Adam Gase is gone and Zach Wilson has arrived, but is that enough to make the New York Jets fantasy football relevant in 2021?
When it comes to fantasy football, it’s never a bad idea to start preparing early — especially if you want to stand a chance at winning it all.
One thing that’s been a fairly safe draft strategy over the past decade or so of fantasy football is steering clear of New York Jets offensive players. Do the stats and rankings even need to be referenced?
The more intriguing question, however, is this: Could this year be different?
Throughout the course of the offseason, we’ve seen the Jets make significant improvements. Of course, the added free agents and talented draft class jump out as obvious examples, but perhaps the biggest upgrade to the Jets for fantasy football purposes this year is the firing of Adam Gase.
Gang Green finally has reason to believe they have a competent coaching staff in place—one that can develop their new quarterback and tailor an offensive scheme around the strengths of their players. The departure of Gase undoubtedly raises the floor and ceiling of the team as a whole, which in response, turns some Jets players into potentially viable fantasy options for 2021.
Today, we’re looking at who those players are, and whether, this early in the process, they should be worth a draft pick for your fantasy team(s). Something to remember while reading this is that the team has a rookie offensive coordinator as well as an unproven, rookie quarterback at the helm. This means that despite any pros these players may have, until we know the in-game capabilities of Mike LaFleur and Zach Wilson, we truly don’t know the offense’s potential.
Nonetheless, the Jets players’ fantasy football futures look bright.
Corey Davis, WR
In 2020, new Jets wideout Corey Davis was a solid option for fantasy purposes. Catching 65 passes for 984 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games, Davis finally delivered a season worthy of a fantasy starting roster spot. Also noteworthy is the fact that he was able to do this while sharing targets with rising superstar A.J. Brown, an established fantasy stud.
But should Davis’ success with Brown be seen as a positive or a negative? On one hand, he was able to produce even while splitting targets with another talented receiver. On the other hand, Brown likely drew a great deal of defensive attention away from Davis, making Davis’ job easier. This is a question to keep in mind.
Either way, Davis looks to be the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the Jets heading into the 2021 season, meaning the volume will be there and he’ll have every opportunity to succeed. Davis is absolutely worth a mid-round pick in fantasy drafts.
Denzel Mims, WR
Speaking of talented receivers, here’s another one. Denzel Mims may not have been a reliable option in fantasy football last year, but there are a few factors that suggest this may change.
First, Mims was able to get open at a far higher rate than his target share would suggest. He would often get multiple targets in the first half of games and look pretty good, but then Gase would seem to inexplicably write him out of the scheme or Sam Darnold didn’t throw his direction. If Mims can get consistent volume this season, he may turn some heads, especially considering the fact that he was viewed as a better prospect coming out than a few of the rookies who outperformed him last year.
Second, Mims was hurt for the first half of the season last year, making his debut in Week 7 against the Bills. The 2021 season will hopefully mark the first full season that Mims is able to play, giving him much more opportunity for success than he was given in 2020.
And third, Mims is still looking for his first career touchdown. There were a few games last year where Mims’ fantasy output—just based on receiving yards and receptions—was worthy of a FLEX spot on rosters. If you add in some touchdowns the second-year receiver is likely to bring in on top of the expected increase in receiving yards and receptions, his fantasy projection goes up.
Mims is worth a late-round pick in fantasy drafts. He certainly doesn’t come without risk, but the upside he presents is worth taking a shot late.
Jamison Crowder, WR
During the Gase era, Jamison Crowder was the only Jets player worth starting on a somewhat consistent basis. That is likely to change this year after the team drafted Elijah Moore, a player similar to Crowder, just with much more upside. If Crowder is even still on the roster at the start of the 2021 season (cutting him could save just over $11 million), his role will likely decrease as the season goes on and Moore starts to develop.
That being said, Crowder could be a good target later in drafts, who could produce early in the season. If this is the case, a prudent move as a fantasy player would be to pick him up late, reap the benefits he brings early, and then look to sell high on him after a few weeks.
Elijah Moore, WR
Rookie Elijah Moore is insanely talented. After all, he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff award this past college football season, alongside Devonta Smith and Kyle Pitts. In the same way that Crowder’s role will decrease as the season goes on, Moore’s role will likely increase.
Something else that points toward fantasy success for Moore is the rapport he seems to already be building with Zach Wilson. From texting with each other on draft night to going out for meals together in New Jersey, the two seem to be hitting it off, which is often a good indicator of how they will perform together on the field.
Make no mistake, Moore is a bit undersized and will likely have a slow start to his rookie campaign as he adjusts to the NFL. But the team spent an early second-round pick on him and his talent is undeniable. One would be smart to bet on him having a role in this new Jets offense sooner rather than later.
Moore is likely to go undrafted in regular redraft leagues, so he could be a savvy waiver wire add a few weeks into the season.
Michael Carter, RB
Michael Carter is a name on this list who will likely have an impact in fantasy pretty quickly. Exactly how big that impact will remain to be seen.
Carter has a clear path to winning the Jets’ RB1 role. If the offense LaFleur is implementing is anything similar to Kyle Shanahan’s (which is a safe assumption), Carter is an excellent candidate to take over the Raheem Mostert role — a quick, shifty, one-cut runner who excels in outside zone schemes.
It also doesn’t hurt that he’ll be running behind the enormous Mekhi Becton, as well as first-round guard Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Of course, Carter does also come with some fantasy concerns. The offense will likely utilize a committee-style rushing attack, meaning Carter will probably be getting around 10-12 touches per game rather than a healthy 20 or so that a workhorse gets.
However, LaFleur’s scheme is meant to get the most out of its running backs, and Carter is one of the more talented names at the position from this year’s draft class.
He is potentially worth a mid-to-late-round fantasy pick, but just the fact that we haven’t seen him on an NFL field yet presents some degree of risk. If you’re okay with taking the risk, though, he provides some real upside.
Ty Johnson, RB
Similar to Denzel Mims, Ty Johnson showed some actual promise last season, even under Gase. Of course, Gase loved sending Frank Gore straight up the middle for two-yard gains, but when Johnson got touches, he made the most out of them, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Obviously, that number doesn’t jump off the page, but it’s solid, and considering it was in a Gase offense against a tough schedule, it would seem Johnson has potential.
Further, the LaFleur scheme should help Johnson out in the same ways it will help Carter. Don’t bet on it, but Johnson does have an outside chance at winning the team’s RB1 role, should Carter fail to meet expectations.
Overall, while he has talent, Johnson is part of a crowded backfield in a new offense, so he probably isn’t worth a draft pick in fantasy at this time.
Chris Herndon, TE
Chris Herndon had some real hype going into last season, which he failed to live up to. The talent he flashed in his rookie season in 2018, however, still leaves room for hope he can be a very good fantasy player.
Herndon is yet another player who quite possibly can attribute his struggles to the Gase regime. He’s a big target, and young quarterbacks often like to rely on their tight ends as a safety blanket. Herndon could very well be that for Wilson. There’s also the fact that Herndon looks to quite clearly be the Jets’ TE1. Of course, undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah has a certain amount of hype surrounding him, but he hasn’t even officially made the team yet and even if he does, Herndon will still likely be ahead of him on the depth chart.
The drops last season from Herndon were alarming, but other than that, he’s displayed pretty good hands throughout the rest of his career.
As bad as Gase was, it’s hard to say he was the only reason for any of the Jets’ struggles. Just because of how bad he was last season, Herndon probably isn’t worth drafting in fantasy this year. However, he is definitely worth keeping an eye on, as his combination of talent and opportunity this season could bode very well for his fantasy production.
Zach Wilson, QB
Ah, the Jets’ new savior. It’ll be tough, but passing on Wilson in fantasy drafts this year is likely the smart move. There is a very real possibility that Wilson comes out of the gates strong like Justin Herbert did last year, but there are so many other options at the quarterback position that are much more of a sure thing.
The Jets have clearly been doing everything they can this offseason to put Wilson in a position to succeed, but until we see the results firsthand, he simply isn’t worth spending a fantasy draft pick on. Perhaps in deeper leagues, it could be worthwhile to “draft and stash” Wilson as your backup quarterback in case he breaks out, but otherwise, he can likely be obtained off the waiver wire early in the season.
Yes, the Jets’ defensive line looks like it could legitimately be dangerous after the additions of Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins and Vinny Curry to an already-talented room. Yes, C.J. Mosley will finally be making his return, and will hopefully be playing more than just a game and a half for the Jets this season. And yes, Robert Saleh is a fantastic defensive coach.
But until the Jets make a key signing at corner, the smart move is to avoid drafting their defense in fantasy. Joe Douglas will, in all likelihood, make a signing at CB to help out on the outside. But until he does, steer clear.
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