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2023 Player Outlooks: N.Y. Jets

By Nick Caron | 6/30/23 |

QB Aaron Rodgers
(2022 QB Rank – No. 13, 17.9 FPts/G)

The 2022 season was tough for the Packers, particularly for future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. The QB threw for just 217 yards per game-by far the worst number of his career-and he threw 12 interceptions, the second-worst number of his career. While it’s true that Rodgers didn’t have much to work with in the pass-catching department, the signs of aging were much more apparent than at any point prior. He rushed for just 94 yards on the season-the fewest of his career as a starter--and added just one touchdown on the ground after contributing three rushing scores in both 2020 and 2021. Now heading into his 19th NFL season, Rodgers hopes that a change of scenery could be the catalyst for returning him back to his former glory as a three-time NFL MVP.

Rodgers heads to New York to join the Jets and while a veteran QB heading to a new situation doesn’t always lead to great success, the similarities to Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay are glaring. Rodgers joins a team that has been in desperate need of competent quarterback play, coached by one of the league’s bright young coaches, and he’ll have the opportunity to throw to this past year’s AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Garrett Wilson. Wilson broke out as a rookie and should provide Rodgers with a reliable WR1, which he was sorely missing this past season. In fact, Rodgers’ leading receiver from a season ago, Allen Lazard, came to New York along with his QB and should find himself in a much more natural role as his new team’s No. 2 or even No. 3 option in the passing game.

The fantasy game has changed so much, especially at QB, due to the rushing ability that many of the top signal callers are bringing to the table. But there’s still space for a player like Rodgers to finish inside QB1 range this season. No QB in NFL history offers a higher TD/INT ratio throughout his career than Rodgers. In fact, it’s not even close. Only four QBs ever (Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady) have higher than a 3.0 TD/INT ratio throughout their careers. Still, Rodgers is an outlier even amongst outliers in this category, with a completely absurd 4.52 TD/INT over his career. Having the ability to provide league-leading touchdown numbers along with single-digit interceptions makes Rodgers an under-the-radar safe fantasy option who still provides upside at the position. He’s no longer the sexy option that he used to be, but he’s currently being drafted outside the top-12 at the position and that’s pretty much his floor. He’s someone to target if you wait at the position this season.

Breece Hall

RB Breece Hall
(2022 RB Rank – No. 40, 14.0 FPts/G)

If it wasn’t for the extremely unfortunate ACL tear that he suffered in Week 7 of his rookie campaign in 2022, we’d almost certainly be talking about Breece Hall being a first-round pick in fantasy drafts this season. Even though he began the season splitting touches in his own backfield, Hall became one of the league’s true bell cows by Week 4 and was well on his way to finishing as a top-five fantasy RB.

Heading into his sophomore season, however, the only real concern that fantasy managers should have is when he might be back on the field. We’ve seen some incredible recovery times for players who’ve suffered similar injuries as of late, but we’ve also seen players like J.K. Dobbins and others struggle to get back on the field. The fact that Hall’s injury took place during the middle of the season is concerning because he won’t have anywhere close to a full year to recover before the team suits up to play in Week 1. Jets head coach Robert Saleh has been optimistic when he’s been asked about Hall’s recovery and we’ve seen videos of Hall running in a straight line, but that’s not enough for us to really draw anything conclusive from.

Hall is a classic example of an unknown heading into draft season, but the unknown is completely health-based. We know the talent is there. His upside, if he’s healthy, is an elite RB1, which is why he’s still being drafted in the top 15 of the RB position. That could change dramatically if we see significant changes to his health, of course, but as of right now, this is a complete risk/reward scenario for fantasy managers. If you do end up selecting Hall in drafts, be sure to prioritize landing additional reliable options at the position, as it’s very possible that you’ll be without him early in the season. When he does get back on the field and ramped up physically, however, the sky is truly the limit for this talented young back.

RB Michael Carter
(2022 RB Rank – 44, 5.4 FPts/G)

Many fantasy managers had high hopes for 2021 rookie Michael Carter, but those who were paying closer attention should have known that he was always a trap. Breece Hall is simply the much more talented back and he was always going to take over that team’s starting job while leaving scraps for the other players in the backfield. What we didn’t expect was that not only would Hall take over the job by Week 4, but Carter himself would end up losing his top spot on the Jets’ RB depth yet again even after Hall suffered a season-ending injury. In fact, despite playing in every game for the Jets in 2022, Carter failed to reach double-digit carries in any game after Week 9, and didn’t see more than five carries in any of the Jets’ final five games.

Now heading into his third season, some fantasy managers are beginning to do it to themselves yet again. Breece Hall’s ACL injury means that he might not be ready to play in Week 1, so the tendency to look down the depth chart at the RB2 position simply becomes too enticing for some. Carter is being viewed by way too many managers as the “handcuff” for Hall, but there’s really no reason to believe that will be true. His two years of experience in the Jets’ offense and his pass-catching ability likely give him the edge over other players in this backfield, but we’ve already seen him lose his job to the likes of Zonovan Knight, who is also still on the roster. The Jets also drafted Israel Abanikanda in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, making this one of the most crowded backfields in the entire league.

Carter is currently a late-round pick in most drafts, but there’s some real potential for that ADP to skyrocket if we find out that Hall is unlikely to play in Week 1. The talent is there for Carter to produce as an RB2 for fantasy if he’s given the role-there’s just no reason to believe that’ll happen. For that reason, Carter could end up being a huge trap for fantasy managers late in draft season. He’s fine to select now given his late-round ADP, but Abanikanda or Knight might end up being the best value of these backs in the unfortunate scenario where Hall ends up missing significant time.

WR Garrett Wilson
(2022 WR Rank – 21, 7.9 FPts/G)

The 2022 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year returns for his second season, now with a significant upgrade at quarterback, in an offense that is expected to be much better than it was under the likes of Zach Wilson, Mike White, and Joe Flacco. Aaron Rodgers might not be the player he was during his prime, but he’s certainly an upgrade over what Wilson had as a rookie when he caught 83 passes for 1,103 yards. Not only that, but Rodgers is an absolute surgeon in the red zone, which should help Wilson improve upon the four touchdowns he scored.

Wilson is one of those players who we’ve seen good things from, but who hasn’t quite ascended into the “elite” tier at the position yet, so less-knowledgeable fantasy managers might overlook this talented young pass catcher. He’s currently being drafted in the third round of most drafts, which seems fair given that offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has proven to be a slow-paced play-caller and that might limit Wilson’s true upside to finish near the top of the fantasy WRs. However, we’ve seen Rodgers support some truly monster fantasy seasons from his WR1s in the past, and with Wilson being the locked-in WR1 in this offense, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that Wilson breaks into the “reliable WR1” tier here in 2023.

WR Allen Lazard
(2022 WR Rank – 30, 7.7 FPts/G)

While the Jets’ WR1 spot is locked in, the competition at WR2 only became murkier this off-season when the Jets added veterans Mecole Hardman from Kansas City and Allen Lazard from Green Bay to compete with Corey Davis. Davis has been a disappointment throughout his career, but after a near-1000-yard season for the Titans in 2020, his move to the Jets has been borderline disastrous. He caught just 32 passes in 2022 and while plenty of that can be blamed on the awful quarterback situation he had to deal with, it’s also true that Davis just wasn’t getting open at the rate the team needs from their WR2.

Given what we know about Davis’ development, it makes sense to assume that Lazard, who joins the Packers after playing alongside Aaron Rodgers for the past five seasons, has the inside track to start the season as the Jets’ WR2 opposite Garrett Wilson.

Lazard is coming off his best season as a pro, having led the Packers with 60 receptions for 788 yards and six touchdowns. While he’s just not good enough to be a team’s WR1, there’s no reason to think that Lazard isn’t talented enough to beat out perennial disappointments like Davis and Hardman.

For fantasy purposes, however, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Lazard provides anything better than WR4 numbers for fantasy this season. He’s likely to see fewer than the 100 targets he got in 2022 and with Rodgers’ propensity to lean on his WR1, we could be looking at Wilson being the only Jets’ WR worth rostering for fantasy. Still, Lazard and Rodgers do have some chemistry and if the Jets’ offense ascends like many believe it will, there could be some reasonably productive weeks from Lazard and that could make him a decent occasional fill-in for fantasy managers in deeper leagues.

TE Tyler Conklin
(2022 TE Rank – 17, 4.3 FPts/G)

Veteran tight end Tyler Conklin joined the Jets in 2022 after spending four years with the Vikings and he immediately made an impact. Conklin scored a touchdown in his first game with his new team and proceeded to see 24 targets over his first three games of the season. While many of the top tight ends were struggling to start the season, Conklin was looking like a potential difference-maker at the position after just a few weeks with his new team…and then reality hit.

Conklin would catch just 19 passes over the Jets’ eight-game span from Week 5 through Week 12. This horrendous stretch was followed up by a mediocre end-of-the-season run as well, which resulted in Conklin finishing outside of TE1 range and miles away from being an actual difference-maker at the position. At this point, we know what Conklin is-a starting-caliber NFL tight end who has his moments, but is way too inconsistent to be relied upon for fantasy purposes.

Some have pointed to the Jets’ quarterback upgrade as being a reason to be back in on Conklin as a late-round tight end and while it’s hard to deny that the rising tide of Aaron Rodgers joining the team should lift all boats, it’s also true that Rodgers hasn’t historically targeted his tight ends at a very high rate. Robert Tonyan and Jermichael Finley have both had outlier seasons in the touchdown department when playing with Rodgers, which isn’t out of the question for Conklin, but neither player scored more than five touchdowns in any other season other than their one standout campaign.

There are just too many other options with higher upside than Conklin for him to be considered in normal fantasy drafts.

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