This offseason, the New York Jets front office brought in a couple of new free agents, hoping to boost their underachieving, yet potentially encouraging 2013 offense. Among these free agents, the most exciting (and highest paid) were WR Eric Decker, RB Chris Johnson, and QB Michael Vick, who is expected to (willingly) be the backup to sophomore QB Geno Smith.
Coming from the New York area, I can sense the optimistic anticipation John Idzik and company are invoking in Jet Nation as they try to build a contender in the constantly improving AFC East. After all, when was the last time a team upgraded all three primary offensive positions in hopes to raise jersey and ticket sales? Oh, and to make a playoff run of course? That’s right; it was the New York Jets.
In 2010, Rex Ryan’s second season in the Meadowlands, GM Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets signed recent Superbowl MVP WR Santonio Holmes, and shoe-in Hall of Fame RB LaDanian Tomlinson.
The next season, the Jets traded for the extremely mediocre, yet fan favorite Tim Tebow and vowed to use him as “more than just a backup” which proved to be an empty promise. Many fans hoped that Tebow in 2011 would take over for the quickly regressing Mark Sanchez and take the Jets to a sloppy third straight AFC championship game.
A successful 2010 season was followed up by an abysmal 2011 resulting in the eventual firing of Tannenbaum and removal of all players listed above. The situation at MetLife is oddly reminiscent of the signings the new Idzik regime has made for the 2014 season. You sneaky Woody Johnson you.
Is There Fantasy Value With the Jet or Is It Just a Fantasy?
That 2010 season brought some fantasy success to the likes of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes (both ranking in the top 35 WRs) and even Tomlinson had almost 1,300 total yds in the “change of pace” RB role. From 2011 to the present however, it seems Rex and the Jets have lost all love for fantasy owners.
It's understandable as he is a defensive driven coach centering the offense around possession time and spreading the ball around. Since that 2010 season, the Jets haven’t had one WR finish in the top 30, and while the fantasy owners found some success in Shonn Greene’s time with the Jets, he was wildly inconsistent and barely start-able.
The feeling throughout the fantasy world is that, while nobody wants to admit it, all fantasy experts are skeptical of how Rex Ryan will handle these new FAs.
Tread Lightly for Fantasy in 2014
To further my point, let’s look at Eric Decker. Yes he is coming from Denver catching passes from Peyton Manning, and moving onto to Geno Smith. Calling this a QB downgrade is kind. Even so, with Eric Decker being the second and sometimes third WR option for Manning, he still finished 9th overall at the WR position last year.
Despite this success, the guys here at FantasyFootballPros have Decker at an average rank of 29.5 at his position. Even ESPN’s Matthew Berry currently has Decker at 32. In standard leagues this is not start-able. Not to mention he’s being ranked behind ‘unprovens’ with upside such as Cordarelle Patterson, Michael Floyd, Mike Wallace, and even rookie Sammy Watkins.
Sure there is some doubt whether or not Decker can handle the number one role, but it’s worth questioning that if Decker signed with a team like Buffalo, Tennessee, or Carolina, if he would drop so low in the preseason rankings and have a mock draft ADP around the 8th and 9th round, which serves up the question: “Do you doubt Eric Decker, or Geno’s Gang Green?” You can see more about Eric Decker’s draft value in my buddy Vinny’s article “2014 FA Value”
Chris Johnson is a similar case. A lot of doubt is raised around Chris Johnson every July and August since fantasy owners are wisely wary of his boom or bust nature. This was when he was on the Tennessee Titans, and was clearly the primary back since his 2,000+ yd season.
Now he enters a pretty crowded Jets backfield with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell who each had their mild fantasy “flashes in the pan” last season. Rex Ryan is known to be a lover of the ground and pound running attack, which Ivory and Powell both personify, yet CJ1K could not be farther from it with his backfield hopscotch approach. Regardless of the doubt, Johnson also finished 9th in his respective position last season, yet is now ranked at a FantasyFootballPros average of 28, behind a super sketchy Doug Martin, Montee Ball, CJ Spiller, and Trent Richardson.
Again not start-able in standard leagues Week 1, unless of course you’re high on Johnson and want to throw him in your flex.
No Fantasy Football Love for the Jets!
It seems that signing with the Jets is something that can erase your fantasy value, and possibly run you out of the league (See Tebow, Holmes, Edwards). Despite these notions, it is obvious these guys should be drafted and owned. Do you ever want to start them?
Well that’s up to you, but I think the smart fantasy player won’t have a Jet in their starting lineup until week 3, as so much remains to be seen. Every year many Jets are drafted, but think of how many you seen started in your league weekly.
I think Rex can use these pieces to create a good football team, but we all know that football production and fantasy production are two very different things.
Analyzing the Fantasy Value for 2014
Remember when analyzing a player’s fantasy value, pure talent is typically not enough. Can Chris Johnson run for 2,000 yds? He’s done it. Can Eric Decker finish in the top ten of fantasy WRs? He’s done it two straight years.
Maybe a QB competition will result in Michael Vick creating some magic midseason? There’s no way to know. When formulating your team/lineup consider all variables, trends, matchups, and personnel.
As for me, I’ll be staying away from pretty much every Jet in my drafts this year, and it will probably work out…since I’m a Fantasy Football Pro! (With zero credentials)
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