the players’ impact on fantasy football. After all, the Jets were… well, let’s put it nicely and say “bad”.  Instead of listing off the excessively long and poor rankings from 2019, I have included a snapshot of their offense and how they ranked according to Pro Football Reference.

There are far too many 32nd and 31st rankings there for comfort. While it could be the easier option to dismiss the Jets, we can also make an argument that this can be the perfect opportunity to see improvement. It may be difficult to get worse even if they tried.

Vacated Targets

The Jets have the third most vacated targets in the NFL with the departure of Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas who combined for 154 targets in 2019.  If we include Ty Montgomery (17 targets) and Bilal Powell (12 targets) we are looking at a whopping 183 targets up for grabs in 2020.

The Jets made some interesting moves this offseason spending $40 million on an upgraded offensive line and ushering out players like Anderson and Thomas.  However, who the Jets added to the team is intriguing in terms of the team’s 2020 offensive identity. WR Breshad Perriman, rookie WR Denzel Mims, and RB Frank Gore are the most recognizable additions.

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None of these names are certified ball hogs nor are they considered in the upper echelon in terms of fantasy points. This leaves a lot of targets that will need to go somewhere. 

2020 Outlook

QB Sam Darnold unexpectedly came down with mono and missed four weeks last year.  After returning in Week 5, Darnold went on to finish the season with 441 attempts, 273 completions for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.  

For the sake of this article, let’s just look at his attempts. In the 13 games he played, Darnold averaged just over 33 attempts per game, which means he lost potentially 132 attempts over the four weeks while he was out sick.  If we add that to his season finish of 441, then we are looking at the possibility of 573 attempts from last season.

Darnold is fully recovered from mono and should be looking to complete his first full season of games since being in the NFL. He is entering his third year and should be improving his touchdown to interception ratio in 2020.  I expect he will pass at least 573 this year, perhaps pushing 600 or more with a better offensive line.  Of course, head coach Adam Gase isn’t known for his quick pace of play, but having options for dump-off passes to avoid the sack or an interception will still count.

Le’Veon Bell – (Floor 50/Ceiling 100)

Bell is plummeting down draft boards after a disappointing season last year and the addition of Frank Gore to the RB room.

It’s true that Gase and Gore have a long history and Gore will undoubtedly eat into Bell’s rush attempts. That is just inevitable. However, Gore’s arrival in New York is a good thing for Bell, in my opinion, especially when it comes to Bell being more involved in the passing game.

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Gore does not demand a lot of targets but rather crushes his way through defenses in a ground-and-pound style. This is going to free up Bell to do what Bell does best as a wicked pass-catching running back.

Behind a better offensive line, with a healthy quarterback, and other offensive weapons around him, Bell has a chance for a bounce-back year in 2020. 

Jamison Crowder – (Floor 90/Ceiling 150)

It wouldn’t surprise me to see the lion’s share of the vacated targets headed in Crowder’s direction. He has an excellent connection with Darnold and still managed to get 23 looks and 14 receptions during Darnold’s four-week absence. Crowder is also reliable, averaging a  63.9% catch rate, which also included five games of over 80%. He saw 78.63% of the offensive snaps totaling 802. I also expect that his TDs get a boost with an increase in targets and an improved QB.

Crowder saw only 78 targets in his rookie year in 2015 with Washington then only 49 in 2018 when he played only nine games that season. When healthy and playing in 15 or more games, Crowder absorbed 99 or more targets each season. He busted out a career-high 122 targets in 2019 as a new member of the Jets even with a backup QB for four weeks. 

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Breshad Perriman – (Floor 50/Ceiling 90)

Perriman is an interesting conundrum to consider. He stayed under the fantasy radar until he started flashing last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had the best season of his career seeing 69 targets with 36 receptions for 645 yards and six touchdowns. A bulk of these stats piled up during that last three weeks of the season when he saw three 100-yard plus games. 

He operated out of the left wide/slot with the Buccaneers last season, eventually making an impact as the downfield threat. We can make a pretty safe presumption that he will be filling the Anderson role as the primary outside threat. 

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Last year, Anderson had 96 targets with 52 receptions, 779 yards, and five touchdowns. If Darnold can get better protection with a better offensive line, there’s a possibility we see Perriman eclipse Anderson’s 2019 stats.

Of course, there is also the chance that rookie Denzel Mims keeps him capped at his floor.

Denzel Mims – (Floor 50/Ceiling 100)

Rookie WRs don’t usually have a breakout season in their first year in the NFL. However, there are so many vacated targets in this offense that it would be almost impossible for Mims to not have some kind of role in this WR corps. How Gase plans to use Mims will determine just how high his ceiling can go.

Mims brings the big-play potential to the field, averaging 15.5 yards per reception in college. The biggest question is whether or not he can get going right away for the Jets.  He may need several weeks to adjust to the NFL pace.

Chris Herndon – (Floor 40/Ceiling 80)

Herndon and Darnold exploded with chemistry and fantasy points in their rookie year together in 2018. While it’s difficult for rookie WRs to get going in the NFL, it’s even worse for TEs who need at least a year if not more to become fantasy relevant.

Herndon saw 56 targets for 39 receptions, 502 yards, and four touchdowns as a rookie. Many of us had high hopes for him last year until a suspension kept him out four games then an injury kept him off the field for the rest of the season.  He had only 18 snaps In 2019.

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This year, Herndon is fully healthy and would make an excellent sleeper option to get late in drafts.

Conclusion

The Jets haven’t been stimulating in recent years, but the 2020 season looks particularly enticing for fantasy football.  The volume and opportunity are enough to get excited about each players’ potential.  Plus, you can snag these players late in your draft for an excellent value for your roster.

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