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2018 Team Report: New York Jets

Quarterbacks

Starter: Josh McCown
Backup(s): Sam Darnold (R), Teddy Bridgewater

Starting QB: As it stands now, Josh McCown is the leader in the clubhouse for the starting job, but if rookie Sam Darnold performs well enough, McCown could step back and just mentor Darnold on the sideline. McCown is a decent bridge quarterback, one that will hold the fort just fine but with virtually no upside, but he did make the team competitive in 2017 and breathe life into the fantasy value of the team's receivers. That's fine, all the Jets need him to do is hang on until Darnold can take over and teach the youngster a thing or two.

Backup QB: The team is being cagey about how Teddy Bridgewater's rehab is going. He's throwing, but the arm wasn't the issue. So how is he moving? Is he fully capable of most OTA activities? Or is the leg still an issue? Until we know that, there's no way to know whether or not he will make it to camp, much less the regular season. Sam Darnold was the Jets' first pick, and he's their future. The team has made it clear they will not rush him into action, but they won't hold him back if he earns the job. Given the lack of supporting cast, it might be better if he sits most, if not all, of the year. However, if the season goes how we expect and the team struggles, we could see him sometime late in the year anyway.

Running Backs

Starter: Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell
Backup(s): Elijah McGuire, Thomas Rawls, Trenton Cannon (R) Akeem Judd
Fullback(s): Dimitri Flowers (R)

Starting RB: Isaiah Crowell will take over for Matt Forte, though how the team will split carries is hard to say as Forte and Crowell are different backs. Crowell can be a dynamic back, but he can struggle behind a shaky offensive line in an offense which might struggle to generate yards in the air. Still, he's a solid back and the Jets will use him often, especially when Sam Darnold takes the helm. Bilal Powell will split some carries with Crowell, but the Jets have never really seen him as a featured back. Crowell's signing drove that home. So Powell's role will be a complimentary one, and the Jets will split carries between the two, with Crowell likely getting a little more action.

Backup RBs: If Isaiah Crowell hadn't been signed, the Jets would have split carries between Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire. The Jets might even phase the younger and cheaper back in to the lineup in place of Powell to see if going forward they can save some money. McGuire does a lot of the same things Powell does, and can be a good passing down back as well as ballcarrier. The Jets are hoping Thomas Rawls can recapture some of the magic that helped him to a special rookie season with Seattle in 2015, but he has to stay healthy to do that, and be more consistent. How many backs the Jets keep is up in the air, especially with the need for roster spots at receiver and tight end, so if Rawls doesn't show something this summer, he might not make the 53-man roster. Rookie Trenton Cannon is undersized but had some eye popping measurables at Virginia State Pro Day, but he has to bring more to the table to make the roster and might have to be a willing participant on special teams.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse
Backups: Quincy Enunwa, Terrelle Pryor (inj), ArDarius Stewart, Devin Smith, Chad Hansen, Charone Peake, Andre Roberts (KR/PR), Lucky Whitehead (KR/PR), Charles Johnson, Jalin Marshall, Chris King, Terrell Sinkfield

Starting WRs: Robby Anderson has undeniable talent, but has had a bad offseason. While the felony charges he was under have been dropped, the Jets are keeping a watchful eye on him and a slipup could cost him a spot on the team. If he stays on the straight and narrow, he'll be a big part of this offense and he led the team in receiving yards with 941 and touchdowns with seven. Those are not high bars but this is not a team which can turn its nose up at it. The other question is whether he can repeat his totals when other teams now know he is a top option and give him the attention that is afforded that position. Jermaine Kearse had a great season for the Jets last year, but there is a lot of competition with Terrelle Pryor and Quincy Enunwa on the roster. Kearse could end up as a steady presence in the slot or could end up on another team. Right now, he's the proven commodity so he is the assumed starter.

Backup WRs: Quincy Enunwa returns after losing all of last season to a neck injury, but is only on a one-year deal. A receiver on the rise before his injury, Enunwa comes into a more crowded situation and while he will be eased back in, he has to make a splash to hold his spot. Terrelle Pryor is one of the guys he will be battling with. Pryor had a poor season with Washington, and despite his big body and athletic ability, it remains to be seen if he can produce to the potential he flashed with Cleveland, and he has to do it with an aging or unproven quarterback depending on how things shake out. He had a cleanup procedure on his foot (not on the side of the ankle he injured last year) in the offseason and missed OTAs. 2017 third round pick ArDarius Stewart didn't have a great rookie season but his speed, size and explosion still holds promise. Former second round pick Devin Smith doesn't even have that much to offer and is coming off a torn ACL. He has a long way to go to earn his spot in a crowded field. Charone Peake is also coming off an injury and in a position where his previous work wasn't good enough to assure him of anything. Chad Hansen played more than the higher-drafted ArDarius Stewart but didn't accomplish much more and is likely just a camp body, while at least Andre Roberts and Lucky Whitehead have chances to provide kick or punt return duties. Charles Johnson is a speedy receiver looking for a home after three years in Minnesota and a 2017 where he was injured. Johnson, Jalin Marshall, Chris King, and Terrell Sinkfield are all camp bodies, though Sinkfield at least was one of the top receivers in the CFL last season.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Herndon (R)
Backups: Jordan Leggett, Clive Walford, Eric Tomlinson, Neal Sterling, Bucky Hodges

The Jets have one of the worst tight end groups in the NFL, so anyone can grab the top job. Rookie Chris Herndon has reliable hands, is a decent blocker and a solid athlete, and that could be enough for him to step into the top job if he is all the way back from a torn MCL which he suffered in the University of Miami's last game. Jordan Leggett is coming off a lost 2017 due to a knee injury and he was only coming along slowly before his injury. Clive Warford was disappointing the last few years and was really picked up as a stopgap when Austin Sefarian-Jenkins left in free agency. Eric Tomlinson is a blocking tight end, but Neal Sterling, a converted wide receiver, is intriguing and if his blocking has improved, could find his way onto the field in this mediocre bunch. Former mid-round Vikings pick Bucky Hodges is just a camp body, but he is a quasi-wide receiver in the passing game if he can make the roster.

Place Kicker

Cairo Santos, Taylor Bertolet: The Jets lost Chandler Catanzaro to the kicker-cursed Buccaneers and signed Cairo Santos to replace him. Santos was entrenched as the kicker for the Chiefs before getting hurt and released during the season. He was signed by the Bears during the season, but hurt his groin and was released. He was guaranteed 500,000 dollars on a two million dollar, so the Jets are likely to go into the season with him as the starter unless his injury woes pop up again. He has some playoff and clutch kick experience, and his accuracy has been in line with league averages. The Jets only afforded Catanzaro 30 field goal attempts last year, so Santos is a kicker to avoid in drafts despite his decent resume. The Jets also signed Taylor Bertolet after a tryout to compete with Santos after claiming and then releasing Nick Rose.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: ArDarius Stewart, Elijah McGuire

With last year's top kickoff returner, JoJo Natson, waived just before the draft, the Jets seem poised to enter 2018 with top backup ArDarius Stewart taking on an expanded role on special teams.

Punt Returners: Elijah McGuire, ArDarius Stewart

With 2017 return specialist JoJo Natson no longer on the team, the Jets will give an extended look to his primary backups, Elijah McGuire and ArDarius Stewart, in 2018.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Kelvin Beachum, LG James Carpenter, C Spencer Long, RG Brian Winters, RT Brandon Shell
Key Backups: Ben Ijalana, Travis Swanson, Dakota Dozier, Brent Qvale

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum was quietly a decent sixteen game starter for the team last season and another year will have him in good shape to either collect a payday from the Jets or hit the free agency market. Right tackle Brandon Shell is the grand nephew of Art Shell and has upside. Both guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters played through injuries which limited their play last season, but the team still has faith in these starters, or at least cannot move on for another season due to contracts. Center Spencer Long arrived via free agency from Washington, as did Travis Swanson from Detroit. Long should start but either are upgrades over last year's starter of Wesley Johnson. Overall the Jets' offensive line grades out as a mid-tier option as the season opens.

Team Defense

The Jets might have the best secondary in their division, but they still have a ways to go to be considered for even an ideal spot start even after a spending spree this offseason. The open wallet landed Trumaine Johnson and brought back Morris Claiborne at corner. If 2017 first and second round picks Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye take another step this year, the Jets should be able to hang with most passing games, especially with Buster Skrine back at his best position, nickel corner. Avery Williamson was added as a big ticket inside linebacker next to Darron Lee, who still hasn't quite delivered on his first-round investment, but Williamson might not be an improvement over Demario Davis, who left for New Orleans in free agency. If there's a surprise boost that will make the Jets D/ST approach fantasy relevance, it would be one or two of Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, Lorenzo Maudlin, and David Bass providing edge rush presence. A once dominant defensive line now sports only Leonard Williams as an impact player after Mohammed Wilkerson left in free agency. Slow and steady, this defense is rebuilding, but probably too slow for fantasy contributions this year.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Leonard Williams, NT Steve McLendon, DE Henry Anderson
Backups: DE Mike Pennel, DE Xavier Cooper, DT Nathan Shepherd [R], DT Foley Fatukasi [R]

Starting DL: Leonard Williams is the last former 1st round pick remaining after Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were jettisoned over the past year. Although he was very disappointing last year with just 2 sacks, he is a talented player who should bounce back as the team around him starts to rebuild. Steve McClendon is more of an attacking player who tries to disrupt plays so he has more fantasy upside than a typical run-plugging nose tackle. He's still little more than a backup in DT-required leagues though. Henry Anderson came into the as a promising player but he's been plagued by injuries, including two ACL injuries and a throat injury that required surgery. If he can put that behind him and stay on the field, he will likely get plenty of snaps even though his fantasy value is pretty limited as a 3-4 DE.

Backup DL: Mike Pennel is a big body who saw an increase in playing time late last year and could contribute on early downs. Xavier Cooper is an experienced backup who can contribute as part of a rotation. Nathan Shepherd (3rd round) and Foley Fatukasi (6th round) are both rookies that could compete for significant playing time right away.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Darron Lee, ILB Avery Williamson, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OLB Josh Martin
Backups: ILB Kevin Minter, ILB Neville Hewitt, ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB David Bass, OLB Lorenzo Mauldin

Starting LBs: Darron Lee was widely considered a project when the Jets took him in the 1st round a couple years ago. He still makes some mistakes but he looks like a natural playmaker who can become a focal point in the middle of the Jets defense. Avery Williamson was reduced to a 2-down role with the Titans last year but was a productive young MLB early in his career. He is excellent against the run and should be able to hold onto a spot in the Jets nickel packages, making him a viable LB3 candidate. One clear area of weakness for the Jets is their lack of an outside pass rush. Jordan Jenkins will return after posting just 3 sacks on over 700 snaps a year ago. He is still a young player but hasn't been able to generate much pressure on quarterbacks thus far. Josh Martin was pushed into a starting role last year, yet only managed 1.5 sacks and figures to be a rotational player at best.

Backup LBs: Kevin Minter played under Todd Bowles during their time in Arizona and will provide experienced depth inside. Kevin Pierre-Louis is an interesting prospect who got some playing time for the Chiefs last year and could be productive if given enough of an opportunity. Neville Hewitt will likely make most of his contribution on special teams this year. David Bass had a quietly productive season last year and could be in line for more of the same if nobody else steps up. Lorenzo Mauldin missed 2017 after undergoing back surgery and could help fill the need for a pass rusher too.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Trumaine Johnson, SS Jamal Adams, FS Marcus Maye, CB Morris Claiborne
Backups: CB Buster Skrine, CB Juston Burris, CB Darryl Roberts, S Rontez Miles, S Terrence Brooks

Starting DBs: The Jets biggest move this offseason was signing Trumaine Johnson to a 5-year, $72.5 million contract. They had a huge hole to fill at cornerback and he has been a capable shutdown corner in the past, although his interception numbers have been disappointing and kept him from being an elite fantasy option. Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye came into the league together a year ago as high draft picks and look like they will be here for awhile. Adams has the higher pedigree as the 6th overall pick and could still develop into one of the best fantasy safeties in the league after a slow start. Maye made a quicker adjustment to the NFL and has excellent range, but his role as the free safety limits his upside for fantasy owners. Morris Claiborne had a hard time staying healthy during his time in Dallas but he looked good during his first year with the Jets. He's unlikely to help fantasy owners much though due to his consistently low production in terms of tackles and interceptions.

Backup DBs: Buster Skrine is best suited to play as the team's nickel corner, and that role should keep him on the field enough to have some value in deeper leagues. Juston Burris has some experience and figures to backup both outside corners. Darryl Roberts filled in as the slot corner last year and that could give him an edge for the 5th cornerback spot. Rontez Miles and Terrence Brooks don't figure to see much work on defense but are key contributors on special teams.

Last modified: 2018-06-05 12:47:27