2018 New York Jets Fantasy Preview — Running Backs

Joe Malfa examines the potential value of each of the Jets’ running backs 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. The running backs get their turn in the spotlight today.

The Jets have not had a true bell-cow back since Thomas Jones (3,833 yards, 28 touchdowns from 2007-2009). Backs like Shonn Greene and Chris Ivory have each registered 1,000-yards seasons since, but the Jets have gone with the running back-by-committee approach over the last few years. That may change next season with either a big ticket signing or a draft pick, but it will be the case again this year.

Projected statistics:

Isaiah Crowell — 205 carries, 955 rushing yards, 7 TDs; 20 catches, 145 receiving yards, 0 TDs

Bilal Powell — 165 carries, 745 rushing yards, 3 TDs; 40 catches, 320 receiving yards, 1 TD

Elijah McGuire — 75 carries, 265 rushing yards, 2 TDs; 14 catches, 130 yards, 0 TDs

Fantasy Analysis:

Isaiah Crowell — Here’s a secret — the Browns have been bad over the last four years. They have been behind in games so frequently that they never really had a chance to ride Crowell the way they should have. He has averaged 4.2 yards per carry, but he has only topped the 200 carry mark once. Crowell has the talent to be a 1,200-yard back in the right situation, but this is not quite that situation. Powell will steal a lot of touches and while there is reason to be excited about the Jets this season, they could very well end up trailing in a lot of games. The Jets will ride Crowell on first and second downs, but between Powell and McGuire (when he returns), Crowell won’t see much of the field on third down.

When to draft? Crowell will be a nice flex option this season. He will net you about 150 points (9.3 per week) in standard leagues. His current average draft position on ESPN is 112, which puts him in the 8th-10th round range. I am high on drafting Crowell this season. He could be that late round find that puts your team over the top in certain weeks.

Bilal Powell — You know how we feel about how the Jets should use Powell here at TOJ. The question is — will they? We feel every year could be the year that Powell’s usage rate go up, but we get the same results. Crowell gets the early down touches, Powell goes out there on third downs, wash, rinse, repeat. Every now and then Powell will spell Crowell and show everyone why he should be out there more often, but inevitably and inexplicably they go back to trotting him out there exclusively on third downs.

When to draft? Powell does not have value as a starter — in your RB or FLEX slots — in a standard league unless Crowell gets hurt. In a PPR league, you can justify starting Powell as a FLEX option every week. His current average draft position on ESPN is 140, which puts him in the 12th-14th round range. Assuming you draft properly and already have at least two running backs on your roster from rounds one through eight, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab both Crowell and Powell. You can’t go wrong with Crowell in the 10th and Powell in the 13th to be your bench running backs with FLEX upside. If one gets hurt, the other is instantly a must-start every week.

Elijah McGuire — I was high on McGuire coming out of college and I liked what I saw last year, but he is still a year away from being a valuable player in this offense and a valuable, deep fantasy option. He is Powell’s heir apparent, but Powell won’t be gone until after this season. McGuire will only miss the first two weeks of the season because of his fractured foot. He will flash, but his touches will be few and far between behind Crowell and Powell when he returns.

When to draft? Don’t. He is third on the depth chart and will be a distant third in terms of touches. He only has value if Crowell or Powell (or both) go down. Maybe next year.