This article is part of our Team Previews series.
New York Jets
Injuries and poor play made this an offense to avoid in fantasy last season, but an offseason makeover on the O-line should make life easier for third-year signal-caller Sam Darnold and veteran running back Le'Veon Bell. If those two find their groove, the rest of the attack will follow.
- WR Breshad Perriman (from Buccaneers)
Penciled into a starting role after a strong finish to 2019.
- QB Joe Flacco (from Broncos)
Provides the team with an accomplished veteran quarterback to back up Sam Darnold.
- WR Denzel Mims (Rd. 2, No. 59 – Baylor)
Slid in a deep receiver class but could start right away.
- RB Lamical Perine (Rd. 4, No. 120 – Florida)
The downhill runner and capable pass catcher will back up Le'Veon Bell.
- QB James Morgan (Rd. 4, No. 125 – Florida International)
A strong-armed project who's no threat to Darnold's starting spot.
- WR Robby Anderson (to Panthers)
The deep threat departs after three straight seasons with over 750 yards.
- RB Bilal Powell (FA)
Lifelong Jet is likely hanging up his cleats at 31 after a nine-year career.
- WR Demaryius Thomas (FA)
Moving on after turning in a 433-yard campaign in 2019.
A Look Under the Hood
Head Coach: Adam Gase (Year 2)
Offensive Coordinator: Dowell Loggains (Year 2) - West Coast Offense
Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams (Year 2) - 3-4 scheme
2020 Vegas Projected Wins: 6.5 (T-25th)
2019 Record: 7-9
2019 Points Scored: 276 (31st)
2019 Points Allowed: 359 (16th)
2019 Point Differential: -83 (25th)
2019 Run-Play Rate: 40.1 percent (18th)
2019 Situation-Neutral Pace: 30.60 seconds per play (16th)
2019 Offensive Snaps: 956 (28th)
2019 PFF O-Line Ranking: No. 28
Projected 2020 Depth Chart
FB: Trevon Wesco
Who Will Catch the Ball?
Given the lack of a true No. 1 option, there will be opportunities abound for a number of the Jets' pass catchers to step up. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder was the team's top aerial producer in 2019, while third-year tight end Chris Herndon – who was limited by hamstring and rib injuries last season – is also expected to play a sizable role. Le'Veon Bell should contribute significantly as a receiver out of the backfield, but none of these three options will do much damage outside the numbers.
Replacing deep threat Robby Anderson with fellow burner Breshad Perriman has largely been viewed as a lateral move at best. But it's possible that Perriman's 506 yards and five touchdowns in his final five games of 2019 with the Buccaneers in fact represented a permanent step forward rather than just a flash in the pan from a player who has largely disappointed since being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft.
If Perriman fails to step up as the team's top outside receiver, the team could instead turn to rookie Denzel Mims, who boasts superb physical traits and college production but comes with questions about his hands and route running.
Better Blocking for Bell
After signing a four-year, $52.5 million deal to join Gang Green last year, Le'Veon Bell failed to record a carry of 20-plus yards and finished with a pedestrian 1,250 scrimmage yards on 245 carries and 66 catches.
Perhaps the three-time All-Pro running back lost a step at age 27 after sitting out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Steelers, but terrible offensive line play certainly had a role in his disappointing first year with the Jets.
Previous GM Mike Maccagnan picked a total of three offensive linemen in the five drafts between 2015 and 2019, but new GM Joe Douglas has made the team's O-line a priority. In addition to drafting left tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick, Douglas also signed guard Greg Van Roten, center/guard Connor McGovern and tackle George Fant in free agency, giving New York at least three new starters up front.
While all backs appreciate quality line play, Bell's patient running style is especially dependent on the players in front of him to open up holes. He also has averaged over 75 catches in his last three seasons on the field and should remain a prominent part of the passing game given the dearth of reliable options on the outside. Bell thus appears primed to bounce back after falling out of favor with fantasy managers over the last two campaigns.
Le'Veon Bell's patented patience didn't pay off in his first season with the Jets.
Sam's Time To Shine
It's easy to forget just how young Sam Darnold is, as Kyler Murray was the only NFL player born after Darnold to throw a pass last season. Already going into his third year as the Jets' starter despite having turned 23 in June, the third overall selection in the 2018 draft is still younger than fellow third-year pro Baker Mayfield was when he first stepped on the field with the Browns.
So, while Darnold has certainly experienced some growing pains and seen a few ghosts along the way, his 5,889 passing yards and 36:28 TD:INT through 26 games can be viewed as impressive, all things considered.
With what's likely to be the best pass protection of his short NFL tenure, Darnold is primed for a major step forward, even with a largely unproven receiving corps at his disposal. After missing three games apiece in both of his first two seasons with a foot injury and mononucleosis, respectively, he'll need to stay on the field in order to unlock his true potential.
We saw glimpses of Darnold's upside when he compiled 13 touchdowns versus four interceptions and two rushing scores en route a 6-2 record over the final eight games of 2019, but he now needs to prove capable of sustaining that level over a full season if he wants to ascend to the mantle of Jets franchise quarterback and into the fantasy QB1 discussion.
⬆️ Rising: TE Chris Herndon
Herndon posted 502 yards and four TDs as a rookie in 2018 but was limited to 18 snaps in a lost 2019 campaign. New York's top tight end should easily eclipse his rookie numbers if he can stay on the field.
⬇️ Falling: WR Quincy Enunwa
Enunwa, who has suffered two serious neck injuries in the last three years, is expected to spend the coming season on the team's physically unable to perform list, effectively dashing hopes that he'll mount a comeback.
😴 Sleeper: WR Denzel Mims
Mims is well-positioned to contribute right out of the gate in a thin receiving corps. The rookie second-rounder totaled 182 catches for 2,901 yards and 28 touchdowns over his last three years at Baylor.
🌟 Pivotal Player: Jamison Crowder
Crowder led the Jets in all major receiving categories last season, recording 78 catches for 833 yards and six TDs on 122 targets. While the team continues to search for answers with a new cast of characters on the outside, the 5-9 Crowder should remain quarterback Sam Darnold's most dependable target out of the slot.