By Jesse J. Carrajat
As promised, each week WFANtasy will breakdown the performances of Giants and Jets players, as well as offer predictions going forward. This week we will take an in-depth look at the New York Jets following their Monday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens in week 1, while shedding some light on the crowded backfield and receiving corps of the G-Men. Although I can’t guarantee that you will agree with the information that follows, I can guarantee that the information is mostly accurate and only slightly biased.
Mark Sanchez – I more than stated my opinions on the “Sanchise” in last week’s column, so there’s no reason to beat a dead-horse here…Not. Despite doing his best Peyton Manning impression at the line of scrimmage, calling audible after audible, Sanchez completed just 10 of 21 passes for an abysmal 74 yards. If he keeps up this production, Sanchez will log more bench-time in New York than a hobo in Central Park.
Shonn Greene – After rushing for 18 yards on just 5 carries while losing a fumble to the Ravens on Monday, fantasy owners are starting to question the role that Greene will have in the Jets smash-mouth offense. Green was expected to inherit the bulk of the carries behind a Jets offensive-line that plowed the way for an NFL-leading 2,756 yards in 2010.
However, in his Tuesday press conference, Jets head coach Rex Ryan stated that not only was he serious with the vest/turtle-neck thing he wore on national television Monday, he is also serious about splitting carries between Green and veteran LaDainian Tomlinson, who looked surprisingly explosive with 62 yards on 11 carries and 2 catches for 16 yards. This does not bode well for Greene’s fantasy production, but it is not the end of the road. Greene remains a skilled and durable back with extremely great upside.
As a senior at the University of Missouri in 2008, Greene averaged 6.0 yards per carry while battering his way to 1,850 yards and the Jim Brown trophy, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate back. As a rookie, Greene averaged 5.0 yards per carry, leading all rookie backs with over 100 carries. In the 2010 NFL playoffs, Greene led ALL NFL running backs in rushing yards and rushing attempts, proving in the most competitive atmosphere that he can be both durable and productive.
The Jets cut veteran workhorse Thomas Jones for a reason, and that reason is Greene. Continue to start Greene in all formats, but keep a close eye on this backfield, closely monitoring total attempts and red-zone attempts. If you see Greene’s touches continue to slip, then you can hit the panic button.
Braylon Edwards – After posting redonkulous numbers with Cleveland in 2006 (16 TDs, 1289 yds), Edwards hasn’t caught more than 900 yards or 4 TDs in any season since, including his 680 yd and 4 TD campaign in 09’. Yet, fantasy owners continue to draft and stash Edwards before more productive and reliable receivers: Edwards is owned in 86% of CBSSports.com leagues despite playing for a run-heavy offense with a crowded receiver corps. In addition, let’s not forget that Captain Hook has better hands than Edwards. If you absolutely must, start Edwards until Santonio Holmes returns in week 4. After that, Edwards will have minimal to spotty fantasy value, at best.
All other Jets Wide Receivers – Avoid all of them going forward.
Dustin Keller – No player in the Jets organization should be more frustrated with the emergence of Mark Sanchez as the Jets QB than tight end Keller. As a rookie in 2008 with Brett Favre under center (who historically loves to utilize tight ends), Keller started only 6 games and caught a respectable 48 passes for 535 yards and 3 TDs. As a full-time starter in 2009 with Sanchez calling the shots, Keller started every single game, yet managed to post worse stats in every major category. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we. As a senior at USC in 2008, only 24 of Sanchez’s 241 completions, and 2 of his 34 TDs, went to tight ends. As a Jet in 2009, he completed only 2 TDs to tight ends. Truth is, targets will be very scarce to come by in New York, and even scarcer playing for a quarterback that historically neglects the tight end position. Don’t expect Keller to build on his successful 2008 rookie campaign. As long as Sanchez is quarterbacking the Jets, bench or drop Keller in favor of a more reliable fantasy tight end.
Defense – Gang Green played well in their home opener against a much improved Ravens offense, an effort good enough for 18 fantasy points: tied for 5th best in the NFL. However, their week 2 game with a rejuvenated and explosive New England Patriots offense is not an ideal match up for the Jets. To make matters slightly worse, the Jets lost Kris Jenkins, the massive anchor of their run-stuffing line, for the season to a torn ACL. However, last season Jenkins missed 10 games due to injury and the Jets still managed to be the league’s #1 rated fantasy defense. The Jets will continue to have a top-tier defense in 2010, and for now you should be starting them week in and week out. Not starting the Jets on Sunday makes less sense than an on-field interview with Joe Kines.
QB-Eli Manning – Eli posted another shaky real-life, but fantasy relevant performance on Sunday, throwing for 262 yards, three TDs and three picks. However, all 3 of his interceptions came off of tipped passes. His 22 fantasy points were good for 10th in the NFL among quarterbacks. Admit it, this is exactly what you expected from him There are several concerns heading into week 2 against big brother and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts held the high-powered Texans passing game to just 107 yards on Sunday, but the verdict is out as to whether the Colts secondary is to thank for that, or the Texans’ offensive coordinator; the Texans threw the ball just five times in the second half. There are also several injury concerns in week 2 for the Giants, including Kevin Boss (out: concussion) and, Hakeem Nicks (questionable: sprained ankle), who caught all three of Eli’s TD passes on Sunday. Eli is a risky start in week 2, but if the Giants can get their running game going the way the Texans did against the Colts, it should open up the passing game tremendously to compete with the Colts high powered attack. Start em.’
RBs – Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw – Jacobs is on the decline, and fast. Despite rushing the ball five more times in 2009 vs. 2008, Jacobs rushed for 254 fewer yards (835), 10 fewer TDs (5), for an awful average of 3.7 yards per carry. Bradshaw, on the other hand, had 96 more touches in 09’ vs. 08’, rushing for 778 yards and 7 TDs on 61 fewer attempts than Jacobs for a 4.8 yards per carry. To make matter worse for Jacobs, despite getting approximately half the red-zone touches as Jacobs in 09’, Bradshaw scored 7 TDs to Jacobs 5 TDs. Last Sunday, Bradshaw’s 20 carries and 1 TD vs. Jacobs’s 11 carries and 0 TDs further solidifies the sneaky suspicion that Bradshaw is the new big in Big Blue. Regardless of the match up, both Giants running backs will continue to be a frustrating weekly read for fantasy owners. Until a dominant back emerges, both remain a decent flex option/#3 running back at best. You should start them, or sit them, as such.
WRs – Smith/Nicks/Manningham- Despite a week 1 stat-line that states otherwise, Steve Smith remains the go-to receiver for Eli Manning. Steve Smith is the first receiver to lead the team in receiving receptions in two consecutive years since Eli has entered the league. Hakeem Nicks is a big-bodied receiver that is perfect for red-zone targets, while Mario Manningham is the over-the-top speedster that balances out one of the leagues better receiving trios. Against the Panthers on Sunday, Nicks and Smith were both targeted eight times by Eli, while Manningham was targeted four times. Continue to start Smith as a number 1 receiver, especially in PPR leagues. Don’t expect Nicks to catch 3 TDs a game going forward, but he will continue to post reliable fantasy numbers in his sophomore campaign. Manningham is a Devery Henderson-type receiver – some games he’ll get you nothing, others he will kill it for you. Keep an eye on Hicks’ ankle and flex/start Manningham accordingly.
Defense – Last season, the Carolina Panthers boasted the league’s 3rd ranked rushing attack, becoming only the 5th team in NFL history to have two running backs, Jonathan Stewart (1133) and DeAngelo Williams (1117), rush for 1000 yards in the same season…..Great for them. Last Sunday the Giants defense held the Panthers to just 89 rushing yards, while holding Matt Moore and the potent Panthers passing attack (and my 100% sarcasm) to 148 yards through the air. They also forced five total turnovers, best in the league, and were the top scoring fantasy football defense. However, this week the Giants visit a Colts team that will be looking to rebound following their second season-opening loss in as many years. Make no mistake, Peyton Manning is not Matt Moore. The only thing the two have in common is that they are both nouns.
The Colts have not lost two consecutive regular season games since the Civil War, and don’t expect them to start now. The Giants are a solid weekly start for fantasy purposes, but if you can, look elsewhere in week 2. However, if your league has an add/drop limit, and dropping a decent player would be necessary to add a 2nd defense would be necessary, go ahead and start them, your defense could do much worse.