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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: New York Jets

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Kudos to the Jets for making moves this offseason to improve their offense. They added Michael Vick, Chris Johnson and Eric Decker in free agency and drafted Jace Amaro, Shaq Evans and Jalen Saunders.

It will definitely help. But just because the Jets were aggressive in adding offensive firepower, it doesn't mean all of these players will become or remain Fantasy starters. Far from it.

Vick still has to beat out Geno Smith for the starting job, and it appears like Smith has the inside track early on. Johnson, who is coming off offseason knee surgery, has to contend with Chris Ivory. And Decker leaves the luxury of Peyton Manning for the uncertainty and inconsistency of Vick or Smith. It's also hard to trust these rookies as starting Fantasy options, although Amaro is intriguing at tight end.

A lot has to be determined in training camp with starting spots, and until we see how it all meshes together, we're hesitant to draft any Jets as No. 1 options in standard leagues, including Johnson and Decker. Those are the two prominent names, but they could be two busts based on how they finished in 2013 compared to their outlooks this year.

You don't want him ... Eric Decker

We're kidding, somewhat, with the headline of not wanting him, but he shouldn't be considered a No. 1 or even a No. 2 Fantasy receiver on Draft Day. He's fine as a No. 3 option with a mid-round pick, but he's about to fall from grace without Manning.

For the past two seasons with Manning at quarterback, Decker averaged 86 catches for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns. But if you look at Decker in 2011 when he was catching passes from Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, he had 44 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. He should be better than that with his catches and yards, but maybe not by much.

Some things to keep in mind are the Jets' leading receiver in touchdowns last year was Jeremy Kerley with three, and the receiving corps as a whole combined for 13 touchdowns, so you should be concerned if Smith is the starter. And he now is the No. 1 receiver in a division with Darrelle Revis and Brent Grimes for four matchups.

Decker will have his moments for sure, but at what cost? Don't draft him as a starter, but if he's your third receiver and you have realistic expectations, he shouldn't let you down.

You really don't want him ... Chris Johnson

Don't look at the name. Don't look at the back of his trading card for his career stats. Don't even look at last year's performance. That player is gone.

Johnson was once an elite Fantasy option, but his 2,000-yard campaign was five seasons ago. Yes, he was the No. 9 Fantasy running back last season, but that was his first Top 10 finish since 2010. He has gone three years in a row with six rushing touchdowns or less.

He averaged a career-low 3.9 yards-per-carry in 2013, and the only reason he was in the Top 10 in Fantasy points last season was a career-high four receiving touchdowns. His previous high was two in 2009, and we're not expecting him to become Darren Sproles in the latter stages of his career.

We hope his knee is OK, but the more time he misses the better that is for Ivory. Johnson will likely start, but he will share touches with Ivory -- and that doesn't include Bilal Powell potentially seeing time on passing downs.

There are going to be owners who draft Johnson as a No. 2 Fantasy running back with the thought that he's still elite, but let someone else make that mistake. He's just a flex option, and his best days are behind him.

Dynasty target ... Jace Amaro

2013 Touches Leaders
759 total touches
Bilal Powell 212 (176 car., 36 rec.) 27.9%
Chris Ivory 184 (182 car., 2 rec.) 24.2%
Jeremy Kerley 47 (4 car., 43 rec.) 6.2%
David Nelson 36 rec. 4.7%
Kellen Winslow 31 rec. 4.1%
All Others 249 32.8%

Amaro, like most rookie tight ends, will probably struggle this year. But he fits a huge need for the Jets, and he could surprise us all this season.

That said, we'll probably see the best Amaro has to offer starting in 2015. And he has a lot to offer. He was a monster last season at Texas Tech with 106 catches for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns.

He's already said he wants to "be a tight end that catches 100 balls a year." Seeing him do that this season is a bit of a stretch. The Jets' primary tight ends in 2013 -- Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow -- combined for 57 catches, 786 yards and six touchdowns. Sorry, Jace, but 100 catches isn't happening this year.

Now, Amaro could reach the combined totals of Cumberland and Winslow because he's that good, but even that's going to be hard to achieve as a rookie. We'd only draft him with a late-round flier in seasonal leagues, but in dynasty and keeper formats he's worth a mid-round selection. He could be a star as early as 2015.

Schedule analysis

If you believe in Johnson -- or Ivory -- then the start of the season should be extremely promising. The Jets open with Oakland, Green Bay and Chicago in consecutive weeks, and those were three of the eight worst teams in Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. That should allow the Jets to run the ball at a high level, so Johnson or Ivory could do well out of the gate. The start of the season is also good for Decker, who won't see Revis for the first time until Week 7 and Grimes until Week 13. He also gets to see his former team in Week 6 at home, so he should be motivated for that matchup with the Broncos.

Training camp battles

Who's the starting quarterback? Vick expects Smith to be the starting quarterback, which makes sense if the Jets want to develop their young passer and see where he takes them. But if the team wants to win now, Vick should be the starter. He's familiar with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who was an assistant under coach Andy Reid with the Eagles, and he's not going to be as inconsistent as Smith, who looked lost at times last year. From a Fantasy perspective, you want Vick to start because he has the higher ceiling. Either way, neither of these quarterbacks will be drafted in most standard leagues, but the winner of this battle could be a bye-week replacement or a starter in two-quarterback formats.

Who's the starting running back? We fully expect Johnson to be the starter, but Ivory is going to be a factor. And if he can stay healthy -- which has been a problem for him during his career -- he could be the better Fantasy option. You'll want to see how the Jets use both running backs in training camp, assuming Johnson's knee is 100 percent. Ivory makes more sense as the goal-line option, but Johnson is the better receiver, depending on Powell's role. We'd look for Johnson in Round 5 and Ivory in Round 9. Based on value, waiting on Ivory is the smarter move.

Who's the No. 2 receiver? Decker is the No. 1 receiver, but he's the only sure thing coming into the season on the depth chart. Kerley could be the De facto No. 2 receiver, but he's better suited as the slot option. That leaves the rookies in Evans and Saunders as potential options to start or uninspiring veterans like David Nelson or Stephen Hill. Our choice would be Evans since Saunders is more of a slot option, Nelson is a possession receiver and Hill has been a bust. But whoever is the starter opposite Decker has minimal Fantasy value, and only Kerley is worth drafting with a late-round pick in PPR leagues.

Bold prediction

A lot has to happen for Ivory to be a Top 20 rusher: Johnson has to struggle or get hurt, and Ivory has to stay healthy. But if given enough work, he will shine. Ivory had five games in 2013 with at least 15 carries, and he had double digits in Fantasy points in all five outings. Remember Johnson's 3.9 yards per carry from last year? Ivory was at 4.6. Another thing holding back Ivory is his lack of receiving skills with five career catches, but he could dominate at the goal line and offset his poor hands. He's an easy selection with a late-round pick, and you'll be happy to have Ivory on your team when he outplays Johnson this season.

Injury report

Chris Johnson (knee), probable for the start of training camp. ... Stephen Hill (knee), probable for the start of training camp.

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Player News
Titans OL Taylor Lewan pleads guilty to two misdemeanor charges
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) Titans rookie tackle Taylor Lewan pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges Thursday in Michigan stemming from an incident that took place last year following a Michigan-Ohio State game, according to The Tennessean. Lewan entered pleas to charges of disturbing the peace and being drunk and disorderly.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Lewan is expected to get probation when he's sentenced Dec. 15. Lewan was initially charged with one count of misdemeanor aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery. Two Buckeyes fans said Lewan assaulted them. Lewan had previously stated that he was breaking up a dispute and wasn't involved in a fight.


Jaguars might consider changing up linebacker corps
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) While the Jaguars were pleased with how J.T. Thomas performed at middle linebacker Week 8 against the Dolphins, coach Gus Bradley is considering making a change to the linebacker corps because rookie Jeremiah George is making a strong impression on the coaching staff. 

"We’re looking at the linebacker spot, what’s our best three on the field?" Bradley said, per The Florida Times-Union. "We know J.T. played well. [Otto] Dekoda Watson played pretty well. Jeremiah George is showing up a little bit in practice, so a chance to see him in there and throw him into the mix. We’re trying to find a way to see as of right now, what gives us our best opportunity and what guys are playing the best on the field."


Bills' Kiko Alonso starts to run, but still has ways to go in recovery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso is pleased with his progress as he is three months removed from ACL surgery.

"I’ve started running already," Alonso told Buffalobills.com. "I’m just doing straight line running, so I’m doing everything but cutting right now. Obviously I’m progressing to full speed running. I’m doing everything, but I’m limited."

Alonso said his knee feels great. However, he is being cautious with his recovery, which usually takes 7-9 months after surgery.

"My knee feels great," he said. "It definitely doesn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just a matter of time. You’ve got to let that ligament heal and strengthen the muscles around it. It feels probably where it should be right now."


Ben Roethlisberger deserves to start
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) It goes without saying that Ben Roethlisberger's six-touchdown, 522-yard performance Week 8 against Indianapolis was a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, and I stand by my earlier assessment that he's too inconsistent to start in standard 12-team leagues. But that's more for those weeks when every quarterback is available. With six teams on bye, that's certainly not the case in Week 9.

For those owners accustomed to starting Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler, Roethlisberger may be the best choice. His matchup against Baltimore isn't great. The Ravens rank a suspect 22nd against the pass, giving up 256.0 yards per game, but having allowed just seven touchdowns through the air, they've surrendered the second-fewest Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Regardless of the matchup, though, Roethlisberger has a better chance than most of the quarterbacks who might be available of putting up the numbers you're accustomed to.

I'd prefer Carson Palmer, Nick Foles and Cam Newton to him, to name just a few fringy types, but Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Ricahrd both have Roethlisberger in their top 10 for this week.


Brandon LaFell not the only Patriots WR to consider
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) It's time to give Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell a shot in Fantasy -- as in not just owning him, but starting him. If his 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown Week 8 against the Bears weren't enough to convince you, his matchup Week 9 against Denver should be.

It's not that the Broncos are so bad against the pass. They rank in the middle of the pack, allowing 242.9 yards per game. It's just that the Patriots' only hope against them is to beat Peyton Manning at his own game. Their passing attack -- at least the version they've shown in the last four weeks -- is good enough to beat anybody when they're motivated to use it.

LaFell appears to have leapfrogged Julian Edelman in the pecking order, but frankly, Edelman might not be such a bad play either. Tom Brady is going to need every weapon at his disposal to outscore Manning and company. Edelman is more of a desperation play than LaFell, I think, advisable only if you're short on startable wide receivers, but Dave Richard likes him enough with this matchup to rank him 24th at the position.


Shane Vereen a better choice than Jonas Gray
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) By giving the previously unknown Jonas Gray 17 carries for 86 yards Week 8 against Chicago, the Patriots revealed that they'll stick with a two-man backfield even with preferred rusher Stevan Ridley out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL.

But Week 9 against Denver might be a better matchup for preferred receiver Shane Vereen, who also thrived in Week 7 against the Jets. The Broncos, like the Jets, have done a good job stopping the run this season. They rank No. 1, in fact, allowing 72.4 yards per game.

Plus, the Patriots will most likely have to throw more than usual just to keep up with the league's highest-scoring team. These days, a team's only real choice against Peyton Manning is to beat him at his own game.

So most likely, Gray will spend much of Week 9 on the sidelines while Vereen spends much of it in the backfield. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank Vereen among their top 20 running backs for this week.


Vincent Jackson not such a great play
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) On a day when the Buccaneers couldn't get anything going offensively Week 8 against Minnesota, wide receiver Vincent Jackson was barely involved, catching one pass for 13 yards. He was targeted five times, but for a player who misses a lot of the balls thrown his way, both because of his role in the passing game and his issues with drops, that's a pretty low number. He averaged 10.0 targets in his first six games.

Even worse for Jackson, quarterback Mike Glennon has developed a nice rapport with both Mike Evans and Louis Murphy, and the Buccaneers passing attack isn't prolific enough to sustain three wide receivers. Is it more likely to sustain him than those other two? Yeah, probably. But it'll likely cut into his production regardless.

And it could cut into his production in a big way Week 9 at Cleveland. The Browns don't rank especially high against the pass, but they don't give up many touchdowns through the air, allowing the fourth-lowest quarterback rating of any team this season. Cornerback Joe Haden, who has played better in recent weeks after a slow start, is a big reason for that, and he'll likely go up against Jackson on Sunday.

Neither Jamey Eisenberg nor Dave Richard rank Jackson among their top 30 wide receivers -- and that's in a week with six teams on bye.


Time to the roll the dice on Denard Robinson?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Sitting Denard Robinson the week after his breakout 127-yard effort against the Browns was understandable. It was an outlier performance achieved with an especially favorable matchup, and there was some big talk about Toby Gerhart still playing a big role. But now, after back-to-back 100-yard games, taking a conservative approach with Robinson just seems kind of silly.

Especially since his matchup Week 9 at Cincinnati is, at least on paper, a favorable one. The Bengals rank 29th against the run, allowing 140.7 yards per game, and have given up the eighth-most Fantasy points per game to running backs. And as tough as the Jaguars defense has played in recent weeks, you don't have to worry so much about the Bengals running away with the game, compelling the Jaguars to throw every down.

Calling Robinson a must-start is taking it a bit far. Some people have enviable depth at the position. But in Week 9, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank Robinson among their top 24 running backs, with Dave slotting him as high as 15th.


Is starting Andy Dalton a good idea?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank the Bengals' Andy Dalton among their top 12 quarterbacks for Week 9, presumably because he's facing the Jaguars. But how did that work out for Ryan Tannehill in Week 8, Brian Hoyer in Week 7 or, yep, even Ben Roethlisberger in Week 5?

I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of the whole "start Player X against the Jaguars because they're bad" argument. Because they're not. At least not anymore -- not on defense, anyway. The Jaguars have allowed an average of 16.5 points in their last four games, and if not for the Dolphins' two defensive touchdowns in Week 8, it'd be 13.0

True, star wide receiver A.J. Green is looking likely to return from a three-game absence for a toe injury, which would certainly improve Dalton's chances. But again, quality quarterbacks -- namely, Tannehill and Roethlisberger -- have had their full arsenals when they faced the Jaguars, and they still underwhelmed against them. I'm not sure this is Dalton's week.

Now, with so many high-profile quarterbacks (such as Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler) on bye this week, you may want it to be Dalton's week, but I'd give Carson Palmer, Nick Foles, Cam Newton or Tannehill a shot before I turned to him.


Greg Olsen deserves your trust
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) Panthers coach Ron Rivera mentioned Monday that the reason tight end Greg Olsen had only one catch for 16 yards in Week 8 is because the Seahawks rotated their coverage toward him, particularly in the red zone. You can understand why they'd do that after Olsen averaged 70.4 yards with four touchdowns in his first four games.

Unfortunately, since the Seahawks limited the Panthers to just nine points in that game, they've invited other teams to emulate them, and while the Saints, Olsen's Week 9 opponent, certainly aren't the Seahawks defensively, they've done good job of containing tight ends this season, giving up the second-fewest Fantasy points per game to them. And that's even though they rank 31st against the pass.

But just because you can make a reasonable case to sit one this year's most productive and reliable tight ends doesn't mean you should follow through with it. Week 8 was just the second time in eight games that Olsen's production didn't justify a starting spot -- a terrific ratio for any player, regardless of position -- and the Saints haven't really faced a team with a top-flight tight end until now.

If quarterback Cam Newton has big numbers in this game -- and the data suggest he should -- Olsen will, too. Keep him active.


 
 
 
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