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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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“I also think that at the running back position in the draft, there’s a ton of them,” Gruden said. “It’s a very deep running back draft in my opinion, and we’re excited to add another piece at some point, hopefully. We have seven picks. Hopefully one of them will be a running back, or a free agent to compete. There are some good free agents that haven’t been signed yet. But, giving Chris an opportunity, Silas, Alfred (Morris), that’s where it starts. And we’ll add some more later on for competition.”


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"We're keeping a close eye on Santana," Gruden said at the NFL owners' meetings in Phoenix, per ESPN. "You know, that's something that we know where Santana is and he knows where we are, and something may work out down the road.

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