New York Jets: 2015 Outlook

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New York Jets

By Mark Morales-Smith, Friday, September 12, 2014

In his rookie season, Geno Smith showed why he slipped out of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Much like his day at West Virgina, Smith was wildly inconsistent and was a turnover machine. Smith threw just 12 touchdowns to go along with 21 interceptions and seven fumbles. These numbers resulted in a 35.9 QBR. While Michael Vick is clearly the superior quarterback, Smith is expected to be the Jets' starter. He has been taking 75-percent of the snaps with the starting unit this offseason. His passing numbers are miserable; however, Smith is a decent runner. He carried the ball 72 times for six TDs and 366 yards. He lacks elite speed, yet defenses have to respect his ability to take off out of the pocket. Smith did have a few big fantasy weeks against Buffalo, Atlanta and a tough Cleveland defense. He also went from October 20th to December 8th without throwing a single touchdown pass and that just can't happen again if he wants to keep his job. With awful play like this, Smith can't be trusted to put up respectable numbers. Even with new weapons like free agent WR Eric Decker and rookie TE Jace Amaro, Smith is at best a desperation fill-in; and if he falters, don't be surprised if the Jets call upon Vick. Rex Ryan wants to win now and he most likely won't hesitate to move on from Smith if he has another bad season.

Chris Ivory has always put up solid numbers, but has had a hard time staying on the field. Ivory was relatively healthy in 2013, though. Ivory's touches will be limited thanks to the arrival of Chris Johnson. While Ivory averages almost five yards a carry for his career, he has never carried the ball more than 182 times in a season. Ivory is a non-factor in the passing game, which really hurts his PPR value. How the Jets divide up carries is yet to be seen, but expect Johnson to be the top guy in New York. Ivory will also have to contend with Bilal Powell and Daryl Richardson. Ivory will likely lead the Jets in yards per carry; however, Johnson will lead this backfield in fantasy points. Ivory should be drafted as a bench player and maybe even left on the waiver wire in PPR.

This former Louisville running back has been a disappointment since being drafted by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Powell is averaging 3.9 yards per carry in his career and has never rushed for 700 yards or scored more than five touchdowns in a season. Now Powell finds himself on the outside looking in at a two-headed monster of Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory. Powell's biggest success in the Jets' offense was catching passes out of the backfield last season. He was clearly the superior receiver between himself and Ivory. In 2014, Chris Johnson will surely fill that role and thus push Powell further to the fringes of the game. This leaves Powell in limbo. Unless Johnson gets injured, don't expect Powell to have much fantasy relevance. In a crowded Jets backfield, Powell is not draft worthy in any format because of his limited role in the offense.

STUD OR DUD?: Eric Decker put up excellent fantasy numbers in Denver. He had over 1,000 yards and double digit touchdowns in both seasons with Peyton Manning as his quarterback. There's a big question about Decker though. Was he a product of that prolific Peyton Manning offense, or does he have the talent to be a top fantasy contributor while with the Jets? While there's no doubt Geno Smith isn't in the same stratosphere as Manning, it is more important to see how Decker adjusts to being the No. 1 WR role with no other receivers talented enough to draw away coverage. Decker should lead the Jets in targets, though. He definitely doesn't have to worry about Demaryius Thomas or Wes Welker taking away targets. He also doesn't have them to draw away attention, so Decker will be on his own to create his own success. 2014 will be a make-or-break season for Decker and other Jets like Smith, Michael Vick and Chris Johnson. Decker left Denver to be a No. 1 WR and got paid by the Jets to do so. One stat that stands out for Decker is that with Tim Tebow running the show, Decker still caught eight TDs. Decker is a very hard player to judge, but being a top target should make him valuable enough to draft as a high WR3. Even if the former Minnesota Gopher doesn't live up to expectations, a high volume of targets should keep him from completely flopping.

Editor's note: The drop from Manning to Smith or Vick is huge. Everybody understands that. The Jets' offense is pathetic. Everybody understands that. Has the market overcorrected in evaluating Decker's potential though? Decker is a very good receiver and is the unquestioned leader here. He is currently being drafted one spot ahead of rookie WR Mike Evans as a WR3. That's a bit extreme. Decker can outpace that ADP. Sometimes being the best receiver on a bad team can work out statistically.

Jeremy Kerley may be the most underrated of all the Jets' receivers. In 2013, Kerley caught 43 passes and three TDs in just 12 games. He is not a top-flight WR, but has the potential to be a nice slot receiver with the occasional production to be a blip on the fantasy radar. Don't be shocked if after Eric Decker, Kerley is the Jets' second-best fantasy receiver. Until the Jets improve immensely on offense, Kerley is nothing more than another name on the waiver wire.

The strongest aspect of Stephen Hill's game is his excellent downfield speed. This has not yet translated well for fantasy owners. Hill is a big, fast receiver that was a star at the 2012 NFL Combine. The issue is he runs poor routes and has terrible hands. The Jets drafted Hill in the second round and Hill has not caught more than 30 passes in a season. Hill had every opportunity last year to be the Jets' top guy and never came close to fulfilling that role. Even standing 6-foot-4, Hill only caught one touchdown in 12 games last season. His durability is a bit of an issue as wekk. He has missed at least four games in each season with the Jets. Hill has little to no fantasy value and should only be a consideration in very deep leagues. He is barely one of the Jets' five best receivers.

Editor's note: If the planets align and Hill finally gets it together, he has the athleticism to be a fantasy starter. Though, that's asking a lot from a guy who struggles in just about every way when it comes to being a receiver (except for running fast).

DYNASTY PROSPECT: The rookie out of Texas Tech, Jace Amaro has impressive speed for his 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame. In 2013, Amaro broke the NCAA record for yards by a tight end in a single season with 1,329 yards. Amaro can create serious mismatches. He is a very good receiver and played mostly out of the slot in college. He will need to improve dramatically as a blocker. He really struggled in minicamp and was noticeably frustrated at times. He dealt with a number of ugly drops and (at times) looked completely lost in the Jets' offense. Amaro has the potential to be a big-time fantasy tight end and deserves a good long look in all leagues. Jace Amaro is a TE2, with huge upside to become a TE1. He should be drafted in all leagues, but is a must in dynasty leagues.

Cumberland is a decent receiver and performed admirably last season in the red zone. Since the Jets drafted rookie TE Jace Amaro, Cumberland will most likely be relegated to backup duty and when the Jets want to bulk up on rushing downs. If Amaro is injured or needs time to develop, Cumberland would be the go-to guy, although that doesn't amount to much because of the Jets' offensive limitations. Look elsewhere for your backup TE.

Nick Folk had a very good year in 2013. Folk connected on 91.7-percent of his kicks, going 33-of-36. He added 27 extra points and has plenty of leg to kick them from beyond 50 yards. Folk makes the most out of his opportunities and that's all you can ask for in a kicker. He may be the best weapon the Jets have and should be drafted as a mid- to low- K1.

The Jets are a borderline DST2. The Jets' fantasy defense was not good in 2013, but expect Rex Ryan's defense to bounce back in 2014. Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and defensive rookie of the year Sheldon Richardson are as formidable as any duo in the NFL. Expect them to make it very hard for opposing offenses to run on them and they will wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage. The Jets' linebackers are not great; however, they are sure-tacklers and know how to play within the defense. The secondary is a huge question mark. Cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis are long gone. The Jets signed free agent CB Dimitri Patterson, a playmaker that has a tendency to get burned at times. They also drafted hard-hitting Louisville safety Calvin Pryor in the first round, and Maryland corner Dexter McDougle in the third round. McDougle is expected to compete against inconsistent corner Kyle Wilson for the nickel position. 2013 first round pick Dee Milliner will most likely be the starter opposite Patterson. They also have veteran safety Dawan Landry, who could make a formidable duo when teamed with Pryor. The Jets are hoping a dominant defensive line can mask a young and inexperienced secondary. They will likely be left on waivers in most leagues.