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How will the NY Jets wide receivers shake out? - Footballguys

The Footballguys staff offers thoughts on the Jets wide receiver situation

There is a lot of uncertainty in the New York wide receivers corps. After a stellar 2017 season, Robby Anderson is widely assumed to be the top option for the Jets. But Quincy Enunwa was slated for that role before injuring his neck. Can he regain that spot from Anderson? Kearse turned in the best season of his career last year, but he's not even a lock for a roster spot. Is Terrelle Pryor healthy enough to regain his 2016 form? Is there room for any production from Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart, or Charone Peake?

Jason Wood: The receivers vying for touches all have one thing in common; they're not special. Quincy Enunwa was supposed the top receiver by some analysts, but that was in the context of the Jets being inept. The narrative a year ago was that New York was punting the season in hopes of landing a franchise quarterback. The players had other ideas and were far more productive than anyone guessed. My point is that Enunwa wasn't expected to be great, he was expected to be average and, as a result, the best of a bad bunch. But Robby Anderson had different ideas. 63 receptions for 941 yards and 7 touchdowns led to a 15th ranked fantasy finish. Off-field concerns threaten his long-term value, but he appears in the clear for the start of 2018. There's no justifiable reason to project anyone other than Anderson to lead the Jets statistically. Yet, with the quarterback situation in flux -- it's not clear what being No. 1 means for fantasy purposes. Ideally, Anderson should be drafted as a No. 3 receiver which gives you cushion. If he repeats last year, he's given you value.

I don't want to hear about Terrelle Pryor. I was mocked by some fellow Footballguys for my absolute disdain of Pryor last year in Washington. It turned out to be the correct call as Pryor was effectively inactive for much of the season. His 1,000-yard season in Cleveland was a case of being the only able body on the roster. He's not good at any facet of the game. His size doesn't make up for a lack of separation, route-running, or aggressiveness at the point of attack.

Bob Henry: This is all Robby Anderson's for the taking. He has a chance to emerge as his team's legitimate No. 1 receiver, and he demonstrated last year that he also has WR1 fantasy potential. That same week-to-week upside is also tied to sustaining a higher rate of touchdowns outside of the red zone. The problem with Anderson is off-field and there's a chance he could serve a small suspension. I love Anderson around his ADP and grabbing him as an upwardly mobile WR3 whenever I can.

I think Quincy Enunwa is the de facto No. 2 and settles back into the slot with Jermaine Kearse staying put on the outside opposite Anderson. Enunwa could very well be the second-best fantasy option, but Kearse proved to be more productive than anticipated after clicking immediately with Josh McCown. Like Jason, I don't buy Terrelle Pryor at all. He's a legitimate athletic freak, but if he does put it all together, then it would be at Kearse's expense most likely (not Anderson's).

In the event the Jets decide to move on from Kearse, it could mean that they want to get Chad Hansen more involved. ArDarius Stewart hasn't developed yet and seems to have fallen behind Hansen as the next man up if injuries strike.

Phil Alexander: As the staff's resident Terrelle Pryor-truther (and quite possibly the last one still breathing), I cannot resist Jason's bait.

Are we really blaming 2017's results on Pryor? Here is exactly what unfolded last year in four bullets:

  • Week 1 - Kirk Cousins targets Pryor 11 times. He catches six for 66 yards and would have scored a long touchdown if not for an ill-timed drop.
  • Week 2 - Pryor injures his ankle.
  • Weeks 3-9 - Pryor (like the warrior he is) plays through the injury...terribly.
  • Pryor undergoes surgery on the ankle. During his recovery, Pryor says, "[Dr. Robert Anderson] said the stuff he saw in there, he couldn't believe I was still playing on it".

Pryor played through a debilitating injury, plain and simple. There is no other explanation for his sudden regression, especially when some of the sharpest scouting eyes in the industry strongly disagreed on Pryor "not being good in any facet of the game" coming into last season:

"(Pryor) displayed surprisingly advanced ball skills, route running and toughness at the catch point last year. He also has the speed to threaten deep and size to be difficult to defend on deep balls, but he barely had any time with a quarterback that could effectively throw the deep ball last year." - Sigmund Bloom

"Coming in above the NFL average at getting open against man and zone coverage is highly impressive for where Pryor is in his development. It’s easy to point to his stripped-down route tree or some flaws at the catch point and say he still has work to do. Of course, he still has work to do. However, we are much better off pointing to the massively positive steps he took over the last year to become what Reception Perception quantifies him as -- a legitimate starting NFL receiver." - Matt Harmon

None of this is to say Pryor is anything more than an end-game flier in fantasy drafts this year. He still hasn't proven he's completely healthy and the Jets wide receiver depth chart is crowded with redundant assets. I expect Pryor and Robby Anderson to line up outside the hashes in three-receiver sets, Quincy Enunwa to emerge as the primary slot option who can occasionally bounce outside, and Jermaine Kearse to be left out in the cold, along with Hansen (who I'd love to see more of) and Stewart.

It's difficult to project what Pryor can accomplish with this setup since so much depends on his health, but it's at least interesting he chose to reunite with Josh McCown. In McCown's three starts for the Browns in 2016, Pryor combined for 264 yards on a whopping 34 targets and was never targeted less than 10 times in a game.

Bottom line - Pryor is a player many were excited to draft in the third-round just last season and now he's available for free. There is zero risk in finding out which of his last two seasons was the fluke. Make him one of your final picks.

Jason Wood: I love Matt Harmon and Bloom, of course, but they've been wrong on Pryor from jump street. We all have bad calls.

Matt Bitonti: Robby Anderson's charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and even though the league has discretion in applying discipline, it doesn't usually suspend players for minor transgressions. He should be available to play and he (arguably) should be the first NYJ taken in re-drafts.

However, besides legal issues, there are other possible downsides with Anderson's fantasy dominance:

  1. Durability. He was concussed on a Stephon Gilmore flagged head-shot Week 17 against New England. The speed which is his calling card is also linked to his size. He probably can't bulk up without losing the game-breaking speed. He's probably always going to be on that edge of what scouts ideally want at the position.
  2. Defensive Game-planning. This year, Anderson is the only explosive play-maker on the offense and teams will see him coming. It's probable he gets double, bracket and other attention.

Terrelle Pryor is still rehabbing from the ankle injuries Phil mentioned. He also probably lost the 4.38 long speed he once displayed at the Combine. But he isn't worthless, for a couple reasons: The Jets are thin. He's such a question mark but still ranked the 14th-most valuable player on the roster by the New York Post's beat writers. In addition, the opportunity is there because the Jets did not adequately replace Austin Seferian-Jenkins and they don't have anyone else on the roster to target with jump balls on fades. If he is still on the roster week one, it's because the coaching staff feels they need some tall target to feed in the red zone. Austin Seferian-Jenkins only recorded 3 official touchdowns last year but had an additional 3 overturned by the NY office and was targeted 74 times overall.

The rest of the tight end group is raw and inexperienced. It's possible Jordan Leggett steps up in year two, but he and fifth-round pick Chris Herndon are interesting prospects, not known quantities. Herndon actually got arrested for DUI after the draft.

As for Quincy Enunwa, he could be a conditional number two but he's also coming off a terrible injury. I'm no Dr. Jene Bremel but my understanding is he broke his neck. He's rehabbed and looked good in shorts and helmets but I'd fade him in drafts until he takes actual contact.

Daniel Simpkins: Since no one has talked about the guys on the back end of the roster, I'll spend a little time talking about the one I believe could have an impact IF he gets a shot. That player is Chad Hansen, who has the size, speed, and skills to be a viable perimeter threat. The problem is that Robby Anderson is filling that role for the Jets at this moment. It would take more legal trouble for Anderson or an injury situation for Hansen to get a legitimate chance. It's nice to hear that he's been working with both Jared Goff and Sam Darnold this offseason and making positive strides. Keep an eye on him and if he gets a legitimate opportunity, pounce!

Chad Parsons: While a wide-open depth chart, I am skeptical of investing in any Jets receiver this season. The one exception I would make, reserved for deep formats only, is Terrelle Pryor. He has the most upside in terms of physical skill set and put up a 1,000-yard season for a horrible Browns team a couple years ago. Again, it would take more than 20 roster spots in a redraft format (and probably closer to 25), but if one Jets receiver turns top-20 for fantasy, my vote is for Pryor.

Andy Hicks: The New York Jets not only have made terrible mistakes at the quarterback position over the years, they also seem to stink at investing in a young receiver. ArDarius Stewart seems to be on the fast track to join Devin Smith and Stephen Hill as highly drafted busts at the position over the last few years. Maybe he can show something in training camp, but for now, we have to assume all the reports are correct.

The rest of the Jets receivers are castoffs and overachievers. Robby Anderson was undrafted coming out of college and has definitely contributed on the field. Off the field is a different story, but for now, he is the only one here expected to be a starting fantasy receiver. Will he live up to the expected WR1 billing or will he succumb to the pressure? The risk doesn’t seem to be worth it.

Jermaine Kearse achieved more in his first season with the Jets, than he did in five years with Seattle, but he is more a depth option for fantasy rosters than an expected starter.

Quincy Enunwa looked like a prospect after the 2016 season, but a neck injury is one that does not inspire confidence moving forward.

If things go well, Kearse and Enunwa can happily be picked up on the waiver wire during the season.

The wildcard is Terrelle Pryor. The fact the Hue Jackson gave up on him so easily gives me pause for concern, after taking him from Oakland to Cincinnati and then to Cleveland, spent years on converting him to wide receiver and produced a 1000 yard receiver for him and then let him walk. The excuses for his disappointing Washington year may or may not have relevance, but he still has WR1 upside and costs nothing this year.

Justin Howe: A quick memorial for Devin Smith's career, which likely ended back in July. He was one of the best deep threats in recent college history. Matt Harmon tracked him with unreal downfield rates.

This corps looks like a mess, but that's mainly because we're anticipating poor quarterbacking and a 5-11 record. There will be volume in play - Seferian-Jenkins' departure leaves 5.7 targets open per game, and some names (Pryor and Ardarius Stewart) may be falling off the map. Ultimately, I tend to agree that that means most for Anderson, who looks like the clear-cut No. 1. I'm more of a believer, though, during the portion of the year McCown is under center. Anderson went touchdown-less over the last 4 games without him, with his average line plummeting from 68 yards to 30. I'm confident Sam Darnold is a better quarterback than Bryce Petty, but he might not be in 2018.

As Andy said, Kearse and Enunwa each carry some volume appeal if one seizes the No. 2 job, but they're best treated as waivers to watch. The same goes for Hansen, who looks talented and polished enough to get into the mix. None of these names, however, is draftable at a spot - the final few rounds - where there's much sexier upside on the board.