At 39 years of age and with the New York Jets using the third
overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft to select the quarterback of
the future Sam Darnold, Josh McCown enters the 2018 season as
a placeholder and mentor for Darnold until the rookie is ready
to assume the starting role.
McCown is an excellent locker room presence and exactly the type
of player any NFL franchise would love to help groom a young quarterback.
It also doesnít hurt that McCown posted a career-year in
2017, setting personal records for touchdown passes (18), passing
yards (2926), and completion percentage (67.3). In a season in
which many Jet fans anticipated that the franchise would intentionally
tank to earn a high draft pick, McCown and the New York passing
offense was surprisingly good, especially for fantasy purposes.
The uncertainty surrounding how many games he will start before
Darnold takes the reigns makes McCown unworthy of a draft selection
in anything other than the deepest two-quarterback leagues. However,
should the rookie from USC struggle, McCown has enough weapons
in the passing game to once again be a viable streaming option,
especially Week 6 at home against the Colts.
The Jets used the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft to
select USC quarterback Sam Darnold, a highly touted young quarterback
who presumably will be the face of the franchise for the next
decade. At 6í4, 225 pounds, Darnold has the prototypical
size and arm strength to be a star quarterback in the NFL. As
a redshirt freshman in 2016, Darnold completed 67% of his passes,
with 3086 passing yards and 31 touchdowns in 13 games for the
Trojans. As a sophomore last season, Darnold completed only 63%
of his throws and threw four more interceptions, but he logged
nearly 1000 more passing yards and increased his yards per attempt.
The Jets will likely begin the season with McCown under center
as Darnold continues to get acclimated to the NFL. There is no
doubt that the job will eventually be his at some point in the
near future, but fantasy owners in single quarterback leagues
should wait to pull the trigger until Darnold proves to be a viable
Crowell signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Jets after
an uninspiring 2017 season with the Browns. The former Alabama
State star rushed for a mere 853 yards on 206 carries, with only
two touchdowns on 234 total touches.
Crowell burned fantasy owners last season who bought into the
hype of the RB building off a 2016 season in which he nearly reached
1000 rushing yards while scoring seven touchdowns. One narrative
for Crowell apologists is the argument that the Browns offensive
line was terrible last season with the loss of first ballot hall
of fame left tackle Joe Thomas. However, that argument holds little
water as the Browns offensive line finished as the No.14 overall
unit in run blocking according to FootballOutsiders.com.
As the first and second down running back for the Jets, Crowell
will run behind an offensive line that ranked second to last according
to ProFootballFocus in 2017. Also, the former Brown will share
the backfield with second-year back Elijah
McGuire and veteran Bilal Powell, both of whom are more skilled
as pass catchers than Crowell.
Despite the negative factors working against Crowell, the amount
of volume he will likely garner at the start of the season makes
him an attractive draft pick as a flex, or very low-end No. 2
running back. There is always touchdown upside for a bruising
RB who will likely get goal line work.
Powell has quietly been the best running back for the Jets over
the past three seasons and a viable fantasy asset while averaging
8.5 fantasy points per game dating back to 2015. Although the
seven-year NFL vet has yet to rush for more than 1000 yards in
a season or receiver more than 178 rushes in a campaign, he continues
to be a reliable flex option with excellent receiving skills.
Despite his success running the ball during that span (4.7 yard
per carry average), the New York front office and coaching staff
do not view Powell as an every-down back, as evident by the signing
of Isaiah Crowell this offseason to a three-year contract. Crowell
will be the first and second down back, with Powell acting as
the change of pace and sharing passing down duties with Elijah
Should Crowell continue to underwhelm as he did last season in
Cleveland, Powell and McGuire could see a more active role as
the season progresses. Until that occurs, neither player has much
value outside of a flex start, and the New York ground game might
be better off avoided.
Anderson enters 2018 as one of the more attractive third-year
wide receivers on the verge of a breakout sophomore campaign in
which the former Temple Owl caught 63 balls for 941 yards and
seven scores. Not only is Anderson a skilled deep ball threat,
but he also established himself as a viable all-around receiver
and built a solid rapport with Josh McCown in 2017.
Unfortunately, the skilled wideout continues to deal with off-field
issues, including a reckless driving charge in January that could
result in a suspension from the league. Without any legal matters,
Anderson would be in consideration as a top-24 wide receiver heading
into the 2018 season with the ability to reach 1000 yards and
double-digit touchdowns. His legal issues and questions surrounding
how many games he will play have depressed his value closer to
the double-digit rounds, making him an attractive pick for risk-tolerant
owners looking for high upside.
The Jets signed Jermaine Kearse to a three-year $13.5 million
contract in 2017 with the hope that the former Seattle Seahawk
would become the teamís No.1 wide receiver. Although Robby
Anderson, and not Kearse evolved into the No.1 option for Josh
McCown, Kearse proved to be an excellent addition with 65 catches
for 810 yards and five touchdowns on 102 targets.
Kearse enters 2018 as the No.2 wideout opposite of Anderson,
with Quincy Enunwa returning from a season-ending neck injury
and free agent Terrell Pryor vying for targets. With so many mouths
to feed in the New York passing game the chance of Kearse posting
another 100-plus target season may be far-fetched. However, should
Anderson miss time due to off-field legal issues and Enunwa and
Pryor fail to garner for action in the passing game, Kearse could
be a late-round gem in all formats.
Pryor was arguably the biggest bust of the 2017 fantasy season
after failing to catch on with the Redskins. Owners salivated
at the size and speed combination Pryor brought to the table for
a Washington team that just lost two 1000-yard receivers in Pierre
Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Injuries and poor play limited the
former Ohio State quarterback to 20 receptions for 240 yards and
one touchdown - not precisely the type of production owners were
looking for from a consensus third or fourth round pick.
As the No.4 wide receiver entering camp on a passing offense
that ranked 24th in the league in 2017, Pryorís value has
fallen to the point where is he going undrafted in most formats.
However, he is a player to keep an eye on should injuries or suspensions
open the door for more targets mid-season.
A knee injury cost former Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett his
entire rookie season. The tight end position appears to be an
open training camp battle between Leggett and veteran Clive Walford,
as the two players look to fill in the void left by Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Leggett has the size and athleticism to be a solid tight end.
However, he has yet to catch an NFL pass, and he may still need
time to fully recover from his knee injury. Avoiding the tight
ends for the Jets altogether is a smart play until further notice.