By: Mike O’Connor, Staff Writer
As we turn the corner into the heat of summer within the next couple of weeks, Fantasy Football and all of its anxiety looms large. Whether you’re a fanatical fantasy team owner, or just a casual draft-then ignore type of owner, a little bit of reference and advice can only help.
Predicting what Jets might see fantasy success or the contrary in 2013 is an eye-opening scene. The questionable depth that still litters the roster is evident when doing so, and some no-names to casual NFL fans might be relevant in the fantasy world just because the Jets should give them a shot this year. With that said, here’s a breakdown on the valuable and passable Jet targets this year in fantasy.
Studs- go grab them when you can:
Chris Ivory- (Top Tier RB2 Potential):
Sigh. It’s obvious the 2013 Jets are in a sad state in the fantasy department when a late acquisition is the top and only possible fantasy stud on the roster. In fact, I might even be stretching the term “stud” to describe Ivory’s fantasy potential this year.
Don’t get me wrong, however, I’m a believer in Ivory this year. Had Mike Goodson gone full circle with his idiocy and gotten cut, then Ivory would be a sure-fire first round running back target, in my mind. Even with Goodson still lingering, Ivory will be fed carries like he’s never even had dreams of back in New Orleans. Shonn Greene saw a healthy 276 carries in 2012, even with Bilal Powell stealing considerable carries at the end of the year and the coaching staff giving Mark Sanchez far too many attempts.
Ivory is a near lock to emulate those carries with the coaching staff well aware of the development needed out of the quarterback position this year. Whether Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith (or both get a shot) are starting, it’s unrealistic to think that either one will surpass the 453 attempts Sanchez had last year. While it isn’t a crazy number of throws, I believe the running game will really be a focal point this year, at least until Smith or Sanchez hit a rhythm at some point.
The one thing that’s hard to determine is how serious the team is going to treat Mike Goodson’s arrest. Granted, Ivory should get healthy carries anyways, but we could be looking at a massive breakout year and sufficient “RB1″ potential if the coaching staff leaves Goodson to play the Joe McKnight fiddle (under 3 touches a game outside of returns).
In the end, even some fantasy gurus out there are ignoring the fact that Chris Ivory could literally be a savior in New York this fall. He’s going to get his fair share of carries, the passing attack won’t carry the team whether Smith or Sanchez are at the helm, and oh, right; Ivory has been misused on a deep depth chart all of his NFL career. His ceiling at only 26 years old is practically unpredictable, but the possibilities with Ivory are endless. In all seriousness, it would be hard to over-draft Ivory this summer. Your friends might be in hysterics if you take him in the late first, but they might be bowing down to you if he exceeds his potential as a capable “RB2,” which is very plausible. Consider him in the second round in any type of leagues, and he’s a must-draft anytime afterwards.
Value Steals- draft them timely and they’ll provide worth:
Jeremy Kerley- (Solid Flex/WR3 option):
I hopped on Kerley’s fantasy bandwagon in the middle of the 2012 season, and the young pup provided me with a number of quality, 7-15 point starts in standard leagues. Kerley is only rising in the fantasy game coming into the 2013 season. While he should and will surpass his marks of 56 catches for 827 yards and two touchdowns regardless, I think Kerley will smash those statistics if Geno Smith starts the majority of games this season.
I’ve mentioned before how I see Kerley as the perfect type of receiver for Geno. He is a very crafty route runner, aids his quarterback by getting open on awry plays, and shocks with how consistent his discipline and catching ability are, despite his small frame. Notice how these qualities are very similar to those of Stedman Bailey, a favorite of mine, and a favorite target of Smith’s a West Virginia in 2011 and 2012.
Some say that Kerley is limited to the slot due to his lack of explosiveness and top-gear speed. While I see where these fans are coming from, I have to disagree. Kerley is so effective with his versatile route tree that he proved he can play outside last year. Lastly, the fact of the matter is that Kerley stays healthy, and he will be depended on among a thin receiving corps.
Kerley might be shooting off boards as the community’s favorite sleeper this year, but I encourage you to be that guy. If you wide receiver depth is waning or you want to go for some ripe upside, Kerley’s your guy.
Santonio Holmes- (WR3 or Spot Starter):
I actually really like what Holmes has to offer in his pursuit back to relevance from his Lisfranc injury last season. He might not be healthy by the time the season starts (I actually had a Lisfranc break this year, and they’re really awful), but he will be sitting on boards for a very long time this year. Holmes can still play at a high level, and he could provide some quality starts.
There’s really not much to say about Holmes. We’ll all be exposed to his actual value in fantasy when he plays 100% again after the injury. However, there’s no doubt that he will slide heavily. If he’s there in the last five or so rounds, take a good look at him. At the end of the year, upside can kill a team, whereas Holmes could be a proven, quality flex start at that stage.
Bilal Powell- (Ivory handcuff, flex start):
Powell might end up a more successful fantasy player than Mike Goodson this year, and even if that’s not the case, he surely provides more value. Goodson is a risk at any range where he’ll be at the top of people’s board, considering nobody but the coaching staff knows how much of a role he is going to play in 2013.
The third year product in Powell, on the other hand, will provide a steady amount of carries throughout the year. He’s never going to blow up your league with a shock game unless Chris Ivory goes down with a significant injury, but he will get Ivory’s goal line carries when the former Saint needs a breather. Not to mention, ignore that filthy feeling you get when you draft a backup based on the chances that the starter goes down. Ivory’s medical past isn’t totally spotless at all, so it’s perfectly acceptable to take a gamble with Powell in the later rounds as a possible flex start and maybe even more.
Let ‘Em Go- they’re either not worth the value or just ill-advised picks:
Any Jet Quarterback:
Yes, even you Matt Simms! Any Jet quarterback should be off limits for you in your draft adventures this year. If you want to win, they won’t get it done. If you want to be clever, they will never give you an accurate reason to start them. In fact, nither Sanchez or Geno Smith is even worth your value.
Mark Sanchez is just a bad idea to start with. I’m actually a believer in him this year if he were to start, as some of you may already know, but he’s not going to be anything more than the sturdy game manager on any given Sunday. Even if he adapted extremely well to Marty Mornhinweg’s West Coast offense, his opportunity won’t be of the value to take a desperate swing on. Let him pass to a friend living in 2010, or just let him fall in the undrafted pit of Free Agents.
In regards to Geno Smith, I understand that you might want to take a shot at his upside. However, I urge you not to be that guy. This is the classic case where somebody in your league will surely be dumber than the rest of the pack and think he’s a genius for drafting the next Andrew Luck in the mid rounds. First of all, Geno will get the same exact mediocre opportunity in a run-first offense that Sanchez will if he wins the job. Additionally, the chances of Smith coming out of the gate on fire are unbelievable slim. All in all, it’s just not worth the shot in the dark with a Jets quarterback when somebody else will be that eager owner, anyways.
It’s as simple as this with McKnight: we keep on waiting for him to get a bigger chance on the team, and not just return kicks. At this point, he simply isn’t going to get this chance. Frankly, he doesn’t deserve it, either. He wasn’t as consistent returning the ball as he was in 2011, and he had fumbling problems worse than he originally did when he was drafted. McKnight isn’t worth a late round pickup or even a look mid-season, unless you’re taking part in some obscure league with odd points handed out for kick return yardage. Don’t even look in this corner if you’re in a standard league.
There’s not a lot to say here that hasn’t been said. Goodson slipped up in dramatic fashion this offseason, when he had finally gotten the big break his career was thirsty for. Chances are his role is going to be shrunk considerably because of it, and if not, Chris Ivory is still going to be the man. Besides, boards will have him ranked higher than he should be even considered, anyways because of his upside in strictly PPR (Points Per Reception) leagues. Don’t bother with Goodson and let him finish his time-out.
Tab Them: keep your eyes on these players for breakthroughs-
The curious case of Stephen Hill returns for a sophomore season, and it should be an eventful one. With the Jets’ receiver depth still thin, Hill should be on everybody’s tabs just because he should get a decent amount of targets, even with his poor play last year in his rookie season.
We could be looking at Hill by mid-season as a player who broke out of his “not NFL-ready” shell, and a touchdown machine. His main focus will be in the red zone if he breaks out of this shell or not, because there’s no doubt about the playing time he’ll still manage. Just because of the upside still dripping from his senior year at Georgia Tech, Hill should be on your tabs for a low-key trade or maybe even a Free Agent pickup mid-season. Remember, check your league’s waiver wire. Hill could be one of those guys you want if he’s hot and facing a favorable matchup.
Don’t get to riled up; I’m only throwing Cumberland in here for the sake of giving the Jets’ current starting tight end a chance. Personally, I’m not expecting much out of Cumberland this year. He’s an inconsistent talent who is a poor blocker and a very unaware player. However, he still possesses some upside, especially in the red zone.
It’s remarkable to think that a starting tight end will go undrafted across the consensus of fantasy leagues, but this is probably the case. If you’re in a deeper league, scan your waiver wire to give Cumberland a look if he makes something out of his grand opportunity this year.
Your newest Jet (free agent signed last week) hasn’t been relevant in fantasy football since 2010, but anything can happen on the 2013 Jets. Once again, the wide receiver corps is undeniably thin, and Obomanu could simply be that player who breaks out and makes an opportunity count for something. He’ll surely go undrafted in nearly every league out there, but we’ve all seen crazier fantasy-related things happen.
So, I’d say the Jets would rank in this order for when they should be targeted:
1. Chris Ivory
2. Jeremy Kerley
3. Stephen Hill
4. Santonio Holmes
5. Mike Goodson
6. Geno Smith
7. Bilal Powell
8. Mark Sanchez
9. Jeff Cumberland
10. Nick Folk
11. Clyde Gates
12. Ben Obomanu
Good luck with your drafting, guys. And remember; never be that guy who drafts a kicker before the last two rounds. It will never- I repeat, never- be worth it.