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2016 Team Report: New York Jets

Quarterbacks

Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Backup(s): Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg [R], Bryce Petty

Starting QB: Now that Ryan Fitzpatrick settled for a one-year, $12 million contract ($15 with bonuses), he will likely take over the starting job, once again displacing Geno Smith. On the plus side, he knows the offense and is tight with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. And it shouldn't be hard to get in sync with a pro like Matt Forte. On the downside, he faces a much tougher schedule in 2016 than he did in 2015 and the first six games in particular are brutal. It's going to be very hard for him to play as effectively as he did in 2015.

Backup QB: For the second year in a row, Geno Smith takes a shot to the jaw, though this one was a mental hit. With Ryan Fitzpatrick back in the fold, there's a strong chance that Geno Smith will not only lose the starting job and perhaps might even be cut or traded. Her certainly won't be playing much unless Fitzpatrick plays badly, though given the schedule, he might still get a chance. Christian Hackenberg has the measurable and overall tools you need to succeed as a starting quarterback at an NFL level, and he showed he can play at high level in his freshman year. But then head coach Bill O'Brien left for the Houston Texans and Hackenberg's offense changed while his offensive line play fell apart. The result has been a propensity to see shadows and pressure when there is none and have accuracy issues where he really is pressured. He is a project and if Chan Gailey can't fix him, he may not be fixable. Bryce Petty reportedly made strides last year with the scout-team, but we haven't seen him in a competitive situation since the 2015 preseason. He works hard, has a decent arm and a sharp mind but is as big an unknown as Hackenberg at this point. Petty is the other potential option for the Jets in terms of cuts later this summer.

Running Backs

Starter: Matt Forte
Backup(s): Bilal Powell, Khiry Robinson, Bernard Pierce, Dominique Williams
Fullback(s): Tommy Bohanon, Julian Howsare [R]

Starting RB: The Jets ran the ball 386 times and threw it just 362 and we expect that ratio to be the same in 2016, which means 30-year old Matt Forte will get plenty of work as he takes over for the departed Chris Ivory. Forte has already said the team views him as an "every-down back" and that makes sense despite his age as the Jets don't have anyone else who definitely fits the bill. That said, Forte averaged 254 carries a year with Chicago, so even if the Jets give him all of Chris Ivory's carries (247) from 2015, he'll get a little less work. A versatile back who averaged more targets per year (77 per year) than any other Jets back (Powell had 63 last year), expect Forte to get most of those opportunities as well, though given the receiving talent he may not meet his average there either. It's hard to say how he and Powell will balance out the third down and passing down opportunities, as both are good pass-catchers and blockers, but we give Forte the edge given experience and flexibility. When Forte is on the field, the play can be run or pass, which will keep the defense guessing.

Backup RBs: Bilal Powell will get to give Forte a little break now and then, but we're not sure how much. They aren't paying him a lot less than Forte (3-years, $11.25 vs. Forte's 3-year, $12 mill) but his dead cap space and overall cap hit are much less. How much that factors into the distribution of snaps is hard to say, but we still give the edge to Forte barring injury. If Forte goes down or struggles, we expect Powell to get more of the load, though Khiry Robinson would get a lot of short yardage work. Robinson is limited to that role, for the most part and is coming off a broken leg. Bernard Pierce is a journeyman who was signed when Zac Stacy failed a physical to open training camp. Dominique Williams is a small school product who was very productive at Wagner College but never got off the Minnesota Vikings practice squad before the Jets signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January. A solidly built, but limited back, Williams will be hard pressed to find a role with the team.

Fullback: Tommy Bohanon broke his collarbone in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions but had been a solid blocking fullback for the Jets since coming into the league in 2013. Julian Howsare is both a fullback and linebacker, but we expect him to end up on special teams if he makes the roster.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker
Backups: Quincy Enunwa, Devin Smith, Charone Peake [R], Kenbrell Thompkins, Jeremy Ross, Robby Anderson [R], Chandler Worthy, Titus Davis, Joseph Anderson, Jalin Marshall [R], Quenton Bundrage [R]

Starting WRs: While both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are happy that Ryan Fitzpatrick has come back as their quarterback, the reality is that they would likely have excelled as long as Chan Gailey was offensive coordinator. After injuries kept Marshall from topping 1,000 yards for the first time since his rookie season in 2006, he bounced back with his second highest yardage total in his career and his highest touchdown total. Decker topped 1,000 yards for the third time in his career and had the second highest touchdown total (12) since entering the NFL in 2010. Both players will see plenty of targets - of the 362 passes thrown by Jets quarterbacks last season, 305 went to the pair. While we may see a few targets go towards some of the younger players, it's clear that the team will continue to target them early and often.

Backup WRs: It's wide open behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, as nobody has ever emerged who could lay claim to the number three spot on a permanent basis. Quincy Enunwa had the third most targets last season and managed mostly out of the slot in four-wide sets, but was inconsistent for the most part. He can generate plays downfield and his size makes him attractive but he needs to work on his hands and overall technique. He'll compete with Devin Smith, a deep-threat player who struggled in 2015 and then had a leg injury. Like Enunwa, Smith needs to improve some of his technique and he needs to expand his route running. Smith can also play the slot well. Recent reports have said there is doubt he will be ready for Week 1 though, and he never has fit into the dink-and-dunk offense the team ran last season. Charone Peake is a raw player, having spent just one season as a starter at Clemson. That said, he's a strong player who is a willing blocker and has plenty of ability after the catch. Peake's size and strength could help him develop into a beast who will tear the ball away from defenders and bowl them over. Kenbrall Thompkins is another guy who can go deep, but has found more success on underneath routes. In a crowded receiver corps, he could get lost and not make the final roster. Jeremy Ross is primarily a kick and punt returner and will be charged with replacing Jeremy Kerley on punt returns while Chandler Worthy may end up as a kick returner. Robby Anderson was an UDFA signing who played special teams and defensive back for some of his career at Temple, then becoming a wideout. He's an explosive athlete with small hands who will take some time to develop. Titus Davis originally signed with the San Diego Chargers in spring of 2015, but the undersized receiver couldn't stick and will struggle in New York as well. Jalin Marshall was a redshirt sophomore who did well on punt returns in college and has some explosion to his game. Quenton Quenton Bundrage has size and good speed and showed improvement every year at Iowa State. The Jets grabbed a lot of UDFA rookies like Bundrage, Marshall and Anderson in the hopes someone can step up, but like many of the Jets receivers, they are all upside and no certainty.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jace Amaro
Backups: Kellen Davis, Zach Sudfeld, Brandon Bostick, Adrien Robinson, Wes Saxton, Jerome Cunningham, Brandon Bostick, Jason Vander Laan [R]

This is basically a "make or break" season for Jake Amaro, who has yet to impress since arriving in 2014 and who missed all of last season with an injury. He has to prove he has overcome the issues he had with drops which plagued his rookie season and according to the Daily News' Manish Mehta, his teammates are "skeptical" that he can play. That's a rough spot to be in with the guys in your locker room and Mehta also pointed out Amaro was banished to the practice fields last offseason. On the plus side, Mehta reports that his torn left labrum has healed well and he should be healthy. Amaro is going to get his chance to show he can play as nobody behind him excites. Kellen Davis is a glorified blocker, and Zach Sudfeld (who also missed all of 2015 with an injury) has never been consistent, though he reportedly looked better than Amaro last preseason. Wes Saxton is a good receiver but completely useless blocking for runs or on pass plays. Jerome Cunningham is a tight end with an average skillset who got some snaps with the New York Giants when Larry Donnell was injured. He didn't show all that much and looks like just a warm body for the Jets. Brandon Bostick spent two years with the Packers and last year on the Jets' practice squad and is unlikely to make the roster. Finally, Jason Vander Laan is a converted small-school quarterback who showed some great elusiveness when running the ball in college and the Jets hope could eventually translate that into some run after the catch ability as a tight end.

Place Kicker

Nick Folk, Ross Martin [R]: Folk's season was cut in half by a quad injury last year, but his numbers were actually very good when projected out to a full season. He did miss an extra point or any other kick under 40 yards and Folk's field goal attempts (16) would have put him in the top 10 if doubled to 32. He would have been just outside of the top 10 in points if his 58 scored in eight games was doubled to 116. He might still get a run for his money (which is sizable at 2.75 million for 2016) from UDFA Ross Martin, who was highly accurate at Duke. Martin doesn't have a booming leg for kickoffs, but that is less important with the recent rule change to put touchbacks at the 25-yard line. Even if Martin doesn't beat out Folk, he has a chance to catch on elsewhere with a good camp and preseason.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Jalin Marshall, Jeremy Ross, Kenbrell Thompkins, Zac Stacy

With long-time returner Antonio Cromartie no longer with the team, the Jets have a void at kick returner. Zac Stacy is their most experienced returning player, but he has never distinguished himself on returns. Jeremy Ross and Jalin Marshall are both more explosive returners, but neither is guaranteed a roster spot at this point.

Punt Returners: Jeremy Ross, Jalin Marshall

What happens when the man who handled 48 of 49 possible punt returns-- as Jeremy Kerley did for the 2015 Jets-- leaves town? You wind up with a lot of questions. Jeremy Ross has return experience, but is on his fourth team in the past eight months. Rookie Jalin Marshall is young and electric, but also no lock for the final roster.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Ryan Clady, LG James Carpenter, C Nick Mangold, RG Brian Winters, RT Breno Giacomini
Key Backups: Brent Qvale, Brandon Shell [R], Ben Ijalana, Jarvis Harrison, Dakota Dozier

The Jets have experienced some turnover. They traded with Denver for oft injured left tackle Ryan Clady, to backfill for the retirement of D'Brickashaw Ferguson. When healthy, Clady could be an upgrade, but he's almost always hurt. James Carpenter was extremely solid at left guard last year, and provides an excellent run blocking tandem with Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold. Mangold is still playing at an elite level. The right side could be shaky. Right guard and right tackle both have nominal starters returning in Brian Winters and Breno Giacomini but both could be pushed by the backups. The team reportedly is high on Brent Qvale and drafted Brandon Shell, nephew of Hall of Famer Art. Dakota Dozier and Jarvis Harrison are former mid round picks who could push for playing time at guard. Overall this line could be good if Clady stays healthy and the right side improves. But as long as Mangold stays on the field they will be at least decent. Tier Ranking: Mid Tier.

Team Defense

The Jets defense appeared primed for a top fantasy season when they re-acquired Darrelle Revis and installed an aggressive and defensive-minded head coach in Todd Bowles. The defensive line was already one of the best in the league, so the elements assembled appeared to be combustible in a good way. The Jets had a good season defending the run and limiting opponent's scoring, but they were middle of the road in sacks and takeaways, which put them in the 10-15 range in most scoring systems. The loss of Damon Harrison to the Giants will hurt the run defense, and the Jets still lack a legitimate edge rushing threat, so they will be a streaming defense this year after 2015's high expectations were not met.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Sheldon Richardson, DT Steve McClendon
Backups: DE Leonard Williams, DE Jarvis Jenkins

Starting DL: The foundation of the Jets defense remains their defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson is the best all-around player and was given a franchise tag before finally agreeing to a 5-year/$86M deal in July. Sheldon Richardson started 2015 with a 4-game suspension for marijuana use, but finished strong and probably has low end DE1 upside. Former NT Damon Harrison left for the Giants in free agency and will be replaced by the underrated Steve McClendon, who was signed from the Steelers but probably has limited fantasy value.

Backup DL: Leonard Williams was considered one of the best players in last year's draft and gives the Jets great depth up front, as he will most likely see enough playing time in a rotation to be considered a 4th starter. Jarvis Jenkins also provides experienced depth coming off a career high 4-sack year with the Bears.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB David Harris, ILB Erin Henderson, OLB Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB Jordan Jenkins [R]
Backups: ILB Darron Lee [R], OLB Trevor Reilly

Starting LBs: The Jets have infused a lot of youth and speed into their linebacker group of late, but David Harris remains the reliable veteran leader inside. His numbers have remained consistent, but at 32 years of age it's reasonable to expect him to start slowing down. That could open up more opportunity for Erin Henderson, who will also be on the wrong side of 30 but made a strong comeback last year after sitting out 2014 and replaced Demario Davis. Outside, Lorenzo Mauldin was a rookie 3rd round pick last year who flashed potential as a pass rush specialist, but will likely take on a much bigger role. Jordan Jenkins was a 3rd round pick this year out of Georgia, and he figures to play a big role right away as the team seeks to replace the disappointing Quentin Coples and aging Calvin Pace.

Backup LBs: Darron Lee was a 1st round pick with great range, but he's relatively new to the linebacker position and will need time to develop into a full-time player. Trevor Reilly is a former 7th round pick who will compete to be part of the rotation at outside linebacker, and could wind up starting if Jenkins isn't quite ready.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Buster Skrine, SS Calvin Pryor, FS Marcus Gilchrist
Backups: CB Marcus Williams, CB Dee Milliner, S Dion Bailey

Starting DBs: Obviously, the Jets are very capable in the secondary when Revis is at his best, but he showed some cracks in his game last year and may no longer be the shutdown player we've come to expect. Buster Skrine has been a capable nickel corner, but he may be slightly overmatched in a starter role. Calvin Pryor made big strides in his second year as a pro last year and earned a reputation as a big hitter, but he still has room to grow in terms of his consistency and playmaking to become an elite fantasy option. Marcus Gilchrist provided a steady presence in the deep secondary and posted the best numbers of his 5-year career.

Backup DBs: Marcus Williams is coming off an impressive year that saw him collect 6 interceptions despite playing a part-time role. His playmaking instincts will give him a shot to compete for a starting spot opposite Revis, and possibly allow the Jets to slide Skrine inside where he's more comfortable. Dee Milliner can probably be written off as a 1st round bust, but he'll have one last chance to turn things around in his career. Dion Bailey was picked up off waivers last year, and will likely compete for a key backup role in camp.

Last modified: 2016-08-17 10:42:55