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2015 Team Report: New York Jets

Quarterbacks

Starter: Geno Smith [INJ], Ryan Fitzpatrick
Backup(s): Bryce Petty [R], Jake Heaps [R]

Starting QB: Everything can change in a moment for a quarterback, and in the cases of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith that moment came in the second week of training camp. After the beginning of a camp where Geno Smith had been praised by his coach and teammates and during which he had thrown only one interception, Geno Smith now finds himself sidelined for 6-10 weeks. Smith sustained a broken jaw in a locker room altercation with linebacker IK Enemkpali, who has since been released. With Smith sidelined, Fitzpatrick steps into the starting role. Fitzpatrick isn't the long-term answer for the Jets at quarterback, but he plays well enough to keep the chains moving reliably. His upside is far lower than Smith's, but he's been reunited with Chan Gailey, now offensive coordinator in New York and formerly Fitzpatrick's coach in Buffalo. While not a special quarterback, Fitzpatrick was pretty reliable in Houston and with the weapons the Jets have, could make the offense more consistent than it has been in years. At worst he should be a decent placeholder for as long as Smith is out. Of course, depending on what the treatment is - it could involve Smith's jaw being wired shut - the third year quarterback could drop weight and it will be hard to stay in game shape. Which means this season could be in jeopardy. This was supposed to be a year to figure out if Smith was the franchise quarterback or not, but now that won't happen which puts the long term situation into chaos as well.

Backup QB: Bryce Petty has a lot of work to do and he'd better get to it now that it appears he will be the No. 2 while Geno Smith is out. He and Jake Heaps did enough in OTAs to make Matt Simms expendable though. While having Gailey as an offensive coordinator was a great stroke of luck (Petty will fit what Gailey does well), the Jets know he could take a lot of time to develop. Early reports of his presence and leadership are good and coach Todd Bowles has talked a lot about the need for a strong leader at the quarterback position. Heaps was signed as an undrafted free agent, but is a giant long-shot to make the team. Heaps is more accurate than his college numbers showed, as he had a lot of problems with receiver drops, but overall struggled to be consistent in college and made some very poor decisions at times.

Running Backs

Starter: Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley
Backup(s): Zac Stacy, Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson
Fullback(s): Tommy Bohanon, J.C. Copeland

Starting RB: Chris Ivory returns as the Jets chief running back, but he’s joined by Stevan Ridley, fresh off of ACL surgery. The two are very similar backs in that they are much more ground pounders who can carry a full load as well as get those third down-short yardage first downs the Jets need. Ridley has had a fumbling problem in the past while both have had some injury issues. Ivory has the edge because he’s at least a little useful on passing downs as more than a road block. While Ridley has shot at the starting job, but he also has a lot to prove on a short deal.

Backup RBs: Muddying things up is the acquisition of Zac Stacy. Stacy was very unhappy when the St. Louis Rams drafted Todd Gurley in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but he's in a very similar situation in New York. With Ivory and Ridley there, he's just another power back. In his favor though is his youth and the fact that unlike Ridley, he's not returning from a big injury and unlike Ivory he isn't a holdover from the former regime. In fact, that the new front office went after Stacy is a good sign. Watching the chaos is Bilal Powell, who while not totally secure, at least sleeps well knowing his role as utility back isn't really at stake. While not a big-play running back or a guy with an especially high ceiling, Powell is a solid backup who can do multiple things on any down. He's unlikely to get a ton of snaps (barring injury) but he is someone the team can plug in and still get production. Daryl Richardson will find himself on the roster bubble again and his chances aren't much better than when he was cut last August and ended up on the practice squad. He was starter in St. Louis in 2012, but couldn't hold the job after an injury. He never did anything for the Jets last season, and he will be battling for the last roster spot.

Fullback: Tommy Bohanaon has been effective in both of his first two seasons and the Jets used him frequently in both pass and run blacking. Bohanon and J.C. Copeland are both fullbacks who carry an aggressive, hard-nosed style in their blocking duties.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker
Backups: Jeremy Kerley, Devin Smith [R, INJ], T.J. Graham, DeVier Posey, Chris Owusu, Quincy Enunwa, Walter Powell, Saalim Hakim, Shaquelle Evans

Starting WRs: For several years, the New York Jets had a rotating base of wide receivers and it clearly hampered the abilities of their quarterbacks-or at least made their development much harder. So last season they signed Eric Decker to a long term contract in free agency and then added Brandon Marshall via trade this offseason. While Decker saw his production slip a little in 2014, he still put up respectable numbers considering he downgraded severely at quarterback. While Decker isn't quite a No. 1 receiver, he proved last season that he isn't just someone who can ball with an elite quarterback throwing him passes. Decker is capable of production even with sub-par quarterback play. He should see an improvement in numbers this year for a few reasons. First, he has a very good magnet for defenders across from him in the presence of Marshall. Teams can't ignore Marshall, so they also can't just focus on Decker. That frees him up more than he was last season. Secondly, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be throwing him the ball until the injured Geno Smith. Fitzpatrick isn't Peyton Manning, but he's smart and reliable. While we don't yet know how long he'll have the job (Smith is out 6-10 weeks with a jaw broken in three places), he should be around long enough to help Decker with some fantasy points. Much like Decker last season, Marshall has downgraded at quarterback, though the step down to what the Jets have from Jay Cutler isn't as severe. It's also mitigated by the presence of offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who has a knack for finding unusual ways to get his players the targets they need. While the reasons for Marshall's departure from the Chicago Bears isn't quite clear (conflict with the new coaching staff and his quarterback as well as a hefty contract might have been it) the Jets should be pleased to have him as their No. 1 receiver. While last season saw him miss some games due to injury and finish with less than 1,000 yards for the first time since his rookie year, he should be able to return to his average this year, if he can stay healthy.

Backup WRs: Jeremy Kerley is in a tenuous position this year, as a role that was already going to be reduced could be cut down even more with second round pick Devin Smith in town. While the two do very different things—Kerley is more of a slot guy while Smith is a vertical threat with a limited route tree-there are only so many targets to go around. When you add in Jace Amaro at tight end, it's hard to imagine Kerley having a big year. What might help Kerley hang onto some targets is the recent injury to Smith, who has three fractured ribs and a partially punctured lung. There's a good chance he will not be ready for Week 1, and could miss several games early in the season. If healthy, Smith should be a great fit in Gailey's high-speed offense and the team will use him to knock the lid off coverage and free up some underneath routes. The presence of a healthy Smith also hurts T.J. Graham, a guy who the Jets brought in as an occasional deep threat. As little as he did last season, it's hard to imagine him making the team unless he starts to contribute more on special teams, like Chris Owusu. Again though, Smith;s injury throws this into a bit of cloudiness. Mostly a slot guy when he plays on offense, Owusu mostly makes his bones on special teams. He did kickoff returns for the Jets for part of last season and that will be his role if he makes it this year. Quincy Enunwa is a fast receiver who does a great job as a run blocker as well. While there is little room for him to hang on just because of that, he might sneak back onto the practice squad until room opens up. He's certainly a better bet than Walter Powell, who was highly productive at Murray State but is a little undersized. He did handle kick return duties for four games last season and could stick on for that, if he can win the job. He's going to have to wrest it away from Saalim Hakim though. Hakim was the Jets primary kick returner last season, and his speed and agility make him the favorite for that position again this year. Finally, Shaq Evans spent last year on injured reserve after he had surgery to repair a torn labrum. He struggled with drops in camp last year and had trouble standing out from the crowd, but the Jets liked his size and hope he can turn into a guy who can move the chains as a possession receiver. Evans is another guy who isn't a product of the new regime, so their patience might wear thin more quickly.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jeff Cumberland
Backups: Steve Maneri, Kellen Davis, Wes Saxton [R], Jace Amaro [IR]

Jeff Cumberland is a former wide receiver, so you would expect more out of him than he's shown so far. He's not great catching the ball, but worse he's not a great blocker either. So what Cumberland's role is going forward is a bit murky. Steve Maneri just signed with the team after they cut Zach Sudfeld. Like Sudfeld, Maneri is a former Patriot (as well as a former Chief, Bear and Buccaneer), and he has really done very little at the pro level. He’s a blocker, but we don’t expect him to survive summer cuts. Consider him a camp body. Rookie undrafted free agent Wes Saxton also lacks blocking ability, but athletically he's a very attractive pass-catching option. Complicating matters is the fact that, save for his junior year at South Alabama where he caught 50 balls, Saxton didn't see much action. His senior year saw a big dip in production. So it's hard to say what his ceiling is based on the limited history. Kellen Davis has the opposite going for him-he can block but isn't a great pass catcher. The Jets like having a blocking tight end around, so Davis is actually a good bet to survive roster cuts, unless the Jets decide to go really deep at another position. He might find himself saved by the season-ending shoulder injury which landed Jace Amaro on Injured Reserve.

Place Kicker

Nick Folk: Folk led the league in field goal attempts, with 39, and he even made 32 of them, but the Jets woeful 23 extra point attempts for Folk kept him outside of the top 10 kickers in fantasy leagues. The team kept Andrew Furney around late last year after Folk got banged up, and he's still on the roster, although Folk's job should be safe. The Jets kicker is going outside of the top 20 kickers in drafts, and the offense should be improved, so he's worth a spot on your list of last-round kickers to target.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Antonio Cromartie, Devin Smith, Kenbrell Thompkins

New York went from a large group of candidates at kick returner to none when they released most of the players who competed in preseason, including receiver Chris Owusu. Owusu was re-signed a day later and took his spot back as the primary kickoff returner. After he was lost for the season to an injury, the Jets used by Zac Stacy and Antonio Cromartie on kick returns. Stacy was the next to be lost for the year, and New York added Devin Smith and Kenbrell Thompkins into the mix.

Punt Returners: Jeremy Kerley, Eric Decker

Receiver Jeremy Kerley has a four year history being in the mix returning punts for the Jets. He started off strong with a 10.9 yard average his first two seasons, but has grown less productive since. Last season the Jets tried other options before finally returning to the sure-handed Kerley halfway through the year.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, LG James Carpenter, C Nick Mangold, RG Willie Colon, RT Breno Giacomini
Key Backups: G James Brewer, T Oday Aboushi, T Ben Ijalana, G Dakota Dozier, C Dalton Freeman, G Brian Winters, G Jarvis Harrison [R]

The Jets' line boasts one of the best centers in the game in Nick Mangold. Mangold is the rare player who is great in both phases of the game and has the agility to get to the second level. At left tackle, D'Brickashaw Ferguson continues to do an underrated job. Ferguson is not amazing but he is long and light on his feet, able to wall off most pass rushers effectively. Between these players, the Jets added former first round pick James Carpenter from the Seahawks. Carpenter never quite lived up to his high draft status but compared to the revolving door the Jets had at the position last season, he is a stable option. The right side of the line has Breno Giacomini at right tackle, who had a mostly decent year save getting owned by Mario Williams of the Bills, and a free-for-all competition at right guard. Last year's starter Willie Colon was surprisingly brought back by the new Jets regime, and he should have the lead on that job. However, Colon will face still competition from Oday Aboushi (who played significant snaps last season) as well as 5th round pick Jarvis Harrison. Harrison is an interesting player as he did man Texas A&M's left tackle position when injury required it. Other options include last year's 4th rounder Dakota Dozier, and previous starter Brian Winters. Look for Harrison and Aboushi to make a significant push for the job and for some of these other names to get cut. James Brewer and Ben Ijalana should compete for the swing tackle role. This rating can improve if Carpenter proves he's worth the money and the right guard position firms up. With those changes, this line could actually push into the top tier again.

Team Defense

It's hard to find a D/ST that had a more exciting set of changes this offseason than the Jets. Darrelle Revis is back and he brought Antonio Cromartie with him. Leonard Williams, who some considered the top player in the draft, fell to #6 and gifted the Jets with a DL rotation of giant athletes the likes of which the NFL hasn't seen. Add in a new head coach (Todd Bowles) who is known for his aggressive, opportunistic defenses, and you have the makings of a potential top 5 D/ST. The Jets also have a favorable schedule pockmarked with poor QB play and new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's resourcefulness could keep the defense from being behind the 8-ball. A 100-pound weakling in 2014 fantasy leagues could turn into a 500-pound gorilla this year.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, DE Sheldon Richardson, DT Damon Harrison
Backups: DE Leonard Williams (R), DT Leger Douzable, DE Kevin Vickerson, DE Stephen Bowen

Starting DL: The Jets have two of the league's best 3-4 defensive ends to anchor their defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson is the longest tenured player and has proven himself over his first four years in the league. He's also entering the last year of his contract, and could be a potential holdout or trade target given the depth the Jets now have at the position. Sheldon Richardson was defensive rookie of the year in 2013, and posted 8 sacks in 2014. Both players may not have huge upside in sack-heavy scoring systems, but they are very valuable fantasy options due to their consistent production against the run. Richardson was hit with a 4-game suspension to start the season for violating the league's drug policy, and then was arrested in July for resisting arrest while driving 143mph. His absence will create more opportunities for the Jets #1 pick, Leonard Williams. Damon Harrison has proven to be an very productive nose tackle, but he has just 1 sack in 2 years as a starter so he is mostly a 2-down player.

Backup DL: The Jets already had one of the best defensive lines in the league, but still managed to land perhaps the best defensive player in the draft when Leonard Williams slid to them at 6th. Williams is in the same mold as Wilkerson and Richardson, and a trade might be needed to make sure all players get enough snaps and reach their potential, but the suspension to Richardson could get him into the mix sooner than expected. Leger Douzable, Kevin Vickerson, and Stephen Bowen all provide experienced depth but will have a tough time earning snaps in this group.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Davis Harris, ILB Demario Davis, OLB Quinton Coples, OLB Calvin Pace
Backups: OLB Jason Babin, OLB Lorenzo Mauldin (R), ILB Jamari Lattimore, ILB Erin Henderson, ILB Joe Mays

Starting LBs: David Harris gave some consideration to testing free agency and possibly following Rex Ryan to Buffalo, but he decided to re-sign with the Jets. He got $15 million guaranteed in a 3-year deal to stick around and continue to be a steady force in the middle of the defense. He hasn't been more than a LB3 in recent years, and will likely remain the same although he could take on some additional responsibilities in the new defense under Todd Bowles. Demario Davis has shown steady improvement during his first two years as a starter, and he could be headed for a breakout season. He's a well rounded player who can contribute in a variety of ways and is definitely the player to target among this group for fantasy owners. Quinton Coples came into the league with high expectations when drafted 16th overall, but his progression has been slower than hoped for. Nevertheless, he did set a career high with 6.5 sacks last year and should get plenty of chances to rush the passer this year. Calvin Pace may be the starter to begin the year, but he will turn 35 years old in October and is likely better suited to a situational role.

Backup LBs: The Jets added some much needed youth to their OLB spot with the selection of Lorenzo Mauldin in the 3rd round of the draft. He has a decent chance to earn a starting spot at some point, and figures to put some pressure on the veterans here right away. Jason Babin has been a productive pass rusher in the past, but it also looks like his best days are behind him. The Jets probably have more experienced depth at inside linebacker than they've had in years, as Jamari Lattimore, Erin Henderson, and Joe Mays have all seen significant playing time for other teams in the past.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, FS Marcus Gilchrist, SS Calvin Pryor
Backups: CB Buster Skrine, CB Dee Milliner, S Jaiquawn Jarrett, S Antonio Allen

Starting DBs: The Jets are hoping that bringing Darrelle Revis back will help them get back to the playoffs while also hurting their division rival at the same time. They signed him to a huge contract to play lockdown defense on one side of the field, but his fantasy value tends to be hurt by the fact that few QBs will throw at him. Antonio Cromartie also returned to the Jets this offseason and will help solidify the other corner spot. The Jets needed to replace Dawan Landry at strong safety this offseason and signed Marcus Gilchrist from the Chargers. Although he's been a steady player for the Chargers, he doesn't add much as a playmaker. Calvin Pryor was a disappointment as a rookie, but as a 1st round pick they are going to be patient with him and hope that he can turn things around under a new coaching staff. Todd Bowles made great use of his safeties in Arizona last year and could help turn Pryor loose with a move to strong safety.

Backup DBs: Buster Skrine was another key free agent signing as he should upgrade the nickel corner spot and provide solid depth behind the two stars outside. Dee Milliner has been a bust thus far, but he'll have a lot less pressure on him this year and will also get a chance to learn from much better players. Jaiquawn Jarrett was a part-time starter last year and could certainly wind up playing a key role again. The team tried unsuccessfully to move Antonio Allen to cornerback last year, but his size and cover skills could make him better suited to more of a big nickel role.

Last modified: 2015-11-17 16:44:04