In an on-again, off-again relationship reminiscent of Ross and Rachael from ‘Friends,’ Jets management and Ryan Fitzpatrick finally exchanged vows after a months-long impasse. Now with the Magic back and given the team’s proposed RBBC, a number of prominent fantasy names have lingering question marks. In this edition of ‘The Stance,’ Brad Evans and Dalton Del Don touch on all things J-E-T-S!
Writers close to the organization reported in recent days Matt Forte’s workload will be curtailed this year, prompting concerns a timeshare system will be implemented. OVER/UNDER average touches per game for the former Bear 14.9?
Brad – OVER, barely. Forte may be long in the tooth, but as displayed last season, there’s still bounce in his step. As recent reports have indicated, he won’t return to his 20 touch per game heyday. However, the well-aged rusher, despite a gradual decline in yards after contact (’15: 2.2, ’14: 2.2, ’13: 2.4), remains slick in space (No. 11 in evaded tackles in ’15) and highly impactful as a receiver.
Bilal Powell is a younger mirror image of Forte. He’s versatile, sure-handed and effective on all downs. He’s a necessary handcuff and an overlooked asset at his 132.1 (RB46) ADP, but I suspect he’ll only supplant the No. 1 roughly 10-12 times per game, relegating Forte to some 15-16 touches per contest (240-260 on season). Recall a year ago, Jets RBs averaged exactly 30 touches per game in Chan Gailey’s offense. Do the math.
The fantasy community’s general coolness on Forte makes him a rock solid value, especially in PPR leagues. Gailey’s snap management plan for the veteran could be a blessing. He’s more than capable of totaling 1,200-1,300 combined yards and 6-8 scores with a weak-armed QB chucking him passes. Snag him with confidence in Round 4.
Dalton – OVER. I question whether a 30-year-old back with 2,000+ career carries can last throughout the season, but in the games in which he does play, I expect him to eclipse this mark. Forte averaged 20.2 touches last year, and that was for a Bears team that scored just 20.9 points per game (the Jets scored 24.9).
There’s been speculation of a time-share, but pretty much every backfield in the league incorporates some sort of a committee these days, and the competition in Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson are far from workhorse material. Forte can be on the field all three downs (his 8.8 yards-per-catch mark last year was higher than his career average), and while again I wouldn’t bet on him playing 16 games at this stage of his career, he’ll be given plenty of touches in those he suits up for.
Now with Fitzpatrick finally under contract, Brandon Marshall owners can exhale. So, is the wide receiver OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED or PROPERLY VALUED at his current 26.1 (WR13) ADP?
Dalton – UNDERVALUED. Yes he’s 32 years old, but we are talking about a receiver who had 109 catches for 1,502 yards with 14 touchdowns (the latter tying for an NFL high) last season. Sure, he’s likely to regress in 2016, but he can do a fair amount of that and still be a top-10 fantasy wideout. He has to compete for looks with Eric Decker, but the Jets rarely throw to anyone else downfield, as Marshall’s 173 targets last season were the fifth most in the NFL.
Marshall has a strong rapport with Fitzpatrick, showed up to camp lighter and in great shape and is peppered in scoring situations (his 25 targets inside the red zone last season ranked third in football). He’s currently my No. 8 ranked fantasy wide receiver, so his ADP looks like a bargain.
Brad – UNDERVALUED. Fitzpatrick’s signing clears up Marshall’s previously murky waters. Praise the fantasy gods! Geno Smith, who would struggle against a blindfolded Ball St. team, would have greatly handicapped the Jets offense.
At this juncture, Marshall is a slam dunk top-20 overall selection in PPR settings and a top-10 pick among wideouts. The guy has racked at least 80 receptions and 1,000 yards in eight of his last nine years. At 32, he’s one of the game’s premier hogs (30.5 percent TGT share in ’15) who should easily exceed 150 targets. He’s also still brutishly strong, evidenced by his excellent contested catch rate last year.
New York’s other tower, Eric Decker, remains on the outside looking in of the WR top-24, in ADP terms (59.5, WR27), despite his No. 11 landing spot at the position in total points last year. Finish the following MAD LIB: Decker’s current standing in average drafts is ______. (Adjective)
Dalton – LOW. I get that it’s tougher to count on touchdowns than yardage, especially with wideouts, but as previously mentioned, Fitzpatrick really only throws to Decker and Marshall. Despite missing a game last season, Decker’s 29 red-zone targets tied for the NFL lead, and his 16 looks inside the 10-yard line put him in first by himself.
That’s a pretty good recipe to score, even if he’s not a strong bet to gain much more than a 1,000 receiving yards. Decker has scored 11 or more touchdowns in three of his past four seasons, has yet to turn 30 and should be viewed as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver.
Brad – INFINITELY LUDICROUS. With Harvard’s favorite football son back, Decker is grossly undervalued in any format. He’s dangerous downfield, reliable in the red-zone and an overall consistency king. Last fall, he crossed the chalk in 12 of 15 games, the same number of times he netted double-digit standard leagues points. Digging deeper, he ranked No. 1 in red-zone targets share (38.2) and No. 2 in contested catch rate at the position. Overall, he was the 11th-most valuable wideout.
Yes, Fitzpatrick’s ancillary measurements don’t lend confidence for a repeat (e.g. completion percentage and yards per attempt), but the romance novel coverboy should find the end-zone at least 9-10 times this year. He’s a dreamy WR2 available at a WR3 price.