Five Things to Watch for at New York Jets Training Camp
Look, I get it. No one is super excited about the Jets this year. The highest-drafted player on their team right now is Bilal Powell in the back of the sixth round. They finished last season 5-11, and their Vegas win total is currently set at 4.5 on Bovada.com for 2017. Many football and fantasy analysts have been stressing to press the under on that bet because they all see the Jets doing the same thing. Tanking. Whether or not the Jets’ front office ever admit to that, it does paint a grim picture for their season. Still, we’re going to still salvage some fantasy value from their squad if we can. So here are a few things to keep your eyes on at the Jets training camp.
1. Who Will Be at the Helm?
The beard is gone, and there is no more Fitz-magic. So this offseason the Jets signed oft-injured journeyman QB Josh McCown, and odds are that he will start the season for the Jets. He’s not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination, but he gets the job done. The only problem with McCown is that he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since … ever. This is partially due to him typically providing a fill-in QB role, and also due to his inevitable injuries.
The two other QBs currently in the Jets’ stable are Bryce Petty and 2016 second round draft pick Christian Hackenberg. Bryce Petty played in six games last season and did not impress, with a 56.4% completion percentage and a passer rating of 60. Beat reporters seem to agree that Hackenberg will push Petty to a roster bubble position this year, so pay attention during their training camp to see whether or not Hackenberg continues to develop. He also has an outside shot of beating Josh McCown for the starting job come Week 1, if he keeps working at perfecting an NFL offense.
2. Yeah, But Who Will Catch the Ball?
Honestly, outside of Quincy Enunwa, this WR corps is wide open. Enunwa put together a season with 58 receptions for 857 yards and four TDs in 2016 with horrendous QB play. You have to respect that a little bit. One guy that will be fighting for targets includes second-year undrafted free agent Robby Anderson, who played a role in last year’s passing offense. He is a raw receiver still, but does have some impressive workout metrics.
The only problem that Robby had was a low catch percentage (53.8% on 78 targets), but that may improve with better QB play. If he can develop as an NFL caliber receiver by polishing his routes and catching balls, he will be able to maintain or increase his role in the Jets’ offense.
A few more guys to listen for during camp and preseason include rookie ArDarius Stewart, a third rounder who played on the star studded Alabama team in college. He recently had thumb and groin surgeries, so he may not be a lock to fill the WR3 role until he’s fully healthy, but he has been practicing. So another guy that a few beat writers have pegged as the guy to beat is Charone Peake. He had a quiet rookie season for the Jets, catching only 19 balls for 186 yards and no TDs, but again there will be plenty of work to be had with Marshall and Decker both gone. The Jets are going to be trailing often this year, and that will lead to an increase in garbage time passing attempts.
3. Track That RB Tandem
This seems to be a bit of a polarizing backfield. The personnel here really didn’t change — it’s Bilal Powell and Matt Forte taking most of the rushing duties for the Jets once again. They actually did pretty well fantasy-wise last year, as the Jets were 13th in the league in rushing attempts. That kind of volume plays, so let’s take a look at where these guys are going quickly.
This is based on FantasyFootballCalculator.com‘s PPR ADP.
The biggest problem right now is knowing who is going to take the bulk of the carries in 2017. Bilal seems to be the fan favorite, but he is already 29 years old and does not have tons of experience leading a backfield. Although, when Forte went down to injury last year, he did provide a juicy four-game stretch to close the season. In that span, he tallied 552 scrimmage yards and three TDs. Powell does have more tread left than former Bears’ workhorse, Matt Forte.
Forte at his current price is worth a shot, but I’d recommend paying attention to camp reports and preseason games. This backfield could be a split right down the middle. Newly drafted rookie Elijah McGuire is known as receiving back himself. He’s not much of a power back either, so I doubt that he makes any kind of push for touches in this offense.
4. Can ASJ Bounce Back?
If you don’t know, ASJ is Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. It’s quite the mouthful, I know, so ASJ works. He was beginning to break out as a fantasy asset in Tampa Bay until injuries and trouble with the law (DUI) got in the way. So, the Bucs cut him and the Jets decided to take a flyer on him.
ASJ is a 6’6″, 262-pound athletic animal known to some as “Hercules.” He has a catch radius in the 90th percentile as calculated by Player Profiler. This guy was built to catch touchdowns. In 2015, Josh McCown targeted his TE, Gary Barnidge, 24 times in eight games in the red zone. He targets a big body when it counts.
ASJ has had tons of positive reports this offseason. He has reportedly been sober since January and trimmed down 25 pounds to a lean playing weight. The coaches and front office have shown their support and admiration for ASJ in OTAs. They plan to use the tight end more often in the coming season, something they haven’t done much in recent years.
He does have a two game suspension, so you might not even need to draft him. Just wait until Week 1 or 2 and scoop him up for free. ASJ might surprise people this year. To show you that I’m confident …
ASJ leads the team in receiving TDs. Don’t @ me.
— Kent Weyrauch (@CCNP_Kent) July 23, 2017
5. So … Will They Tank?
That remains to be seen. If Christian Hackenberg can come to fruition and develop into an NFL quarterback, then maybe the Jets aren’t in such a dire situation. There have been fantasy and NFL analysts that expect the Jets to tank in order to get a high pick for Sam Darnold, star QB at USC. According to Mike Clay, ESPN’s projection analyst, the Jets have the 31st strength of schedule based on current rosters.
It seems like this is going to be a three- or four-win team, at best. Something to consider when grabbing players from this team for your fantasy season. Most Jets players are fairly cheap right now in most formats, so consider them a low-risk, medium-reward opportunity in 2017.