2018 New York Jets Fantasy Preview — Quarterbacks

Joe Malfa examines the potential value of each of the Jets’ quarterbacks from a fantasy football perspective.

The Jets have failed to make the playoffs since 2010. I have no idea whether or not that streak will end this season, but what I do know is they have some players who can help you make your fantasy football playoffs this season (and in the years to come). Over the next four weeks, I will be taking a position-by-position look at this Jets roster from a fantasy football perspective. Let’s start with the quarterbacks.

The dark days of a QB room consisting of Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, and an aging veteran (first Ryan Fitzpatrick, then Josh McCown) are over. McCown is still in the fold coming off the best season of his career, but he is instead surrounded by Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold. The latter was just selected with the third overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and has been anointed the new savior of the franchise. The former is just two seasons removed from leading the Vikings to the playoffs and making a Pro Bowl appearance. Who starts Week 1? What can we expect from them statistically? Are any of them even worth a draft pick? There are a lot of questions surrounding this group, and I hope I can answer a few of them.

Projected statistics over 16 games:

*Yes, I am aware that not all of these QBs can start 16 games. This is just the simplest way to illustrate the production you can expect from each if they are on the field.*

Sam Darnold — 3,750 passing yards, 24 TDs, 16 INTs; 270 rushing yards, 2 TDs

Josh McCown — 3,400 passing yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs; 150 rushing yards, 3 TDs

Teddy Bridgewater — 3,250 passing yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs; 200 rushing yards, 2 TDs

Fantasy Analysis:

Sam Darnold — Expect the rookie to start under center right out of the gates. Reports were nothing but positive through rookie minicamps and then OTAs, which I expect to continue throughout training camp. The best way to develop Darnold is by playing him, and starting the third overall pick is also the best decision for Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles in terms of their personal job security. Going 5-11 or 6-10 with a veteran like McCown is not as positive or successful, from a perception standpoint, as notching that same record with a rookie quarterback who showed signs of steady growth.

Darnold possesses a lot of value and upside from a fantasy perspective, especially if you participate in a keeper or dynasty league. As a rookie, you can expect a lot of “wow” plays from a kid with a gunslinger’s mentality, but that style of play will also lead to some boneheaded plays and turnovers. Don’t expect him to be your top quarterback, but he may be a solid backup capable of netting you 14-18 points per week (in standard leagues) if your starter goes down.

When to draft? In any standard 10 or 12 team leagues, he is worth a flier at some point within the final three rounds. (current average draft position on ESPN is 170). If you take part in a dynasty league in which your team rolls over from year to year, he may be worth a pick in the mid-rounds — somewhere between rounds 10 and 12.

Teddy Bridgewater — The odds of Bridgewater remaining on the Jets beyond the middle of August are very slim, in my opinion. Whether a team is trying to secure a dependable backup for a starter who is coming off injury (think the Packers with Aaron Rodgers or the Texans with Deshaun Watson), a team with an average-at-best starter is looking for some new blood (think the Jaguars with Blake Bortles), or a team loses its quarterback to injury during the preseason, Bridgewater will be the first player they seek in a trade. The Jets — who are without a second-round pick for the next two years thanks to the Darnold trade — will be happy to receive a mid-round pick or edge rusher for a player they signed to a one-year deal and never actually utilized.

When to draft? If Bridgewater surprisingly remains on the roster, I don’t expect him to beat out Darnold. If I am absolutely wrong and he bothstays on the roster and beats out Darnold after a training camp for the ages, he still won’t do much statistically in his first full season back on the field. For that reason, I would not consider drafting Bridgewater. If it’s August 22nd, Rodgers goes down with an injury, and Bridgewater gets traded to Green Bay, he may have some fantasy value. Until that happens though, there’s no reason to consider Bridgewater an option.

Josh McCown — There aren’t many layers to any sort of analysis about McCown. I doubt the veteran beats out either Darnold or Bridgewater but if Bridgewater is shipped elsewhere and the organization decides to take its time with Darnold, expect McCown to produce similar numbers to those he put up last season. He’s been in the league long enough for us to know exactly what to expect out of him.

When to draft? McCown, like Bridgewater, is not worth a draft pick. If McCown is announced the Week 1 starter, he won’t keep the job for long since the organization probably won’t sit Darnold for more than a handful of games. Perhaps one could argue McCown is worth a pick in the final round because he can be a productive fantasy backup through the first few weeks, but not with the Jets’ schedule. After an easy stretch early on against the Lions, Dolphins and Browns, three of the next four opponents include the Jaguars, Broncos, and Vikings. Not ideal.