This team ... gah.
I don't really have anything nice to say about the Jets' offense, but I still need to post something. Honestly, the only reason I've ranked this group so high in the Juggernaut Index is that I haven't wanted to write about them, ever. I almost slotted them last. I considered omitting them altogether — just skipping a team from the NFL's biggest market, hoping no one noticed.
But of course someone would have noticed. You guys always notice errors and omissions, so that was never going to be a viable option.
Still, Rex Ryan's team gets so much press as it is, they don't really need me to toss a fantasy spin into the vortex. Let's just deal quickly with this steaming green mess, then speak of it no more.
The dude pictured above was of course the marquee offseason addition in New York. As I understand it, Tim Tebow's primary role is to improve the one aspect of the Jets' offense that does not need improving: Red-zone production. New York ranked second in the league in red-zone scoring percentage last season, behind only Detroit, just ahead of Green Bay and New England. And this is the thing they've decided to fix.
So Tebow opens the year as a key supporting player, a guy who will be featured in Wildcat packages and who will occasionally trot onto the field when his team gets near the goal line. Tony Sparano, the Jets new offensive coordinator, has a history of Wildcattery, so I'm sure he's pleased to have the new weapon. The rest of the team is still scarred by this play, so they're happy to have Tim on their side, too.
Fantasy wise, Tebow's red zone-specialist role would seem to kneecap both Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene — not that you were expecting huge seasons from either player, but still.
Last year, Sanchez actually finished as the No. 10 fantasy quarterback in standard leagues, thanks mostly to his six rushing touchdowns. He was otherwise an ordinary QB, with a dash of recklessness: 3474 passing yards, 26 TDs, 18 interceptions, eight lost fumbles. Those six rushing scores were from short-range, where Tebow will presumably poach carries in 2012. Sanchez is basically an afterthought in fantasy drafts as he enters his fourth pro season. It's tough to build a case for him in our game, except in two-quarterback leagues ... and even there, I might prefer Tebow. It's close.
Sanchez is the incumbent starter, of course, and he can keep Tebow on the sidelines if he manages to play the way you'd expect a former fifth overall draft pick to play. But few of us are betting on that outcome, not at this stage. The Jets' early-season schedule sure looks brutal — vs. Buffalo, at Pittsburgh, at Miami, vs. San Francisco, vs. Houston — so it's easy to imagine a scenario where Tebow takes over in October.
New York's receiving corps is a relatively unimpressive group that won't get much of a boost from the quarterback position, no matter which dude is behind center. Santonio Holmes is a legit talent coming off an eight-touchdown season; he needed all eight of those scores to save his fantasy value, because he only caught 51 balls for 654 yards. We're drafting Holmes as merely a low-end WR3 (ADP 98.9, WR37), and he can't really burn you if your expectations are that modest. It would be easier to hype depth chart wideouts Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley if the team context were less-dreadful. Tight end Dustin Keller is coming off his best NFL season (65-815-5), as he finished tenth at his position in per-game scoring in 2011. If he can duplicate those numbers, his drafters should be thrilled; there's no way I'd take Keller ahead of mid-to-late guys like Jacob Tamme, Brent Celek and Jermaine Gresham.
Georgia Tech rookie receiver Stephen Hill is definitely a player of interest for dynasty owners, as he has a tremendous combination of size (6-foot-4), speed (4.31), and athleticism (39.5-inch vert). He caught just 28 passes last season in Tech's not-at-all-pro-style offense, but gained a whopping 29.3 yards per reception. A few of his catches were of the highest quality, too. There's little doubt that he's a high-ceiling player, but, again, you can't like his QB situation. In his first season, he's simply an end-of-draft flier for non-dynasty owners.
I'm often told by blog commenters and other smart people that touchdowns can't be predicted, but you guys can take this to the [expletive] bank: Shonn Greene won't score them. He has just 10 over his three-year career. Greene is a plodder, the unrivaled master of the 20-carry, 72-yard game. He doesn't catch enough passes or see enough targets to help PPR owners. But Greene is the lead back in New York's offense, so he's going to be drafted fairly early. Flex him if you really need to, but don't think of him as anything more. Backup Joe McKnight might be the closest thing the Jets have to a big-play threat in the backfield, and he'll get a shot to fill LaDainian Tomlinson's old role (75 carries, 42 catches in 2011). If the training camp and preseason reports remain positive, I'll pick up a few McKnight shares, simply because he's a New York running back who isn't Shonn Greene. Second-year back Bilal Powell and sixth-round rookie Terrance Ganaway are next on the depth chart. Powell was barely a rumor last season (and a bad one at that: 13 carries, 21 yards); Ganaway is coming off a terrific collegiate season at Baylor (1547 yards, 21 TDs), but he runs quite a bit like a Greene clone (not a good thing).
During the most passer-friendly era in NFL history, the Jets have decided to be a run-heavy team — and last year, they weren't particularly good at running the football. New York averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 2011, third-worst in the league. That number needs to improve substantially if the Jets are going to compete for anything more than another 8-win season. Maybe the recent addition of RT Jeff Otah will help, but he's missed 31 of his last 35 games due to knee issues. Otah is a nice-enough name, a former first-round pick, but the guy can't help if he can't play.
New York's defense has ranked among the NFL's top-five in terms of fewest yards-allowed in each of the past three seasons, yet they haven't quite been a fantasy difference-maker. It's a useful group, but not elite. They enter the season at No. 10 in the Yahoo! composite ranks, which is exactly where they finished in standard scoring leagues last year.
And that's all I intend to say about this team. Glad to be done with them. I've been involved in several mock drafts during the offseason, and I don't think I've yet selected a Jet. If you absolutely have to have one, I will not stand in your way.
If this Juggernaut post was not rosy enough for you, please visit the comments section and spread some J-E-T-S! sunshine...
2011 team stats: 23.6 PPG (NFL rank 13), 105.8 rush YPG (22), 221.4 pass YPG (20), 25.59 yards/drive (28), 0.141 turnovers/drive (21)