2019 Jets fantasy football team preview: Is Gang Green poised to break out?

Andy Behrens

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the New York Jets.

The New York Jets are making a conscious effort to maximize the maturation and production of young quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold flashed moments of greatness in 2018, especially late in the season and when he received solid protection by the line in front of him.

Now, paired with former fantasy darling Le’Veon Bell at running back and offensive coach Adam Gase, the team is hoping Darnold can take the next step — but what does it mean for fantasy football?

New York Jets team preview
New York Jets team preview

Le’Veon in Gotham

After a year off spent riding jet skis, recording crappy rap songs and packing on the pounds, Le’Veon Bell is recharged and ready to refocus on football in his first season with the Jets. BUY or SELL the notion he’s a top-eight fantasy RB this fall?

Brad: BUY. Last year’s hiatus should be viewed positively. The time off likely preserved Bell’s overworked body. Those who believe the former fantasy king has a wrapped leg in the sarcophagus are misinformed. He’s hardly mummified.

Refreshed, refocused and hopefully trimmed down, Bell will shine again for those who draft him. There’s little doubt about his projected volume. He should easily secure 300 touches, many coming in the pass game. Behind an improved offensive line and with Sam Darnold’s ascension, it’s entirely plausible he finishes between 1500-1700 combined yards with 9-12 touchdowns. It’s why he’s my RB4 in .5 PPR. At his early 10.6 (RB8) ADP, he’s a spectacular near-turn investment.

Andy: Sure, I’ll BUY. Bell landed in a spot in which he remains a foundational back, a no-doubt full-workload player in line for 300-plus touches. At his best, he’s one of the most inventive runners in the game. New York upgraded the O-line in the offseason, which certainly helps Bell’s outlook. Sam Darnold was a fun watch last year, particularly in the closing weeks, so I’m generally bullish on this team in 2019. No one should be surprised if Le’Veon delivers 1600-plus scrimmage yards and 9-10 touchdowns.

Can Sam Darnold shine under Adam Gase?

Sam Darnold was the youngest starting QB in Week 1 of the 2018-19 NFL season. A year older, after a strong finish to his rookie campaign and under the tutelage of Adam Gase, OVER or UNDER 25.5 Darnold passing touchdowns this fall?

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Andy: Twelve different quarterbacks reached this number last season, so I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable. Gimme the OVER. After the additions of Bell and Jamison Crowder, this receiving corps can stress opposing defenses at every level. Darnold was dealing in his four games last December (6 TDs, INT), making him a clear breakout candidate in his second pro season. Assuming good health, I think he can deliver, say, 3800 yards and 28 scores.

Liz: OVER. Darnold managed 17 scores in 13 games last season, averaging 1.3 TDs per contest. Noting that pace, had he played a full 16 game season, the former Trojan would have fallen short of the aforementioned line by just four TDs. Additionally, over the last four weeks of the season, Darnold’s completion percentage shot to 64 percent and he tossed six scores (with just 1 INT). With Quincy Enunwa back to health and recognizing the additions of Jamison Crowder as well as Le’Veon Bell, I’m buying on his ability to flirt with 30 TDs in 2019.

Battle of offensive weapons

Which receiving Jet cranks out the most profitable return on investment: Robby Anderson (105.2 ADP, WR38) or Chris Herndon (132.9 ADP, TE14)?

Liz: ANDERSON. Sam Darnold’s favorite target in the red area of the field, Anderson drew 11 end zone looks (WR8) in 2018. He may not have been the fantasy dynamo that he was in 2017, but given the change in QB and the fact that he played through nagging foot/ankle injuries a top-thirty-six fantasy finish was rather impressive. Additionally, after Darnold returned over the last four weeks of the season, Anderson hauled in nearly six balls per game with an average of two red zone looks per contest. While more pass-catching weapons have been added to the Jets offense, none of them can high-point in the end zone like the Temple product.

Brad: ANDERSON. This is no knock on Herndon, whom I believe has TE1 potential in 12-team leagues and is slightly discounted, but the speedster’s ceiling is measurably higher. Remember Anderson’s intoxicating fantasy playoff run last season? Weeks 14-16 against the Bills, Texans, and Packers he totaled a ridiculous 31 targets, 20 receptions, 312 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Only DeAndre Hopkins proved more valuable during the stretch.

If Darnold builds off his strong finish to 2018, Anderson is destined to top his career-best WR16 .5 PPR production from 2017 (63-941-7). He’s more than your standard deep threat. Logging roughly 22-23 percent of the target share isn’t out of the question.

Best Ball Bargain Bin

Brad: JAMISON CROWDER. Once promoted as a PPR snake in the grass, Crowder was more garter than python with Washington. Injuries and QB incompetence plagued him. But the slot man, an afterthought in early drafts (172.1 ADP, WR67), could turn a tidy profit. Still only 26 and a year removed from high-end WR4 numbers, he’s a quality late-round stab.

Liz: Evans is spot-on that CROWDER possesses the most likely ROI, but for the sake of argument I’ll mention ELIJAH MCGUIRE. On IR to start his 2018 campaign, McGuire made his season debut in Week 9. He took over the RB1 job in Week 14 after Isaiah Crowell went down. Over the last four weeks of the season, McGuire averaged nearly 20 touches per contest with over 22 percent of his carries occurring in the red zone. Obviously, he’s the No. 2 to Bell, but were the former Steeler to go down with an injury (which is entirely possible given the amount of rust he’s accumulated over the past year-plus) McGuire would see an expanded role.

Mad Bets (Via FanDuel Sportsbook): New York Jets 7 wins OVER (-167) or UNDER (+135)

Andy: OVER. This team had an excellent offseason, featuring massive offensive and defensive upgrades. Darnold is a clear keeper, too. I won’t put the Jets in the playoffs just yet, but 8-8 seems doable.

Brad: OVER. It’s a pricey wager ($167 to win $100), but the appropriate lean. The Jets are far from the sports laughing stock in the Big Apple. Their gained respectability at multiple positions this offseason via free agency and draft moves combined with the second-easiest schedule based on projected Vegas win totals arrow to .500 or better.

More Fantasy Team Previews

AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots

NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Washington

AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans

NFC South: Buccaneers | Saints | Panthers | Falcons

AFC North: Bengals | Steelers | Ravens | Browns

NFC North: Lions | Vikings | Packers | Bears

AFC West: Chiefs | Chargers | Raiders | Broncos

NFC West: Rams | Cardinals | 49ers | Seahawks

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